We have arrived safely in Colorado Springs, CO after four days of
driving. Fortunately, no one was driving toward us in the wrong lane,
like in the quote above. In
fact, we didn't even see any accidents the whole way.
I like to
include trip notes on our website for the benefit of other RVers. Much
of the information is also relevant for folks traveling by car.
I didn't take all that many pictures along the way this time because
we've covered this route so often before. I-64 through Virginia, West
Virginia, and Kentucky looked much like it did when I took the photos
that are in the
May 10, 2011 journal entry. This year
those states looked even more summery, since spring arrived about three
weeks early in the East.
Most of the pictures in this entry are from a lovely park with a lake
in Columbia, MO that Jim found during a bike ride from the WalMart where
we parked Saturday night.
Stephens Lake Park, Columbia, MO
He knew I'd enjoy it so he showed it to Cody and me on Sunday morning
during a walk before we hit the road again.
It's one of those serendipitous finds I enjoy when we travel.
Last year we used I-64 through Missouri in order to detour around
areas of flooding on I-40 to get to Texas. We passed through areas with
flooded fields in Indiana and Illinois where water had recently receded
from the freeway; fields were still under water and looked like huge
lakes. It was amazing.
This year those fields are back to normal, or even ahead of
themselves. Some of the corn is already a foot tall in mid-May and
other crops are coming up like they are supposed to. We knew where the
flooding was located last year but if we hadn't seen it then, we
wouldn't have known when we drove through there on Sunday. That's a good
When we crossed the Ohio River from Louisville, KY to Indiana, the
river was full but not overflowing like last year.
Rainy morning : crossing
the Ohio River on the I-64 bridge in Louisville, KY (5-13-12)
The Mighty Mississippi in St. Louis was at a normal stage, too.
We continued on I-64 through Indiana and Illinois to the western side
of St. Louis, then followed I-70 through Missouri, Kansas, and eastern
Colorado. We cut southwest to Colorado Springs on US 24 at Limon, CO.
Streams farther west in Missouri, Kansas, and Colorado were lower but
every state through which we passed except western Kansas and eastern
Colorado was very green. Apparently spring didn't arrive as early at the
higher elevations in
Kansas and Colorado as in states farther east; not many
crops have been planted there yet.
Most of this route from Virginia to Kansas is pretty in the spring,
summer, and fall when the leaves are out and wildflowers are blooming.
Field of wildflowers along the
path at Stephens Lake Park in Columbia, MO (5-14-12)
The terrain on I-64 through Virginia and West Virginia is mountainous
and curvy, with elevations up to about 2,800 feet. Even that high, the
dogwoods and other flowering trees are past their blooming season early
I-64 rolls through the middle of Kentucky and southern Indiana and
Illinois. I prefer this freeway through Indiana and Illinois because it
is much more rural than I-70, which tracks farther north through larger
urban areas with more traffic and less interesting scenery.
I-70 through Missouri and Kansas is also rather hilly:
I-70 somewhere in Missouri; looks
like summertime here, too. (5-14-12)
The prairie flattens out more in western Kansas and eastern
Colorado where Midwest becomes the Plains. As we approached Colorado
Springs we could see Pike's Peak and other mountains in the Rockies
looming ahead, rising sharply above the Plains.
Yay! We love mountains!
ROAD & TRAFFIC CONDITIONS
It's spring, therefore there is a lot of road construction on the
interstate highway system through the middle of the country.
Each state except the miles we drove in western Virginia had some
road construction, which slowed us down some.
Above and below: winding
path through Stephens Lake Park.
What a great place for an early morning
Because we drove the first two days through the more populated
eastern states on Saturday and Sunday we had fewer slowdowns there. Even
though we were sometimes down to one lane westbound on I-64 through West
Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana, and Illinois road crews weren't working and
traffic moved above the posted speed limit.
- Virginia -- no construction on I-64, no rough spots,
- West Virginia -- major road/bridge work continues on the
west side of Charleston; some road work is also being done near
Huntington. Where I-64 runs contiguously with I-77 north-south between Beckley and
Charleston we had two tolls of $2.50 each on that section. Traffic
was much lighter on I-64 where it was by itself, heavier where it ran
with I-77 and through Charleston.
