Category Archives: Travel

Phew, yuck, brrr!

One scare and one lesson learned yesterday.

The scare: I thought I forgot the AC adapter for my CPAP machine back in Russell. The dread hit me just after the Brookville exit on Interstate 70, 13 miles west of Salina. I decided I would stop in Salina and if it weren’t there, I’d either have to drive back to Russell or just go without it.

Fortunately, it was there. It hit me at Interstate 135 that when I checked the top of my chest next to my bed, there was nothing on top where the CPAP usually is. Sure enough, it was there. Relieved.

FYI, only one Popeye’s in Salina–the new one on Ohio south of Crawford–sells onion rings. The older one off I-70 in the travel plaza doesn’t. If Popeye’s doesn’t have onion rings, Foots won’t eat at a particular Popeye’s. Simple.

The lesson: try to not use dish soap to wash out plastic drinking implements if you can.

After arriving in Kansas City, I stopped at the QuikTrip in Riverside for a drink. I noticed a terrible aftertaste to my pop.

I deduced soap had seeped into the mug. I was pretty grossed out by the aftertaste. Had to do all I could not to throw up.

I stopped at another QuikTrip in Overland Park and bought a new mug, since it was only $6. I left the old mug in a corner outside the entrance, so if someone wanted it, they could have it. Good luck trying to get the dish soap aftertaste out.

Discovery: ordering kiosks in fast food restaurants are awesome.

I tried one at Taco Bell in North Kansas City last night after my mobile order didn’t go through. I was mighty impressed. Order completely accurate. Other perks: not holding up the line at the counter trying to decide what you want, easier to customize, and easy payment. The Wendy’s a block east of that Taco Bell also has kiosks.

It is brutally cold in Kansas City this morning. Currently minus-16 Celsius (3 Fahrenheit) with a wind chill of minus-22 Celsius (-8 Fahrenheit). I hope my car will start, because i have an 0845 appointment in Liberty.

The Saints were shafted!

I ain’t gonna pay no toll!

The Kansas Turnpike has introduced “open road tolling” recently. This allows drivers with an electronic collection device in their vehicle to drive through a dedicated lane without having to slow down.

This was introduced in Oklahoma a long time ago. However, this was at a time when Kansas toll tags were not operational in Oklahoma and vice versa, meaning you had to have a separate tag for each state. Fortunately, Oklahoma’s tags in those days were like Kansas, where they were attached to the windshield by velcro, meaning you could change them as you crossed the state lines.

About six years ago, Oklahoma eliminated the hard case tags and went to a sticker which could not be removed once it was mounted. Fortunately, I did not have any trips to Oklahoma in that time, and by time I went back through the state–on the trip to Louisiana in April–the Kansas and Oklahoma tags were able to be used in the other state.

The first open road lanes on the Kansas Turnpike were opened early this year at the eastern terminal near Bonner Springs. It has been quite convenient, since the toll plaza often backs up, especially if there is heavy traffic heading towards Kansas City.

I discovered today that the open road tolling lanes have been installed on I-70 at the east end of Topeka.

Sadly, the biggest problem of open road tolling propped up today.

A truck from Illinois flew through the open road lane without a tag. I knew he didn’t have a tag because there was nothing affixed to his windshield under the mirror.

I wanted to contact the Highway Patrol and report the truck, but I didn’t.

Some jurisdictions have completely eliminated toll booths and toll takers at some interchanges, instead instituting a toll-by-plate program for those who do not have a tag. To my knowledge, this hasn’t been implemented in Kansas, or why else would there be toll booths and attendants at the locations with open road tolling?

It reminds me of a line from the C.W. McCall Classic “Convoy”: “we just ain’t gonna pay no toll!” The truck looked like it was in a hurry to get somewhere and I lost track of it past Lawrence.

Other than that, no trouble driving to Kansas City. I stopped in Salina to get a haircut. Ashley at Sport Clips cropped me really close. Tomorrow is my next back treatment in Prairie Village with Andrea. Now I know what to expect.

As for the rest of the day I’m debating. I am just not into trivia as much as I have been in the past. Nor am I really hankering for barbecue.

Ten hours to Texarkana in the books

Ten hours after leaving 1224 North Brooks Street, Russell, Kansas, my dad and I arrived in Texarkana. The hotel is on the Texas side of the state line right on Interstate 30.

There were a couple of rough moments today.

The first was in Wichita where a car was stopped on the left shoulder of Interstate 135, but was sticking out into the road. Luckily we saw the vehicle to avoid trouble. I hope the person in the car was not seriously hurt or worse. That looked like big-time trouble. And if there was an accident, I can only imagine how bad traffic would have been snarled on I-135.

The second came right before getting to the hotel. If you have ever driven in Texas, at least in metropolitan areas, you are aware there are frontage roads where hotels, restaurants and stores are located. In many instances, there is no direct access from an exit to your destination; you’ll have to probably use a frontage road for at least a mile, probably more.

In this case, we had to use the frontage road on Interstate 30 east for two miles to reach the hotel. The problem was, the turn was almost immediately after crossing a double white line, and that is very dangerous.

The danger almost came to pass, as a car came over the double white line and nearly sideswiped us. My dad made a quick maneuver to turn right into the hotel. The stuff in the back seat shifted, but we were okay. Just a little stunned.

That was enough excitement for one day. Other than that, it was a very good trip, with two stops at Love’s Travel Centers, which are as ubiquitous in Oklahoma and north Texas as strip clubs on Bourbon Street. Dinner tonight at On The Border was outstanding. I’m stuffed.

