Really long story short: we survived Kansas. Our driving party that started in the Pacific Northwest took us through gorgeous forests, mountains, valleys, dunes, and more…and then it stopped…or at least the mountains, forests, valleys, and dunes stopped. The road kept going…through the seemingly endless Great Plains. All US road trips change when you hit the Great Plains, it doesn't matter which way you're headed across them. It gets boring. Sleepy. Sleepy with a lack of Starbucks. Never-ending. The woosh! of a semi-truck passing you on a stormy, flat, interstate.
Speaking of the interstate, one thing that made our Great Plains driving days better was driving on highways instead. For a lot of people, this is a terrible idea. It takes longer, the speed limit's lower, small speed-trap towns are everywhere, and a giant combine will definitely be hogging the road. Wow, after writing that, it really does seem like a horrible idea.
For us, the bad parts of driving on highways are about equal to the bad parts of driving on the interstate. One of the complaints is really a double-edged sword; slowing-down for small towns is a great way to keep yourself from getting bored & drowsy. There's strange country stuff to look at around every turn. You meet more people. Gas stations are unique. So we drove. We loved it.
We arrived in one of my home states: Missouri (I claim 3 home states now: South Dakota, Missouri, and Washington state). We were taking a break from the road and visiting the Pops in the Ozarks. We spent some time exploring 3 locations in the area: Onondaga Cave State Park, Kayaking along the Ozark National Scenic Riverways, & Maramec Spring Park. Today, a quick visit to the cave!
I used to hate caves, but since adventuring in the Pacific Northwest and blogging here on ETC, I've really enjoyed exploring anywhere with historical meaning. Since I've learned so much from trips in the Northwest, it's great to learn what was happening in the Midwest around the same time (the 1800s). Stories of this cave - how it came to be, early exploration, the abundance of caves in Missouri, what 19th century settlers used them for and extracted from them - it's all here. Tours are cheap, guides are super smart about the area, and a small museum has cool images from 1800s Onondaga, located in the visitor center. A pretty cool visit (cave joke).
~Paul, Amber, Dad ETC
Onondaga Cave State Park