- Kentucky -- construction on I-64 near Mt. Sterling. Minimal
traffic except the few miles through Lexington where it joins I-75.
- Indiana -- some construction, minimal traffic on Sunday.
- Illinois -- traffic noticeably heavier than other states to
that point, especially as we approached Mt. Vernon and St. Louis.
Major construction and one-way north and southbound on several miles
where I-64 joins I-57; traffic was stop and go through there,
even on a Sunday.
- St. Louis -- I know it's not a state, but it straddles both
Illinois and Missouri and it was somewhat of a mess on Sunday. We
followed I-64 around the southern side of the metro area to I-70 on
the west side of town because we like the more rural atmosphere.
Stephens Lake Park (5-14-12)
We stayed in Columbia, MO on Sunday night. On Monday and Tuesday we
drove through the rest of Missouri, Kansas, and Colorado. Since those
were work days we ran into heavier traffic through the cities. We did
our best to avoid them during rush hour(s).
- Missouri -- I-70 mostly smooth. Two short construction
zones westbound about MM 71 and 44. Westbound traffic moved well
through Kansas City on I-70 and I-670 but eastbound traffic from
Kansas was backed up several miles at lunchtime due to construction on
that side. Wouldn't want to be going that way during morning rush
- Kansas -- I-70 runs contiguously with a toll road for about
32 miles between Kansas City and Topeka. Our toll was $4.25 (fee
depends on how many axles you have). Traffic was light outside those
cities and moved well. There were four construction areas westbound
for four to twelve miles each where new concrete is being laid.
One-lane traffic moved well but the rest area was blocked off
westbound at MM 225. Of course, that's the rest area where I planned
to stop to go to the bathroom! Since we had the camper and our own
bathroom, we just pulled off at the next exit.
- Colorado -- I-70 to Limon: traffic
was moderate. We followed US 24 to Colorado Springs; it's a great
shortcut to the Springs. No construction, just slow going through
several small towns. Traffic on US 24 was very light today until we
got close to the city.
REST AREAS & OTHER STOPS
Almost every rest area was open through these eight states, although
we didn't stop at most of them. These are the ones that were closed
- Welcome center in West Virginia on I-64 near the Virginia border
- Rest area at MM 109 on I-64 in KY
- Two rest areas in KS on I-70 where road work had them blocked (MM
225 and the last one before the CO border)
It looks like most or almost all of the rest areas on I-70 through KS
have free dump stations, which is very nice. However . . . we
stopped at the one at MM 186 and had to go the wrong way on a one-way
loop to get access to the sewer on the correct side of the camper.
Somebody screwed up. It worked out only because there were so few people
in the rest area. Our advice is to use another rest area to dump.
Above and below: Stephens Lake Park, Columbia, MO
Jim loves to stop at Steak 'N Shake restaurants
for lunch or supper when we're traveling. On this trip he
stopped at two where we know there is room to maneuver the Cameo
-- exit 20B at Barboursville, WV on I-64 and exit 53B in
Frankfort, KY on I-64 (across from a WalMart parking lot).
Besides rest areas and Steak 'N Shake, our only other stops
during the daytime were for fuel.
DIESEL PRICES & STATIONS
In general the cheapest gasoline AND diesel we saw through these
eight states was in Missouri. The best prices in Missouri were
at Murphy's stations (WalMart). The highest prices were in West
Virginia. Prices I could see at the pump or on signs ranged from
$3.67/gallon in Missouri to $4.21 in West Virginia.
Our average cost was $3.76/gallon for diesel on this trip.
Although that is historically high, it's lower than we expected
as recently as a month ago when folks were predicting gas prices
to reach $4 or $5 per gallon. Diesel prices are higher than
gasoline in most states.
We enjoyed the bridging across one end of
the lake. (5-14-12)
Jim has a love-hate relationship with Flying J (which is now
owned by or merged with Pilot) but since FJ stations usually
have plenty of maneuvering room, separate RV lanes, and a card
for 3 cents off/gallon for RVs, we often use them on our trips
with or without the Cameo. We also bought diesel at Murphy's (WalMart),
Love's, and a couple local stations.
