This blog is posted when we travel overseas taking a break from our Fulltime RV Life.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Interesting day

First off, today was unusual in that neither of us took a single photo. Second, the couple that were supposed to be on duty today were sick, so Linda and I got a heavy dose training and experience, which goes a long way in explaining why we took no photos. It wasn't that bad, but we are going to be on duty from 8:30 tomorrow morning till 8:30 on Monday morning, making for two very long days in a row. As we are learning, it goes with the territory of volunteering at CARE in summer. It seems that everyone wants to volunteer in the spring, fall and winter when the weather is much nicer. At those times they usually have seven volunteer couples, meaning light work for every one. We have two couples and two singles, so we really get to be busy, but the people who utilize CARE are all so nice it really isn't work.

Just a little bit on volunteering here. You are furnished one of the seven free sites behind the CARE Center. They are 50 amp FHU back-in sites, and you pay for the electric you use and and any propane you need. We will have four days of training, though not in the follow me and do this sense. More in the here is what to do, if you have any questions, ask someone what to do. It really isn't as bad as it sounds, but insecure people will probably feel pretty insecure. It's late, time to go, more tomorrow.

On a side note, about those margaritas yesterday. It sure was one and half pounds of strawberries. We like our strawberry margaritas to taste like strawberries. There is also an appropriate amount of tequila and triple sec added so that in the end we end up with two large margarita glasses each. It does put the "happy' in happy hour, but sometimes you just have to live Life.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Lucky day

What you see here is the application of the old adage: "I'd rather be lucky than good." Translation: It is good that I was in the process of putting the tire covers on the coach. The lucky part was not the what, it was the where. Just to the back of this wheel and about two feet out from it was a fire ant mound that I was totally unaware of. I can't imagine what would have happened had I laid down and stretched out the way I am, but behind the tire instead of in front of it. I was very lucky and I know it. PS, the fire ant mound has been treated with ant dead.

We had another training day today, and while we learned a great deal, only time will tell if we retained what we were told, and also if we were told all we need to know. When the trainer is being trained by the trainer trainer as the trainer trains the trainees, it isn't too difficult to believe more than a few things get lost in the process. Still, it's the great thing about having volunteered at a number of places. We've learned that it ain't perfect and it ain't gonna be, so lighten up and take it as it goes. The hardest part is knowing that the people who are the Care Center residents are most likely us 20+ years from now, so we really do want to do our very best.

Take these two old ladies for example. Obviously they have had some good years in their lives, but now they are pretty much limited to repetitive tasks that are easily learned. Stack all the silverware in the center of the napkin. Fold up the bottom, roll in the sides, place in the container of rolled silverware and repeat. From the look of the one on the right I should not have been taking a picture of their attempts at silverware rolling. I just hope it is a long time until things like this are in Linda's and my future.

It was not a day of all work and no play because we did drive into town and do a little shopping. First we scouted out Lowe's as we longer shop at Home Depot since our daughter's late unpleasantness with a minority shopper at Home Depot resulted in her dismissal as a Home Depot employee. We now understand that discrimination goes both ways. Home Depot may not miss us but they are never ever going to get another cent from us. If the minority persons that our daughter identified because of their actions, to be potential shoplifters, spend money at Home Depot then Home Depot might possibly come out ahead though I doubt it. Otherwise it will be a lose-lose for Home Depot. Besides, one long shopping trip to Lowes has convinced us they have a far better selection of merchandise that Home Depot.

Also included was a stop at HEB, where we got reacquainted with the best darn grocery chain there is. We ended up with a few goodies, part of which was a two pound container of dead ripe strawberries that I turned into the best strawberry margarita's we have had in months. When you use about one and a half pounds of strawberries to make strawberry margarita's there is no doubt they will turn out to be awesome. From the compliments I was receiving from Linda I did at least one good thing today. Isn't Life like that. Given lemons some people throw them out. Others make lemonade. Which type of person are we? Hint, we love lemonade. How about you?

