Posts Tagged ‘Kansas Turnpike’

I’m Back After A Short Hiatus

18 January 2012

I took the better part of three weeks off from work (and most everything else) over the holidays, and am still getting up to speed. I spent most of the time in a combination of relaxing, entertaining, and knocking stuff off my house maintenance list. We spent some time traveling, like down to Dallas to buy stuff on sale (like a new low-temperature sleeping bag for Ian).

The biggest thing was a remodel of the kids/guest bathroom. I got the tub refinished from some sort of awful brownish color to white, got water leak damage repaired, and got the tub alcove prepped for a new fiberglass surround, which will be installed this weekend along with new brushed nickle fixtures. The old wallpaper was removed, some drywall damage repaired, and the biggest thing, removal of the carpet from the sink area and the 4″ tile from the tub area. Then I put down 12″ tiles over that entire area. It looks great!

I also put down tile in the kitchen (to repair a badly-laid carpet there) and pantry (to cover the unattractive concrete slab).

The biggest thing was buying enough wood flooring to cover the dining room, living room, and entryway. I got the flooring down in the dining room (well, most of it, I still have about two feet to go).

Finally was a lot of cleaning and collecting that we all did. The house is a little less crowded now; there is still a lot of work to go.

A couple of random observations:

We ate a Jason’s Deli over the holiday; I had a seasonal item, beef stew. It was EXCELLENT! I was a little worried when I saw tha the stew had bell peppers in it (no beef stew should have bell peppers). The stuff had beef cubes and lots of veggies, was perfectly cooked, and was in a tomato-based gravy. Loved it! I had some stew at another Jason’s location a couple days later, and the taste of bell peppers was distinct. An email to Jason’s corporate brought a reply that each location made their stew locally (surprising to me). So the good stew was at the location on NW Expressway, and the less good stew was in Edmond.

We did a bit of traveling. One thing I noticed was a relaxation of speed limits north and south of Oklahoma. First, the Kansas Turnpike (a very nice road to travel on) has raised their speed limits from 70 to 75 mph. This is a good thing. The Turnpike also takes credit cards now, in addition to cash. In Texas, it has long bugged me that the interstate highways speed limit would drop to 60 from 70 after dark; that dumb restriction is removed now (at least for cars). So the long haul across the Texas Panhandle is a little faster now. It’s even better in New Mexico, where it goes to 75.

We ate at Braum’s at one point over the break. I decided that I would like to try their chicken sandwich. My evaluation: DON’T. It was terrible. Really. No flavor, unattractive texture, it was not good at all. I didn’t finish mine.

That’s it for now.

Driving to Omaha via US-75

26 August 2009

I go to Omaha pretty often, and have taken most of the possible routes between OKC and Omaha. The shortest route also has some of the most interesting stuff on it. This is the route straight up I-35 from OKC, connecting to the Kansas Turnpike to Topeka, then hitting US-75 to Omaha.

In northern Oklahoma, there are a couple good radio stations to listen to. I really like KLOR (99.3 FM) in Ponca City. They play a great mix. There is a also a good rock station out of Enid.

In Oklahoma and Kansas, there is not a lot of town once you get past Wichita. You get middle-of-the-turnpike islands for gas and snacks every 40 miles or so. The drive north of El Dorado through the Flint Hills can be really, really pretty, if you like scenery. The rolling hills go for miles in all directions. There aren’t any towns until you get to Emporia (which is the location of the Braum’s Ice Cream and Dairy Store that is farthest away from the HQ in Tuttle, OK).

When you get to Topeka, there is a wealth of good places to eat. There are a lot of restaurants along Wanamaker Road on the west side of town. I have only been to the downtown part of Topeka a few times. South of town on US-75 there is a nice air museum. The Kansas Museum of History next to the zoo is really cool!

Headed north out of town, you hit a series of small towns in KS and NE that are really nice. Holton has a really nice family restaurant called The Trails. Sabetha, in Nebraska, has a nice restaurant (I can’t remember the name off hand), but it also suffers from the reputation of being a speed trap. Since US-75 was bypassed around Sabetha about a year ago, I think that situation has improved. Just north of Sabetha is Pony Lake. It’s a nice place to take a Sonic or DQ cheeseburger from Sabetha, and scarf that down watching a beautiful blue lake with a rock wall across on the east shore.

Once you get into NE, watch out for overly interested state troopers for the first 20 miles or so. You pass through the town of Dawson, then into Auburn, which has a number of restaurants and a very nice park just north of downtown.

Holton, Sabetha and Auburn all have really nice parks. The park in Holton is especially nice, it’s east of US-75 at the intersection of The Trails, about a half mile. It’s down in a hollow, has lots of trees, and a nice lake.

The next town is Nebraska City. I’ve reviewed several restaurants from there (but not The Embers yet, which is a really good steakhouse). There is a nice park and trail along the Missouri River.

The drive from Nebraska City into Omaha is uneventful until you get to Plattsmouth. That small town has a couple nice restaurants in the downtown area. After that, you pass Offutt AFB.

It’s about 440 miles from OKC to Omaha, depending on whether you stop in Bellevue or head to downtown or La Vista. My record from my house to Offutt is 6.5 hours (no stops except for a fill-up in Topeka), but 7.5 to 9 hours is more like it if you drive around the small towns you drive through.