"I've Been Everywhere, Man" Living the song on two wheels.

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by swedstal, Jun 5, 2017.

  1. swedstal

    swedstal Open heart, open mind, open can of beans

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    Putting the Spring in Springfield

    Of all the Springfields I could have visited, the one in Missouri ended up being a great choice. In this update we eat in a quonset hut, walk with Wild Bill, frolic with butterflies and finish our sentenc. (Sorry I ran out of space.)




    (A full discussion of why I chose this Springfield will be included at the conclusion of this post)



    Thursday, June 20th, 2019

    Joplin, Missouri

    I was still basking in the comprehensive hospitality of my friends Adam and Natalie. We decided to do a day trip to take care of place 71 of 92, Springfield. I left a little earlier than my support vehicle and had a leisurely ride down old Route 66. Nice to know you can still get your De Soto fixed along the way!

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    I doubt there will ever be another traveler who takes such a roundabout way to ride Route 66. I did Chicago in 2017, flew through St. Louis in 2018 and will be chipping away at sections of it all throughout Chapter 4.

    Springfield touts itself as the “Birthplace of Route 66.” Indeed it is where the highway first received its numerical designation in 1926. This road was a major thoroughfare for those traveling west during the Dust Bowl years. It continued to be a prominent route until it was eventually bypassed by interstates in the 1980s. Tourism has revived this route and it is now perhaps the most well-known highway to non-Americans.

    It was patched onto my friend Pablo’s riding jacket in Buenos Aires:

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    I saw multiple signs for it in the biker clubhouses of Brazil:

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    (I’ve been waiting to post these pictures for a long time!)

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    Brazilians seemed especially drawn to the mystique of this road. I often had questions about if I had ridden on it.

    My first stop was the history museum which is located in the town square.

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    I was welcomed very warmly here and everyone was very interested in my story. The museum is actually under major renovations so only a fraction was available to go through. I’ll just have to come back.

    My new friend, Don, walked me out into the square and showed me the site where “Wild Bill” Hickock shot Davis Tutt in 1865.

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    The disagreement began over a gambling debt and Tutt shot first from the other side of the square. Hickock returned fire to here:

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    Lucky shot? Maybe. But it’s probably never wise to fire on someone whose first name is “Wild.”

    There was a lot of history about Springfield and Route 66 which will be interspersed through the rest of this post. The old theater is still in great conditions and plays a film on Route 66 history.

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    After my visit, I felt well informed about other things to see and do while I was there.

    During the 1950s the Ozark Jubilee, which aired from Springfield, was one of the most popular TV programs in the US.

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    Johnny Cash was a performer on the show in 1956. Hank Snow was actually the most prominent country music star who didn’t perform on the show. He gave his sole allegiance to the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville. This seems like a very “Hank Snow” thing to do. :lol3
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  2. swedstal

    swedstal Open heart, open mind, open can of beans

    Joined:
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    The museum sparked an idea for an iconic Springfield picture, of this recreated sign:

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    This sign sat in front of the Route 66 stop which is recognized as the first drive thru restaurant in the world. The story goes that the owner, Red, made a false measurement and could not fit the “er” in the word “hamburger.” He posted the sign as it was and it became a unique and memorable site.

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    The restaurant operated from 1947 to 1984. This recreated sign was put up in 2013. I just love this story and the photo. This may well represent “Springfield.” My photographers were a couple of nice guys named Steve and John. One of them was a local and had eaten at Red’s many times. He recalled how efficient their system was, with Red coming right out to the waiting cars with his notebook. By the time you rolled up to the window, your order was usually ready to go. Thanks for sharing the stories!

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    Adam, Natalie and the girls caught up with me here and we made a stop into the visitors center. They gave me some more good ideas and a new sticker for my trunk lid.

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    Natalie researched lunch options and was confident that we should go to a place called Casper’s. When we got there, I could tell why she was so sure this should be our eatery. I’ve never eaten anywhere like this before:

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    This little building, known as a quonset hut, contained unspeakable treasures inside.

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    Casper’s began in the back of a fruit shop in 1909, moving to this location in 1948. It is a true Springfield original.

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    Where else can you go to buy a gallon of chili?!

