June 15, 2004

travel tales, part 2

I had no idea hitting deer was so dangerous and unavoidable. I guess it is amazing that the deer population is still strong and viable. Down here? Squirrels. Armadillos. 'Possums.

Moving right along (ick), one of the places I visited in Missouri is the Museum of the steamship Arabia. The Missouri River is said to be too thick to drink, too thin to plow, and is nicknamed "Ole Muddy." It claimed many boats that tried to ply their trade along its shores, with dead branches hidden in the murky water. The Arabia is one such boat. It was a supply boat, carrying 200 tons of goods and 130 passengers. All the passengers made it safely ashore, but the cargo was lost in the soft silt of the riverbed. By morning, all that was visible of the boat was the tallest steam stacks and a bit of the captain's lookout.

One group tried to recover the 400 barrels of Kentucky bourbon years later, but was unsuccessful. They came up with lumber and part of one of the smoke stacks, and didn't care about anything else. Because of this initial foray, it was thought that the Missouri had taken the rest of the cargo for her own. Years later, a team of men looking for treasure gambled that there would be something worth finding on the Arabia, and they were right. After discovering how much was salvageable, they decided they couldn't break up the sets of dishes and dry goods, and they borrowed extra money to start the museum and begin recovering and restoring all the millions of items they found at the wreckage. The treasure includes millions of seed beads and buttons for prarie dresses, boots, shoes, some clothing, bottles of perfume, dishes, tools of all sizes, utensils for eating and cooking, dolls, toys, medicines, medical equipment, and pre-fab house kits, all ready for the Western moving settlers to set up towns with ease and comfort. Pre-fab houses, in 1856! Rubber overshoes stamped with the Goodyear logo and a patent date of 1843, before Lincoln was president. Clothespins with springs. Tools more advanced than we might have imagined for the mid 19th century.

Most fascinating is that the boat originally sank on the Missouri side of the Missouri river. However, due to the shifting of the currents and changes made by the army corps of engineers, the wreckage was actually found and dug up in the field of a Kansas farmer, on the other side of the river and quite a way inland.

I didn't get any pictures from inside the museum. You had to be careful where you used the flash. I will see if I got any brochures I can scan later. Otherwise, there are lots of websites dedicated to the treasure of the Arabia.

The museum has an area set up where you can watch the restoration process of all the items. Restoration began 15 years ago, and the owners believe they have from 15 to 25 more years worth of restoration to do, there is that much recovered from the wreckage. If you ever happen to be in Kansas City, MO, and have a free couple of hours, go visit the museum. The recovery of this bit of history is amazing. There is also an area where the owners provide patrons with a list and map of all the other sunken ships. They encourage anyone to go find a boat and dig it up as they have. The drive for treasure hunting is passed along to the next brave or foolhardy soul willing to change his life for a dream of fame and fortune.

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June 14, 2004

travel tales, part 1

Slowly but surely I will write up the travelogue and post pictures. It will have to wait till after I get some work done (paying work, woo-hoo!) however. Until you guys start paying me a salary, web design and articles have to come first. Haha!

Anyway, here are some signs I saw along the way. I unfortunately didn't get pictures of them, as I was driving at a nice clip as I passed them.

In Oklahoma: "First Free Will Baptist Church," on the side of a building in OK. I noted that it doesn't say "of Blanktown" because it is perhaps the first and only Free Will Baptist Church in the United States. It is likely the red-headed step-child of Baptist churches across the country.

On the Will Rogers Turnpike in MO: "Failure to pay toll will be strictly enforced." Well, they must be slacking, because I paid my toll just fine. No one forced me not to pay. I almost wish they had...

A billboard in Jefferson City, MO: "TESTICLE FESTIVAL June 4-6." I asked my cousin about this, and she said it is a yearly event. "They make you eat testicles," she said, conspiratorially. I assumed they were bull testicles, aka "mountain oysters" as we call them here in the South. We didn't go to the festival, but she said she'd give me one of her shirts from a festival past. I snuck out without the shirt. If they can't come up with a more clever name, then I don't want to promote their heathen practices! :)

Another difference between the North and the South: down here we have armadillo, skunk and 'possum road kill. Up there they have DEER! I can see hitting a little armadillo, so easily missed while driving, but I figure you would see a deer on the approach. Many of them looked almost plastic, with their legs sticking straight out as if they were just tipped over. Have any of you hit a deer while driving? How do you not avoid them? Does it ruin your car grill? I just can't imagine hitting a deer on the highway.

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June 08, 2004

I'm home!

...and I'm tired. The trip was wonderful. I have lots of photos and stories, but they will have to wait till my mind and body are rested. One thing I did come away with that I will share is a sense that we need to expand our horizons, as humans. I thought the drive to my house from the highway was beautiful, with bowers of trees and a little pond with ducks. Then I saw Trees and Lakes and Rivers and such, and realized how much more there is out there than in my own back yard.

Then I came home, and also realized the beauty of being there as well. Both experiences are important. With that, I will leave you with something from one of my email lists I got among the 400 emails I had waiting for me when I got back. It says what I really mean:


The wanderer Bhaggava accused the Buddha of saying that the universe was caused merely by chance. The Buddha replied:

"I have heard others of your sect, Bhaggava, say that when I awoke and found the truth, which was beautiful, I remained in that bliss and then regarded the universe as ugly and meaningless in comparison.

"But I never taught that, Bhaggava. This is what I do say: 'Whenever one awakes and finds the beautiful, then one knows indeed what beauty is.'"

-Majjhima Nikaya
From "Buddha Speaks," edited by Anne Bancroft, 2000. Reprinted by arrangement with Shambhala Publications, Boston, www.shambhala.com.

I indeed found the beautiful on this trip, and I am grateful.

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April 25, 2004

new photo album

Pictures from San Antonio are up on the left for your amusement.

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March 21, 2004

road trip agenda

I am unhappy to announce that I and my little car will not easily make the trek fully from sea to shining sea in the allotted time I have for my trip. I adore all the places you have graciously invited me, and if you are still willing I will make it 'round to visit within the year. For now, as I was already heading due north to visit family, I will just be continuing that direction to MN, WI, IL and MI (barring any trouble).

If any of you happen to be heading this direction, drop me a line. I'd love to get together if possible.

Thanks again to all of you who were willing to let a fellow blogger share a few hours with you. I fully intend to take you up on it sometime soon! Meanwhile, expect photos and some travel stories, a la Sam and Max Hit the Road! (although sadly Sam & Max 2 has been cancelled by Lucas Arts, those bastiches!)

nota bene: Sam, my dog, is named for Sam the Dog of Sam and Max. Max, my other dog (no longer with me), was named for Max, who isn't a dog but rather a rabbit. Both my Sam and Max are females, for those who keep up with such things.

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