Thursday, June 28, 2012

New experiences

6:45 came earlier than we thought it would, likely because we were still tired from yesterday's drive from Marshall to Livingston, then the four hours of training we had. It was really more a mental tiredness, probably due to trying to remember all the information we had received. Of course as soon as we started walking the few steps to the Care Center, adrenaline took over and we were fully ready to go again. As far as the morning mist and dews and damps, we were told it was unusual. Time will tell.

We were breakfast help this morning, but it turned out to be fairly easy as the breakfast most mornings is cereal, toast and an assortment of beverages. As we learned, things are not put out in just any order, it has to be the same way every time. That is due to the limited eyesight of a number of the people who eat breakfast. If you are blind and eat bran flakes every morning, they better be in the same location every day. They key here is that the people who utilize the Care Center must be ambulatory and have the ability to take care of themselves. The best way we have come to think of it is adult day care.

Not that everything is perfect here. Take our Splendide washer/dryer. Observe a cycle where it will fill with water, pump the water out, but in between it just sits there with lights flashing and the dial rotating on its own. A call to the manufacturer resulted in it's either the motor, control board, or the connections between the two. Of course checking it out can be done by a local RV shops that is an authorized Splendide service center, or I can try to do it myself. Currently we have opted for the latter, but it is going to be a week or so before we can tackle it as we need to concentrate on learning our new jobs. And the washers here in the park are inexpensive, plus with the temperatures in the upper 90's, drying anything on the clothes rack is easy. Besides, if living the fulltime Life was too easy, everyone would be doing it.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A change of pace

A fairly short drive today, but it resulted in a fairly a major change in lifestyle. For the next month we are going to volunteering at the Escapee Care Center in Livingston, something we have wanted to do for some time. As time goes on we will be describing more about what it is and what we will be doing, mostly because we have already had our first "trailing" experience tonight at dinner. Think trailing around with someone who has done this for five different volunteer stints. We know nothing, they know everything. Yet after four hours of this we actually think we have a reasonably good understanding about most of the things we will have to do on our own in a few days. It's not a case of fast learners, rather it's a case of excellent teachers. Much more to follow on this experience, but for now I think we both are looking for some rest as we have to start at 6:45 tomorrow morning. Hey, we used to get paid to go to work that early, so now that we are retired we do it for the fun of it.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Texas at last

Given another set of circumstances, this could be Linda, but thank goodness it is not. I can only wonder what conversations took place between husband and wife before they left home for the start of this trip. While she loaded the car with more plants than we thought it could hold, he was busy unhooking the sewer, water and electric. It looked to be a case of, if she wants to bring them, she can take of them. It reminded me that no matter how bad it is, (which it really isn't) some other husband has it far, far worse.

I always chuckle as we approach a state line because of the comments coming from the navigator's seat. It is a running count down of the miles as we get closer and closer, then on occasion she still misses the sign. Not today, and being the good person she thinks I can be at times, I slowed down as we approached it. It felt good to be back home in Texas, even if the thermometer was registering 101 at the time. Looking at the right way, it was still cool, since the high was predicted to be 104.

Driving on Hwy 59 we could see a vehicle in the distance traveling slower than the rest of the traffic. As we came closer we saw the reason, melons, lots of different kinds of melons. I could see Linda's mind working, plus she was licking her lips in anticipation of the good food we would be eating in the coming month. That woman sure does love her melons, and I sure like them too, and in more ways than one.

What can I say. While Linda stayed cool in the coach, I headed off to town, where I tramped through a very old cemetery, doing my thing. Some people eat at a restaurant in every town they visit. I visit a cemetery in every town we visit. Restaurant eating makes you fat. Walking through cemeteries takes weight off. It also provides a glimpse into the history of the town you are visiting like nothing else can. This cemetery had many awesome makers in it, including this unusual cast iron cover and marker. But also scattered throughout the cemetery were the graves of a number of unknown confederate soldiers. No matter where we travel in the north or south, the Civil War touched every town, some devastatingly so. I am so glad we chose not to sit at home doing what we had always done in our former life, shopping at the same stores, going to the same church, talking to the same friends. Life is too short not to live it to its fullest. Remember: Life is not a dress rehearsal. Don't be afraid to laugh, love and retire early.