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    Their motto of “Eat, Pay, Tip, Get out!” sounds a little harsh, but there are only about 25 seats in the whole establishment. The wonderful waitress, Marcie, is responsible for all of them. She flits around like a figure skater performing a routine, keeping the tables moving but also taking time to interact with everyone.

    The prices are really reasonable and beer is actually cheaper than pop. There have probably only been a couple of times during my life when I thought, “You know what, I could use a Schlitz right now.” In this occasion, it seemed like the only logical choice.

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    Even the bathroom was full of personality.

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    I will definitely be back the next time I pass through town.

    I challenged Adam and Natalie to write haiku poems describing our visit to Casper’s. They both turned in some gems.

    Adam:

    Eclectic diner,

    A greasy cheeseburger meal,

    In the quonset hut



    Natalie:

    Springfield’s secret stash,

    Sipping Schlitz scintillating,

    Swedish Stallion’s soul

    I thought I would declare a winner, but both of these are great. Natalie's alliteration kind of seems like pandering though... :hmmmmm
  3. swedstal

    swedstal Open heart, open mind, open can of beans

    Joined:
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    We found a good city sign and I decided I should be “springing” into Springfield. These photos don’t always turn out too well. Sometimes you get this:

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    …but every once in awhile you get a good one:

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    After a quick stop to the hospital to repair my now torn meniscus, it was time for another fun connection. My cousin, Tracy, lives in Springfield. She took time out of her afternoon to show us some of her favorite things of the city.

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    Tracy is a botanist and has always had a fascination with butterflies. She took us to the Butterfly House at the Nathanael Greene/Close Memorial Park.

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    I learned so much here. I had a fun time reminiscing about my trip to see the Monarch Butterfly sanctuary in Michoacan, Mexico (Page 29).

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    We spent some time just leisurely strolling through the park and chatting. It is a pretty area. After that, we headed to a Braum’s restaurant for some ice cream. I asked Tracy if she would be the one to cross Springfield from my sign.

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    It was so great to see her!

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    Please notice the framing by Natalie of the word “hamburger” in the photo above. This is some next level photography!
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  4. swedstal

    swedstal Open heart, open mind, open can of beans

    Joined:
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    There was one more stop for us to make. You can’t really go to Springfield without visiting Bass Pro Shop.

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    This store began in 1972, when young Johnny Morris started selling fishing lures in the back of his father’s liquor shop. It has now grown into one of the leading outdoor retailers in the world. They now have over 200 locations and recently bought out Cabela’s, a Nebraska company, to nearly double their size.

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    The stores themselves are tourist attractions, with countless stuffed animals, fish and activities.

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    Adam and Natalie had given me a giftcard for me birthday. I used it to purchase a new camping towel. I left mine in San Cristobal de las Casas, Mexico the same day that I crashed. I made it through the rest of Latin America using a hand towel to dry myself. This is still one of my proudest accomplishments.

    The End of the Trail sculpture. More on this in a later post:

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    Adam, Natalie and the girls left town and I ran around a little more. A couple of places were closed and I didn’t find much else worth sharing. Part of me wishes I would have had some more time here to make a couple of more connections. My second grade teacher lives there as well as a guy I had met in DC. It’s close though, so I’m sure I will be back.

    I did make one more stop along Route 66 on the way home.

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    Sometimes I see a building like this and just have to know what the inside looks like. I actually got a pretty good photo out of it.

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    No nose grease required. :thumb

    Thanks again, Adam and Natalie, for your amazing hospitality! You two have been such an integral part of this journey. I look forward to more adventures together.

    21 to go.

    Stay bouncy, everybody

    BA
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  5. swedstal

    swedstal Open heart, open mind, open can of beans

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    So why did I chose the city in Missouri to be my official “Springfield?”

    Depending on the source, there are somewhere between 30 and 40 Springfields in the US alone. Lacking sufficient time to visit them all (next trip?), I had to choose one. Here is a summary of that process:

    I narrowed it down to three Springfields pretty quick: Missouri, Illinois and Massachusetts. I eliminated Massachusetts as it is in the same metro area as song place 30, Chicopee. When duplicate places exist, I intentionally choose places that are further dispersed to follow the theme of “traveling every road in this here land.”

