Date: Late February 2016
Lv Boulder, CO—through Denver to I-70E until I-135S for Wichita, KS (visit friends); Hillsboro and Hesston, Ks (visit family). I forgot to record my mileage.
Lv Hillsboro, Ks at 104,586 mi—via country roads, I-135N, and I-70W. Ar Boulder at 105,125 mi.
Round trip: approximately 1078 mi.
Our NATIONAL INTERSTATE HIGHWAY SYSTEM is fabulous! Really. President Dwight Eisenhower promoted building it in 1956 and it took 35 years to complete. Now it has 47,856 miles and is considered an asset of national defense. Access to the highway system is controlled by on-ramps and there are few traffic lights. I’ve wondered if any one has gone from the Pacific to the Atlantic on I-10 without hitting a light.
But in addition to the smooth, fast ride, one I love about the Interstate is the ads for local places of interest. They’re unique, folksy, and often amusing: they get me excited about American history and art and real-people culture. I love the Rest Areas resources about the locales, geology, famous citizens—and, of course, the free bathrooms.
What I find charming on I-70:
I find the prairie or plains landscape is simply beautiful. I love the undulating land and occasional hills, the shades of brown and green and yellow, the lines and geometry of the plowed fields, the subtle colors of rocks, the proud stance and cartwheels of wind turbines, the prehistoric-creatureliness of oil pumps, the dinosaur-spined irrigation equipment, the variety of electricity and phone poles, the gray wood of abandoned buildings, the clumps and rows of evergreens or other trees, the fields of green or gold waving crops, the dust-balls of tumbleweed, the cheerful paint colors of productive farmsteads, the Monopoly-sized houses I can see in the distance, the varieties of fencing, the long-long-long trains racing alongside me, the occasional white patch of unmelted snow, the dots of black or brown cattle, and the changing sky. The sky, the sky! It frees my soul.
I speculate how it would feel to be a pioneer—hot or cold or scared or exultant—in a covered wagon. I imagine my grandparents in a rattle-trap truck, piled high with their earthly goods, crossing those miles during the Depression. I watch the vehicles and trucks I pass or that pass me: all the odd shaped loads, the political and religious expressions of their owners, the license tags from all over. I’m once again impressed at the care and politeness exhibited by almost all truck drivers.
On my recent trip, in the few-hours stretch of I-70 between the Colorado border and mid-Kansas via I-135 (and I also include a few US and state highways) I saw 14 museums and 17 places of interest announced Some are close to the highway, some are a drive away. Here are the ones I managed to jot down. A caveat: check when they’re open.
MUSEUMS—in no particular order
Prairie Museum of Art and History in Colby, Ks
Sternberg Museum of Natural History in Hays, Ks
Orphan Train Museum in Concordia, Ks
Ellis Railroad Museum in Ellis, Ks
Chrysler Boyhood Home and Museum in Ellis, Ks
Boot Hill Museum in Dodge City, KS
Fick Fossil and History Museum in Oakley, Ks
High Plains Museum in Goodland, Ks
Kansas Motorcycle Museum in Marquette, Ks
Smokey Hill Museum in Salina, Ks
Old Mill Museum and Sandzen Gallery in Lindsborg, Ks
There are three Mennonite Museums within 20 mi of one another in central KS:
Mennonite Settlement Museum in Hillsboro, Ks
Gossel KS Mennonite Heritage Museum in Gossel, Ks
Kauffman Museum in North Newton, Ks
OTHER PLACES OF INTEREST on I-70:
Prairie Trail Scenic Byway
Rolling Hills Zoo
Auto Tour Route
Santa Fe Trail—Local tour
Maxwell Wildlife Refuge
Kansas Wetlands Education Center
Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area
Fort Larned National Historic Site
Wilson Lake—“Clearest Lake in Kansas”
Wilson Lake Wildlife Area
Garden of Eden
Historic Cathedral of the Plains
Nicodemus National Historic Site
Hays Historic Site
Old Fort Hays
Greenfield 1887 Opera House
And one more thing: there is FREE Land available for building a home in Marquette, Ks—see freelandks.com. One must submit an application, build within a year to certain standards, which include a basement or crawl space. Hook-up fees are waived and there’s natural gas and utilities on property. Sounds like a deal!