Day 21: Pushing Westward in Kansas

It’s frighteningly late here but I’m going to try to push this post through so I’ll be on top of things tomorrow.  I forecast much coffee and gum chewing throughout the day.  Maybe five minute power naps.

Back to the AC situation for a moment.  When I got rolling again yesterday after the repairs, everything seemed fine.  Til I got on the highway.  When I’d hit 50 mph or higher, the coolness would only trickle out a tiny bit.  But when I’d take my foot off the accelerator, the coolness would blast back on.  I called the shop, then hours away, and they’d never heard of such a thing.  I got pretty good throughout the day at going faster than I wanted, backing off the pedal a bit and then I’d have normal air.  I wasn’t going to go to another mechanic and lose any more shooting time.  Though I worried that suddenly I’d be AC-less again.  Today, though — everything, even on the highway is behaving perfectly normal.  Awesome!  Is it possible that whatever was hanging up has righted itself?  Let’s hope!  Today was another 100+ degree scorcher but I think it’s supposed to be cooler for a few days  now.

Alright — let’s get to it.  To make up for the delay, I have a double or triple batch for you.  And that’s even being highly selective.  I took SO many Flickr-worthy, bl0g-worthy photos that it was really hard to narrow thing down.  It was a truly awesome day in Kansas in every way.

Now here’s the last thing you’d expect to see at my blog:  a kitty!  While I was shooting a gas station in Emporia, this guy came up to me meowing in a friendly way.  Despite the frightening expression/pose of this first photo, it was really just a playful sort of bounce as I was focusing on him/her.  I babytalked to him and he continued meowing and stood up against my leg.  I assessed his weight was a little thin but not starving.   Maybe the station’s or a neighbor’s pet.  But not freaky feral.  And with four dogs in the van, there wouldn’t be much I could do.  Except I did go get a giant handful of food for the guy.  At first, he questioned what it was (not normal cat food smell I’m sure) — but then got down to eating it.  I wish him well.

A couple more from Emporia.  A colorful and vacant former Burger Chef:
(no sign of the original sign)

No, I did not imbibe this time — but find the sign pretty cute:

Couldn’t resist this dramatic shot in Wamego.  I saw lots of these limestone (I think) brick buildings today.  Must be a Kansas thing — just can’t remembering ever seeing this many.

From Zuckey’s Bowl in Manhattan:

A Valentine diner in Junction City:

A few shots from Junction City.  More limestone brick — this time, an Art Deco fire station and municipal building:

This former Burger Chef still has the original lights.  The building is used as a used car lot office now.

From a different used car lot in town:

I found a lot of great stuff in Abilene — both planned and unplanned.  While driving around town, this sign caught my eye from two blocks away (posted at Flickr tonight):

I recognized it immediately as a sort of twin for a sign at the American Sign Museum.  You don’t see bulb signs like this but very rarely.  Once inside, I was delighted to see this incredible collection of cameras from all eras:

It’s a must stop if you’re ever near Abilene — an easy on/off break from I-70. 

Lots of other great signs and buildings in Abilene.  Here’s a pretty one:

And for such a smallish town, Abilene is chock full of museums:
The C.W. Parker Carousel was on my list.  This museum also contains a fantastic collection of telephones (technically, the Museum of Independent Telephony).

It was a mere $4 and there were all kinds of other things to see that I didn’t have time for.

At one of my Flickr postings for a motel sign last week, one of the neon signs advertisted “switchboard” and a few folks didn’t know what that meant.  Well, this museum had a big collection of them as well — as well as this “hands-on” machine:

On to Salina which was mind-blowinging cool.  My first time.  How come nobody ever nudged me to visit that city before?  I had about a dozen things on my list and shot about 50 more.  Lots of fun signs.  I thought this one was very fun though obviously fairly modern — but note a jumble of old signs behind it: 

Concrete block + neon = a magical combination:

A hand-painted, no-text-needed sign:

Salina has some gigantic granaries — at least that’s what I think you call them.  Clouds, anyone?:

And this one with a neat neon scaffold sign on top boasting about how many pounds per day:

Neat old streetlights in town.  I’ve never seen anything like them.  Must be translucent-y at night?

Just a tiny sampling of the deco-y goodness waiting for you in Salina:

Since the troops are a bit restless from being confined to the AC-ed van (not so much outdoor running in 100 degree heat), we’ve been having “Bottle Time!” every afternoon.  Since I always have a few D.C. empties on hand, it’s free fun for all.  Nik & Grem flail and chomp away while Grip & Fix bark at them to “stop it!”.  Yes, someday, I’ll learn to take actions shots with my high-tech camera — but maybe it’s better this way — very Balla-esque, no?
Nik & Grem like to strip the labels off and take the caps off — then chew the cap-end to a chomped up mess.

I was told that these are Pink Painted Ladies – new to me:

Everyone says that Iowa and Kansas are so flat and boring.  But I find it just the opposite.  Maybe it’s because we have no sky in NYC and this just the extreme opposite.

And when you think of Kansas, unless you’ve been there extensively or live there, you probably don’t think of lakes. But I passed two nice ones today:  Lake Waconda which was HUGE.  And this one:  Lake Wilson — which the dogs did not let me pass.  Got to a bridge and had to turn around.  The water was crystal clear — very fun for watching little doggie legs kicking.  A good time was had by all.  In addition to the cooling in the water part, much sniffing of, rolling in, and eating of dried bits of crusty crablike animals.

Time to hit the road — caught up finally!!  Shorter blogs to follow.  In fact, just a forewarning, I might take two nights off here in Kansas.  One to visit a friend and another to meet a roadside celebrity.  But I should have more for you tonight.

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