    Comparing Missouri and Illinois, Missouri has a larger population both in the city proper (168,000 to 117,000) and metro area (466,000 to 207,000). Illinois gains some points for being a state capital and temporary home of Abraham Lincoln. Missouri has Route 66 and more 20th Century history.

    Another way I like to compare things sometimes is by using Google Trends. This is a free service (for now) from Google where you can enter any terms and see how they compare in search traffic. Here are the global numbers for the three Springfields from the last five years;

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    Missouri leads this metric by a wide margin. Ultimately, it just seemed like Missouri was the right choice. We’ll never know exactly where Geoff Mack was looking when he selected Springfield, but I feel like I’ve done my due diligence to try to choose the correct one.
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  6. swedstal

    swedstal Open heart, open mind, open can of beans

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    Realtime update: Still in Ardmore, OK. Getting lots done. Hoping a plane won’t land where I am camping. I might make some miles tomorrow and hit Texarkana on Thursday.
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  7. interceptor1972

    interceptor1972 Been here awhile

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    It was an absolute pleasure Brett. The timing worked out great. I'm glad I was able to catch you while you were still in town. I know we'll see each other again down the line. Until then, ride safe and ride free!! Loving your report and will be following through to the end!

    PS. I'll post some of the pics I'd taken after you're caught up!
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  8. kkja13

    kkja13 Dodging cages

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    Tyler, TX
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  9. kkja13

    kkja13 Dodging cages

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    Tyler, TX
    Seems like your accommodations have improved considerably since you were camping on the shoulder of a highway. Being famous has it's perks, although I kind of miss the adventure of searching for that perfect spot.
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  10. GHOC

    GHOC FNG

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    Vancouver, British Columbia
    What rhymes with Chernobyl?
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  11. Coldstreak

    Coldstreak Been here awhile

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    St. Paul, MN
    Grenoble?
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  12. DCrider

    DCrider Live from THE Hill

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    So I guess the DC exburb mecca of Springfield, VA (hey looks like its #51 on the google trends list!) was too close to Baltimore :2cry But at least you swang through DC "the district of two cell phones" :lol3
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  13. vicmitch

    vicmitch Been here awhile

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    Brooklyn, NY
    After reading 105 pages of your ride report, I have to agree that the accomplishment you should be most proud of is drying yourself with a hand towel
  14. swedstal

    swedstal Open heart, open mind, open can of beans

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    I should be caught up around 2023. Hope you can hold off on the pictures until then! :thumb

    Oh, we still have plenty of camping adventures. Stay tuned....

    Constantinople would be good, but four syllables is the maximum to stay within the rhyming form.

    Never forget!

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    I really can't judge though, as I've already used 5 phones on this trip. :lol3

    I don't think I even mentioned that I made it all the way through Central America without spending money to use a toilet. That accomplishment is up there too!
  15. swedstal

    swedstal Open heart, open mind, open can of beans

    Joined:
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    Wichita Whirlwind


    Saturday, June 22nd, 2019

    Joplin, MO

    With some reluctance, it was time to leave my wonderful hosts in Joplin. Maybe the best way to symbolize my time there is a picture of my food bag. It was completely empty before I arrived. When I was ready to leave, it looked like this:

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    Wichita, song place 72 of 92, was my target for the day.

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    A cloudy day cut the heat and I had a pleasant ride there. My only previous experience with Wichita was driving on the elevated I-35 next to the big ditch that runs through town. I was eager to learn more about this place.

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    My destination was the home of an old friend, Chris. (with Ashley, Davis, Burke and Holden below)

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    For those keeping score, the first four stops since I left Lincoln have included 13 children. Sonic has been getting more 0 mph revolutions than normal. :lol3

    Chris and I met in third grade when my family moved across town and we began to attend the same elementary school. I don’t have any memories of that first day, but Chris actually did. He remembered my Dad following in behind me, capturing every awkward moment with his Panzerschreck of a shoulder mounted camcorder. That was my Dad. :-)

    Chris is an excellent singer and we were in many musical groups and performances together from elementary to high school. He came to Wichita after high school to attend Wichita State University. He and Ashley moved back to Nebraska for just a brief time, but most of his adult life has been spent here. Chris was the perfect person to show me around the city.

