Rest Areas: Van Camping in Kansas

After a few days of rest and visiting family, we were ready to continue on our journey.  Only really 2 days of driving left to go.  Up to this point, we’d been doing nice easy driving days.  But, we were starting to get a bit antsy about getting to Colorado (our destination), and wanted to make some time on the road. At least, as much as we could, with two vehicles fully loaded.

We considered stopping and checking out a free camping spot in Kansas for our last night on the road.  But, in the end, we decided that we really just wanted to get as far as we could through Kansas.  So picking a destination for stopping for the evening didn’t fit what we wanted that day.  We figured we could always find a rest area, a truck stop, or a 24-hr Walmart along the way somewhere.

kansas rest stop

And so, we drove long and hard across Missouri & Kansas, making it almost to the Kansas/Colorado border before we were too tired to go further.  We found a clean and quiet rest stop there.  (We weren’t the only ones who thought so, as there were other cars and trucks sleeping there already also.)

Not all rest stops are ones that I’d consider safe, but this one was.  For starters, it wasn’t near a city.  In fact, that’s a bit of an understatement.  This one wasn’t near anything (which was probably why there were so many other people sleeping over in their vehicles there).  This rest stop was well-lit, to the point that it felt very safe.  It was also pretty quiet, so it made for a restful night’s sleep.

I also liked this rest stop had covered areas with picnic tables.  We didn’t end up using them, but I like having them available.  More than once, I’ve set up a picnic on a sunny day on a picnic table at a rest stop, for a meal that’s much more enjoyable (and healthy) than anything you’d get in a restaurant.  If you have your camp stove with you, you can even do hot meals if you choose (whether breakfast, lunch, or dinner).  Sometimes, I just set up the camp stove and brew a pot of coffee for the road.

(Note:  As true for any place you stop – take a minute to observe your surroundings, and trust your instincts.  If something doesn’t seem right, keep moving on.)

One other plus for us was that we were now 1,000+ miles into our journey and away from the squelching heat of summer in the south.  We didn’t mind a little time in the heat, but it had been a very long summer of extreme summer temperatures with no reprieve (remember, our journey started in Florida).  This was the first cool night we’d had in a long, long time and it caught us a little by surprise.  The change in temperature (from what we were used to) was exhilarating.  It sounds silly, but sometimes it’s those little things that remind you that you’re alive!  The cool night was so comforting – it felt like a tall cool glass of water on a dry day.  We slept like babies and woke up refreshed and ready for our new day!

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