Monday, June 25, 2012

A very,very,very hot day

Some things need explanation and this is one of them. Our first stop, and it was in the cool of the early this morning with the temperatures forecast to be 105 and more today, was the Arkansas Museum. We ended up spending three hours in it, which is probably 2 and a half hours more than most people do, but it drew us in and wrapped us up. What can I say but we love history, even if it is history we have never been exposed to before.

I will skip all the things we liked about the museum except for one thing. Not that I liked it as much as Linda, actually I liked the Native American Gallery as much as Linda I just couldn't get the hang of this exhibit. Native Americans were predominate in Arkansas in the early 1800's, after all it was their land, and this gallery focused upon the atrocities the European American's inflicted upon them. Broken treaties, outright genocide and the precursor to the way the freed blacks were treated as sub humans under slavery and the later Jim Crow laws. But enough of that.

One of the displays was an Native American dance that had the incessant beat of the drum as part of it. In front of the screen was an electronic drum where visitors were invited to copy the beat of the dance. I tried, believe me, I tried, but all I could do was once during the entire dance hit the beat when it should have been hit. Linda looked at me. Linda laughed. Linda said I sure didn't have any blood in my veins that had anything to do with rhythm. Linda was absolutely right.

Now it was Linda's turn. From the first beat she was right with it. By the time the dance was over I was in awe. Then it dawned on me. It was a Native American dance. Linda has Native American blood coursing through her veins. Native American dance, woman with Native American blood. Why should I wonder why it should come so natural for her? Lucky Bob for asking the right girl to be my wife. And the miracle was that she said "YES!" Later I learned it was because I was reasonably good looking and had a college degree, meaning I had prospects. Forty five years later I still think she is the prettiest girl ever, and what can be wrong with that. Besides, knowing her, if I ever was to step out of line she would probably scalp me.

Another day. Another museum. Another penny smasher. Another penny for Zachary's (also Abby and Lindsey's) collection. Math may give him a bit of a problem, but geography and American history is a snap thanks to Grandpa and Grandpa. And as luck would have it, this fall he has world history and this fall we will be sending him smashed Euro penny's from across Europe. Unconditional Love. It has changed the world. It is the greatest gift we can give.

In the afternoon, with the temperatures in the unhealthy range, with ozone warnings being broadcast, with don't go outside unless absolutely necessary warnings being broadcast, Linda wisely spent the afternoon in the air conditioned comfort of the coach. I spent the afternoon out in the sun, looking at old buildings and an awesome sculpture garden. So many towns we have visited on this trip that really deserve two or three more days. I can't say we will ever be back, but neither can I say we won't. Life is so short, how can we ever have time to see everything we want?

I want to end with a thought that I have carried from early in our adventure. We had been on on the road for about 18 months when we returned to Carmichael, California where we had lived for over 25 years. One of our long time friends mentioned they had been fulltimers. They had driven around the country in 8 months, had seen it all, and while they were glad the did, they were disappointed it hadn't lasted longer. It is obvious everyone has their concept of what the fulltime Life is. For them, it was what they did. For us, there is no end in sight, and there are many places we want to return to again. Life really is what each of us makes it out to be. For some it it is slam, bam, thank you ma'am and it is over. For us it is a never ending Journey that we hope continues in the Life to come after this Life is over. To each their own. Kansas, Oklahoma and Arkansas -- We Will Be Back!!! Fly over country is the greatest.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Presidential Library Redux

We were planning to be on the road by 10 o'clock this morning since it was about a three hour drive down to the Little Rock area. That got put back a little when, as I was doing all my normal outside activities, I disconnected the electric only to discover Linda had not yet stowed the MotoSat dish. Not good, especially since the both the temperature and the humidity were somewhere in the 90's. Eventually I moved out of the sun, and eventually Linda got the MotoSat stowed. Meaning eventually we got on the road, and wonder of wonder given the circumstances, no harsh words were exchanged, not that I didn't have a few in mind as I stood out there sweating and sweltering. I really couldn't blame Linda as she was busy doing things and I should have checked before unplugging the cord. Still, this was looking like it might be a good day even if it was a less than perfect start.

