THE LAND OF DOROTHY AND TOTO



MONDAY

TRAVEL DAY
STOP #200

"The Sunflower State"
is our 30th visited state

HERE'S A FUN FACT ABOUT KANSAS

It was once illegal to put a scoop of ice cream on cherry pie.





Today at 11:48AM we crossed into the state of Kansas, the 30th new state for us and the first new state in exactly 1 year, 1 month and 3 days.

It's been a long time coming! Tricia finally gets to place a new piece to the wooden puzzle on our refrigerator door. The states you see exploded off to the left hand side are states we intend to visit this year.

30 DOWN 20 TO GO

Anyway we have arrived here at Campsite #110 at Historic Lake Scott State Park, Scott City, KS for a week long visit. On Wednesday we expect our friends from Denver, CO to come join us with their brand new 30 foot Classic Airstream. We met them down in Texas last February while visiting the Padre Island National Seashore and have kept in touch ever since.

Campsite #110 at Historic Lake Scott State Park in Scott City, KS

Sunrise here at Historic Lake Scott State Park



FRIDAY - Today we are all set to go sightseeing! And this time when I say WE, I mean Katherine, John, (Luca and Lacey-their two dogs), Tricia and myself. We all loaded up into Katherine & John's big red Ford F350 and headed out.

First stop was Monument Rocks National Natural Landmark. It is located on private property, but is open to the public during daylight hours. These 70 foot tall rocks have refused to be worn down over the last 80 million years like everywhere else in this region.



MONUMENT ROCKS
NATIONAL NATURAL LANDMARK



Our first glimpse from a mile away of the seventy foot tall formations.
Five foot tall Tricia shows you just how large they really are.
A peephole in the softer upper layers of the chalk-like rock.
Notice the wide crack above the peephole. Someday, hopefully not today, that is going to collapse.
A view of the peephole from the roadway that runs around the perimeter of the rocks. Notice the second group of formations in the background.
This second group of formations is similiar and yet entirely different.
It contains chimney like formations along the upper levels.
Even the birds have figuered a way to use the formations for their nests.


Next up on our tour is the Buffalo Bill Cultural Center. There is a double lifesized bronze statue out front of Buffalo Bill on his horse, aiming his trusted gun at a buffalo.

Once a prolific hunter of buffalo, he later in life became a driving force in the conservation efforts to save the species from extinction.

After visiting the Cultural Center we grabbed a quick lunch and visited two fossil museums.

The museums housed some very interest finds that were all located within thirty miles of the museum. For those who don't know, Kansas is in the dead center of the Lower 48 States and was once covered by an large inland sea.

Most of the fossils are aquatic in nature, but they did have some larger mammoth bones and some unique flying reptile species on display. Very cool if you're like us and into that kind of knowledge.



SATURDAY - Well it's time once again to break into my stash of gourmet sodas for another exciting episode of:

"SATURDAY SODA SAMPLINGS"

Say that three times fast!

Today's soda selection is distributed by Boots Beverages of Bryan, TX, just like the Caramel Apple Soda from Episode #1. However today's flavor is Dewberry Soda!

From what I've been able to find out a dewberry is like a small blackberry that grows on a vine that remains close to the ground. It has a very similiar taste as a blackberry and with that said of course I'm a big fan.

So to recap, so far that's three sodas, three entirely different flavors and three big thumbs up for taste! Could it be that I was able to pick six sodas and all of them will turn out to be winners? Only time will tell.



SUNDAY - Our sightseeing endeavors today will bring us to the Little Jerusalem Badlands State Park, which is located just seven miles from our campsite in Historic Lake Scott State Park.

Badlands are described as a type of dry terrain where softer sedimentary rocks and clay-rich soils have been extensively eroded by wind and water. This area of Kansas certainly falls into that description.

Here are a few photos from our 2-1/2 mile hike through the state park trails today.


As an added bonus after the hike I located our Kansas geocache near the entrance to the parking lot, bringing our total to 30 finds, one in each state.

John even decided to give geocaching a try and found his very first geocache. I wonder if geocaching will become a new hobby for he and Katherine during their travels?


Tomorrow we will move to our second stop here in Kansas.

Anyone else want to see some prairie dogs? We do!



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ALABASTER CAVERNS, OK



THURSDAY

TRAVEL DAY
STOP #199



Today's two hundred mile travel day definitely had two entirely different looks.

The first one hundred miles was spent almost exclusively on Interstate Highways. First we had to get through the city of Norman, OK where the University of Oklahoma is located, home of the Oklahoma Sooners.

Next we headed north towards the capitol city, Oklahoma City, OK. We took the bypass Interstate 44 around the western edge of the downtown area, then headed west on Interstate 40. About 50 miles into the trip we planned to stop at a Blue Beacon Truck Wash just west of Oklahoma City.

