Bagging all four, FIVE Yellowstone National Park entrances, Day #1, On Another Plant
A quick glance at the map during the first re-fuel revealed the final destination of Cody would have to wait a few days. The trip expanded (one beauty of a solo road trip) and I decided to spend several days lolling in the nostalgic embrace of the Old West, so clichéd but oh so accurate.
Kingman, Kansas had a great train station and an Ag Complex outside of town where they were having a mule auction. Well that didn’t sound very exciting but when I pulled into the packed parking lot, the excitement of those arriving for the auction rubbed off. Kids and parents and farmers and trailers and tractors and dust. Put that to the Wizard of Oz and you’ve got a little ditty. I’m certain part of their anticipation was fueled by the glorious weather, the sexy tilt of the sun that morning, and well, the mule of their fantasies. I changed my tune. How exciting this was! I happily wandered around, took a few pics and exited town with a smile on my face.
Next stop was Mullinville, Kansas. I hadn’t planned to stop. Didn’t really notice the town. But on the north outskirts is the most bizarre, fascinating, one-half mile of large metal road signs – well you just can’t imagine it, so here’s a picture. They’re of an assortment of whimsical people, local tradesmen, objects d’art, etc.
Must digress here. I’m not even through day #1 and there have already been countless times whereby I’ve turned the truck around (safely of course) to go back and look at something. Didn’t have to ask if it was okay. Didn’t have to wonder if the person next to me thought I was as bizarre as those road signs, didn’t have to think at all. Just acted. Ya know why? BECAUSE NO ONE WAS SITTING NEXT TO ME! SRT! SRT! SRT!
Dodge City was great because of terrific train station and Wyatt Earp statue. The restored and reconstructed original Main Street was interesting as well. Ahhhh to have lived back then. Not.
Stopped to see the Santa Fe Trail Tracks outside of Dodge. It’s the largest continuous stretch of visible wagon tracks along the trail and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Vegetation has taken over the tracks and with imagination and hard staring, I could sort of make them out.
At Garden City, Kansas I head North on highway 83 in hopes of finding the Monument Rocks National Landmark before dark. With only one sign off the highway and the rest unmarked dirt roads it was a good thing I had plenty of daylight. An hour and a half after turning onto the dirt road, I spotted them in the dusky distance. There are no people out here or any appearance people have ever been here. No fences. No signs or postings describing the huge white monoliths starkly rising from the flat ground. It’s as if the area was so astounded at the appearance of these things, the fear and awe still has everything immobilized. I stand at the base of them, the light at such an angle that it was white hot on parts, falling into eerie dark shadows on the rest. Describing the light as ethereal would give you the impression of warmth. It was gloriously absent of warmth. Stark and angular to match the rocks, with little imagination I was on another planet. There was even a “portal” of sorts all the way through one of them — imaginary child’s play at its finest. They’ll have a hard time making this experience “virtual”. I snapped rolls of Black & White film until the cold and darkness forced me back to the truck. Then I kicked myself for neglecting to take a single frame with the digital camera — knew it would be awhile before anyone sees these pics.
Spent night in Goodland, Kansas with intent of heading to Sidney, Nebraska at dawn. Hate to shop but may stop at Cabela’s for a new pair of wading boots.