Welcome to our Adventure...

We packed up the kids, dog and the trailer and headed out for adventure, learning and helping others. During our adventure we will try to update this site as often as possible to keep everyone interested involved in our travels and to keep a journal for ourselves. The plan is to be working, schooling, helping and sharing on the road for a year.
Please feel free to post comments and questions! Thanks for following!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Underground Salt Mine, Great BBQ and A Long Drive

Today we got up early, got all packed up, cleaned up, hooked up and left Air Capital RV Park in Wichita between 9:30 and 10 am. It was a very grey, foggy and muggy morning, already nearly 80 degrees by then.

We had a pretty full day planned so we wanted to get on the road early for us and we did.

Our first stop was the Kansas Underground Salt Museum. We got to take a tour 650 feet underground. The mine was created in a room and pillar design so there wasn't really any claustrophobic feelings (except for the crowded elevator/hoist that carried us down) because most of the areas we saw were wide open spaces with 9 foot ceilings. The "pillars" that hold the mine up are mostly between 40 and 50 feet thick areas of the natural stone left in place a strategic distance apart.

This was a "Please Touch" exhibit. We were not supposed to touch and especially
not "lick" the walls inside the actual mine.
Solid blocks of clear salt like this occur when there is a high concentration of
pure salt, without sediment or impurities to contaminate it. This block,
 cut by the miners in 2004, weighs about 6000 pounds!!
Brynna with some of the early equipment used on rails in the mine
Brighton with more equipment and a huge pile of the blasted salt behind
It is still an active mining operation and we didn't tour that portion, but it is also an Underground Storage Vault now due to the constant temperatures (68 degrees!), dry air, and the preservative quality of salt and so there was a really cool movie history section where we got to see some real movie artifacts.
Brighton was most excited to see the "Noisy Cricket" from the  movie.
The glasses were the ones worn by Tommy Lee Jones.
Sky wanted to pose with the actual Wonka Bars. There were some cool hand-drawn
Bugs Bunny cartoon drawings hanging there too.
The sign says that Underground Vault & Storage began receiving films in 1963 and was for years, best  known for storing the original prints of The Wizard of Oz.
Actual Costumes for Mr. Freeze and Batman from the Clooney Batman movie. We also
saw a Superman suit worn by Dean Cain in Lois and Clark.
An Agent Smith Mannequin used in the background of some fight scenes.
From Jack Frost
Preserved newspaper from the day after President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated.
We got to go on a train ride to see the part of the mine and equipment that was used up until the 1950's and then a tram ride which toured a portion and showed some methods used more recently.
Early wooden mine car. Rails were still used up until 1983 when they went to a conveyor belt system.
We learned that the miners would work to fill the carts by hand, two men together, using shovels and picks that they provided for themselves. It would take them about an hour and a half to fill the carts and they would receive a brass chip when they did. At the end of the day, they turned in their chips and would be paid 50 cents for each chip.
They said "what goes into the mine stays in the mine". This is a pile of perfectly preserved garbage.  It was actually kind of cool to see magazines and newspapers and candy wrappers and such from the early 50's. NOT cool to see toilet paper. 
Train that used to be used at the city zoo was chopped up to fit in the hoist to be brought down and then reassembled for use. It also had to be converted from a gas engine to electric. It runs on 6 deep cycle batteries.
One of the guides took the picture of all us.
Tonight, I asked Brock if my helmet was on that crooked all day.??? No wonder it felt so uncomfortable.
First, the dynamite was transported in wooden crates which were reused and repurposed for lots of different things. Then, the cardboard boxes were used to carry it and they were recycled, but not reused. Lastly, they switched to ammonium nitrate which came in bags.
Another example of what comes in, stays in. Everything that could be removed from this vehicle before it came down was, so that it would be lighter and easier to into pieces and into the hoist. It was also converted to electric and had a 300 foot electrical cord in the back our guide said.
After we finished at the mine, it was after 2 pm and we hadn't had lunch, so we grabbed some snacks to tide us over so we could go about an hour's drive north to eat lunch in our friend, Linda Paschke's, hometown, Salina, Kansas. We chose a BBQ place called the Hickory Hut and it was great! We got a family meal which let us have some ribs, some pulled pork, some sausage and some sides. Everything was really good. I think it was my favorite BBQ that we've eaten this trip. We were a little afraid to do too much exploring of the "downtown" area because we weren't sure about pulling our beast of a trailer all over narrow streets so we pretty much just got right back on the interstate after we finished eating.

We continued on for close to an hour before we had to stop for gas. We were getting pretty low right around Topeka and Brock was starting to get stressed out. I was using our GasBuddy app to try to find good prices, but the good ol' Yukon's gauges were telling us we had less than 17 more miles worth of gas, and that isn't always accurate. I finally figured out how to use the app to get directions to the closest station, which actually turned out to be 5 miles away from where we started to panic, so things got a little tense for a bit, but we pulled in and filled up just fine. In talking to a lady at the station, I learned we had come through on a pretty busy weekend because the nationals races (NHRA?) were going on and the station where we stopped was only a half mile from the track. I'm so ignorant about racing, I didn't even know enough to be impressed. ;o)

We got back on the interstate again and I think Tom said we had another 2 hours of driving. We were going along just fine, keeping an eye on the dark skies, since ominous forecasts were abounding, but we never saw much wind and not a single drop of rain all day. Thank you, Jesus!

We had Tom set to avoid tolls so we were taking a "back road" and all of a sudden I see a road construction sign that says road closed ahead, local traffic only. We had to turn around in a bank parking lot and loop back onto another highway and the way felt very circuitous, but the rest of the drive was very uneventful. The sun even came out and the skies cleared. I don't think it was really any longer than the original estimate either. We ended up going through southern Kansas City when it was nearly 8 o'clock and the traffic was very light so that was a blessing too.

We were headed to a campground where we didn't actually have a reservation because when I called to verify that they had space this morning, I was told they did, but couldn't do same day reservations so we'd just have to show up. I realized by map research that the address listed on the campground website was really for the Jackson County Parks office and not the actual campground so I searched and searched the satellite view of google maps until I found the campground and then used that map to direct us here. I knew the park office closed at 5 or 6 today and since we were arriving so late, I didn't expect to be able to check in tonight. We had a little moment of panic when we first pulled up and saw an after hours gate, the kind you need a code to enter. BUT, Brock just pulled up to the little booth and said he'd see if there were any after hours check-in instructions. He'd barely gotten out of the car when a little golf cart pulled up and a very nice couple got out and came and helped us get checked in to one of the sites that were available for the nights that we were hoping for. It is a pull through and was significantly slanted left to right, but we got set up fairly level. It is only water and electric, but we are very close to the restrooms and we are planning on heading into Kansas City tomorrow for much of the day anyway so we should be fine with not filling our tanks up.

Tomorrow the forecasted severe thunderstorms are supposed to hit. I feel very thankful that we are settled into a spot. The concrete building that the restrooms are located in would be a good, safe shelter should the need arise.

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