Between Missouri and Colorado, I took Highway 36 most of the way.
I chose this route because it:
- Has a good mix of four-lane interstate efficiency and two-lane relaxing;
- Passes through Hiawatha and Marysville, Kansas; and
- Avoids the oft-traveled Interstate 70, which I've seen plenty before.
There is some sentimental appeal to Highway 36, also. I used Highway 36 on my very first solo road trip when I traveled up to Mount Rushmore. I remember it for being so empty; a highway that I had to myself. Except for when a police officer pulled me over and gave me a ticket because I was driving in the left lane of the highway! Or speeding. He suggested both. On my birthday! Asshole.
I'm also pretty sure my daughter and I took Highway 36 on our road trip to Alaska many years ago. We left on July 4th. I made sure to drive in the right lane.
Hiawatha was of interest because years and years ago I'd read about a cemetery there. It featured a spot filled with white-stone sculptures honoring a man's deceased wife.
I hadn't heard of Marysville before, but a friend exclaimed her charm with it when I mentioned my route options.
|Starlite Motel, Seneca, Kansas. May 2016.|
It is always a happy gift to find a retro roadside motel on a trip. At exactly the right time in the evening, upon entering Seneca, Kansas, and when I was ready to pull off the road for the night, I spied the Starlite Motel on my left.
The congenial motel owner greeted me, got me registered, and showed me a basket filled with snacks, from which I could select one. Call me a cheap date, but wow, give me a Route 66ish motel, at a retro room rate, and a SNACK, and I'm in love.
The room was super clean and it was comfortable. Free wifi and a decent TV.
Gosh, it was sad to see this dead fox on the side of the road the next day.
Normally, I don't feel particularly sad when I see road kills. It is a grim cost of efficient vehicular travel between Points A and B.
But I'm no more immune to the unfair-but-real attraction to the cute-and-furry than the next person. There's even a phrase for this: taxonomic bias.
This fox was cute and furry and looked like a juvenile. Most of all, though, it looked like it had been struck down only minutes earlier.
|Dead fox, Highway 36, Kansas. May 2016.|
I felt some pangs about adding the fox to the carcass collection, but as you can see, I added it nonetheless.
It was May, right?
How enthusiastically I pulled over in Colorado when I saw snow along the side of the road! It wasn't even near the mountains!
|Snow in May! Highway 36, Colorado. May 2016.|
The embedded insect was a lagniappe.
The Eternity Effect
Sometimes you hit points in a road trip where the road seems interminable. You don't want to look at the time because it's likely only five minutes has gone by since you last looked. You don't want to look at the odometer because, shit, you've only gone two miles since the last time you looked!
There's no radio station coming in, and if there were, it'd be something you don't want to hear. You have overdosed on your own playlists, and need a break from these old friends. You've listened to podcasts or that audio book. It's not time to eat. You don't have to pee. And you're miles and miles from your day's destination.
Interstate 36 for most of Colorado was like this.
But that's just part of the deal sometimes. Pieces of a road trip may include monotony, boredom, impatience to reach the next stop.
At least I did this
Thank the baby deity that I stopped for gas in Anton, Colorado. It was a borderline decision - I had enough gas to "just stop at the next town" or even the one after that, under normal circumstances.
I didn't know at the time there were no other gas stations on Interstate 36 between Anton and Byers.
If I hadn't stopped in Anton, that would have just been another problem on top of this one.
For various reasons, neither Hiawatha nor Marysville were in the cards for a stop on the way out to Colorado. Maybe on the way back.
The most important thing
I arrived at my destination safely.