Our destination was a park on the river in North Little Rock directly across from the Clinton Presidential Library. The nice thing about arriving on Sunday morning, actually early Sunday afternoon, is there is very little traffic. That was good as the GPS had the entrance to the park some distance past where it actually was, meaning there was a rather sudden deceleration and turn as part of the arrival process. That wasn't all however, as we soon learned the 104 degree temperatures were the all time record for the day and even with both air conditioners going full blast, it was still too hot in the coach.

The solution was across the river, and after a quick lunch we walked across the pedestrian bridge that started at the end of the park and were soon in the Clinton Presidential Library. We had been in the Gerald R. Ford Library in Grand Rapids last summer so we were anxious to see how this one compared.

One exhibit was a mockup of the cabinet room in the White House. That is not an intern sitting in the Presidents chair, but that woman did wonder if Monica's dress would be on exhibit. Not in your wildest dreams. To tell it like it was, we found the Library a rather disappointing experience, being more of a Bill Clinton ego trip than what we were expecting of a Presidential Library. Maybe we were spoiled by how interesting and informative the Ford Library was. Or maybe Clinton is simply someone who is full of himself. I'll not dispute he did good things and also did some incredibly stupid things as President. But the over the top bragging we saw here was a little too much. Great men are praised by others, petty men brag about themselves. This was bragging and then some. And besides, the exhibits just weren't that great either.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

History lessons>

We see many things in our travels that we notice but think little about. I speak not only just of ourselves, but of all fulltimers who travel the roads of our country. Leaving the RV park and heading to Fort Smith we passed not just this sign, but a total of three signs that made it increasing clear that anything but single vehicles needed to turn around and not proceeded on this road.

Last evening when I was walking around downtown Van Buren I noticed a memorial in a vacant area along Main Street. It listed nine people who had lost their lives on the evening of June 21, 1985 when a semi truck driven by a young husband and wife team lost its brakes on long steep hill we had just come down and slammed into a station wagon with a brother and sister and their families in it. When everything was over, three buildings had been destroyed in the ensuing fire and all nine occupants of the two vehicles were dead. An article on what happened is here. We can never take life for granted, and little do we realize what things along the roads we travel might mean.

Our destination was historic Fort Smith, the place of movies. Clint Eastwood, Hang 'em High, True Grit, both loosely based on the fort and what took place there. There really was a Hanging Judge, and he really did send out US Marshals to bring in outlaws, and many were indeed hung from the nearby gallows. Actually the true stories are much more fascinating than what is portrayed in the movies. But isn't that what Hollywood is for, turning out propaganda masquerading as truth and trying to brainwash the masses. I've never understood why someone would spend money to see a movie or buy a DVD from someone, or starring someone who's ideology is diametrically opposed to their own. I guess the sucker born every minute adage is more true than ever. Speaking of suckers, Linda is a sucker for every NPS Passport Stamp Station, and here she making sure she gets those stamps in the right spot.

We lucked out in choice of days to visit the fort because they were doing an artillery demonstration today. Later we walked through the nearby National Military Cemetery, seeing row after row on unknown Civil War graves. A moment waiting for a traffic signal in 1985, a moment in battle in 1862, the result is the same. Do we wait for some day to live life, or do we live Life when we can? It is up to each of us to answer that question, but when we drove away from our house six and a half years ago we had made our decision and we have never regretted it for a moment. Somehow or other things have a way of working out, even if the answer isn't always what we might wish it to be.

Friday, June 22, 2012

A new state

Off to Arkansas today on a route that took us through Tulsa. As we approached the city I remarked to Linda that one of the reasons I had been hesitant about coming this way was because many years ago whenever I had to be in Tulsa on business I remembered the freeways were narrow and in bad condition, but that wasn't the case at all today. But no sooner had I uttered those words than this appeared and then we were on one of those narrow nasty freeways I remembered. I will just have to learn to keep my mouth shut as we approach big cites.

