Saturday, April 26, 2008

Notes on the Heartland

So, for those of you who don't know, I have been on road trip for the past few days. On the flight to Chicago, and then on to St. Louis, I formed a general opinion about the interior of our nation--it's boring as hell. While I am sure this is true about part of the country, it certainly isn't for all of it. The places I saw were rather interesting. Because of traveling times, I had only 1 day to see the third largest inland port in the US, St. Louis. I saw the once great Union Station. Once a huge train terminal, it now serves as a shopping mall. While interesting, I think I would have liked it better as a train station. I traveled to the top of the Saint Louis Arch.StLouisArchSmall.jpg It was interesting, but we took longer getting to the top and the bottom. The elevator was unnerving no matter who you ask, 5 people are stuffed into a small round pod that resembles a pea that is no more than 4 feet tall at its tallest. The doors shut you in and you're stuck for the next 4 minutes and the 3 minutes down.St_Louis_Arch_Elevator_Outside.jpg The tram is a monorail so at the bottom you hang from the bottom of the track and when you arrive at the top you are sitting on top of the track. To make this possible, the car is not always level, so the occupants are tipped sideways until a motor levels the car. After the Arch, I went on a riverboat tour on the Mississippi River which was interesting but disappointing.TomSawyer81505Steller.jpg First, it was wet out so I stayed inside, second, the operators were not quite nice they were deceptive. The boat looked like it was a paddle wheel, but the wheel didn't work; I was looking towards the wheel. That evening, we went to a Cardinals game, which was a blowout.stadium.jpgWe left early because it was cold and I was sick. The next morning I awoke rather early for the drive accross the state of Mossouri. Before the shot across the state, a stop was made at the Meramec Caverns. They are a collection of caves with cave formations. The tour included a stop at the end with a playing of music and a light show. The remainder of the drive to KC and that afternoon was uneventful. The day after began one of the more interesting parts of the trip. I awoke rather early and the drive to the Maxwell Wildlife Refuge in Canton, Kansas began. We took I-70 west and after a stop for breakfast, the long haul began. Our trip had begun in St. Louis and I was caught up in The feeling of Westward Expansion and would've loved to continue on to Cafilornia (prounced as spelled). We drove across the state making fairly good time. After leaving the interstate things slowed down a bit as we went on 2 lane state roads for 40 miles due south of Canton (not china). I finally saw small town America, and its small town America that's being hit hardest by this recession. At least half of the store fronts we closed down. At the Maxwell Wildlife Refuge, just outside of Canton, we met 2 residents of the town, a husband and wife team. They were quite nice, and the man, Owen, took us on a private tour in his Suburban. We drove right into a heard of cow bison and their cavles!102_1267.JPG He talked to us about the problems of the bison and elk that we saw along with problems of the country as a whole. After the tour, we got right back on the road and headed for Abilene. I got a chance to have a look in at the Eisenhower Presidential Library,102_1287.JPG which wasn't great because Eisenhower did absolutely nothing as president (except build the interstates) I also sent a postcard to A-Fox. It said "If there's one place I never thought I'd go... It's Kansas." Then it was straight back to KC. The next day was our only day to see KC. First we went to the museums at 18th and Vine, which in the same building housed the Jazz museum and the Negro Leagues Museum, it was OK, but not what I really wanted to do. I had my sights set on the Harley Davidson factory, but we missed the last tour. After that we went to the Truman Presidential Library in Independence, which was SO much cooler than Eisenhower because he was a much cooler president. They gave me a pin to make because it's an election year, when I get around to it, I'll make it say "OBAMA '08." Then for the last bit of the trip, we went to a Royals game. The park was beautiful, with fountains, fireworks, and the largest HD scoreboard in MLB.kauffmanfront4.jpg It looked cool from the outside too, as did the Cheifs' stadium. The Royals, however haven't been good for about 30 years, and the final score was Indians 15-Royals-1. The Royals didn't score till the bottom of the ninth inning. The next day we flew out of KCI, which was great because there was no line for security, they have 2 metal detectors next to every 4 gates. At the airport, we got shirts that say "LEAVENWORTH PENITENTIARY, A GATED COMMUNITY." After the stop in Chicago, H-Dog held up the entire plane because he refused to stow his bag of DVDs and food under the seat; the flight attendant stuck it in her closet for him. So ended one of the oddest, yet coolest vacations I've been on yet.

Very truly yours,


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