Road Trip Post #11

Well, I’ve had my second crazy car thing happen during this road trip – good thing it’s almost over. I don’t want to have a totally beat up automobile to return to Brooklyn….

But let’s go back for a minute. I left Denver with the intention of visiting the World’s Largest Collect of the World’s Small Versions of the World’s Largest Objects. I read on their website that they were open by appointment only right now so I emailed and texted, only to receive the response that they won’t be open until August at the earliest! Shame! I was so looking forward to that but I guess the artist had to leave to make a living during the pandemic. So, I thought I’d still make my way through Kansas by trying to see unanticipated things, and I was pleasantly surprised.

The first place I stopped was Goodland, Kansas, for a giant reproduction of the Van Gogh painting, “3 Sunflowers in a vase.” It really was huge. I didn’t spend more than 10 minutes there to admire (it was super hot outside) but it was quite a feat for someone to create that on such a scale. You can check out the website for more info – there are apparently more things like this in the world.

After that I stopped off at Wilson, Kansas, a town founded by immigrants from the Czech Republic (when it was Czechoslovakia) decades ago. They are so enthused by their heritage that they paid to create a giant Czech Egg – the biggest in the world! It was really cool. I also got lunch at a local diner that had some awesome Czach foods (Bieroch, anyone?). Finally, I bought a regularly-sized Czech egg for myself – or rather, the owner of the store gave it to me because she couldn’t remember how to use the cash register!

Finally, I stopped off in Lucas, Kansas, the location of the museum I had intended to visit, because it is apparently an art-type town with many different exhibits strewn about. I stopped off at Bowl Plaza to use the restroom (so many amazing tiles in that toilet!) and the Garden of Eden, just to see it as I left. If I had more time I probably would have explored more but I wanted to make it to Kansas City the next day.

Speaking of which, on my way there I started hearing some weird rubbing sounds from the front of my car. About half way to KC I realized that part of my bumper protector (a piece of plastic/cloth that stops dirt from getting into the engine) was rubbing on the ground while I was driving. Obviously, this was not good, so I made an appointment the next morning to get it fixed at a local body shop (so local I could walk back to my hotel from there – how lucky!). It all got fixed while I visited the Arabia Steamboat Museum, a place dedicated to a recovered sunken steamboat from the Missouri River. Apparently there are about 300-400 of them underneath the water (or land, since the rivers route has been changed over the decades). It was a super cool museum and one of the folks who found the steamboat and the son of another were there to talk about their experience. Thew knew about and had met with the Vasa Museum folks (a Swedish ship that sunk to the bottom of the water in the 17th century and was recovered in the late 20th). There were SO many items they recovered from the boat – cutlery, clothing, shoes, dishes, even old pickles! Amazing.

And today I spend a few hours in St. Louis, checking out the awesome catenary (the mathematical term for the shape of the Gateway Arch). It is SO cool. Super tall. Super geometric. And there is a tram to get on top that is combination ferris wheel, cable car, and elevator. The pods are really small but luckily the doors have windows so you don’t get too claustrophobic (Or at least I didn’t). Even though they say you are supposed to buy tickets in advance they still had space when I arrived.

Overall, a pretty awesome few days.