    We began by doing the first thing I normally do when I visit a song place: Go to a golf tournament.

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    This was the weekend of the Wichita Open which is a major event for the city. It is just one step down from the PGA tour. I’m not a golfer, but I have a decent appreciation and understanding of the game. At least I know that if an errant ball is hit in your area, you get to pick it up and take it home with you (or maybe that’s baseball?….)

    It was an enjoyable experience and we had plenty of time to chat and catch up. A lot had happened in both of our lives since we last saw each other.
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  16. swedstal

    swedstal Open heart, open mind, open can of beans

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    Next up on the agenda was a tour of Chris’ alma mater, Wichita State University. Unfortunately, they had already fixed the water tower by the time I arrived.

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    Their sports team’s name, the Shockers, is one of the best in college athletics. In case you are unfamiliar with wheat harvesting terminology, “shocking” is a term used to describe cutting wheat and tying it into bundles. Kansas is the leading wheat producer in the US.

    The unfortunate side effect of this name is that anytime an article is written about their teams by a national news outlet, the headline is inevitably: “Wichita State SHOCKS <insert random college>.” Wary of this, I limited myself to only one “shocking” pun during my stay in Wichita. I wasted it before I even left the golf tournament. I’m really disappointed with myself.

    The campus is thoroughly spattered with sculptures. There was one whose style I recognized immediately.

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    These mishapen monstrosities are by Colombian sculptor Fernando Botero. I saw them all over when I was in Medellin, Colombia.

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    The moral of the story here is that if you want to be a famous artist, you just have to be consistent about getting your proportions wrong. :thumb

    Chris seemed to have had so many positive experiences during his time there. It was fun to walk down memory lane with him. Speaking of lanes, this is in the basement of the student center:

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    The restaurant Pizza Hut was started by two WSU students in 1958. The original building is now a museum on campus:

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    It is probably long odds that I would ever marry a Wichita State alum, but if so, the ceremony will have to take place here:

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    There was a tragic event in WSU’s past of which I was unaware: A plane crash of their football team in 1970 which claimed the lives of 31 people. Perhaps I’ve never hear of the event since it is overshadowed by the Marshal football team plane crash which happened just 43 days later. There is a really nice memorial commemorating the people lost in this tragedy.

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    A unique thing about Wichita is that they have a city flag. It is a really neat design and it can be seen all over town.

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    Chris just happened to have a sticker at the bank where he works. It will ever remain a fun reminder on the lid of my trunk.

    Back at home, Chris fired up the grill and he and Ashley made me a wonderful supper. All three of their boys are full of energy and personality. This photo sums them up well:

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    They all seemed rather interested in my video of the Trans-Pantanal Highway:

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    After we composed a rather dark and terrifying bed-time story for the boys, Chris and I headed back into town. We went to one of his favorite breweries which had really good beer. There was a group playing some music. I think it was the first time on my trip that I’ve heard a hand saw solo:

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  17. swedstal

    swedstal Open heart, open mind, open can of beans

    Joined:
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    Sunday, June 23rd

    An alarm went off on my phone around 4 or 5AM. I glanced down and saw that there was a tornado warning. I listened for a moment, heard no sirens, so I just fell back asleep. Apparently the rest of the family had come down to the basement to seek shelter. I just slept too heavily. This event will be forever immortalized by Chris’ signing on Annie.

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    The morning continued to be a whirlwind of activity after the sun was up. I was on Swedish Pancake duty, but I had a song place picture on my mind. The most iconic image of Wichita is almost certainly The Keeper of the Plains. This is a 44-foot tall sculpture placed where the Big and Little Arkansas Rivers meet. Important to note: The Arkansas River is pronounced like “Our-Kansas” here. Picture of the sculpture from later:

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    After consulting with Chris and studying the maps and street view, I still wasn’t sure if a picture with Annie and it would be possible. Like usual, I figured the earlier the better, before there was much foot traffic around.

    As I pulled up to the parking area, the only people around were a couple and their dog. They noticed my sign, asked about my trip and we became friends pretty much right away. I felt comfortable enough to ask them if they would walk with me as I pushed Annie over to the footbridge and take my picture for me. This eliminated the need for me to get my tripod out.

