Sedgwick County Zoo parking lot. Almost on queue the rain stopped as we got out of the car and fortunately the clouds stuck around for most of the day. We were an hour later than planned but it helped beat the opening time lines and waiting.
The Sedgwick County Zoo was a nice surprise, there was a lot of walking but displays and exhibits were pretty close together, which was nice as it held Kim and Connor’s interests. Connor said his favorite part was the Cessna Penguin Cove where the penguins could be observed above and below water level. Katy’s favorite spot was where the baby pigs, donkeys, and various other animals were kept. And so began the pig for a pet conversation again. All I can say on that is…not going to happen. Kim’s favorite part was the hippos which were lounging lazily at the bottom of their murky pool.
All in all it took us about three hours to walk through the zoo and we skipped the Australia and South America part because the kids were getting tired, hungry, and thirsty, never a good combination.
Despite almost being rained out, we played the risk and left around 5:30am for Wichita. We were hoping along the way that the rain that was localized over Wichita would clear before we got there. After more than two hundred miles we got some rain drops on the windshield as we pulled into the
Alpha 1 Drop Zone store, military surplus and militaria. I finally found the 1st Cavalry flag that I have been looking for to hang on the wall over my writing desk.
Onward to Augusta, on the east side of Wichita, to the Kansas Museum of Military History where, you can probably guess, there is another helicopter to add to my project. Besides that there are several displays of equipment and uniforms from the Civil War to present day. Displays include tanks, helicopters, trucks, personnel carriers, chemical warfare, and more than a few hundred plastic model aircraft. Best of all the kids are allowed to touch and interact with some displays. There is even a play area for kids to be entertained while you look around at the history this museum is home to. It was definitely a learning experience and worth the trip.
A small side trip took us to the
The more than two hundred mile drive home seemed to take forever but we finally made it home about 6:00pm. After cleaning out the Jeep and getting everything put away everyone just relaxed for a little while. I hung the flag while Kim and Connor played outside and Katy caught up on some house work before everyone went to bed.
The second leg of the trip included several unexpected sites and experiences. For starters that was the first time that I had been on the Old Route 66 through Oklahoma and Kansas. Route 66 originally ran from Chicago through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California. It also served as the location for the “Cars” movie from Disney-Pixar in 2006.
We turned onto Route 66 outside of Miami, Oklahoma and followed it to Baxter Springs, KS where we found the Baxter Springs Heritage Center and Museum. The museum offers an in depth look into the history of Baxter Springs with many displays from Native American artifacts and information and historical information on Route 66. World Wars I & II, the Civil War, African American history, and 1930’s brick street with buildings are exhibited for the public. Mining equipment, a battle tank, and a caboose are on display outside. Kim and Connor had fun, especially when Connor saw the tank and caboose. It was a great unexpected stop, however it did put us a little behind schedule.
Back on Route 66 we drive to Galena, KS where we stopped at the Galena Mining and Historical Museum. There we found another helicopter and a second battle tank along with a display train and a few old modes of transportation. A horse drawn hearse and a rum-runner truck from prohibition days sit in the back garage area of the museum. Out back was a two barrel naval deck gun from WWII era and a Vietnam era UH-1 Helicopter. The guide suggest that we drive a few more blocks down where the kids would see something that is both famous for Route 66 and a movie.
A 1951 International boom truck that was the inspiration behind the character of Mater in the movie cars sat at a restored filling station. Connor was quite excited to get his picture taken with the “real” Mater. They had even used a sunshade to add the eyes in the windshield for better effect.
After that the day was starting to run out of time and we still had a three and a half hour drive home, with Katy having to work the next day. A full day filled with unexpected surprises and opened the door to future trips to the area.
What is one of your most memorable local trips?
After spending a month on hiatus due to the heat conditions plaguing the Midwest, it finally subsided enough for us to finally plan a day out. After the shrill announcement from my clock it was time to get up after only getting an hour of sleep. Katy was already awake and had gotten everything ready to go and all I had to do was get my camera equipment and writing bag ready to go.
The sun had not started to peek over the horizon as we pulled out of the driveway and began the two hundred mile drive to Neosho, Missouri. The destination was Morse Park, home of a helicopter display, another addition to my helicopter history project. For the most part the drive was uneventful, the kids were watching a DVD and we were watching the countryside roll by in a blur. I asked Katy a question and the reply was the vibrating hum of the Jeep tires as it crossed the line to the shoulder of the road. Wide-eyed I looked at Katy who quickly responded that she had temporarily forgotten she was driving. She was thinking about if she had forgotten something at home and was a little too into that thought. After a good laugh we continued on to Neosho.
Entering Morse Park we could see the ball field area through a thin tree line. I did not know exactly where the helicopter was located so I told the kids to keep their eye out. The park seemed well maintained and as we came around a curve we spotted our destination. Turning to cross a bridge we pulled into the parking lot to the right. Straight ahead was the helicopter, slightly to the right was the walking trail that disappeared into the dark woods and a play set was just beyond that. The kids ran to the play set before I even opened the back of the jeep. Behind us was a shallow stream that snaked through the park.
While I was photographing the helicopter, Connor, Kim, and Katy were playing on the nearby play set. Several people walked by on the trail that curved its way through this part of the park, watching me like I was going to steal the helicopter as I set up my tripod and prepared everything.
Afterwards we all walked through the still dewy grass to the small stream that was beyond the helicopter. Kim and Connor proceeded to throwing stones into the water, sending ripples across the otherwise smooth surface. Katy walked purposefully along the edge examining each rock for signs that something lived nearby or was attempting to hide. After ten minutes she found what she was looking for, a baby crawdad hiding under a rock. The “mother” crawdad made an appearance rather quickly prompting them to release the baby back into the water.
