Hey Kim Jung-un – I got yer ICBM right here…

You are looking at the business end of a Minuteman II Intercontinental Ballistic Missile, housed in the Delta-09 Silo just down the highway from Wall Drug (literally, the next exit).  This baby can fly up to 7,500 miles and strike within 900 feet of it’s target.

OK, OK, so we haven’t been keeping these active since the early 90’s (or have we??? – cue the suspenseful sound effects…..) and maybe this is only a replica.  But you can bet we have even bigger and better missiles scattered all over the country in a silo near you.

When I went up to Brevard, NC two years ago to see some radio telescopes that are located there I heard stories that the site supposedly housed several missile silos as well.  And there is that mysterious underground facility which is supposed to exist just outside Chapel Hill, NC.  Who knows where the missiles might be….  The Biltmore House???  The Greenbrier???  Mar-a-Lago???  But enough rumor mongering.  We have to keep KJU in suspense so he doesn’t do anything stupid.

 

For your viewing pleasure I present… Carhenge

It’s just like Stonehenge…. but with cars!

At first I thought this was just the manifestation of some guy’s corn-mash-induced stupor: Hey, let’s get a crane and some old cars (and trucks), paint them gray to look like rocks and replicate the iconic Stonehenge site.  Now let’s see…. wherever shall we put it?  How about just outside Alliance, Nebraska…

Actually this was designed by a man who had worked in England for many years and came up with the idea as a tribute to his late father.  Jim Reinders built it in 1987 and it is now overseen by the Alliance Arts Council.  There were quite a few people there when I stopped by, including a Boy Scout troop and a church group.  I have several closeup pictures, or you can find lots of photos online.  It really is quite clever…

… AND it will be in the direct path of the total solar eclipse on August 21, 2017 (11:49 AM Mountain Time) so make your travel plans now!

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I had a long day on the road getting to Rapid City, SD (12 1/2 hours including my few, brief stops) but it was a very pleasant drive.  I’ll be here 4 nights and on Wednesday morning I head up to Bozeman, MT for 5 nights.  Haven’t seen any wildfires yet but I think I’m getting close.

Lebanon, Kansas

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This marker represents the Center of the Conterminous (aka Contiguous, aka Lower 48) United States.  The actual GPS coordinates put the center about a half mile away but that is private property so they built it here to keep the riff-raff off the farmer’s land.  The site is about 2 1/2 miles northwest of Lebanon, KS.

When the government decided to erect a marker back in 1918 they projected the approximate location by balancing a cardboard cutout of the United States on a fulcrum (true story).  The site they zeroed in on turned out to be only about 20 miles from the actual coordinates that surveyors plotted.  Not bad for government work!

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Two more things I missed out on seeing this trip: The Kansas Barbed Wire Museum (in Lacrosse KS) and the Roller Skating Hall of Fame (hate that I missed that!) in southeast Nebraska.  They are both on my future-visit list.

One thing I saw while on the road today (mainly in Nebraska) were about 20 long trainloads of coal heading east, presumably to deliver it to the White House for the winter. Coal’s fixin’ to make a big comeback, ya know…..  I can picture it now, Mike Pence in the basement, shovelin’ coal into the furnace…..

Cawker City, Kansas

You are looking at the largest ball of sisal twine “made by a community,” which is actually larger than the largest ball of sisal twine “made by an individual” (who is now deceased), so I guess that makes this the Largest Ball of Sisal Twine EVER!!

As The Donald would say: “It’s HUGE”.  It was started in 1953 and by 1957 had grown to over 5,000 pounds.  When the man who started it died in 1974 the ball was comprised of 1.6 million feet of twine.  According to the signage it now contains over 8 million feet of twine (the hardware store is making a killing….), which works out to just over 1,500 miles!  The ball currently weighs 20,078 pounds, is over 8 feet in diameter and has a circumference of 43 feet.

Rollin’ the hay…

As I drove north from Plato towards Kansas City I saw these folks diligently making the white “caterpillars” of hay you have probably seen in fields throughout the country.  I never actually saw the gizmo in action so I had to go back and get a photo.  I’ve heard of a “roll in the hay” but I didn’t think farmers did it in their field, right next to the road in front of God and everyone…. and with children present!  Shocking.

I was kind of neat to watch (voyeur that I am) as they carried the rolls with the tractor and the gizmo wrapped white plastic around them.

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I did not get a chance to visit the Vacuum Cleaner Museum in St. James, MO (guess you could say I wasn’t “sucked in” by their clever highway billboards). Tripadvisor reviews state that it is more interesting than most people expected.  Will add it to my list of things to do when I come back. And we won’t even talk about the Fudge Factory in Uranus, MO.  There I go, back in the gutter again…

Plato, Missouri

Why did I go to Plato, MO you ask…?  Why, it is the current (Mean) Center of Population for the United States, as determined by the 2010 Census – of course!  The site moves every 10 years, having started in Maryland in 1790, moved pretty much due west to southern Indiana in 1940, then shifting southwest to it’s current location.  As the population builds on the west coast, and as more people get air conditioning and move south (seriously!), the center drifts and drifts.  In 2000 it was near Cuba, MO.  The actual GPS coordinates put this site a little east and north of town (in or near Rock Creek).  This marker was in downtown Plato (pop. 109) between the high school (Go Eagles!!) and the Post Office (zip code 65552).

This “Mean” Center is determined kind of like balancing a cookie sheet with an equal unit of weight for each person in their particular location at a particular point in time. This differs from the “Median” Center of Population, currently in Indiana, which has an equal number of people above and below, and left and right of that point. I’ll have to ponder this while I drive as to why they aren’t in the same place (perhaps the reason is obvious…).

Hermann, Missouri

I might as well start right off in the gutter. This sign was above the urinal in the Men’s room of an aviation-themed restaurant in Hermann.  After driving up to St. Louis on Day Two I took the scenic route west of town through wine country, ending up in Hermann (which is a very nice town, by the way). I stopped for lunch at a little place called “Wings-A-Blazin” and when nature called my first trip post was born.  Aren’t y’all glad I started a blog…

Day One was uneventful (for me, anyway). A pickup truck ran off the highway on my side of the road in a heavy downpour but there were already people out of their cars calling for help and the driver appeared to be OK so I didn’t need to don my “Safety Sam” outfit.  Later there was a HUGE backup on I-40 going the other way so I just kept on moving along.  Stayed in a nice Airbnb in Nashville in a historic district not far from downtown.