While we waited in line for our truck and trailer wash, Tricia went inside THE POD and put together a couple of tuna fish sandwiches and we ate lunch.

Then it was back on Interstate 40 West for another 50 miles before we exited onto State Road 270 and began heading northwesterly. Once we left the Interstate behind the scenery changed dramatically.

Gone were the big cities and all the traffic on the 6-lane highways. We then found ourselves on 2 & 4-lane roads with nothing but pasture lands, rolling hills and large farms. Also we saw 300 foot tall wind tubines around every bend in the road. Every 15-20 miles we would pass through a small town and then it was back to nothing but wide open spaces.


Sadly just outside of the town of Seiling, OK (no that's not a typo) we saw emergency lights up ahead on the side of the road. Traffic slowed down to a crawl, like it usually does when there is an accident. Then when we got up close to the scene there was what appeared to be a single vehicle accident down in the ditch on the side of the road. There were police and rescue teams on scene and lots of people standing around with hands on their hips and shaking their heads.

There was already a very large tow truck trying to bring the truck and trailer upright and remove it from the ditch. Sadly there were also a couple of fatalities on the ground and many others who seemed to just be standing around in a daze from what they just went through.

I'm not sure they have a plan on how to remove those three dead 1,000 pound cows from the bottom of the ditch.


With only about three or four miles to go before reaching our campground, we saw this disturbing sign on the side of the highway.

This didn't exactly make us feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

Then just around the next corner we saw another sign which explained the first sign, William S. Key Correctional Center, a minimum-security facility the capacity to house 1,105 inmates.

Anyway, we're not answering any knocks at THE POD's door after sunset this weekend.

Campsite #7 at Supply Park just outside of Fort Supply, OK



FRIDAY - Time for our 40th cave tour!

Alabaster Caverns is unique when it comes to caves in the United States. It is the only show cave where the rock is made of alabaster, all the other show caves are made of limestone.

Alabaster is very soft, soft enough you can scratch into it with your fingernail. For this reason it is also very brittle and in 2018 the cave entrance here collapsed and is now blocked by several tons of rock.

Today we entered the cave through the exit and followed along 75% of the original path before turning around and going back the way we came. All tours since the collapse have been done this way.

This cave was formed by underground rivers, just like most caves, but this one doesn't have any of the usual formations we've seen in the past. The rock is just to brittle to create formations. So while this cave can't be described as beautiful, it still has a lot to offer in it's uniqueness.


The winding pathway through the cave.


The ceiling was reinforced in several areas along the path.


We saw this furry little fellow just hanging around.


Also on our way back to the campsite we stopped to take this photo.

We just love old rusty trucks, especially FORD's!



SATURDAY - Today it is time for:

ROUND #2
OF
SODA SAMPLING

Today's soda of choice was the "Dang That's Good Butterscotch Root Beer" out of Milwaukee, WI.

When I saw this flavor combination on the shelf back at Pop's Soda Ranch I knew I was just going to have to try it. You can really taste both flavors when sipping this beverage.

I always used to make my Root Beer floats using Chocolate ice cream. I think the next one will be made with Butterscotch.

I rate this one 9 out of 10. Only because I want to leave room in case one of the other sodas is better!



SUNDAY - I've been sitting in and around THE POD most of this weekend wondering about the discoloration on the trunks of all the trees in the campground.

Today it dawned on me, that's a water stain on the tree trunks! I asked the campground host about it and sure enough, two years ago they had an unusual amount of rain in this area and the campground flooded.

The lake was estimated to be eight feet above normal for several months.

Once the water receded a huge cleanup effort was begun. Seeing as how this is an Army Corps of Engineers Park it was constructed to withstand just this kind of treatment.

All of the site markers and picnic tables are made of concrete. The fire rings, BBQ grills and picnic shelters are all made of metal, however all the hardware holding the shelters together has been replaced. It took a full year to reopen the campground.

I was told the only thing visible of the campground were a few of the picnic shelter roofs. Two months after the campground reopen COVID hit and closed it down once again. Six months later it reopened only to be shutdown two months later by a freak ice storm that hit the entire Southwestern United States. It was that ice storm that damaged all the trees you see cut down in pictures.

I can't imagine the water level all the way up to the roof of our picnic shelter! I'm just happy it is now open and we had a chance to visit.



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OKLAHOMA CITY NATIONAL MEMORIAL & MORE



MONDAY

TRAVEL DAY
STOP #198



Finally we had a more or less normal length travel day.

