Plains & Panhandles Roadtrip
DAY ONE RECAP
Monday, July 8, 2002
Monday didn't start out the way I expected. The plan was to wake up around 8:30 and head out about 10. However, the day before I left during a routine pre-roadtrip checkup, my brother discovered a screw lodged into my right rear tire. So I woke up a little earlier Monday morning and took it to the tire shop where the tires came from and got the tire patched for free. I had the car gassed up and was heading towards Interstate 35 at 10:00 that morning, so everything was back to normal.
The day started very familiar to me as I drove a road I've been on several times - Interstate 35. I drove I-35 to Wichita, KS, where I then got off the Kansas Turnpike and got on Interstate 135 for about a mile before exiting off again to Interstate 235. After taking a short 5-minute break in Wichita to feel better and to be reenergized with more water, I went back on I-235 for about 5 miles before exiting off again, this time to U.S. 54/400 west. This interchange was terrible! When merging onto U.S. 54, there is no acceleration lane, and the lane you merge into exits off onto I-235 South! And with traffic heading towards the airport, it's not a very well-thought out interchange. Oh well I made it through. I wouldn't see another Interstate until 24 hours and 400+ miles later in New Mexico.
U.S. 54 was a 4-lane divided highway with some interchanges for about 25 miles or so. Then it turned to 2-lane road. I wouldn't see another 4-lane divided highway until, you guessed it, New Mexico. The drive was actually okay; it wasn't too boring as I would see the next three days! After about 100 miles on U.S. 54/400, I exited off onto U.S. 400 and headed towards Dodge City. I got my welcome into Dodge City by seeing an accident scene at the Dodge City city limit sign. I settled into the Super 8 on Business U.S. 50 and watched the Home Run Derby that night.
The weather on this day was the hottest of the trip as temperatures reached nearly 100 degrees. At least it was sunny on this trip unlike the last one! But there wasn't much rain at all on this whole trip.
DAY TWO RECAP
Tuesday, July 9, 2002
This day was a very long day of driving. I drove close to 500 miles on this day, which made it the 2nd-most miles I'd ever drove in one day at this time. (St. Louis-Oklahoma City on June 27, 2001 was the longest - 516 miles) But on June 27, 2001, the trip was done on Interstates. On this day, I wouldn't even see an interstate for almost 300 miles! I drove U.S. 56 out of Dodge City and took it all the way through the Oklahoma panhandle and northeastern New Mexico on the way to Springer, NM, the western terminus of U.S. 56 and U.S. 412 (which is signed with U.S. 56 from Boise City, OK to Springer). Heading west, I fell back an hour as I changed time zones which helped me gain some time, looking at the clock anyways! After Clayton, NM, about 10 miles west of the Oklahoma state line, there were no towns for 83 miles as U.S. 56/412 winded its way through some northeast New Mexico desert. I think I saw one other car going west during those miles, and that was toward the end. So it was a pretty lonely drive. Then after gassing up near the U.S. 56/412 terminus in Springer, I went on the business loop for a little bit before finally getting onto an Interstate highway for the first time since Wichita! I then went on Interstate 25 (75 mph speed limit-made up some time here after a 60 mph speed limit on U.S. 56/412) south all the way to Albuquerque.
Between Las Vegas (New Mexico, not Nevada!) and Santa Fe I did run into some rain. It only lasted a few minutes though and there were four times that this happened. Interstate 25 in this area was pretty scenic as it winds its way through the mountains in the area.
I arrived in Albuquerque about 4:45 and proceeded to a local Burger King for dinner. I was in kind of a hurry because I wanted to catch the All-Star Game which started at 6 local time. After eating dinner I went out to my car and had the scariest moment of the trip-it didn't start! I called AAA and had them send a tow truck so they could tow it back to the Motel 6 I was staying at down the street. The tow truck arrived 30 minutes later and I had him jump the car to see if that would work, but it didn't. So the tow truck guy had me put the car in neutral and back it up so he could put it on the truck. I did that and decided to try to start it just for the heck of it. I didn't expect anything, but lo and behold, it started! So I didn't need him after all I guess! The problem must've been altitude or something because I had absolutely no problems starting the car for the rest of the roadtrip, praise God! But still it was a scary moment.
DAY THREE RECAP
Wednesday, July 10, 2002
This was the second longest day of the roadtrip, and I lost an hour because I went back into the Central Time Zone, which made things cramped later in the day. After the no-starting incident the night before I was a little worried about the car at first. I ate breakfast at a Carl's Jr. across the highway from the Burger King where the incident happened. But the car did start and I proceeded on Interstate 25 south to the recently-rebuilt Interstate 40 interchange. It is now a very nice interchange with the bridges painted in desert colors. I took Interstate 40 across the rest of New Mexico and was welcomed into Texas with a construction zone so there were no signs that said I was in Texas, or that I was in a different time zone. Interstate 40's first 20 or so miles in Texas is among the most boring stretches of highway I was on this trip. There were even two intersections to local ranches right off the highway! Besides that it was nothing but desert. It did get slightly better after that, and next thing I knew I was in Amarillo. I then went on Interstate 27 south all the way to Lubbock. Interstate 27's southern terminus is NOT at Loop 289! It is actually half a mile south of Loop 289 at 82nd Street. There is no end signage present southbound and no begin signage northbound, but I did get pictures of the approximate southern terminus of Interstate 27. I arrived at the Motel 6 of Lubbock at 5:15 and had to be at church by 7, so I rushed and got ready, went to a KFC drive-thru and ate dinner in the church parking lot! By the way, I attended Bethany Baptist Church in Lubbock and had a great time of fellowship with the people there.
DAY FOUR RECAP
Thursday, July 11, 2002
This was a sad day as it was the last one of the roadtrip. I kind of didn't want to go home but all good things have to come to an end sometime, and this was that day for this trip. I went on Loop 289 around the west side of Lubbock and then hit Interstate 27 once again, this time going north. Then I got back on Interstate 40, this time heading towards Oklahoma City. There were a few construction zones on this day too, all on Interstate 40. Rain was in the forecast for this day, but there wasn't one sprinkle all day long! On this roadtrip there was rain for a total of maybe 10-15 minutes, if even that long, and that was on Tuesday between Las Vegas and Santa Fe, NM and on Wednesday just south of Amarillo near Canyon.
Trip Home | Trip Summaries
Interstate 25 | Interstate 27 | Interstate 40 | Interstate 44 | Bus. Loop I-25
U.S. 54 | U.S. 56 | U.S. 400
Texas Loop 289
Dodge City Pictures
Page created: January 23, 2005
Last updated: January 29, 2005