Some of the things that drive us crazy at gas stations when
we're hauling the camper are pumps that turn off at $100, having
to go inside sometimes to use our credit card and/or get the
receipt, misleading prices on the signs, and tight maneuvering
Fueling up is the least fun part of traveling for us.
Gazebos on scenic Stephens Lake
We averaged about 12 MPG over the four days of travel, getting
better mileage where the terrain was flatter.
We were careful to keep our camper weight as low as possible.
E.g., we started out with only about 30 gallons of fresh water
and dumped gray water along the way. We also waited to stock up
on heavy supplies like canned goods and dog food that we'll get
in Montana. That way we don't have to haul them as far. In
addition, there is no sales tax in MT. Prices for everything
will be higher in both Canada and Alaska
We spent three nights on the road before reaching the USAF
Academy campground in Colorado Springs.
Stayed overnight at the Walmart at exit 53B, Frankfort, KY. It’s
north of I-64 3/10ths of a mile, then left on Leonardwood Rd. The
entrance to WM is about ¼ mile farther. There is a Steak 'N
Shake across the road. There are numerous businesses on this
curving road, including Lowe’s. There is no Sam’s Club in
Frankfort (we prefer Sam's because it closes overnight).
We parked between the entrances and the garden area. There weren’t any
available spots near grass at either end of the store. Traffic was heavy
through the parking lot all evening. When Jim went inside about 7:30 PM
he was surprised to see a bunch of kids in prom dresses and tuxedoes
inside the store! Maybe they were in there because it was raining
lightly and they couldn’t hang out anywhere outside before the dance.
We had strong phone and WiFi signals but Jim’s choices of TV stations
was somewhat limited.
at Sam’s Club at exit 128A on the east side of Columbia, MO
overnight. There are two ways in. We missed the first entrance
to the road the store is on (Conley, first light right south of
the freeway) but got there OK at the next light.
Our parking spot at Sam's Club in Columbia, MO
Sam’s is in a large shopping area with IHOP, Lowe’s, Staples, Steak 'N
Shake, and small stores. We parked in the middle of a row out from the
garden area, near IHOP. There is a WalMart nearby on the same side of
the street. Jim saw it did during his bike
ride and preferred it because of the islands we could park next to
(instead of the middle of a row) but we were already situated at Sam's
and he didn’t want to move. We were
able to get free WiFi from Lowe’s, using Internet Explorer to get online; we
usually use Firefox for our browser.
A couple other RVs came in after us. Jim checked inside and employees
said “RVs park here overnight all the time.” The store closed at
6 PM on Sunday so it was pretty quiet after that. Traffic wasn’t nearly
as heavy as at the WalMart in Frankfort.
Jim went out for a 30-minute bike ride before supper. He went south and
found a neighborhood with little traffic. He also discovered a bike path
through a park with a beautiful lake (Stephens Lake Park). There were lots of people enjoying
the water and grass. What a great find!
Early the next morning we both went out for a 2-mile/45-minute walk with
Cody to see the park and lake. We saw only a few people and the lake was
interesting with all the mist rising above the water in the cool morning
air. It was a very nice way to start our day!
Waterfall at Stephens Lake Park in Columbia, MO
Overnight at WalMart at exit 159, Hays, KS. We parked far
out from the garden center with the truck/front cap facing the
hot sun to the west and our large windows facing north and east.
With less sun coming into the windows we were able to use our Fantastic Fan to keep the camper
cooler and didn't have to run the AC. Several other RVs and semis parked
near us overnight.
Cody and I went for a walk around the area about 8 PM when it was
cooler. There wasn't any good place for Jim to ride his bike. We had
good phone, MiFi, and TV connections.
Since we were on the
far western side of the time zone it didn’t get dark till about 9 PM.
Next month we'll have to get used to sleeping when it's light for about
20 hours a day!
Next entry: two weeks in Colorado Springs, our
first "staging area" for Alaska
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil,
and Cody the ultra Lab
© 2012 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil