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Rt. 36 through Kansas - are we crazy?

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Next week, my 24-year-old daughter and I are driving from Columbus, OH to Denver in 2 1/2 days. The first day will be pushing though on the interstate to Kansas City, where we will spend the night. On the second day, we are considering taking Rt. 36 through Kansas, since we like to get off the interstates and it only adds about 45 minutes to the drive. We realize Rt. 36 passes through many small towns, and that is OK with us because we like to get a feel for the area that is not possible on the interstate. (translation: we like to stop for ice cream and/or a swim/walk if we come across a lake/park) We plan to stay in western KS or eastern CO for the second night, and drive the final 2-3 hours on the morning of the third day.

Does anyone have any first-hand knowledge of Rt. 36? Will we be able to find a respectable, clean mom-and-pop motel without making a reservation? (I have a list of motels along the route, but if anyone has a personal recommendation, that would be appreciated.) Is there anything else we should consider when deciding on Rt. 36 vs. I-70? Thanks very much!

(There is a second leg of this trip involving returning through Sante Fe, but that is a topic for another post!)

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