Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee

Dodge City, KS – Memphis, TN
Daily Mileage: 749
Total Mileage: 7219
Total Number of States Traveled: 29

Nendels Inn
2523 E Wyatt Earp Bl
Dodge City, KS 67801

I got out of Dodge Friday morning and continued east, dropping down to US54 passing through Greensburg, Brenham, and Wellsford. I got on a local repeater and talked to Larry, a retired teacher who taught High School in Cunningham and now works for the Department of Agriculture as an inspector. He had the day off and was running some errands in Pratt, located at the crossroads of US 281 and US 40. We talked a little about the war in Iraq, Larry had former students who’d served over in Iraq and was dubious of the press coverage and concerned about what was happening over there. Larry also recommended filling up in Goddard, as opposed to waiting until I got to Wichita to get a cheaper price.

While approaching Wichita, I realized I had forgot (again) to load my required maps onto my Pocket PC. I found a Starbucks on the western side of Wichita where I refilled my coffee mug and pulled out the laptop and Pocket PC to get my maps squared away. But something went terribly wrong… the map loading program just kept going, and going without completing. I tried a few times, but I was loosing daylight and knew I still had many miles before Memphis.

I kind of panicked – I’d been relying on my Pocket PC/GPS combo the entire trip… giving me turn by turn instructions and almost always getting me exactly where I needed to go. I’d purchased a US road atlas way back in North Adams, MA before I’d developed full confidence in my Pocket PC/GPS system. Now I had to use a paper map. I had to actually know where I was going, instead of blindly relying on a computer.

After a little confusion on the I-35 Kansas toll road (entering the toll road and heading north rather than south – having to get off, pay 25 cents and get back on the other direction) – there was a lot of cursing on my part during this process. Heading south on the Interstate, I picked up my speed quite a bit, down into Oklahoma, getting on another toll road (US 412) towards Tulsa. It seemed like it took forever to pass through Tulsa and make my way south east on the toll road heading for I-40.

Meeting I-40 and continuing east, I crossed into Arkansas, through the down of Fort Smith as dusk approached. While Kansas was as flat as everyone says, Oklahoma started into some rolling hills, becoming much more pronounced traveling through western Arkansas. Up, down, turn and twist as I made steady progress through Little Rock and on to Memphis. I had a nice conversation with a ham that had been traveling from Wichita Falls, TX to Little Rock, AR – Steve is an instructor at Sheppard Air Force Base and was formerly a crew member for both EC-130s and AC-130s, spending some time in Tucson previously.

I was really missing my Pocket PC/GPS when I rolled across the Mississippi into Memphis. It was around 11:30pm and the motel I’d booked was on the east side of Memphis in an area called Cordova. My paper map provided little detail and I had to pull over, break out my laptop and fire up the Microsoft Streets & Trips software. After an hour, I finally found the day’s destination.