After the photogenically great skies we were blessed with in lower Nebraska, I should never have gotten too cocky about our change of fortune, weather wise. While things remained clear and bright as we left McCook and started south toward Oberlin, Kansas the sky quickly turned on us, turning a flat, cloudless, and dull slate blue, causing the earth below to loose the contrast and the drama a strong sky provides, bane of all serious photographers. By the time we reached Oberlin, the sort of official start of our Kansas/Highway 83 trip, I was in despair and couldn't travel another mile. I knew we would probably not come this way again and to keep going under these intolerably dull conditions would waste the opportunity we were there for, so after some debate, Jackie and I agreed to stop in Oberlin and had the good fortune to find the Landmark Inn, a hotel in a converted 1880's 3 story bank building, beautifully furnished in period antiques and filled with midwestern treasures of all sorts. It was also some kind of special occasion and all the shops and services were open that evening. We landed in interesting circumstances and could only hope that tomorrow would be more photogenic.
Left after breakfast and a last look around Orberlin, and headed south toward Liberal, the last stop in Kansas before you hit the Oklahoma border. True to its name, the 83 really is the road to nowhere because there was little to see or do till we arrived at our next post o'call, Oakley. Saw some farms, windmills, and tractors, a few gas stations and that was about it.
These pictures could have been taken anywhere, but were taken between Oberlin and Oakley.
Oakley was not a particularly interesting place and not much caught my eye other than the great motel sign as we entered town, Murray Bean's barber shop, and the abandoned Amoco station. Stopped and talked to Murray Bean for a while and he seemed kind of thrilled to be talking to someone from New York. He asked what we were up to and I told him about our Highway 83 adventure, but it didn't seem to make an impression, which I could kind of understand. Why would you care about a road to nowhere when you are already in the middle of nowhere.
After a fairly uneventful visit to Oakley, we continued south, and a mile or two south of town was Don's drive in, kind of a pleasant surprise
We got talking to some people from Texas who noticed our Nebraska plates (rented) and asked if we came all the way here for the burgers, which are considered to be pretty great, and we said not really, just happen to get lucky on our 83 adventure.
Not much seems to change around here but the prices. Jackie got the burger but wasn't crazy about it, but didn't say anything to the Texans. Can't imagine the made the long drive here for them either, but I didn't ask.
Next stop, Garden City, a much more substantial railroad town with a theater and lots of nice buildings, a good number of them empty.
There's more I'm sure, but this is a pretty good sampling of what's there. It's starting to be later in the day, and given the sameness of the countryside and our increasing level of exhaustion, we were feeling like getting to Liberal if nothing else crossed out path.
Old Highway 83 seemed promising but it was just a 5 or 6 mile detour through farm country.
Liberal at last!!! This is the train station that is still more or less functional and did house a surprisingly good Italian Restaurant, Ruffino's, which came highly recommended to us by a few town's people and we were not disappointed.
Otherwise downtown Liberal had lots of empty storefronts that are being slowly becoming filled with businesses serving the Hispanic population that is starting to be in the majority. Just 2 pictures, but these give you the general idea of what Liberal, the last town on the 83 in Kansas looks like. Not much going on, unless you want to hang around for lunch at Miesenheimer's. Jackie says the smoked brisket is great and I loved the cole slaw.