Ghost Towns

Day 87 • May 27, 2012 • Anton to Idalia, CO •  54 miles

We chose to travel on Highway 36 because it combines nicely with Highway 24 in Kansas to give us a reasonably direct route to Manhattan and Topeka.  This has worked out well so far–  the road is in excellent shape and has very little traffic.  What little traffic we have seen has been very courteous.  An unanticipated down side though is that there are very few services along the way.  Plenty of towns, but most of them appear to be turning into ghost towns.  Maps and even the internet point to restaurants, gas stations, motels that are now boarded up.   In Joe’s, CO the only business we could find still operating was a liquor store, right across from the empty grocery store. And according to the proprietor of the only convenience store in Idalia, the status of the Joes liquor store is in question because the owner has health problems.  Several local folks have cited aging owners and no young people willing to step up.  Elva cited the impact of two nearby interstates, 70 and 76, taking away the bulk of the motor traffic.  She ran a café in Anton from the 50’s until she closed it in 2002 because it was consuming more money than it brought in.  The increasing cost of compliance with state health regulations also played a role.  We haven’t seen any yet, but locals speak of large numbers of touring cyclists passing through and they are doing what they can to accommodate them.  The friendly and accommodating folks on Highway 36 have made this a great route for us, more than offsetting a day of fierce south winds.

Rather than scramble for camping in Idalia, we reserved a room at the Prairie Vista Motel while still in Anton.  We arrived after the adjoining café was closed so we cooked our own meal outside the room.

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