The Land of Aaaaahs

Trip Start Jul 24, 2007
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Trip End Aug 24, 2007


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Flag of United States  , Kansas
Tuesday, August 21, 2007

    This morning we left our hotel and drove to the University of Kansas, which was only a few miles away. On campus, we parked in a multilevel garage and walked across the street to the Spencer Art Gallery, the one we've been waiting to see again. Unfortunately, the gallery was closed on Mondays. Since we'd already paid for three hours of parking we went nearby to the natural history museum and toured through that. Evidently, years ago, there was a Professor Louis Dyche there who was able to obtain animal specimens and then taxidermy (is that a verb?) them. They were displayed at the 1893 Columbian Exposition. Eventually, they got funding to house all of this collection he created, plus more since then. It was really well done; there were animals from all over the state of Kansas, some from other areas, plus a number of live snakes and honeybees. I especially appreciated the beautiful diorama paintings done on the walls behind the animal specimens. There were several floors of exhibits which took most of our three hours to look at.

    Leaving the museum, we went to the Student Union building. It was like a small city. Six stories high, it contained banking services, a coffee shop, food store, food services, a student bookstore -which besides text books, included art supplies, snacks, clothing, furniture, a complete tech store (computers, printers, etc.) and school related memorabilia. Across from that there was a regular bookstore that sold books, music and videos. In other parts of the building here were huge rooms for study with tables and chairs for study or computer use. There was even a bowling alley! School is in session, so we witnessed hundreds of happy students using all of these facilities.

    We moved on again, heading west on Highway 70 through Kansas. It was extremely hot and humid today, getting up to 104, almost hard to breathe outside. We determined that Kansas has the most museums of all the states we've visited. We saw signs for prairie museums, fort museums, oil museums, presidential museums, an OZ museum (hi, Dorothy!) even a Czech museum with an opera house. Late in the day we stopped in Abilene at the Eisenhower Center, which houses a visitor center, his home, a library, a museum, statues/monuments, and a Place of Meditation at the final resting place for Ike and Mamie (his wife), and his son. Since it was late, we only had time to go inside the home which housed Ike and his five brothers, parents and uncle. It was used by the family from 1898 to 1946. The house is on its original site and is left just as it was when his mother lived there. A nice home, but not very big for nine people. Plumbing and electricity were not added until Ike was an adolescent. Even now, only one bathroom.

    Driving on, we saw a large number of oil derricks on both sides of the road, pumping away, grain towers in the distance. Facing the sun, there were beautiful clouds, the remnants of several storm fronts passing through. The whole scene made for a beautiful sunset. By nine, we were at our hotel in Colby, Kansas, not far from the Colorado border.
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