Tomorrow should be fabulous. We’ll be in Louisiana about an hour after leaving the hotel, and by 1:30, we should be in Baton Rouge. I cannot wait to see Bill, Michael Bonnette, Chris Blair and anyone else who shows up. And maybe someone I haven’t seen for a very, very, very long time. Someone I miss more than just about anyone on earth.

From what I have seen, it is going to be very cold back in Russell tomorrow. So cold that Hill City postponed its big track meet scheduled for tomorrow. Since Hill City put installed a world-class track at its stadium before the 2017 season, its meet has become one of the best for small schools anywhere in Kansas. It’s a shame it has to be pushed back to April 23, but Mother Nature is still undefeated.

Four enchiladas and some fajita meat and veggies (my dad couldn’t quite finish it) has done a number; thankfully, I didn’t eat breakfast and I restrained myself from eating too much at Chick-Fil-A for lunch, so it could be much worse. I will sleep well tonight. If I can sleep. The anticipation might keep me buzzed.

Have a good night. And a better tomorrow.

Nebraska adventure

If I had driven straight west on I-70 after leaving Kansas City, I would be deep into a nap right about now.

Instead, a little after 1 p.m. on this Independence Day Eve, I’m coming to you from Raising Cane’s on Cornhusker Highway in Lincoln.

Not Kansas. 

That’s right, I opted to detour my return to Russell today in order to make stops in Nebraska’s two largest cities. 

I departed the Courtyard on Tiffany Springs at 5:15 a.m. Not a typo. I did not go to Buffalo Wild Wings Thursday. More on that later.

By skipping B-Dubs, I was able to get packed last night and get out before sunrise. I made a stop in St. Joseph at Dunkin Donuts and at a convenience store for some pop. I crossed the first state line into Iowa a few minutes after 7, and by 8:10, I was across the Missouri River and into Nebraska.

My first stop in Omaha was the site of the former Rosneblatt Stadium at the corner of Bert Murphy Drive and 13th Street. Johnny Rosenblatt Stadium hosted the Division I College World Series for  61 seasons (1950-2010), and LSU won all six of its national titles (1991, 1993, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2009) in the faciility, which seated over 25,000 by time it cloised following the 2010 Omaha Royals season (South Carolina won the last CWS at Rosenblatt, as well as the first at TD Ameritrade Park, which now hosts the event. Couldn’t happen to a better man than Ray Tanner, now the Gamecocks’ athletic director). 

The stadium is gone, but the foul poles are still in place, there are markers for the three bases, and home plate is now the home plate for a mini-baseball field. There are seats surrounding “Little Rosenblatt”, and I took some pictures. 

I then went to TD Ameritrade, which I had never seen close up. I passed by the construction site at the end of 2010, but did not go by it on my more recent visits to Omaha. Beautiful facility. 

As nice as the sights were, they were not why I came to Nebraska. 

I was a man on a mission. 

Two food items I cannot get in Kansas or western Missouri were on my target list. 

First, Triscut rye crackers. 

They are the favorite of my former edtior at the Russell County News, Pam Soeteart. Every time I visited Omaha, I would bring her back at least two boxes. I picked up six boxes for myself. 

Second, Raising Cane’s. 

Raising Cane’s is a fast food restaurant which serves chicken fingers. It was started in 1996 by Todd Graves, an LSU graduate who had to take two grueling jobs in order to build the capital and the credit rating to qualify for a loan. First, he worked 90 hours a week on an offshore oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, a job I would not want. Many of those rigs have vanished in hurricanes through the decades. After the oil rig, Todd went to Alaska and worked a commercial salmon fisherman.

The first Raising Cane’s opened at the north gate of LSU on Highland Road, next to two of the most popular hangouts for LSU students, The Chimes restaurant and The Varsity, a live music venue. Jimmy Ott and I did our Monday radio show from that location for well over a year in 2004 and 2005. 

Eventually, Cane’s spread across Baton Rouge and Louisiana, reaching into each of the state’s eight metropolitan areas: Baton Rouge, Lafayette, Lake Charles, Alexandria, Shreveport, Monroe, Houma-Thibodaux and New Orleans. 

Cane’s has spread to numerous states, with many found in college towns. Lincoln, home to the University of Nebraska, has four. They are also found in Fort Collins (Colorado State), Norman (Oklahoma), Waco (Baylor), Columbus (Ohio State), among other locales. Sadly, not one of those locations is in Kansas, and the only ones in Missouri are in the St. Louis area. 

The Cane’s chicken fingers are good, but I LOVE the toast and the sauce. It is so awesome. I picked up a 32-ounce bowl of sauce at Omaha, and I am about to do the same here in Lincoln. 

After leaving Omaha, I stopped at Memorial Stadium and the Nebraska state capitol for pictures. Once I gas up in Lincoln, I will drive I-80 west to York, 52 miles away. I can either (a) take US 81 south from York all the way to Salina, passing through Hebron in Nebraska and Belleville, Concordia and MInneapolis in Kansas; or (b) I can take I-80 to Elm Creek and exit at US 183, traversing the highway through Holdrege, Alma, Phillipsburg, Stockton and Plainville, and finally Hays. US 281 from Grand Island through Hastings, Red Cloud, Smith Center and Osborne to Russell is an option, but not one I would rather use. 

I’m going to get home around 6:30. Then I’m going to sleep. Deep sleep.