Updated: Jul 17, 2019
Day 2: Denton, Texas to Wichita, Kansas The second day of our tour was a driving and exploration day, with no show in the evening. We broke up the drive from Denton to Lawrence, Kansas by stopping in Wichita for the night.
At breakfast, we had some trouble with the eggs not cooking very quickly on the griddle, only to realize later that we had a ceiling vent pointed right at stove, cooling the food we were trying to cook. Tensions rose a bit as the kitchen was crowded, people were hungry and the griddle looked burnt while the eggs looked raw, but we figured it out and the air cleared soon after we got on the road (a vent had been blowing cold air at the eggs from above while Magoon attempted to cook them). Before embarking, we used the handy checklist that we had made on Day 1: things to secure and pack away before setting off in the motorhome. Instruments secured, jacks up, door locked, cabinets latched, everything off the counters, etc. We may end up making Molhy a checklist, since she left her wallet in the bathroom of the venue in the early hours of the morning. Luckily, Molhy was able to retrieve the important item when the first employees arrived to open around 10:00 hours. I blogged at the kitchen table as we made our way north into Oklahoma, which turned out to be a mistake. I was determined; not even distracted by McRage’s offer of watching the World Cup:
McRage: “Anyone want to watch Women’s World Cup soccer?”
Myself: “If I wasn’t writing the Captain’s log right now, I’d be really excited about it!”
The Captain to Me: “But that’s like all your people on one field.”
It’s true, there are a lot of lesbians in the World Cup, but that’s not why I wanted to watch it (or is it?). Once I published the post, my bowels protested violently to my insistence on ignoring my known carsickness, and I lost my breakfast in the bathroom sink. From now on, Captain’s Logs shall only be written while the Tour Loaf is stationary! This unfortunate incident had a silver lining, giving me the leverage to insist I serve as First Mate and navigate in the copilot’s seat for the duration of my participation in the tour (the next three weeks). I prefer this role, as it allows me to take in the sights more intentionally, rather than sleeping through the traveling portions of the trek. My new role took effect immediately after I slept off the nausea for a few hours. Navigation in this capacity is not quite as daring and exciting as doing so by the stars, wind and currents, as ancient Polynesian sailors do, or by a compass and the skies, but I do glean some satisfaction from referencing the interactive map on my cellular device and imitating the artificial voice of an automated Global Positioning System narrator. I've been told I excel at this.
We made good time to Wichita, the largest city in Kansas, arriving at 1710 hours with almost four hours of daylight remaining to explore the area. As we entered Wichita, we found a new obstacle to focus on: low-hanging trees that extended into the first lane of traffic. We paid special attention to the bridge heights, and found we can go under a bridge with 14’7’’ clearance, but at the first opportunity we will make more exact measurements. I find we’re lucky again with the progression of our learning, going from smaller towns to larger cities and the navigational hazards that accompany them. By the time we reach Chicago in two days, we’ll be prepared! Molhy was the only crew member who had visited Wichita before. She had memory of a striking statue we should visit at the confluence of two rivers, Keeper of the Plains. To my delight, said statue was situated next to an enormous parking lot for a tourist center and museum, with RV and bus parking in the back. It was nearly empty when we arrived, as the museum had just closed, so we got settled in and set out on an initial exploration of the statue’s immediate surroundings.
There is an island at the center of the stunning sail-like bridge over the Arkansas and Little Arkansas Rivers, where the two meet. There towers a giant metal figure of a Native American chief, hands raised in supplication to the Great Spirit. Flute and drum music of the Plains Indians pipes out through hidden speakers around the small island, which features panels describing Plains Indian culture, migration, ceremony, and history. The stones and vegetation around the enclosure are curated to create a wonderfully calm and spiritual environment. On this island I felt tranquil, connected, and grateful, despite all the plans and schedules and tasks that normally race through my head.
We took a few excursions in the evening: one in search of public restrooms, and another to the historic Old Town area of Wichita, where we ate at a quirky, locally sourced pub and music venue called Public at the Brickyard. I would recommend the hummus from their Mediterranean plate to anyone who finds themselves in the area - it does not taste like hummus at all, but like a gloriously mild chipotle pesto!
Each night at 2100 hours, fires are lit in stone structures that rise out of the water surrounding the Keeper of the Plains. We returned for the event, and while we missed the lighting of the fires, I did have the opportunity to lie under the night sky on one of the smooth flat rocks leading down to the statue, and decompress. The sky was clear, the moon was bright, the rock face was warm, and the statue was glowing. I let the music wash over me, with the murmur of locals and tourists muted by the particular acoustics of my perch.
The rest of the band played and sang songs on the ukelele against the backdrop of the fires. While the night had a long tail of visiting a friend in town, showering, and driving another half hour to a truck stop, the fires and the Keeper of the Plains were the highlight of the evening. Next Captain's Log Previous Captain's Log