On the Road

It wasn't an exciting couple of days on the road from Michigan to New Mexico but Wichita was more interesting than expected.

Day 1: Home to Springfield, Illinois

We got on the road about 12:10. The killdeer escorted us up the driveway and away from the nest. (They’ve been nesting next to our driveway.) We hit construction and lots of traffic where I-94 and I-80 meet. It was otherwise pretty painless, if fairly boring, driving. Illinois is FLAT.

This is our fourth road trip crossing the plains — the previous trips were to Yellowstone National Park, Glacier National Park, and Big Bend National Park — and it’s just as flat on this route. Since we went through Kansas this time I can cross that off my list, and New Mexico is new to me too. After that, Oregon and Alaska will be the only states west of the Mississippi that I haven’t been to.

Day 2: Springfield to Wichita

We got on the road at 9:15. Another easy, boring drive. Nagatha (AKA Google’s driving directions) kept trying to send us on HER route which was faster but had tolls. There was something going on in Kansas City. When we got to River City Brewing in Wichita where we had dinner they had the NFL draft on TV and we discovered that’s what was happening in KC.

Wichita was a pleasant surprise. I chose it as a place to spend the night because of its location but the more I read about it, the more interesting it sounded.

Planning road trips

We used to wing it on road trips, driving until we couldn’t stand it anymore and then stopping for the night. But neither our on-the-spot decision-making skills nor our ability to sit in a car for long periods has improved with age, so now I plan our stops. I try to divide the distance into 6-8 hour chunks but we’ll go as long as 10 hours to fit time and distance needs. I look for a place with easy freeway access and someplace to eat within walking distance or a short drive. Or a pizza delivery place! (We can’t get pizza delivered at home.) If there's a place en route worth spending a couple of nights, that works too. On past trips we’ve spent a couple of nights near Theodore Roosevelt and Badlands National Parks, and Palo Duro Canyon State Park in Texas.

mountains in the distance
Once we hit New Mexico we started seeing some snowcapped mountains in the distance.


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We had a standard room at Country Inn & Suites in Springfield. Decent cooked breakfast with sausage, egg, fried potatoes, juice, coffee. Express checkout by replying OUT to a text. Nice and quick. The Hotel at Old Town in Wichita had all the grand-old-hotel-of-yesteryear charm I was hoping for.


It looked like the Bob Evans next door in Springfield was closed. We got Italian sandwiches from McAlister’s for later. In Wichita we had a good meal at River City Brewing down the street.


We had our own car. The neighborhood in Wichita was walkable. In Springfield the area was more strip malls.