We had scheduled five days to travel from East Tennessee to Vancouver. The trip mapped about 2750 miles and we were going to take it easy. See a bit of the country as we made our diagonal way up to Seattle.
We left three hours late on a Sunday morning and took care of some business in Nashville, both of which meant that my thoughts of mid-Missouri had been optimistic, and we pulled into Paducah, Kentucky around 8:30 instead.
My wife has a very small bit of history with Paducah – she’s a quilter and has been to The National Quilt Museum located there. With some 30,000 square feet, it bills itself as the largest quilt and fiber museum in the world. I had gone with her a couple of years ago back when the American Southeast was having a record heat wave. I well remembered that a local bank had said 108°, which was a crazy temperature and a record for our humid part of the country.
But it was only sticky and warm this evening. No furnace. No sauna. Just an easing into a hotel for the night. Too late to try to camp.
We passed through Missouri the next morning and on into Kansas. Just a long day of driving. And as would be the case too often on this trip, we ended up pitching camp later than I wanted at Cedar Bluff State Park, next to the reservoir of the same name. It was the only place on the trip where we suffered insects – biting flies that saw the tent up in near record time. I thought of the waiting camper and what it would have meant fly-wise and just sighed.
But it was a pretty spot, an 850 acre park near 100-foot limestone bluffs dropping towards the reservoir. Particularly so, as we’d seen nothing but flat farm land for hours and hours.
But, things would be a little more interesting the following day. After a short stop to see the world’s largest van Gogh (Kansas, flat, not much scenery, remember?), we were passing through Denver by 2:30, even after having jumped off I-70 to take a back road to Elizabeth and Castle Rock to get away from the interstate.
We had thought to stop and ride bicycles in Boulder, but decided it was getting too late. We needed to get on up towards Cheyenne if we were going to keep to schedule. We thought that we might camp near there, but we’d not been on I-80 in that area before and little realized how different crossing the Rockies would be there… but that’s for another post.