For my twenty-eight posting in my ‘Thirty Days of Thankfulness‘ blog series, I am extremely thankful for the Interstate Highway System championed by the only President hailing from Kansas (albeit as a transplant from Texas): Dwight D. Eisenhower. Thanks to his vision and backing, construction was authorized by the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956 and took 35 years to complete. The network has since been extended and as of 2006 it had a total length of 46,876 miles. About one-third of all miles driven in the country use the Interstate system (2003 figures). The cost of construction has been estimated at $425 billion (in 2006 dollars), making it the largest public works project in history (for more interesting facts and trivia about the Interstate Highway System, please click here).
Last Wednesday, my husband and I embarked on our third annual trip to North Texas via the Kansas Turnpike (consisting of I-70, I-470, I-335 and I-35), paying for the privilege to drive from one end of it to the other for just $10.75, continuing on through Oklahoma and about forty miles of Texas to reach Denton. Within just the past couple of months, Kansas raised the speed limit on all Interstates to 75 mph, which made the trip from Kansas City through Lawrence, Topeka, Emporia, the Flint Hills and Wichita, seem to fly by. Oklahoma, however, still maintains a 70 mph speed limit and thanks to the ‘no delay’ Dallas interchange (between I-35 and I-40) and all the attendant reduced speed zones through the Oklahoma City metropolitan area makes the trip south seem to drag on forever. Terry slept through the second half of Oklahoma and I listened to music via my Nook Color. I had to switch from Heart‘s Greatest Hits (which started to put me to sleep) to Iron Maiden‘s Powerslave (nearly all the songs on this album race along at tempos that rival the Trooper). I managed to stay awake and arrived in Denton just as the sun was setting.
For the rest of the weekend, we visited Rachelle, Nic, Derek and Royna, enjoying a fabulous smoked turkey and ham with the usual Thanksgiving fixings. I made two batches of sticky buns, which didn’t survive more than an hour or so once they came out of the oven.
We avoided any of the early bird Black Friday sales, but attended the special Black Friday show at the Abbey Underground. Saturday we spent more time visiting and watching movies, including Raiders of the Lost Ark, the Tower Heist and Super 8. We had some dysfunctional family comedy at the movie theater Saturday evening and drama early Sunday morning, but nothing that we couldn’t overcome and laugh about. Sunday we did some more shopping and then spent the evening reliving my childhood by trying to tune in television stations with an indoor antenna.
Yesterday, Terry and I were up early to hit the road north, since we had a pickup time at the kennel of six o’clock to retrieve Roxy and Apollo. We left Denton at 6:55 and pulled into the driveway in Lansing at 3:25 p.m.
We experienced an uneventful drive for the most part, except for an incident involving an Oklahoma State Trooper. He pulled me over, not because I was speeding, but claiming I had crossed over the white line (the one between the right lane and the right shoulder) several times and was concerned that I was suffering from fatigue from driving too long (I’d only been on the road a couple of hours by then so no, I wasn’t tired, nor do I believe I was weaving erratically around the highway). He asked for my driver’s license but not my registration or insurance. He also asked for my husband’s driver’s license, which always makes Terry angry, but he restrained himself from sarcastic outbursts. Essentially, the only reason this trooper pulled us over is (most likely) that we had out-of-state tags and he was fishing for illegal drugs (good luck with that) or outstanding warrants (ditto on that one). I need to poll my attorney friends and determine if when pulled over, an officer can ask for passenger identification without stating a reason. Otherwise, it might be harassment or just a way to extend the length of the stop. The officer did not ticket me, but gave me some kind of warning (not really a warning, just a record of our contact) for me to sign. I signed (since I didn’t feel like making a scene) and proceeded north, finally and thankfully reaching the Kansas border at noon.
Despite the prevalence of State Troopers in Texas and Oklahoma (I only saw one Kansas State Trooper just south of Topeka), we made record time. I purposely prefer to make the return trip on a Monday because traffic after the Thanksgiving weekend is horrendous on Sundays, but non-existent on Mondays. I attribute the ease of our travel to the exceptional highway system we enjoy in the United States. I’ve ridden or driven quite a few of the Interstates and someday I need to figure up which ones and how many miles. With a nod to Eisenhower, I’ve visited his home town of Abilene, Kansas several times (and driven through it more times than I can count while traversing Kansas via I-70 east or west) and been through his birthplace of Denison, Texas via US-75 and US-69. Roads and facilities are named for him in my unofficial home town of Leavenworth, Kansas, probably because he attended the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth. I’m just grateful that Eisenhower brought back something good from WWII Germany:
Eisenhower gained an appreciation of the German Autobahn network as a necessary component of a national defense system while he was serving as Supreme Commander of the Allied forces in Europe during World War II. He recognized that the proposed system would also provide key ground transport routes for military supplies and troop deployments in case of an emergency or foreign invasion.
All my past and future road trips benefit from Ike’s foresight. I like Ike and I love his Interstates.