Thursday, June 16, 2016

My Trip Part I - on the road again!!

OK, I’m back!!

The Kat always comes back you know.  But boy, what fun we had!!

I started planning this trip in January, because after 3 years of 1 income and no real family vacations, I thought we were due.  A quick quiz session on what and where, and we decided to go to the grand canyon.  None of us had seen the Canyon before, so it seemed a natural target.

The Grand Canyon is approximately 1400 miles away from Des Moines IA.

So logically we should fly, right?

Well, I really don’t like flying.  And we enjoy rambling road trips where we have time to stop and look at something that sounds fun from road signs.  So we decided to do a long ( 13 nights, 12 days) driving trip.  The plan, which we did more or less follow - was to drive through MO, KS, catch the tip of the pan handle of OK, drive almost the entire length of MN, and then AZ and the canyon.

To make it interesting we would circle back through AZ, and cut through the Rockies in CO.  (and if the timing was good… hit 4 corner’s monument, which is where CO, AZ, NM, and UT meet) (are you counting states yet?)   After a 2 night stay in Denver we would drive straight home through NE and then finally back to sainted IA!

(if you were counting, it’s 9 states)

For those who know me, I am a planner.  So I had all the hotels booked and some pre-paid by the end of January ( actually for those who are not planners… if you are going to the Canyon booking the hotels 6 months or more in advance is a really good idea.. The hotels fill up fast, and they get more expensive the less lead time you have)

The longest day of driving planned was 7 hours… but most days I tried to plan 4-6 tops, so we would have time to meander and stop at stuff that looked interesting.

Because getting time off is hard when you have a day job, we left on June 3rd at 5pm central time… when I got off shift.

That first night was pretty uneventful -- the only thing of note is that first hotel was below my normal standards.  I went by price since my normal stand by ( holiday-inn express ) wasn’t available.. In Topeka KS.

We tried to take pics of all state signs, but we missed Kansas.... 

June 4th: the plan was to spend the day in Hutchinson.  When I was researching the trip, I tripped over a salt mine museum that sounded interesting, and it had a link to another place of interest in Hutchinson -- a space museum

Who Knew?

The area of the museum is HUGE .. this pic gives you some idea.  it's probably a 3 or 4 foot ball fields wide.  all 600 + feet below the surface.... 

The salt mine was very interesting - It’s 660 feet below ground - and it’s still a working mine, though you only get to tour the old part they don’t mine anymore.  We actually got to meet a few miners who got off shift, and they seemed like a really nice bunch.  
Anything that goes down to the mine won't come back up, 2 expensive .  This tire got recycled as part of the displays

This wall of the ladies' bathroom is all SALT - OK, some of the lines of black is other sediment.  Still... SALT

The Space Museum was really lovely and surprising cool.    It's called the Cosmosphere and it started out as an observatory in the early 60's and just well, grew, into a very nifty place.  The first thing you see when you walk in is a real Blackbird.  You can actually touch the nose of it!

They have a large collection of real artifacts from space, rockets, and the space race.
Real space suits from the Apollo program!

 They have some mock ups as well, but it's surprising how much is real.  You just don't expect to find a gem of a museum like this in the middle of - well - Kansas!.  Seriously, if you are in Kansas Hutchinson is worth the trip.
Part of the Berlin wall.. I've never seen parts in person before

Next blog - New Mexico !

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