    They took a few shots of me which came out great. Wichita!

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    Thank you, Shalan and Jaq!

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    (The dog’s name was either Profit or Prophet. I suppose both are apropos dog names.)

    Chris and Ashley’s church was right downtown. I only missed a little bit of the service. The church was a Church of Christ denomination. At these churches they don’t use any instruments, just voices. I loved it! It was so refreshing to hear four part harmony in church!

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    We went back home and I got my stuff loaded up. Then it was time to take care of all of the festivities. Getting the Wichita sticker stuck on my trunk (Burke didn’t believe me that I’d had a monkey right where he was sitting!:-) ).

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    Chris struck Wichita from off of my sign:

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    They took me out for a really nice lunch at a place called The Monarch:

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    Even though the time with them was short, I felt so thankful that they invited me into their lives. There is nothing better than having a local person with whom I have history showing me around a song place. I can’t wait until my trail leads back through Wichita again. Thank you, Chris and family!

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  18. swedstal

    swedstal Open heart, open mind, open can of beans

    Joined:
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    …but we were not quite done yet!

    I still wanted to take in a few more Wichita sights and experiences before I left town. I returned to the Keeper of the Plains area and saw it at a more leisurely pace. There is a nice interpretive display which attempts to explain the cultures of all of the Plains Indians, not just the ones from this area.

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    Up next was a visit to the Old Cowtown museum. This place recreates what life was like during the days when Wichita was the final destination for the cattle drives from Texas (1872-1876).

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    Ahhh… the good old days, when Nebraska bordered Canada and Washington:

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    They had a reenactment of a gunfight in front of the saloon.

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    I actually made a purchase in the gift shop. Recollecting readers of this quality publication will remember “Whiskey,” the little horse who rode next to my license plate for a huge chunk of my journey. Sadly, he was a victim in the Great Colombian Car Wash Fiasco of 2018.

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    I finally found a new little buddy to replace him:

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    I’m still working on the name… Perhaps I should choose something…..Shocking?

    (Dang it, I almost made it through the whole post!)

    Wichita is where the outdoor company Coleman was founded. There used to be a museum here, but it has closed down and headquarters have long since moved away. I’m pretty sure this was the building. I think the logo had recently been removed.

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    My tent, The Maroon Cocoon, is a Coleman product. As is the hydration pack that I’ve attached to my trunk lid. I’ve always respected the company for providing budget options for getting into outdoors activities. I think the bang for the buck is pretty good.

    I had one final piece of Wichita’s history that I wanted to highlight: It’s place as “The Air Capital” of the world. Cessna, Beechcraft and Boeing have all been produced here. Even the trophy for the golf tournament mentioned above is a propeller.

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    The B-29 bombers used in WWII, including the Enola Gay, were assembled in Wichita. There was a museum which was closed, but I got a decent picture through the glass.

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    That night I would be staying with…wait…I don’t know anyone else out here? What am I supposed to do? Camp in the woods like some homeless vagabond? Of course!

    I found a free campsite at a fishing lake about an hour away from my next song place, Dodge City. I tried hard to remember, but I think the last time I camped on this trip was in Mato Grosso, Brazil. It’s been awhile. Please welcome back to the blog, The Maroon Cocoon:

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    Like a twister on the Plains, I only touched down in Wichita for a short time. Still, I feel like I was able to wreak a decent amount of destruction and dismay during my time here. Wait…this analogy doesn’t really work, does it? Too late to change it. I hope you are shocked and appaled.

    :-)

    20 to go!

    Keep flyin’, everybody

    BA
  19. swedstal

    swedstal Open heart, open mind, open can of beans

    Joined:
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    Realtime update: I’m just finishing up in Texarkana right now. I still have the museum of history to check out, but then I will probably begin heading towards Shreveport. I’ve been stealth camping the last five nights and starting to feel sort of stinky and beaten up. I guess it’s nice to feel like I’m on a real adventure again.
  20. interceptor1972

    interceptor1972 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 14, 2015
    Oddometer:
    173
    Location:
    Lawton, OK
    Pshhhh! NO problem!! Good thing I took the pics digitally instead of my old 35mm film camera! Not sure the negatives would survive until 2023 .

    Great read, as always!!
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