Sunday, August 21, 2005

Day 5:
Today dawned nice and bright in Kansas City, MO.  I
went down to the concierge desk to inquire after an
automotive repair shop to take a look at our engine.
They told me that Firestone was open, shockingly for a
Sunday in the heartland.  I went back upstairs,
showered, dressed, packed, and headed over to the
Firestone.  They don’t have the engine technician on
Sundays. Of course.  I called my insurance company, as
I have emergency roadside assistance through them.
They gave me the names of 3 companies.  I called all
of them, none of them were open.  Lizzie called AAA,
as she has a membership.  They almost laughed,
“You’re looking for automotive help, on a Sunday?
Good luck!”  They did, however, point us to a Wal-Mart
(evil empire!).  Interesting that a store that prides
itself on its heartland values is open on a Sunday,
the lords day.  Wal-mart did not actually  have a
repair shop, they just had tire and lube changes.  But
we mustve looked pitiful so the guy gave a cursory
glance over our engine, pronounced us fine to wait til
the next day to check it out in Denver.  Phew.  We
filled up the car, got back on the highway, and the
Check Engine light went off.  So bizarre.  I’m not
questioning our relative good luck, as we have a 9+
hour drive to Denver, with a stop along the way to
visit the Concrete Garden of Eden. 
I had heard that Kansas is flat, but it didn’t look
that way.  Rolling hills with lots of green trees and
lots and lots of corn.  We first stopped off in
Salina, to eat sliders at Cozy Burger, recommended by
Roadfood.  Each burger was 75cents, which would seem
cheap until you saw how small the burgers were.  They
were ok. It was nice to stop, tho. Driving long
distances in flat landscape is boring.
We took at right at Lucas, KS, about 20 minutes off
the highway, and miles away from civilization.  Our
destination was the concrete Garden of Eden.
S.P.Dinsmoor, a civil war veteran, had decided to
create a representation of the Garden of Eden, made
out of concrete.  Entirely self-taught (Grandma Moses
he aint), he went on to create sculptures espousing
his ideas of laborers and big business in modern
society.  He then left a clear request for
mummification, and is still visible in the mausoleum
in the backyard.  Gruesome.  In the giftshop I picked
up brochures from the Kansas dept of tourism labeling
the wildlife, grasses, and farm crops that you can see
from the highway, so at least I would know what I was
staring at.  Back on the highway again, next stop is
Goodland, KS, past the central/mountain time zone
change.  Past lucas the terrain turns into classic
Kansan prairie.  Miles and miles of flat farmland.
You can do a 360 and not see a single hill.  It was
beautiful, but also boring.  And Kansas is a big
state.  We reached Goodland several hours later.
Goodland is the regional capital of the sunflower
business (Kansas is, among other things, the sunflower
state), and as such commissioned a giant Van Gogh
reproduction of one of his sunflower paintings, set
atop the Worlds Largest Easel.  Why this isn’t visible
from the highway is beyond me.  I guess they want you
to stop and spend money in Goodland, but all we did
was drive 2 minutes off the highway, snap some pics,
and get on our way.  Next stop, Colorado. 
Eastern Colorado looks a lot like Kansas.  The terrain
slowly becomes rolling rangeland, which is somehow
even more desolate than the farms of Kansas.  After
many hours we roll into Denver. 
We were staying the night at my friend Laura’s
mountain place in Frisco, about an hour west of
Denver.  Laura currently lives in Manhattan, but
happened to be in Wyoming this weekend and was coming
back to her apartment in Denver for the week.  She
arrived about an hour before we did, which was
perfect.  We had eaten dinner in Denver earlier, so
didn’t get to Frisco til midnight.  The terrain at
this point was drastically different than anything
previous.  We crossed the continental divide just
before Frisco, and even though it was late at night we
could still tell that the mountains were awe
inspiring.  Laura took us for a drive up the mountain
to a meadow away from civilization so we could see the
stars.  We drove for a while on a dirt road
illuminated by the moonlight.  The only negative part
was that you could still hear the highway noise even
though you felt you were in the middle of nowhere.  We
got to bed at 2, which wasn’t ideal since we had to be
up early the next morning to get the car checked out. 


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3:48 PM  

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