There is a direct route from Minneapolis to the eclipse path in Texas—just take I35 to Austin and turn right. It is not a terribly interesting route, and you’ll be sharing it with the trucking industry, but it is fast—at least where there isn’t construction.
The cool rainy weather of early May in Minneapolis gradually became warmer as I drove south. By Iowa, my jacket was no longer needed, and wouldn’t be again. By the time I got to Texas, the temperature would be 100 degrees, and reached or exceeded that temperature every day I was there.
I was trying to cover the miles quickly, so I did not take on the overhead of overnight camping, instead staying at traveler’s hotels, where I still struggled to get a good sleep—perhaps the combination of too much coffee and caffeinated non-alcoholic drinks. But I did get “free” breakfast and recharged my cooler with hotel ice and continued on, not quite reaching my destination goal each day. I stayed at Emporia instead of Wichita, Waco instead of Austin.
As I drove along the interstate, I noticed that the roadside rest areas, which are reliably spaced every 50 miles or so in Minnesota, became infrequent, and then completely absent after Iowa. Missouri and Kansas had none, and Kansas Interstate 35 was a tollway! It had “service islands” for gas and snacks, but I didn’t find them very appealing and did not stop at any. I saw one rest area in Texas, but by the time I saw the sign, it was too late to exit.
Near the Oklahoma border with Texas, I stopped for a ham sandwich at a local stop. Outside was a sign listing mileage to cities in TX and OK. No entry was there for Austin. I asked the two women running the shop “Why no Austin?” In her distinctive (and pleasant) Oklahoma accent, one replied, “Maybe no one wants to go there.”Continue reading