Wide Open Spaces

September 11 & 12th: Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas and half of Colorado.

We cruised through the central states and the midwest with our longest 2 driving days of the trip. Although there were not familiar faces in this part of the country, we made it a point to find a few things along the way each day to stretch our legs and get a taste of the state or city that we were driving through.

We started Friday morning with a foggy, overcast second half of Ohio and state of Indiana on I70. The highway attractions were notable for endless corn fields, Trump/Pence signs and Macdonalds advertisements.

We stopped off in Indianapolis for a short jaunt around Highland Park with a hazy city skyline in the background. We grabbed a quick latte at the local coffee shop, Kaffeine Coffee Co. and hit the road again.

I took over the driving for the second stretch to our next destination, St. Louis. The mocha latte gave me the extra kick I needed to make it through the 3 and a half hour drive. We drove through the state of Illinois, which provided more endless corn fields, and also a little bit of sunshine.

We arrived in St. Louis, where we first stopped off at Malcolm W. Martin Memorial Park, with a viewing platform overlooking the Mississippi River and city with the arch in full view.

We picked up some barbecue and sweet tea at the best BBQ joint in the city, Pappy’s Smokehouse, and headed over to Forest Park to enjoy lunch and take Charley for a walk.

We left St. Louis after our walk and headed in the direction of our destination for the night; Topeka, Kansas. We called ahead to order dinner at a pizza joint in Kansas City, MI that looked delicious called Buffalo State Pizza Co. We each ordered 2 pieces of pizza and a salad, expecting this would be just enough to fill our bellies for the night.

When we arrived we were handed 4 pizza boxes, and then realized that each slice of pizza was twice the size of my head, and needless to say, we did not finish our large portions. We did, however, get to sit out on a nice little patio and listen to live music. It’s the little surprises on the road that creates the best memories.

After dinner, we completed the last leg of the journey to Topeka, KS, where we had booked a hotel room for the night.

We woke up the next morning, ready to conquer the rest of Kansas and half of Colorado. When we were planning our day, we had researched attractions in Kansas along I70, because there has to be something cool in Kansas. We found Monument Rocks National Landmark, about 30 minutes off the highway (one of the 8 wonders of Kansas) and decided that this would be our stop for the day.

We loaded up the car again and hit the road, after grabbing a cup of joe from Starbucks. We proceeded to cruise down I70 for hundreds of miles, passing endless fields of corn, wheat and sorghum, and lots of cows (aka “big doggies” according to Charley).

We pulled off the highway after 4 hours on the road and took a detour to Monument Rocks. This involved a 7 mile drive on a dirt road. Once we finally made it, we realized it had been worth the detour. The chalk towers were created by erosion of a sea bed 80 million years ago, when the middle of the US was covered in the Western Interior Seaway. Some of the structures are more than 6 stories tall. We spent about an hour walking around the area and taking pictures.

See some photos below:

Charley in front of a rock formation called “Charlie the dog rock”

We hit the road once again and set the GPS toward our next destination, Denver. We slowly and steadily climbed in elevation as we met the Colorado border, eventually reaching 5,000 feet and we passed what looked like thousands of massive wind turbines as far as the eye could see in the high plains of eastern Colorado.

As we roll into Denver this evening, we are looking forward to slowing down and spending more time exploring the western half of the country. Thanks for reading!

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