Someone had fashioned a small dam of rocks that created a modest waterfall and a shallow wading area that would have been quite refreshing on some of those blistering days we had been having. For an unknown reason a reclining lawn chair sat under the bridge that cast its shadow across the wading pool. At first we thought it was just discarded but upon closer inspection there was a rock sitting next to it serving as a table, and it became clear that the chair had been intentionally put under the bridge.
As we were working our way out of Neosho we came across the Neosho National Fish Hatchery which works to conserve fish and their habitats. It opened its doors in 2010 and offers in-depth looks at the history of the conservation of fish. Trout and Sturgeon are a main stay of this Hatchery with a detailed look at both fish and a chance to observe the trout in the waterways behind the visitor center. The kids really seemed to enjoy the interactive displays located throughout the Center. As we were leaving the hatchery it was unanimously decided that it was time for lunch.
After some discussion we decided to take a detour through Northeast Oklahoma just to say we had been there. A couple of stops made it worth the detour.
Make sure you check back in a few days for part two of our trip through three states.
There are many travelers that travel to experience the food and wine of distant lands. Some prefer the adventure of hand gliding through canyons and jumping out of perfectly good airplanes. Others want to immerse themselves in the culture of a certain area and learn how to understand the way of life of a foreign people. For me it is a time to see new things, re-experience old things, spending time with my family and allowing my kids to experience things that a lot of their friends don’t get to.
I do not travel places to experience the food; we usually just pack lunch in a cooler and enjoy a picnic at some park or beside an out of the way lake. Peanut butter and jelly is a staple most of the time, other times lunch meat and Lunchables for the kids, small bags of chips, juice boxes, and bottles filled with ice tea wrap up the usual day trip eatings. Sometimes sandwiches just are not enough and we stop at a fast food joint.
Usually the most difficult part of the trip is planning something for each member of the family in every destination we go to. Connor and I are easy to satisfy, a helicopter, surplus store, etc. and we are good to go. For the girls we do the Zoos, botanical gardens, and anything else they want to do. After all, what is the point in going if everyone does not get their own memories from it?
Sometimes we get to a location and the plan does not work out. What do we do then? Well we drive around and look for things to do. It is not always successful but usually we can find something. Sometimes a good hike is a great break from the monotony of driving.
The main goal of the trips we take is to be outdoors and see interesting things and learn about things in our area. Sometimes you will be amazed what you can find if you dig deep enough even if you have somewhere all of your life you can find new things.
Last time I wrote about how to use evaporation from the ground to gain a source of water in an emergency situation. That is handy, but sometimes that may not be possible, or even enough for any length of time. So what do you do if you have a water source but it is contaminated or dirty? You could try another method used by the U.S. Marines for filtering water.
Make a tripod using three sticks, tying the tops together with straps or scraps.
Use three pieces of cloth tied to each leg of the tripod so that it makes a pocket for the filter materials.
On the top most layer, put a thick layer of grass. This serves to filter out any large impurities in the water.
The second level will be a thick of sand, or dirt if sand is not available, that will filter out smaller impurities.
The final level is a 5 – 6 inch charcoal layer that will bond with any toxins in the water.
The charcoal can be found in any fire, it is the black chucks, not the ashes that are left after the wood has burned. Run a few gallons of water through to get the dirt and any much out of the filtration system and remember to change filter material frequently.
The water should still be boiled for several minutes after using this filtering technique.
What does camping mean to you? To some it means loading up the RV and finding a state park or other recreational area to park at and enjoy the leisurely pace. For some it may mean heading out with nothing but what you have in a backpack, maybe a small tent and sleeping bag. For some it is sleeping on the hard earth and letting a dwindling fire keep you warm throughout the night. Whatever your definition of camping is, most of us have done it at some point in our lives.
When I was a kid, my friends and I would camp quite often. Of course I was raised in a military home so we used the opportunity to wear my father’s BDU uniforms, which were several sizes too big, and had a good ole time chasing the invisible enemy through the woods. Sometimes now when I look back, some of the fondest memories I have are of those campouts.
Now I can share that experience with my five year old son and ten year old daughter. Connor adjusts pretty well and is content playing in the dirt. I must say the boy loves getting dirty. Kim took a little longer to adjust to it. No television, no radio, just us and the sounds of nature. Usually we take a lot of stuff to ease the discomfort on the kids and enjoy some of the comforts of civilized world, such as a table to keep food off the ground, a second tent to store gear in, good food, etc.
This year will be a little different. There will be no tables, no power packs, or delicious foods. This year we will actually be roughing it a little bit. We are debating just using basic shelters instead of tents and using homemade MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) and learning how to live more freely. I am going to start teaching the kids how to use a compass to navigate and how to purify water using the limited materials available and when they are a little older how to build a fire without using gasoline and a cigarette lighter.
Right now I am looking for anyplace in Missouri or Kansas that offers the hiking and camping trails. I know Indian Cave in Nebraska offers the longer trails where you can camp along the trail, but have not found any around where I live that sound like much fun. Of course the weather is playing a factor in holding us back now, with heat indexes of over 115 degrees camping would take a toll. Once the weather cools a little then we will head out to it.
Hopefully we can try all the survival tips and techniques I have been learning to see what will work and what doesn’t. I’ll be sure to document everything and share it here. So until then, have a great summer and try to stay cool.
Please comment and share any camping or hiking experiences or just to tell what you consider camping.