Thursday, April 21, 2011

Back From Kansas - Part Last

Alright, this should be the last of my posts about my weekend trip.  In all seriousness, it was a nice weekend get away.  My drive from Kansas City to Wichita on Friday was dull and rainy the entire way, but there was still some beautiful scenery in the Flint Hills, especially when I could see the sun breaking through and shining on the tall grass prairies that were probably 20 miles away.  The day wasn't good for photos, but you can find a few here.

Wichita was as I had expected.  It's a decent-sized "small city" with all the typical shopping and restaurants you'd expect to find there.  I'm sure, given more time, I'd find plenty to do and see there.  What I did find during my short stay I found these sculptures in the downtown district.  They're all great, but I like the soda fountain and singing cowboy the best.

I zipped through most of the drive, but I did spend about an hour in the small town of Greensburg, KS.  On May 4, 2007, Greensburg was devasted -- for all practical purposes, wiped off the map -- by a tornado.  Since then, they have started rebuilding, and they are rebuilding with green technology. 

Excuse me, those of you in the know, if my facts are wrong, but I was told that ten large wind turbines outside of town provide electricity to the entire town now.  About six smaller wind turbines power (or help to power) individual buildings, such as the high school, arts center and hospital.  Buildings and homes are being rebuilt using green materials, whether they are recycled, sustainably grown, energy efficient or a combination of all. 

The town is coming back to life and is a shining example of both green technologies and the citizens' unite spirit.  I was there on Saturday, after Fridays tornadoes in Oklahoma and Arkansas.  I was told then that Greensburg had already reached out to those communities to provide assistance and knowledge born of experience.  I'm sure they were doing the same thing the very next day, after the deadly storms in North Carolina and elsewhere.

Shane did not do work on Greensburg's school, but some of his co-workers did.  Here are some photos of the school, other new buildings and some of the evidence of the storm still evident from four years earlier.

Back of the Silo Eco-Home

One of many lots that are still vacant, have damaged trees, etc.

Stairway to a house that's no longer there.

More damage evident after four years.

Hard to see, but it's one of several wind turbines.

Elementary portion of the new green Kiowa County school.
High school portion of the school.  Shane did not work on this project, but several of his co-workers did.

Arts Center.  Three small wind turbines to the left, passive solar collectors on all faces of the building.

City hall.

After leaving Greensburg, I headed on to Garden City, driving through Dodge City, but not stopping. We spent Saturday evening catching up over a nice steak dinner and time in the hotel pool and hot tub.  The hot tub was wonderful after two days of driving.

On Sunday we went back to Dodge City to look around and were disappointed.  Dodge City is largely the stuff of old western movies, but there is a little true history there.  Unfortunately, not much, and what little there was, was played up in a touristy style that wasn't our thing. 

Just outside of Dodge City, we stopped at the Santa Fe Trail Tracks historic site, where, if you turned your head sideways and squinted just right, you could imagine there might still be swales from the covered wagons.  Again, we were a bit disappointed, but the view from there was interesting.  It was easy to imagine the wagon trains, buffalo or Indians on those plains (and yes, I'm sticking with the word Indians...that's what they were called in the 1800s). Ironically, there are two better places to see wagon swales right here in the Kansas City area, although I haven't been to them.  I should put that on my to do list.

That stop was were we found and rescued the antique printer and antique projector, both from the early 1900s, just sitting there near a trash bin.  We don't know who left them, or why, other than they must have thought them too good to throw away (they are!) and that they would wind up in the hands of someone who would do something with them.  We will, but we don't know what just yet.  We might sell them or we might donate them to a museum of some sort or who knows what?  For now, we're just going to hang on to them and do some research.

Antique film projector, circa 1912.

Antique A.B. Dick mimeograph machine, circa 1903.

After getting the heck out of Dodge (sorry, I couldn't resist), we went back to Garden City.  This stretch of the trip was by far the worst of the trip, and really the only stretch that I didn't enjoy.  The soil is so sandy in this region that plants and trees -- and everything else -- is covered with a dusty film.  There's no other way to put's just an ugly, dusty, dull stretch of highway. Also, it apparently causes people to drive 78 mph in a 65 mph zone and wind up having an expensive chat with a Kansas State Trooper.  Just sayin'...

Garden City itself is attractive and doesn't appear to have the sandy coating that the outlying areas do, although Shane assures me it really does.  Shane showed me around town and also showed me why he's there.  He's working on this huge high school.  It's truly looks more like a shopping mall.  It will be 384,000 square feet in size, divided into "schools", much like a junior college would be.  It will have a full vo-tech program, and an extensive performing arts program, as well as the traditional liberal arts and science curriculum.  It will be able to house 2400 students when it's complete.

On Monday, we did a bit of Geocaching in the morning, then in the afternoon, we toured the Lee Richardson Zoo.  This is a very impressive zoo for it's size, with open habitat in most cases (rather than cages).  It's even more impressive when you learn they are maintaining it without charging admission.

It had been a month since Shane and I had seen each other, and could be as much as six weeks before we see each other again, so just enjoying our time together was important.  The rest of our weekend was spent doing just that.


Melynda said...

Very nice, love all the statues.

McVal said...

I can't imagine a statue of a cow right downtown...! cool!
Sounds like you had a wonderful trip with Shane. Even in the heck of Dodge.
When does he come home?

Cathy said...

It is funny because I am from Wichita but I rarely see the statues. Generally I am with my family when I visit and we don't head downtown. In the last twenty years they have done a lot to improve the downtown area. Did you go to Old Town?

By the way, your new ring is gorgeous.

SonyaAnn said...

I feel smart for just stopping over. I may need to come back 3-4 more times. I'm pretty sure my IQ is on a continuous decline.

Dmarie said...

thanks for sharing--I enjoyed the ride along!

Annie Jones said...

Dmarie - Thanks for riding along!

Dr. Alice said...

Those pictures of the house lots are sobering; it's great that the community is rebuilding.

Interestingly, I was just reading an article about Geocaching last weekend - sounds like a lot of fun! I'm glad you enjoyed your trip.

Frogdancer said...

Those sculptures are fantastic!
By the way, nice work with the strawberry bed too.

Annie Jones said...

Dr. Alice: We just love Geocaching. We like hiking, and Geocaching just gives it a fun "purpose". We've 'cached in five states, so far.

We also practice Cache In, Trash Out, meaning we take a bag with us and pick up litter if we see it.

Tug said...

Looks like, for the most part, an awesome trip! Love your finds (beautiful ring as well, GO SHANE!), and I think I like the lunch counter sculptures the best, how cute! Wow, 6 weeks...that's got to be tough, ugh.