Monday, February 17, 2014

US50 Phase 1: Wichita

Oct 13 Camped out for a couple days just west of Wichita
Took some time yesterday evening to do laundry at the campground facility and wasted more time confirming that the TV antenna on top of the van sucks before settling down and reading the evening away as rain showers blew in one after the other.

My original plan for today was to check out the aviation museum here in Wichita in honor of my brother and nephew who are really into all those mechanical flying machines, (I guess that should include my great nephew Lane as well since he also goes nuts for that stuff.) but after some on-line research it looks like most the exhibits are outside and it's a grey day with low hanging clouds and showers blowing through as this weather system persists, so I decided the Cow Town Museum would be a better choice. At least there I will be able to duck into one of the many buildings and let the rain pass.

This turned out to be a really good choice as Cow Town is fantastic place that did a really good job of giving a sense of what daily life in Wichita, and places like it, was like in the mid to late 1800’s. I especially liked the residential section that had furnished houses representing poor, lower middle class and upper middle class homes. I found it interesting that the re-enactor had to sit on the porch of the lower middle class house to do her knitting because the fancy upper middle class house next door didn’t have a porch.

Two rooms and a kitchen built by a hard working blacksmith
for his family of wife and three kids
There was also the railroad depot, the livery, a hotel, a saloon, several specialty shops such as women’s clothes, gentleman’s clothes, and furniture along with the general store, pharmacy, carpenter’s shop, sheriff’s office, grain elevator, funeral parlor and lots of other stuff.

I also liked that, even though it was a Saturday, there were more re-enactors wandering around than visitors on this particular day. There was only one place where I had a 21st century intruder in one of my photos and that was a bright red baby stroller left on the front porch of a farmhouse. Took so many photos I flattened the battery and my spare is just too old to function reliably anymore.

I’ve come to the conclusion that I use my camera as a companion with which to share my experiences. It helps keep me engaged as I am constantly looking for cool shots and interesting things. I don’t have someone there to share with immediately so I build a narrative with the camera that I can share later. (I can hear the groans from here. Oh no, not more vacation photos!)

On the way back to the campground I tried to find a spare battery but didn’t have any luck so am going to have to ration my camera time until I get that resolved.

Lots of places seem to have their own ‘driving personality’. Houston has its fast drivers, drivers in Dallas seem to think it’s OK to exit the freeway from whatever lane they happen to be in at the time, rural New Mexico drivers respect speed limits and following distances, and for some reason in Wichita they love their horns. Not angry horns, just toots for no apparent reason, but that would soon have me angry horning! I mean how are you supposed to take a civilized nap while behind the wheel with all this horn tooting going on??!!!
A step up the economic chain

And a really ritzy place filled with
fine furniture, but no porch

 If you look close you can see rain falling in the puddle in the lower right of the livery photo. I took shelter in the livery right after taking the photo only to have the hostler show up and start moving two really, really big horses around in the tiny space as he got them ready to hitch up to the stage coach. I was stepping lively there for a bit to keep from getting horse prints on my toes!!

Man oh man look how complicated it was to be a well dressed lady of the times!!!

A horse powered seed drill. Man there is a lot
of adjustments to make on this thing!!!

I know, I know, a ridiculous number of photos, but consider yourselves lucky! I took about 1100 photos (All my ailing battery would handle), culled that down to 206 for a slide show, and, with a great deal of pain, picked a little more than 1/10th of those for this entry!

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