August 14, 2005

My vacation.

I survived the family vacation. It was interesting there were some good points and some bad points. For the sake of brevity I am going to highlight some of the most memorable parts of my vacation, both good and bad.

The world’s largest truck stop is on I-80 in Iowa. We stopped there just to check it out. Yep, it’s a mighty big truck stop.

There is a place in Iowa called the Amana Colonies. It is about 30 minutes north northwest of Iowa City. This place is a really neat rural community with a rich history. The food is excellent (heavily German influence), they have all kinds of specialty industries including wool weaving, wine making, beer brewing, meat processing, etc. I will go out on a limb and say I had some of the best beer I have EVER (better then Guinness in my opinion) had from the local brewery, an oatmeal stout. I brought home two one liter bottles of it for my next weekend re-enactment. At their woolen mill we were able to pick up a historically correct wool blanket for our re-enacting for only $59.00.

Clone needs to work on his restaurant etiquette. We really need to get him to stop yelling at the top of his lungs things like; “I go potty” and “Momma, you go potty”.

While in a nice family restaurant in the Amana Colonies, Clone was coloring when he dropped a crayon. At which point he proceeded to yell out, “DAMMIT!” I don’t know where he learned such language. I blame my wife.

Kansas City sucks. This is the worst city I have ever been too. There are 3 major highways through/around Kansas City, and they feel it is completely appropriate for them to completely close down two of them at the Missouri River to work on the bridges at the same time. Our hotel was right at one of the last exits before the bridge was closed on the highway we wanted. We planned our alternate route that night before going to bed only to discover the next day that highway was also closed. I was more then a little miffed.

People in Kansas City do not eat in restaurants unless it is fast food or at the Casino. We spent an hour driving around looking for a decent sit down restaurant and couldn’t find one. Finally I went back to the hotel and asked the clerk where I could go find a decent restaurant. The clerk went on to say that I could take my family to either the casino or a sports bar. I felt so trashy taking my 2 and 12 year old to a casino to eat mediocre food.

We spent half of a day in Independence, MO, the launching point of the Santa Fe, Oregon and California Trails west. We went to multiple museums and soaked up a lot of history about early pioneers and settlers. If you like history or just want to do something educational on a vacation, this is an interesting town. It’s also where the Harry Truman library and Museum is. While touring the Frontier Trails Museum my wife made an interesting observation. In a lot of their displays about mountain men and frontier travelers they had replica items. From our re-enacting, we own many of those replica items and or know where which retailer they bought them through, especially the ink packets labeled “Jas. Townsend”. This was consistently the case at every museum and historic center we went to that had displays ranging from the 1700’s through the 1880’s Does this mean my house is a museum?

My wife has been lying to me for years. She grew up in Wichita, KS and has told me for years that Kansas is flat and has no trees. We drove through some pretty hilly areas covered in forest. We did come to spots where there was not a tree in site, however it was still rolling hills.

If I really wanted to quit my job and do living history full time, there are plenty of places for me to find a job. The pay is pretty bad however.

At the Zoo in Wichita, animals like to get right up to the glass. This makes for some really neat picture opportunities.

Wichita has a really neat Living History center, Old Cow Town. This is one of the best-recreated towns I’ve seen. Even on a weekday they have re-enactors peppered through out the town to talk to the people. They even had the saloon open and running, however you could not get a whiskey there, no matter how hard I tried. There was even period pr0n on the walls!

While at Old Cow Town, the boys decided they needed guns. I ended up buying Boopie two six shooters and Clone a Derringer. These being my boys, they ended up getting into a gunfight IN the church.

They had a fur trapper/hunter section in the town. After the living historian finished her speech about the display, I politely explained I’m a re-enactor and she had some of her information wrong. I corrected her on the use of a couple of items and even cited sources for the information. She seemed generally appreciative of my information. She was also rather annoyed by her inability to answer a couple of my questions. No matter how tempting it was to quiz her, I didn’t. My questions where all legitimate ones that I didn’t know the answer two.

In the small Kansas town of Hutchinson is located the Cosmosphere and Space Center. This impressive center also houses a museum on space flight and holds a large collection of rocket and space artifacts from the back up Sputnik satellite to the actual Apollo 13 capsule. I’ve been to the Smithsonian and Cape Kennedy; this place rivals them. It is located about 45 minutes northwest of Wichita, if you are ever in the area you would be doing yourself a disservice by not stopping by. We attempted to see a couple of shows; I however had to miss two of them. Clone would start getting loud and crying and I had to take him out of the theater. We figured this would happen, so I was prepared. I wish I had been able to finish the I-max movie on fighter pilots, as that was interesting.

We went to a chuck wagon supper at the Prairie Rose. The food was great. There was also a cowboy song/story show that went with it. Clone would not sit still or be quiet for the show. I ended up having to take him outside so he could run around. Boopie joined us shortly after. I just could not get Boopie to go back in and try to give the show a chance. He kept saying he didn’t like country music. Even after explaining to him this was the other kind of music, western, he still would not go back in. When clone finally settled down I took him back in and actually was able to see part of the show. These guys where good. After three songs Clone was back to his old tricks and I had to take him out again. This time Boopie decided to stay to watch the show. He liked it so much he ended up buying a CD and having the cowboys autograph it. Dad knows best!

Clone did scream a lot during the drive. If any of you had stock in Advil and noticed that it’s value skyrocketed; it’s because I was popping it like pez.

West of the Mississippi they have gas stations called Kum & Go. Words cannot begin to describe the juvenile levels of mirth I had with that name.

During the whole trip I was constantly speeding. I passed many more people then I was passed. Doing some quick calculations, I figure that for every 500 vehicles I passed, one car would pass me. Yet I did not get pulled over once. There were a couple of close calls.

I’m sure I forgot something, there was so much that happened.

UPDATE: Per request, here's a picture of the Kum N Go sign. Yes, I'm juvinile enough to get a picture.

Posted by Contagion in Family Life at August 14, 2005 11:11 AM | TrackBack

Ha! Dude, you should have gotten a pic of the "Kum & Go" sign!

Posted by: Graumagus at August 14, 2005 12:59 PM

The Kum & Go, eh? That pic would go well with the sign of a auto repair shop in Quincy. It's Double A (AA) Muffler Shop and the sign reads: "No Muff is Too Tuff". No. Shit. And of course I didn't get a pic! :-(

Posted by: Wes at August 14, 2005 01:23 PM

Welcome back! Sounds like you guys had a good time.

I've been by the Amana Colonies, but never went there. It's close enough that it could be a day trip... and with beer like that, it's a good chance I'll do it.

Posted by: That 1 Guy at August 14, 2005 06:36 PM

Wow, gas is so cheap there!

Posted by: Bou at August 14, 2005 09:42 PM

It's the "additives," Bou. ;)

Posted by: That 1 Guy at August 15, 2005 07:24 AM

Just one question regarding said sign - did you?

Posted by: Oddybobo at August 15, 2005 09:58 AM

Bou, Gas averaged about 20 cents cheaper in Iowa, Missouri and Kansas then it does in Illinois. We started getting worried when we hit Iowa and saw the gas prices where up to $2.38 a gallon. We knew Illinois was going to be high, and it was... stupid gas tax!

Oddy, no, no I did not!

Posted by: Contagion at August 15, 2005 01:39 PM

Just checking! You never know, being a member of the Bad Example family and all!

Posted by: Oddybobo at August 15, 2005 03:28 PM