Friday, November 3, 2023

Toto, I Have a Feeling We're Not in Kansas Anymore

My wife and I just returned from a vacation in Kansas.  Weird?  We flew into Wichita to visit Monument Rocks, a chalk formation from I think Mesozoic Era and the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve.  We had some minor computer issues that required a visit to Best Buy (wrong charger for Rhonda's PC and wrong USB Bluetooth for the mouse) and the prospect of 4 1/2 hours each way after Best Buy opened at 10 AM was not thrilling so went to the Tallgrass Preserve instead and talked to the bison herd.  

We also toured the house of the cattle baron who made his fortune in the Flint Hills, an area too stony for farming.  Interesting combination of Renaissance and Prairie Plain architecture in limestone.  I will have pictures to post tomorrow.  

Kansas is empty and rural in a way that makes Idaho seem crowded and cosmopolitan.  Wichita is a fair sized city, about 394,000 people with a murder problem which I think explains their increasingly relaxed gun laws.  The state as a whole had a 4.9/100,000 murder rate in 2019 which is not good.  Even in towns of a few hundred people some distance from Wichita we saw bars on windows and signs about Meth Watch.

The goal was partly geological study and partly topographical.  (My wife and I have odd notions of fun.)  More tomorrow including the Osage Orange which is not an orange nor particularly edible.  The clever Midwesterners found uses for it nonetheless.

One nice aspect about wealth is not feeling like you are cheaping out on stuff that matters to your happiness as a couple.  Over the salad years, we stayed in some only so-so motels including a Motel 6 once.  Now we stay in Marriotts and Hiltons.

I remember vividly my parents renting a $10/night hotel in Flagstaff on our 1967 37 states and 4 Canadian provinces vacation.  (Seventeen days.)  It was not all that bad of a place but it was not the Holiday Inn. Or the Ramada Inn where we stayed on other nights.  (There were a few nights camping which is probably why I have never been keen on camping. For every warm memory of waking up to bacon and eggs cooking over a camp stove there were at least two others of putting up a tent in darkness at the end of a long drive.)

I think my father was a little sheepish about that crowded, not very nice motel room, but in retrospect that my parents managed to scrape together the money for the vacations we did do says that they considered the broadening experience valuable for us.  My wife's parents did one vacation as she was growing up and they were solidly middle-class.

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