At last that hole in the middle of our US map can be filled. We plan to stay in Van Buren for two nights and visit Fort Smith tomorrow. The forecast is calling for very, very high temperatures so we may be doing everything in the morning and retire to the coach for the afternoon. There was a time when that wouldn't have been the case, but it seems the older I get, the smarter I get. Besides anything I'd be doing in the afternoon, I'd have to be doing it by myself as I know Linda will definitely be in the air conditioned coach. And yes, we did make sure we have a 50 amp hookup at the RV park we are at. (And both air conditioners are already running full blast as I write this at 9 o'clock on Saturday morning.)

The deed is done, meaning the map looks a lot better. Linda wondered why it mattered. What could I say, after all, it's a guy thing. Later in the afternoon I spent some time walking around Van Buren's downtown which has many fascinating old buildings including a depression era post office with an awesome mural inside. It's one of those things we do on occasion that lets both of us have our space and do our own thing. Besides, it's far better than me staying at the coach and her going off shopping. At least in the financial department it is. Especially since I bring back photos while she brings back clothes. Still, either way, we sure do live a good Life.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Museums

More museums today, The Phillips Petroleum Company Museum, Bartlesville Area History Museum and The Frank Phillips Home. We both really enjoyed the Phillips Petroleum museum, and not just because the Company was much of our life for many years. So why a barber chair in a petroleum company museum? Frank Phillips, who started the company, started out in life as a barber, so there was a barber shop inside the main company building. It was gone before I ever started with Phillips, so here was my chance to relive the past that I never got to see in the first place.

The other museum we enjoyed was the Frank Phillips Home, which was a time capsule of the 1930's, though unfortunately you couldn't take photos while inside the house. It was interesting that Frank didn't have a home office which the homes of these past titans of industry usually seem to have. On the other hand, there were separate bedrooms for he and his wife. Guess the saying, Business before Pleasure, is true in more ways than one. I may never have risen to be a titan of industry, or even a midget of industry for that matter, but Linda and I sure have always had a lot of pleasure in our Life.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Woolaroc

Woolaroc was the country home of Frank Phillips, founder of Phillips Petroleum, and in his later years he turned it into an awesome museum that seeks to show what Oklahoma was like before the modern days of the 1930's. There is so much to see and do that we spent all day there and really need to go back some other time to see all that we missed. Speaking of missing, Linda got to throw the tomahawk three times and she was 100% successful, missing all three throws.

When it came to the rope swing she was again 100% successful, this time at acting just like a little girl. But since she really is a little girl at heart, it really wasn't that hard for her. I just couldn't get the hang of this knotted rope swing, and was lucky to swing once and get off without falling on my butt.

Besides being a museum Woolaroc is also a game preserve, which means I have had to sort through dozens of animal photos in order to find the perfect picture. I have to believe that as we drove around Linda never saw an animal she didn't photograph. And just not one photograph but two, three, four of each animal. What can I say, she loves animals, and that is good because when she treats me like a dog, it's usually like a good dog.

One of my continuing pet peeves. Museums are full of side saddles. TV shows and movies always show the female riding the same as the male. Didn't happen that way. Of course some people believe what the people of the make believe world of Hollywood have to say about politics. Which leads some people to the conclusion that intelligence is not a strong point for many in this country.

Guess who's getting a package with a smashed penny? Linda has so much fun deciding which image to use. I on the other hand have learned not to contribute my opinion as to which image it should be. How come things like this were never discussed in the "How to be a good husband" book that the minister gave us before we were married. Something tells me the bride got one titled, "How to get your way with your new husband".

As I was told, "Just what part of 'You can take the girl out of the country, but you can't take the country out of the girl' don't you understand."

