Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Hutchinson, Kansas

October 11 - 14, 2017:

It’s a sunny but very windy day for the 120 mile drive to the Sand Hill State Park in Hutchinson, Kansas.  I wasn’t towing the Jeep today and the wind gusts were pushing us all over the road.  I’ve found that when towing, the Jeep kind of stabilizes the rear of the RV from swaying on windy days.  All things considered, I still much prefer not to tow.  The good thing is that wind is bringing in some heat with the temperature today close to 80 degrees which is very welcome.

I made one quick stop in the town of McPherson with its beautifully restored Opera House, two interesting murals and a couple of other sights.

McPherson Opera House is a beauty

Can you believe, first Olympic Basketball Champions in 1936

The Sand Hill State Park is a new park in Kansas in an area of sand hills with several hiking trails.  It mostly deserted during the week at this time of year as there is no boating or fishing.

The city of Hutchinson, Kansas also known as "Salt City" is about 6 miles from the campground.  There are a few historic buildings with interesting signs on their history.  We wandered into a good bookstore and an incredible toy / hobby store with the owners private (not for sale) train collection on a back room.  There is also the magnificent restored Fox theater, built in 1931.  It narrowly escaped the wrecking ball, but was saved and restored in the 1990's.  Much of the central downtown however is sadly abandoned and blighted.  I couldn’t find a brewpub or a bar in town that I would want to frequent and live music is a rarity here.

A very special Kress Department Store

The Fox Theater is very special

Especially up close

A mind expanding mural

Toy Store was great, the car moved around and through the
car wash with the brushes even turning

So many model trains and an extensive layout also

I especially liked this mural

There are two notable attractions in Hutchinson, the Strataca Underground Salt Museum and the Cosmoshere Space Museum.  We did the Salt Mine Museum where they take you 650 feet below ground in an elevator.  You then can wander around at your leisure to look at and read the exhibits and then take a narrated tram ride through an inactive section of the mine.  It was very educational although I wouldn’t want to ever work there.  

650 feet underground you enter these expansive caverns of salt

Old tram that moved workers in the mine

A few vehicles like this one were disassembled, taken down
into the mine, reassembled  and used to get around. 


Mike Rowe of the TV show "Dirtiest Jobs" did
an episode in the mine

Everything that goes into the mine stays in the mine, they
have decades of garbage

A block of salt

The train ride in the mine

Salt mines are a perfect storage environment with 68 degrees constant
temperature and low humidity

Many motion pictures and all sorts of important records
are stored in this mine

Storage boxes in the mine, this is a separate business operated
in the salt mine

The Hutchinson & Northern Railroad line was started to transport the salt

After the mine, I took about a 4 mile hike at the campground on the Rolling Hills and Bluestem trails through grasslands and sand dunes.  The sand dunes are mostly covered with grasses and a few trees.  The dunes are not very big, but quite scenic in areas.  It was a near perfect day and all was good.

The sand hills are not huge, but have a special beauty

The grassland is colorful and there were billions of grasshoppers

Yes, there really is sand under that grass

I made another pass through downtown on a cloudy stormy day which often is better for getting vibrant photos.  Often the bright sun tends to overexpose some areas and shadow others.  The colors also can be flat and the sky overexposed, all bad.  A dark stormy sky or a clouds add much more character to the photos.  This was one of those days.

The sun came out briefly to beauifully illuminate this building

A unique Yellow Cab building

Interesting sculpture

Loved the sign and words at the Salvation Army Store

This beautiful inspirational mural covered the entire side of the building

Another great mural, makes me remember that great
song by John Lennon

Colorful storefronts

Another view of the Fox Theater

The interesting Flag Theater next to a dangerous sounding
combination of the Gun's & Ammo and Knives & Jewelry Store

A very interesting building with a model train club on the ground level

There was a Brew Fest in downtown but I just don’t want to spend $30 admission to hang around sampling many beers during the daytime hours.  I do manage to find some live music in the evening, first at “Metropolitan Coffee” where a Alex Garcia is playing solo to a crowd of mostly friends and family it appeared.  He was doing a mix of covers and originals with a very folksy vocal styling.  I then went a few miles away to “Oliver’s Beef and Brew” where a band called “Tequila Ridge” was playing. My first impression is that Oliver’s caters to a hard drinking and somewhat rough looking crowd. There was a young guy wearing his “Loves Truck Stop” uniform and many of the women could have been “Truck stop girls”.    The band was a veteran bar band that could play about anything, some just okay, other very good.  The bass player left the stage to walk around and play to the crowd, it’s a little unusual for a bass player to do that, that’s usually the realm of the lead guitarist who tends to be more of a showman.  Anyhow, this giant of a young man with good intentions started pouring a beer from a can into this guys mouth.  He couldn’t swallow fast enough and it spilled all over him and his guitar, he probably will think about that the next time he gets the urge to do it again.  Doesn’t seem so entertaining listening to it now, you had to be there.

Keep watching us and other weird RV'ers at: 

Another Sunday morning moving day, the next stop will be Dodge City, Kansas,
Twinkles and Slick

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