Close Encounters of the Cousin KindWestward Ho, Day 6: Topeka, KS, to Dodge City, KS
Saturday morning dawned cold and sunny. When we went downstairs to enjoy the Hampton Inn's Saturday morning breakfast offering, we found something more than the usual cereal and fruit offerings. To our great surprise, we found our cousins Ann and Eddie having breakfast right there at the same hotel.
|Fancy meeting you here!|
At the Fort Riley military reservation, we located a couple of letterboxes on some of the base's hiking trails before we arrived in the town of Abilene (pop. 6,844), where we visited the Eisenhower Center.
This complex embraces the Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum, Ike's childhood home, and the burial place of the President and his wife. While competent, our guide for the home tour lacked the warmth we encountered at the Truman home in Missouri earlier this week. Her presentation was meticulous, but questions distracted her from her script and were not encouraged.
The museum exhibits were a bit tired but well organized. My particular favorite was the room dedicated to First Lady Mamie and her unique sense of style. Rotating mannequins modeled outfits Mrs. Eisenhower wore at momentous events so you could check out every angle. A letter on display from cosmetics queen Elizabeth Arden thanked Mrs. Eisenhower for patronizing her Washington salon and included copies of sketches Ms. Arden had ordered to assist her stylists in executing the First Lady's unique Parisian coiffure. Operated by the National Archives, the Eisenhower Center collected $9.00 admissions from each of us (reflecting a AAA discount of $1).
A temporary exhibit "War and Peace: the Art of Shin-hee Chin" did provide a bright spot in the museum displays. In the series the Korean American artist sought to honor both the famous and the unsung heroes of war and peace. An art professor at a Kansas college, Chin uses a mixture of traditional and innovative fiber art techniques to create impressionistic images that evoke an emotional response and invite closer inspection. Her portrait of Anne Frank using fabric yoyos was especially compelling.
|Anne Frank portrait by Shin-hee Chin|
|Santa Fe Trail Ruts (prairie dog hole in foreground center)|
Finishing up the final 60 miles, we arrived in Dodge City (pop. 27,921) around 6:30 and checked in to the new Hampton Inn next door to Boot Hill Casino. The desk clerk seemed a bit surprised upon learning that we didn't intend to spend the evening at the casino. Judging by the number of cars in Boot Hill's parking lot, we were one of the few people in town keeping our money in our pockets.
Tomorrow will be our last day in Kansas, as we head north toward our encounter with Nebraska.
- A couple of jigsaw puzzles in the gift shop at the Eisenhower Center caught our attention. Created from original paintings by Andy Thomas (http://www.andythomas.com), the puzzles feature group pictures of U.S. presidents from different eras. The subjects are usually from the same political party and appear to be enjoying each other's company in a casual setting. An example:
|Callin' the Red by Andy Thomas|
- As in west Texas, the powers that be in Kansas recognize that driving across long straight, relatively flat stretches doesn't present many surprises for drivers, at least not during daylight hours. The speed limit on certain parts of I-70 reflects this.
- For some reason we haven't been able to ascertain, statues of Ike in his military uniform often depict him with his arms akimbo, and the tribute at the Eisenhower Center is no different. We saw the same pose in a statue at his birthplace in Denison, Texas, earlier this year, and his tribute on the West Point campus features the same pose.
|Did the general really stand like this all the time?|
- At the Santa Fe Trail Museum, we saw an example of a sod house. These mainstays of early Kansas settlers were the perfect solution in the flat treeless prairies where more typical building materials for houses such as trees and stones were in short supply. Though subject to dampness, the sod house provided good insulation from extreme heat and cold and protection from raging prairie fires.
|A typical sod house|
- Miles driven: 290
- Letterboxes: F 2, P 0
- Weather: Sunny, 25° to 48°
- States: 1 (KS)
- Viewing distance on KS highways: 10 miles
- Cousins encountered: 2
- Miles driven: 1,925
- Letterboxes: F 12, P 3
- States: 8 (GA, SC, NC, TN, KY, IL, MO, KS)
- Temperature range: 25° to 80°
- Gas prices (premium): $3.30 to $3.95
- National battlefields: 3
- National historic sites: 3
- State capitols: 1
- State parks: 2
- State historic sites: 1
More Photos from Today
|Kansas River at Fort Riley|
|Stamping in on a carpet of cottonwood leaves|
|Eisenhower's boyhood home|
|Eisenhower portrait in thread by Shin-hee Chin|
|Graves of Eisenhower and Mamie inside the chapel|
|The helpful museum map we were given at the Eisenhower Museum|
|Fort Larned had some nice metal sculptures|
|Sandstone barracks at Fort Larned|