Day 15- Omaha to Sioux Falls

222 miles. Gas was $3.49/gallon. About 90 degrees and humid, but no rain until about 7:00 this evening, as I was pulling in to the Brimark Inn in Sioux Falls. $86/night with AAA discount and $10 pet fee. It’s a very pretty, recently-remodeled non-chain hotel just off I-29, with very nice, helpful staff. But the exit doors are LOUD, so make sure you ask for a room in the middle of the building.

Photo by Stephanie Roberts,

Takin’ the Slow Road…Travelled on the Loess Hills Scenic Byway yesterday and today. It’s a beautiful backroads country drive through pastoral fields and small towns. If you’re not in a hurry to get anywhere. In addition to the normal curves and tractor slow-downs, there is currently a lot of construction on some of the roads, and several places where you have to wait for a construction escort because there’s only one lane available (for both directions). It’s actually peaceful to surrender to the construction hostage situations if you recognize that it’s out of your control, and you’ll get there eventually. Another lesson — I was surprised when passing a road construction site when a man who was breaking up asphalt with a pick-axe on a hot, muggy Iowa day, looked up and gave me the biggest, nicest smile I’ve seen in a long time (so bummed I didn’t grab my camera in time to capture it). I immediately felt embarrassed about any complaining/whining I’ve done, ever in my life. I have so many wonderful things to be thankful for. I promise not to take them for granted anymore!

Photo by Stephanie Roberts,

The sweetest house in Honey Creek…(yes, that’s a propane tank painted like a watermelon!!!)…

A morning of cruising past rolling hills of corn and beans, small towns, and beautiful barns culminate in a gorgeous Lewis-and-Clark-type view from the Murray Hill Scenic Overlook, above Pisgah, Iowa…

Day 14- Kansas City to Omaha

Photo by Stephanie Roberts,

Photo by Stephanie Roberts,

BACK ON THE ROAD!!! It doesn’t happen often, but some days the world just seems to know what you need. Today was one of those days for me, where I found nothing but hugs, smiles, beautiful country scenery, and happiness.  After a MAJOR pit stop in Missouri to visit family (nothing better!), Colby and I are back on the road. It was SO hard to leave my parents — as we all get older every day, each visit is more precious. Being unemployed is not all fun, but it was a real luxury to get to spend time with my family without running around buying/wrapping Christmas presents, with the return-trip clock running the whole time. But no matter how long you’re home, it’s always hard to leave.

265 miles. Gas was $3.42/gallon.

First stop today was exactly what I needed. I spotted a crusty old billboard (you know how I love those!) for Hunt Orchard from I-29, and I headed straight for the exit. Just outside of Amazonia, Missouri, the orchard/market was nearly empty when I pulled up. But a lovely young woman named Samantha ran out of the store to greet me and Colby (OK, mostly Colby). When she saw my camera she wanted a picture of her and her mom…and then her and her dad…and then her and her friend. She was adorable and gave me a much-needed hug when we finally left. You really do meet the nicest people when you travel with a dog.

Hunt Grandview Orchard, 14615 St. Rt. K, I-29 exit 60, Amazonia, Missouri, 816-475-3441

Then while I was photographing an old church, a man and his dogs on a golf cart rode by, cheerfully waving. When he saw my car license he yelled out “I wish they all could be California girls!” (a nod to the  Beach Boys song, for you youngsters). More positive affirmations in the town of Rock Port, Missouri, where local pre-schoolers and their teachers were creating “happy” art on the sidewalk…

No Vacancy…

Photo by Stephanie Roberts,

I’m getting ready to head out on a major Route 66 trip in a couple of weeks, from Santa Monica to Missouri (at least…maybe further).  Have been going through all my California Route 66 pix.  This is the old Henning Motel next to the Bagdad Cafe (the one from the movie) in Newberry Springs — the middle of the Mojave Desert.  Long ago deserted.