The fitting end to a great day. From the bottom up, two pieces of white bread, a huge mound of chopped roast beef, a layer of crunchy french fries and a topping of beef gravy. It has been 30 years since I last ate at Murphy's Steak House, but it was every bit as good as I remembered it. And you guessed right, there was no way we could eat all that was on that plate. Long ago when I was in Bartlesville it was a figurative case of too much business on my plate. Now it's a different Life I live, and today it was a case of too much food on my plate. Life is not a dress rehearsal. Don't be afraid to laugh, love and retire early.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Doing Dewey

Dewey is a small town a few miles north of Bartlesville with nothing particularly outstanding to recommend it as a place to spend the day, so that is what we did. Maybe it was the connection between my beloved "Aunt Fern and Unky" and the cowboy movie star Tom Mix who's museum is in town. Or maybe it was the fact that the people we ran into were downright nice. Then again, maybe it was because we discovered most people our age had at one time or another worked for Phillips, or just maybe it was because being there just felt right. What ever it was, we had a great time, and the photo pretty much sums up the way I saw how the town looks at Life. Look close and you will see there are no hoses on the gas pumps.

Back in Bartlesville, I drove Linda around the downtown area, but told her we would come back in the early evening and walk around as there wouldn't be any people there then. I was right, after five o'clock it was practically deserted with just the occasional person coming out the doors of the massive office buildings, all of which have a Conoco Phillips sign on them. As we walked along the sidewalk one obviously rather tired man carrying a brief case came out of one of the buildings just before seven o'clock, and I remarked to Linda, "Once that was me." She replied with a smile on her face, "I know, but not anymore." Nothing more need be said. It was a very nice day in more ways than one.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Down the road

Not every RV park is a four star resort, and in fact I don't think we have ever stayed at one of those places. This park in Yoder had been perfect for us. A 50 amp full hookup pull through site, gravel pad, open sky, and not too much noise. Just a nice place to spend a few nights while doing our thing. Nothing to do for kids, absolute minimal bathroom facilities. What can I say, it's our kind of place. Still today it was time to pull up stakes and head to Oklahoma and another page out of our past life.

We opted to take the US highways, staying off the Interstate and turnpike. That meant we got to see a number of small towns, each with a main street lined with old buildings. We also left the wheat fields behind and traveled through rolling hills carpeted with green grass and dotted with trees. That also meant the roads were narrower, with hills and curves as opposed to the wide flat straight roads of Kansas.

Some four hours after we had left Yoder we topped that last hill and the towering office buildings of Bartlesville appeared in the distance. We are where we are today because of the many years I spent with Phillips Petroleum, or Phillips 66 as many know it. We never lived here, but I was here on business many times, and the time we spend here now will bring back good memories. It will also be a first for Linda as she has never been here before.

We are in a RV park just a few blocks from downtown, and instead of the view out the front, here is the view to the back. Good memories of the past, good times now. The next three days should be fun. Tough drive today with the high winds and narrow roads, time to hang it up for the night.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Visiting Hutchinson

Great breakfast this morning as Linda cheerfully set about baking some awesome and very healthy muffins. I don't know what all went into them, but I saw her chop nuts and add some dried fruit, plus I saw her looking at a recipe, but knowing her, she used it only as a guide, adding those special secret touches that she does so well. We ate those muffins with a little almond butter smeared on them and were they ever good.

Before the above there was this. "You are not going to use a photo of me in the drawer."
"But it will show how hard you worked to make the muffins."
"No it won't, it will just show how messy the drawer is."
Way to go Bob. Great way to start the day. Here she tries to do something nice for me and I mess it up by taking a picture of a drawer. What is it with us men anyway? We men go and pull so many dumb stunts like this it's a wonder any of us ever got the opportunity to become father's. Oh well, at least I must have done something right at least three times in my life, since we ended up with three great kids.

This one is to get back into Linda's good graces, if there are any graces left for me to get back into. And yes, they were as good or better than they look.

