My husband and I just got back from a 5-day out-and-back trip from our (new) home in central MO, to my brother & mom's home in central KS.. The purpose was family, to celebrate my mom's 90th birthday. I'm posting this as there were a few things we learned that could help others.
We set out on Wednesday morning, leisurely, with a stop in Columbia MO at the Cracker Barrel there for breakfast. There was a wait, even so late morning, but it wasn't long. After breakfast, we proceeded to go west on I-70. The trees are starting to turn color and it's just beautiful - a serendipity for the trip since we weren't sure of the status of the trees. We rolled along, up and down the hills, admiring the trees that HAD turned colors - mostly yellow and orange at this point, none yet in fiery red. Our stops were pretty minimal -- to stretch, facilities, etc., mostly at rest areas or service areas. All of the rest areas along I-70 were open, as were both service areas along the KS Turnpike between KC and Topeka. BTW, for a regular vehicle not towing anything, our length cost us $3.50. It rained on us, with a wind, all the way from KC into Salina.
Since our family has not yet set up their guest room (they recently moved from one house to another), we were required to stay in a hotel for the duration. Our choice this time around was Holiday Inn. There are two of those in Salina, KS. One is a Holiday Inn & Suites, the other is a Holiday Inn Express and Suites. Both have an indoor pool and hot tub, the same type of rooms, fitness Center and a couple of other things. The main difference between a HI and and HIE, I guess, is the presence of a restaurant on site. If there is a restaurant, there is no free breakfast. The Express does not have a restaurant, so it offers a free continental breakfast. We stayed at the regular HI, and usually didn't eat breakfast there, as the cost was $7 per person.
The pool there was lovely - perfect temperature - but the hot tub was out of service. They were waiting for a part to come in. I didn't try the fitness center. On the one time we tried the $7 breakfast, it was comp'ed to us for problems in the room we had with Internet that would drop in and out, and no room phone. It was nothing to write home about.
While in Salina, we dined out a few times. One memorable meal was at a place called Martinelli's in downtown Salina. They serve Italian food, and was the restaurant of choice for the Birthday Girl. The food was great and the service, excellent. Another place we tried was Hickory Hut BBQ. It's a small place, not fancy at all, but the food was plentiful and delicious. We also hit a couple of chains for different meals.
The drive home on Sunday was very uneventful. We stopped at Cracker Barrel in Junction City (we love C.B. and try to stop at one a lot) for breakfast, arriving ahead of the crowds. We got right in with no wait, but as I was paying the tab, I heard the hostess tell someone it was a 20-minute wait.
The traffic was heavier through Kansas City on this leg of the trip, probably because it was a weekend. Travelers on I-70 should know that eastbound through downtown KC, you will be diverted onto I-670. That's actually a more direct-route and is very smooth.
We stopped in Columbia to pick up something from Family there, and to visit for 30 minutes or so. Then moved on. We had to pick up fuel before we got back to our house. Just because we'd made the 390 mile trip on Wednesday with one tank of gas (small Ford sedan), didn't mean we'd make it the other direction. Evidently we'd had a tailwind on Weds. We picked up the fuel and made it home, about 8 hours on this direction (vs 7 hours on Wednesday).
I'll try to post photos in another section.