After discovering and repairing the loose ignition wire on Monday, August 19th, I set off to the local shop to replace the muffler that we had blown out the previous Friday evening (access Entry #5 if you would like the whole gruesome story). The muffler replacement started with a reciprocating saw massacre of my exhaust system, but ended reasonably well considering what we had to work with.
Around 11am, August 19th, Jean and I bid farewell to our motel hosts and on-lookers (we had been there for three days), grabbed some lunch in Somerville and continued our westward journey to Denver for the start of our Park-to-Park trek.
Jeep ran well. We logged around 240 uneventful miles before deciding to settle in for the night at the State of Kentucky run Ken Lake lodge on the western edge of the state. Price was reasonable, surroundings were peaceful, and food quite decent.
August 19, 2013 Jean at Ken Lake Lodge in Western Kentucky
August 20, 2013 – visit to cousin Walter and Judy
From the Ken Lake Lodge we drove approximately 300 miles to the home of my cousin Walter and his lovely wife Judy in Washington, MO; located about 50 miles southwest of St. Louis, MO. The route took us past Cairo, IL and across classic bridges crossing the Ohio and Mississippi rivers.
Walter and I grew up on opposite sides of the Hudson River together; Walter in Teaneck, NJ and me in Yonkers, NY. In those days one thought little of allowing early teens to take public transportation unescorted, so he and I routinely made visits to terrorize each other’s households.
We spent the evening catching up on family and reminiscing over our past antics. Truth be known, we would repeat some of our feats again if given the chance – stunts that included things like cigars, fireworks, and old cars.
August 20, 2013 Map of river crossings at Cairo, IL
August 20, 2013 Crossings the Missouri at Cairo, IL
August 20, 2013 Driving Route 66 south of Washington, MO
August 21, 2013 – Washington, MO to Lawrence, KS
Left Walter and Judy around 11am after replacing some leaky wheel valve stems and having the wheels balanced.
August 21, 2013 Judy and Walter with Jean
Headed west once more. Past through Jefferson City, Missouri’s state capital (they call it Jeff City) and settled in at Lawrence, KS; the home of University of Kansas. Jeep died in the motel parking lot (could have been worse). Popped the distributor cap (good at this now – after the umpteenth time) and found that some debris had found its way between the ignition point contacts. Heard a clicking noise from the overdrive solenoid and discovered some loose wires and a loose governor. Prolonged vibration takes its toll on everything. Cleaned things up a bit and off we went for our 48th Anniversary (seems like yesterday) Dinner at the local steak dive next door to the motel. We were happy for having a reasonably uneventful day and having made some progress toward Denver.
August 22, 2013 – Drive, Drive, Drive
Logged another 300+ miles through Kansas. Actually, the back roads route that we took gave us a good flavor for Kansas life. There are other crops than corn grown in Kansas – a surprising amount of tobacco. Decided not to complain about the ethanol laced fuel. Bedded down in the small town of WaKeeney, KS. Had dinner at the Western Kansas Saloon – surprisingly good chicken parmesan. Discovered this day that the Jeep’s cooling system does not like sustained high speed cruising (steady 55mph for hours) when the temperature is in the 90’s. Seldom gets that kind of use in the Carolinas. Had to back off a bit on some of the long inclines to keep the coolant temperature within safe bounds. The Jeep and we survived.
August 23, 2013 – Denver!
Another 300+ mile day and we reached Denver, CO. The last leg to Denver was state route 83 running west to Denver. As we entered State Route 86 at its eastern terminus, what lay before us was 100 miles of a sparsely traveled, narrow asphalt strip running over and around hillocks and gullies that were covered with a thin layer sod and sage brush. OK, Mr. Jeep, don’t fail us now. It was very picturesque once one got over the fear of being found in a stalled Jeep as a dried stack of bones by some hitchhiker.
August 23, 2013 Driving the lonely final 100 mile stretch to Denver, CO
Eventually (everything at you do at 55mph is “eventually”) we broke out into the suburbs of Denver and were soon longing for the serenity of the previous hours. Reached our hotel with the help of our GPS, braved the Denver traffic for some dinner at a local mall and called it a night.