Coming from what has become one of the epicurean centers of the world you might think I wouldn’t be too excited about the food in Kansas. Oh, but you would be wrong. I love food. When people ask me what I like to eat, I say food. My son and I have a rule that we have to try everything once; if we don’t like it, we don’t eat it. So far I don’t eat raw carrots, Kalamata olives, and green peppers (and even those are growing on me). I have no allergies except for an immediate crash from sugar without the exciting rush. Planning meals and cooking something delicious give me such great pleasure I get almost giddy. I love food.
There’s so much more I have left to write about Hutchinson and Pretty Prairie and the Wolcott House, and I will, but as my first day home waxed and waned I kept thinking about a conversation Joanna and I had yesterday as we were driving back to Chicago. She asked me what I would take home from this trip. After ruminating for a moment, I realized it was perspective.
Doug lives literally a block away from the Kansas State Fairgrounds. When you’re with a two-year old whose most frequent phrase is “See cows?” and can tell you what piggies and goats and sheep say (baa baa black sheep…wool…) , that’s an incredibly convenient location.
We did see cows, and piggies, and goats, and sheep, and we also saw antique tractors and a ferris wheel and rode a train and ate our way through the grounds. Instead of telling you what we saw, you can take a look for yourself!
After the highs and lows of the Cosmosphere that afternoon we went even lower. Six hundred and fifty feet lower, to be exact.
Hutchinson is home to the Kansas Underground Salt Museum. Located deep beneath the surface are salt deposits that cover about 920 acres. These were discovered back in 1887 when an unscrupulous businessman was putting oil in wells. While he was run out of town (to Chicago, maybe?), the upside of his shenanigans was that salt was found in them there prairies.
Friday was our first full day in Hutchinson and we truly got to experience the city’s highs and lows. I also had an unexpectedly emotional experience that left me shaken for the rest of the day.
We began with a visit to the Cosmosphere. This is a planetarium, an IMAX theater, a space camp, and one of the premier space museums in the world. It’s affiliated with the Smithsonian and is home to the largest collection of Soviet space program artifacts in the country.
We got on the road about 9am and by 9:17am we’d already made our first stop. What else are you going to do when you see a sign for Walt Disney Hometown Museum? We headed south three miles to Marceline and parked in front of a beautiful brick building surrounded by a wrought-iron fence. It was situated right next to a railroad crossing, so that made Dani inimitably happy. The museum was closed so we ran around the centerpiece fountain, sat on the benches, grabbed our requisite photo op and headed back out on the road.
Take two smart creative women, put them in a car with an inquisitive two-year-old for 400 miles and ask them to come up with a tag line for their trip to Kansas. I should specify that both of these women work with language on a regular basis, and for one of them (me) it’s her job to connect words in interesting and entertaining ways. Yet all they – we – could come up with was Two Babes & A Babe-ette. Ah well. Now that it’s out there it’ll do.