Another day, another museum, another smashed penny. This occurred above ground, but we were headed 650 feet underground to visit a salt mine. Hundreds of millions of years ago this area was something akin to the Great Salt Lake or The Dead Sea, but on a much more vast scale. Now all that salt is hundreds of feet unground and we were going down to see what it was all about thanks to a tip from a reader who suggested we might enjoy visiting it.

A little old and very salty miner looking at a large crystal of salt. It is really an interesting place, as all the displays are down below. There are only three underground salt mines in the world that are open to visitors, and after having toured the one near Krakow, Poland several years ago, we have now seen two of the three. The mines and tours are so different that it is impossible to say which one is better. Think of it as this one having the American experience and the one near Krakow as having the European experience, or put another way, industrial might versus cultural heritage.

There are displays of the older equipment that was used in the mine. We heard over and over that goes into the mine stays in the mine. This piece wasn't going anywhere soon, but it was going somewhere eventually. Notice the ring of reddish material on the floor underneath it? That's rust. 68 degrees all the time. 40 percent humidity all the time. Trillions of tons of salt. Equipment made out of iron. Salty humid air and iron equals rust. Given enough time and it will be a pile of rust dust. Glad we saw it when we did.

Miner hard at work. Underground there is museum with displays, a train ride and a tram ride. During the tram ride there was a stop at a pile of salt where you could pickup a sample, either a fist sized lump, or by filling a small bag. I went for the bag, filling it with what I thought were treasures, including black, red and crystal clear pieces of salt. Linda first went for the lump, then decided on the bag. It really wasn't what we ended up with, it was the fun of collecting it, and Linda sure did enjoy that part.

The family salt miner getting ready to go back up to the surface. This is one of those places where photos just don't seem to do it justice, making it a need to visit place. We both really enjoyed our time underground. You are on your own much of the time, and you can take your time or rush around, the choice is up to you. To say that we have enjoyed Kansas is a major understatement, and just as we discovered the Upper Peninsula of Michigan last summer, so did we discover Kansas this year. Just another of those unexpected pleasures we have stumbled across as we wander around, living the fulltime Life.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Visiting Wichita

Today we were off to visit the Museum of World Treasures in Wichita, the main reason being the above. What made it even more special was the fact this is a real Triceratops skull, not a cast, and the docent took down the little barrier and let Linda get very up close and personal with it. She may no longer look exactly like the little girl walking around picking up fossils on the farm, but I have to believe the smile is the same.

Linda wasn't the only one who found something to smile about. For years I had a Smiling Buddha on a high shelf that smiled down on me every morning when I first got up. Today for me it wasn't only kneeling down beside these marble carvings to pose for a picture, it was also seeing the deep luster, the softness and the smooth lines of their forms. It brings a certain contentment, and it reminded me of the special glaze I applied to my Buddha when I made it.

The museum has an Egyptian section. I found the hieroglyphics interesting. I looked around and Linda was not to be seen. A little search and there she was. She just had to take a photo of the mummy, and I know that Zachary will be getting a text message of that photo. Someday I'll find out what little girls are like when they grow up, but it doesn't look like it will be happening very soon.

My turn to be a little boy. I can remember buying the toy ones when I was much younger than I am today. They were so obviously fake, but it didn't matter. I guess what really matters are the memories.

When was the last time you had your picture taken with the founder of a museum while standing in front of the museum's most prized acquisition? Dr. Jon Kardatzke, a retired Wichita physician is the reason the Museum of World Treasures exists, while partially shown is Ivan, one of the most complete T-Rex skeletons ever discovered. We spent over 20 minutes talking with Jon about the museum and some of the things we had overlooked on the second floor. And yes, we did go back upstairs and hunt up what we had missed.

No museum is complete unless it has a smashed penny machine in its gift shop. And no visit to a museum gift shop is complete unless we leave with a smashed penny for Zachary. Then it was time to walk around the Old Town area of Wichita before driving back to Yoder where we are staying. Bright lights and the hustle and bustle of the big city one minute and an hour later the clop of horses feet as an Amish buggy passes in front of the coach. And to think, some people probably stayed in front of the TV watching sports today. Life truly is what we make it to be.