There's no step-free access to the garage. We brought our gear down on a cart to the top of the six or seven steps, then started to carry the bits over to the minivan. This wasn't a long distance, as we'd parked pretty close (arriving early helps). A hotel employee showed up and helped us lump the boxes and stuff over to the minivan and took the cart back for us as well, which was a help. And he wasn't even part of the bell staff.
When we tried to exit the garage, we hit a snag. There was no attendant, and the automated system at the gate didn't work. I pushed the call button as other vehicles began to queue up behind us. An attendant came running. When she couldn't get the box to release the ticket, she waved an override key over it and let us go without paying. That's seven days of free parking at $12/day, so hooray for malfunctioning automated gates!
I drove us out of the garage and to the front of the hotel, ran inside and checked out, and Lisa took over the driving, which she plans to do for most of this trip if possible. We later determined that as far as we can tell, when we rounded the block to circle around to head for I-35, the minvan achieved its current Farthest East — that is, it's the farthest east we've ever driven the vehicle. It was about Noon on Monday, and we were heading home.
I navigated Lisa onto south I-35, which actually bears sort of southwest through Kansas. Our first stop: a Waffle House, where we splurged on excessive portions of breakfast food. Fortunately for us, there are no Waffle Houses in Nevada.
I-35 is not terribly interesting on this stretch, I'm afraid. It's multiplexed with US-50 until Emporia KS, and we were happy to get off the freeway at Emporia and follow US-50 through town. Here we stopped to refuel at the Flying J truck stop and continued onward.
This was the first of many trains we saw today. After a while, I remembered that this must be the original Santa Fe Railroad main line we were following.
At Newton KS, we crossed over a large BNSF yard.
We passed through Hutchinson KS. Regrettably, we do not have time to visit the Cosmosphere in Hutchinson, which had an exhibit at Worldcon. Also, I would have liked to visit the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve. So many things to see and do, and so little time.
When we got on US-50, I pointed out with some amusement that we could simply follow it nearly all the way home to Fernley. (The last few miles would be on Alt-US-50 west of Fallon.) However, inasmuch as our planned travel took us a bit off that "direct" course, we turned more south on KS-61.
This got us more trains, this time on Union Pacific's former Rock Island line from Chicago IL to Tucamcari NM.
We got to the Holiday Inn Express in Pratt KS at 7 PM, where an upgraded mini-suite awaited us. At check-in, Lisa asked the front desk clerk if the hotel had wired internet, not just wi-fi. He said there was no wired access. When we got to the room, we saw there was an Ethernet port. I plugged my computer in and the wired connection worked. Surprising how many of the hotels in which we've stayed have staff that don't know their own rooms.
After unloading, we sorted laundry. Conveniently, the laundry room is on our floor and just a few doors down. The Holiday Inn Aladdin in Kansas City did have a guest laundry in the basement, but we were too run off of our feet to use it. Lisa took a bath, I ordered us pizza, and we spent the evening in.
During the drive to Pratt, we called ahead to where we're staying tomorrow night. I confirmed that, despite the way the IHG web site describes the rooms there, they do have bathtubs, not just shower stalls. Because of that, we changed our plans to stay two nights at Pueblo CO and cancelled our reservation at Colorado Springs (savings $25) rather than having to shift hotels a relatively short distance. It means a little bit of back-tracking after our first train trip on Wednesday, but it's surely going to be worth it by saving us a day of moving in and out of hotels.
I'd hoped for an early night tonight, and still may get it, but doing the laundry and trying to catch up on e-mail and accounting is taking a lot of time.