Friday, June 26, 2009

Part 1: The rainy days a man saves for usually seem to arrive during his vacation. ~ Author Unknown

We're back. We arrived home last Sunday night about 9:00pm, gone basically 7 days of the intended 3 weeks, most of them spent in the car driving.

But, let me start at the beginning.

We started our vacation last Monday, June 15th, backing out of the driveway at approximately 8:30am. We looked forward to this vacation with great anticipation. We have never been on a trip like this. We knew our final destination would be somewhere around Yellowstone National Park, but we didn't have any time frame or schedule. Our plans were to just get in the car and drive; stop when and where we wanted; and arrive at our destination sometime.

We wanted to be vacationers...tourists...taking photos of goofy and unusual points of interest. Did you ever see the movie "Michael" in which John Travolta portrayed an Archangel named Michael and two tabloid reporters convince him to travel to their magazine headquarters in Chicago. Along the way, Michael insists on stopping to see the World's Biggest Ball of Twine and The Biggest Teflon Frying Pan. We weren't going to get that goofy, but we were hoping to just have fun.

Monday we drove through Arkansas, then Oklahoma (by way of the Muskogee Turnpike - nothing interesting there), then we started through Kansas. We hoped to make it to Colby, Kansas the first night. Didn't happen. Storm. Big one. Severe thunderstorm and tornado warnings all through the area we were driving through. We stopped for the night in Salina, Kansas. The storm blasted the entire area all night long, but by morning we had clear skies and we were ready to move. But, first we had to find a Starbucks. Unfortunately, that wouldn't be for almost 100 miles (and people think Arkansas is the middle of nowhere!).

Next state...Colorado. Not so fast. Or even if you are going fast, you are going nowhere fast. We endured hours and hours and hours of Kansas, most of which looked pretty much like this...

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Not a point of interest in sight anywhere, unless you consider the wind farms that periodically dot the landscape points of interest..

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I don't. By mid-day the second day, I'm already sick of driving and I'm very discouraged. Not one stupid, corny, goofy or interesting point of interest. But, after hours of driving through Kansas, heading west on Highway 70 toward Colby, Kansas and I see a sign that says, "Largest Prairie Dog in the World." And, I'm thinkin', "Oh, Boy, maybe I'm gonna get my 'Michael' moment after all. Talk about the quintessential vacation photo.

About a mile further is another sign..."Live 5-Legged Steer!" Now this place is starting to sound like a major oddity circus to me and I'm not one to be attracted to the exploitation of the oddities of nature, be they human or animal. And, being the skeptic that I am, I thought there was probably a very reasonable explanation for the steer's 5th leg and I had it all figured out before we even traveled another couple of miles. My guess was that "extra leg" was not a leg at all, but the steer's abnormally long genitals that had been dragging on the ground so long (he's probably an old bull) that the constant rubbing against the earth's surface created a flat, callous that resembled a hoof...hence the 5th "leg." However, since we were in what Tom called "The Buckle of Bible Belt," signs along the highway advertising a "Well Hung Steer!" is not particularly family friendly and would most likely be frowned upon, although it may have generated a lot more interest than "5 Legged Steer!" But I digress.

The next sign touted the prairie dog's weight: 8,500 lb. Prairie Dog! Okay, now I know for sure it's not a dead, professionally stuffed and preserved prairie dog (darn!), but a concrete replica of a prairie dog, but I still thought, What the hell. We're on an adventure, right? I'm still going to get a photo of that sucker!

Speaking of suckers, I would definitely be one of those. At exit 70, I followed the signs to Finch Museum, a quaint, old mobile home type dwelling, wheels removed and set on the ground. One would think an 8,500 lb. prairie dog would have to be outside somewhere and I was hoping, if nothing else, to at least get a photo of that. Nope. The prairie dog was either inside (this would have to be one VERY short, VERY fat prairie dog), where I had to pay a fee to get in (shocking, isn't it?), or the prairie dog had been stolen, as if anyone would want an 8,500 lb. concrete replica of a prairie dog in their yard...

So, (sigh), we settled on a goofy photo of the next truck stop...Fake palm trees at the "Oasis Travel Center" (really) in the middle of the Kansas plains...

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...with fake birds in the fake palm trees...

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And we hadn't even left Kansas yet. Lucky us.

To be continued....

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