Today we have moved to Lake Thunderbird State Park which is just south of Oklahoma City, OK. Reader's Digest has rated this the #1 state park in all of Oklahoma.

Our campsite in the Little Axe Campground backs up to the beautiful Lake Thunderbird.

We are only visiting here for three nights, but we have one whole day of sightseeing planned for tomorrow.

Campsite #9 at Little Axe Campground in Lake Thunderbird State Park.



TUESDAY - Today is Sightseeing Day!

First up is the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum. We didn't plan it this way, but yesterday was the 26th Anniversary of the bombing. There were media and crowds of people around the site all day. Glad we missed that!

Today was much less crowded, so much so that we scored a parking spot right across the street from the entrance to the museum.

We didn't take any photos inside the museum, we were allowed to, but there was so much to see and do that it just never seemed right to bring out the camera.

Like most museums, you are on a self guided tour. You can take in as little or as much information as you like. Spend an hour and breeze through the two floors of displays, or spend the entire day and watch a dozen different short videos and read every piece of signage in front of the numerous displays. We spent a little over two hours there a got a detailed overview of the entire museum.

Outside is the memorial site, where so much symbolism was designed into the site it may go undetected if you don't read the brochure or listen to the free app you can download onto your phone. We observed the memorial site from inside the museum, behind the floor to ceiling windows on that side of the building.

Today at 11:00AM it was still 39°F with 20MPH winds, too cold for these two Floridians to be outside for any lentgth of time.


Next up are a couple of Route 66 attractions here in Oklahoma City.

First up is Milk Bottle Grocery on the Original Route 66 in Oklahoma City. Distinguishing features of the store include that it is triangular shaped, is located in the middle of the street and has no sidewalk in front of the door. Oh yeah, there is also a huge milk bottle on the roof.

The building was constructed in the 1930s and the bottle was added to the roof in the late 1940s as an advertising gimmick. Today the store appeared empty and just another Route 66 roadside attraction.


Second stop is Pop's 66 Soda Ranch, a huge gas station with a café and 700 different flavors of soda. That's right, 700! It's not a typo. There is a huge lighted soda bottle out front, complete with a straw, to make sure you don't miss it, day or night.

We went inside and were quickly overwhelmed by what we saw. Bottles of soda and gifts of all kinds everywhere. We each grabbed a cardboard six pack holder and began making our selections. At $2.49 each they aren't cheap, but most of these I've never seen before. Where else are you going to find them all in one place?

I selected sodas with flavors like Boot's Caramel Apple and Dewberry flavors from Bellville Texas, Boylan Black Cherry from New York New York, Cherry Limeade from Dublin Texas, Route 66 Lime Soda from Wilmington Illinois and Dang That's Good Butterscotch Root Beer from Milwaukee Wisconsin.

Tricia's selections included Grape and Green Apple from Dublin Texas, Dang That's Good Root Beer from Milwaukee Wisconsin, Hosmer Tangerine Sparkling Water from Willimantic Connecticut, Route 66 Root Beer from Wilmington Illinois and Jarritos Mandarin Orange from El Paso Texas.

No doubt we will be sampling these new flavors for the next month or so.



A NOT SO IMPORTANT NEWS UPDATE


Well one of my sodas didn't survive the first night in THE POD.

Who am I kidding, it didn't even survive the first hour.

But I had some help, Tricia.

My Caramel Apple flavor soda was the first casualty. It was obviously different than anything else I've tasted and I would rate it an 8 out of 10. It had kind of a strudel taste! That's 1 down and 11 to go.



WEDNESDAY - Well today was an expensive day.

This morning I got up early and took ROVER to the Ford Dealership in Norman, OK. With nearly 50,000 miles on the truck it was time for an oil change and so much more.

After wearing out the original set of brake pads in just 15,000 miles, traveling up and down the Shenandoah Mountains and Blue Ridge Parkway that first year, the second set now has 35,000 miles on them and it's time once again to change them out. They do get a workout stopping ROVER and all our extra gear. Also at least a third of the time THE POD is attached too, although it has it's own brakes that help out.

Speaking of 50,000 miles, it's also time to change out all four tires on ROVER. I probably could have gotten away with just changing two right now, but I've been wanting to switch from running passenger tires to light truck tires.

I stuck with the Goodyear brand since the first set lasted so well. The light truck tires have a little bit tougher tread and the sidewalls are reinforced with Kevlar to minimize the possibility of rocks being able to puncture the tire. All this is done in preparation for the poor road conditions we may see in the National Forests and Grasslands later this year and for the Alaskan roads we expect to see next year.

A new pair of wiper blades and a front end alignment brought the total bill to nearly $1400. A lot of money but ROVER is now hopefully ready for another three years of dependable service.



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TWO PEAS