JJMRT Day 2: Giants on the Horizon

Day two of Jon and Josh’s Magnificent Road Trip has come and gone, and it was quite an interesting one.

First of all, though, there were a few things I left out of yesterday’s happenings. As lengthy as the last entry was, a few things still managed to slip my mind. For one, our hotel room in Wichita had two copies of the exact same painting, and they were on adjacent walls. Whether it was a deliberate move by the hotel staff or just a mishap, it struck us as a bit creepy. The second thing is that, while Josh and I perused a rather unspectacular-but-not-quite-awful mall, we came across a kiosk on the map called “Ghost Armor”. We rushed around looking for it, our imaginations assuring us that there was nothing uncool about something going by such a name, but then we found the kiosk and just about died. The full sign read, “Ghost Armor: Complete Protection For Your Computer”. Screw you, Ghost Armor.

Now, then. On with the adventures of day two.

We awoke in Wichita to mysterious sounds from the other side of the wall, and then wandered upstairs and ate a pretty adequate breakfast. We gathered our things, checked out, and left our hotel, heading for downtown Wichita. We flipped through some radio stations again and were reminded of why we don’t listen to morning radio.

We crossed the rather low Arkansas River and parked near the giant statue that seems to be the heart of Wichita: the Keeper of the Plains. He looks like this:

So we took a few pictures with him, thought about how good he looked checking out an otherwise fairly nondescript downtown, and then piled back in the car to get the heck out of Kansas. In our haste we happened to pick up a little bug companion. He was at first quite confused but soon learned to deal with the solidity of the windshield.

And then we drove. If you’re reading this now, I’m here to tell you that you should never go to Kansas. Yeah, I made Wichita sound liveable and whatnot, but honestly the whole state is so featureless and uneventful that any semi-large city would seem like a gold nugget amongst the dirt.

Our Kansas experiences weren’t so horrible overall, and the only reason I’m knocking it so much now is because the drive out of it was so dreadfully boring. It’s an eight-ish hour drive from Wichita to Denver, and since Josh is the only one driving his manual car, it’s a ton of driving for one person. We chose to stop in some small town called Colby to eat lunch, but once we got closer to Colby our plans changed and we stopped in a place called something like Wakeensy. It was here that I nudged our little bug hitchhiker out of the car to fend for himself in the abnormally powerful winds of western Kansas.

We signed up for an Audible account last night and downloaded the short story anthology Stories, edited by Neil Gaiman, and so during our freakishly long drive we at least had a few interesting stories to keep us company. Even so, as we neared the end of our eighth hour and Denver popped up with its glorious mountains in the distance, our brains were jelly.

Along the way we passed Kansas’s gigantic wind farm, where a full army of humongous windmills moved lethargically in the high winds and promised us slow deaths as we drove by. Or maybe we imagined the threats, but honestly that was all we could do to avoid the insanity that Kansas was so insistently pushing upon us.

Once in Denver, we got stuck in traffic. I sang songs for random businesses along the highway and we discussed how we had seen quite a few license plates from other states. And so then I started a list of all those that we had seen, and as of this moment we have spotted license plates from 31 of our 50 grand states, and also one large and determined truck from Ontario. Whether we’ll hit the full 50 depends, we’ve decided, upon the tenacity of the drivers from Alaska, Hawaii, and the far Northeastern states. We do, however, have four days left on our adventure.

We checked in to the hotel and melted into the beds for some time. Josh decided the hotel for tomorrow, in Colorado Springs, was just too sketchy, so he went through what should have been the easy process of cancelling that reservation and making a new one at a less-sketchy place. Instead it took him an hour-long phone call to a man in India who didn’t seem to know a tree from a tortoise. Though he may have.

After the phonetacular extravaganza, we were both starved. We’d gained an hour (since Colorado’s on Mountain Time) and even though the Colorado world was 7 PM, our bodies were still feeling 8 PM and desperately wondering where the food was at.

And so we wandered around in the car, parked at a meter, walked along the cool 16th street area of downtown Denver, and eventually ended up – by pure luck – at a restaurant called Yard House, which boasted of having the most beers on tap in the world.

It was incredible. They very well may have the most beers on tap in the world. There were a lot of tubes.

We got some yummy burgers, got some delicious beers, and then asked the waitress if she knew about local breweries. She didn’t, but some other guy did, so then he came over and drew on my map. When we left Yard House, I was convinced it was the most delicious place, possibly ever.

We walked along the downtown streets for a bit and Josh ultimately decided that most downtowns devolve into bars and hoodlum activities past a certain time, so instead we left, got gas, and came back to the hotel.

Then we hatched great plans for the next day and tried really hard not to think about our very last drive of the trip, the drive home: 8 hours and 42 minutes from Roswell to Plano.

So concludes the second day of Josh and Jon’s Magnificent Road Trip. Stay tuned, for tomorrow’s going to be a doozy.

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~ by Jon C. Forisha on June 21, 2011.

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