Tuesday, December 29, 2009

How Feathered Friends Managed the Christmas Storm

The ice and snow that hit Kansas during the Christmas holidays did make Exploring Kansas a little difficult.  At these times it is the small visitations that become important. 

Take for instance a desire to go for a walk on the Sunday following Christmas.  With many sidewalks and even streets still drifted with snow and the temperature well below freezing, this simple exercise became a small problem.   The solution: take the walk in Salina's Jerry Ivey Park and see how the many wild ducks and geese fared during the past week.  (This also brought up the opportunity to use the new camera).  The pond was iced over, with only two small patches of free water. 

These fine fellows bring a fitting cold end to 2009.  Here's to 2010 and the New Year!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Share Your Kansas Exploration Songs Revisited

Back in October 2009 I shared my Top Ten songs I like to play whenever I am out and about Exploring Kansas.  And as an interesting psychological experiment I also invited other Kansas Explorers to share their songs that they play as well. 

So without further adieu here are some of the songlists that have been received.  Unfortunately  not all can be listed do to the amount of space needed, but the following are very representative of the huge musical variety found in all the responses. 



I go between Bob Dylan - several tapes I recorded from KVOD's folk music program years ago - - -

AND I have a great tape of Mahler's First Symphony, the Titan that is great - - - for winding roads, the Overture to Wagner's die Meistersinger - - - -

And in between, I usually have on NPR.

Eric Abraham - World Famous Artist
Eric Abraham's Flying Pig Studio and Gallery
PO Box 321 - 123 South Main Street
Lucas, Kansas 67648-0321


I love the songs you chose! Some of the songs I like to travel by especially when exploring Kansas are:

Somewhere Over the Rainbow – Judy Garland

Cowboy Take Me Away – Dixie Chicks

All We Are is Dust In the Wind – Kansas (the part that says “just a drop of water in an endless sea” always reminds me of how small I especially when traversing the Flint Hills).

Houses in the Fields, Wild Blue Indigo, Home Grown Tomatoes, etc. – Anything sung by Kansas’ very own Anne Zimmerman!

I can’t wait to see what other song suggestions you get. We will have to get all of these recorded on the Ipod for our next Kansas adventure!

Joyce S. Bishop
Holton, KS


(1) *Drive*, by The Cars. Keyboardist Greg Hawkes has Kansas roots.

(2) *Dust in the Wind*, by Kansas

(3) *Written in the Wind*, by Yanni

(4) *Open Road*, by Bryan Adams

(5) *Ventura Highway*, by America

(6) *Long and Winding Road*, by The Beatles

(7) *Life in the Fast Lane*, by the Eagles

(8) *Old Man Down The Road*, by John Fogerty

(9) *Turn the Page*, by Bob Seger

(10) *The Valley Road*, by Bruce Hornsby

Jeanene French
Explorer #4537


Hi Von,

I've been thinking about some favorite songs I listen to while exploring. For me, music gets me in the mood to explore by both energizing me and also soothing me to forget any troubles and worries and focus on enjoying the journey. When I hit the dirt roads, usually the music gets turned off and I focus on exploring only.

So here is my list. Be prepared to do some digging to find and recognize some of these songs. I listen to a lot of music that is not "mainstream". I also enjoy instrumental only songs.

First, some energizing songs:
1) "Rise Up and Ride" by Ann Zimmerman
Ann is a Kansan and an explorer and has a talent for expressing the unique aspects of the Kansas prairie in her songs. This song is perhaps my favorite of hers and is a great way to get energized to explore, or celebrate a good day out exploring.

2) "Born to Wander" by Rare Earth
While this song was not actually written about wandering about and exploring, I feel it is appropriate in my case since I do so much enjoy heading no place in particular and just wandering about an area for awhile.

Some instrumental songs to soothe and relax me:
3) "Geronimo's Laughter" by Cusco

4) "Da Gama" by Cusco
Cusco's music features a lead flute backed by percussion and flowing synthesizers and I find it very relaxing and soothing. Playing these is great for making oneself forget about my troubles and get in the mood to explore.

5) "The Light of the Spirit" by Kitaro
Japanese keyboard artist Kitaro's flowing mellow synthesizer sounds are considered healing by many people, and this is another great song to relax by.

6) "Eagle's Path" by David Lanz and Paul Speer
This song was originally released on a 1986 video music album called "Desert Vision", and featured an eagle soaring over the desert landscape of the southwestern US. It features flowing guitars and keyboards. Listening to this song, I can feel like I'm soaring over Kansas landscapes in my vehicle.

Some instrumental songs to pass the time on long journeys:
7) "Riding the Wind"

8) "Logos, Part One"

9) "Voxel Ux"

10) "Ayumi's Butterflies"
all by Tangerine Dream

Tangerine Dream have been leading innovators of electonic music for over 40 years. I have more of their music in my collection by far than any other artist. All these songs feature percussion, guitars and synthesizers and range from 5 minutes to 30 minutes in length. I never get tired of these and they are a great way to pass the time on those roads which I travel over again and again to get to somewhere new.

Larry Hornbaker
KE #2013


Here are my choices for music to explore by. I love to sing along with the radio and I need interesting lyrics. They may not have anything to do with travelling, though.

1) "Seven Bridges Road" by the Eagles. Great harmonies & beautiful visuals.

2) "Let Him Fly" by the Dixie Chicks

3) "Heartbreak Town" by the Dixie Chicks

4) "Bitter End" by the Dixie Chicks.  I love the Dixie Chicks music & these three are ones that have really good lyrics & visuals.

5) "The River" by Chely Wright.  She's from my home county (Franklin County, Kansas) and she sings about a friend who was killed in the river (Marais des Cygnes) that goes through my hometown (Ottawa).

6) "What if We Fly" - Chely Wright.  Talks about taking chances and seeing where life takes you.

7) "Learning to Fly" - Pink Floyd

8) "Comfortably Numb" - Pink Floyd

9) "On the Turning Away" - Pink Floyd.  I'm a huge Pink Floyd fan!  These are my three favorites.

10) "In My Daughter's Eyes" - Martina McBride.  I like several of her songs (also a native Kansan) but this one speaks to me as a mom of a 9 year old girl.

Laura Miller, Ottawa KS

We sing along with Lee Marvin's "I Was Born Under a Wandering Star" from Paint Your Wagon.

Or we love all of Patsy Cline's songs.

fred & jo pappas


The song I always start singing when I start out on a journey is "On the Road Again" by Willie Nelson. It really puts me in the traveling mood.

Betty Purcell

"There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats." - Albert Schweitzer


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

November 28, 2009 - What to Do, What to Do . . . .

So there we were, sitting in my sister Sue Parker's home in Salina after lunch on a gorgeous Saturday afternoon on Thanksgiving weekend, wanting to go Exploring Kansas but with the reality that between the two of us  had pretty much been everywhere to see everything within a hundred miles radius of Salina. 

So what to do?  We certainly could not waste such a great afternoon.

We thought and brought up this place and that place to no avail, until my sister realized that she had not been to Glasco, Kansas since going roller skating there back around 1970.  Gratefully we packed into her car and headed north. 

Glasco is located on U.S. Highway 24 in the southwest corner of Cloud County.  I showed my sister the buidling that once housed the very popular rollar skating rink, which attracted teenagers from all across North-Central Kansas in its time.  Sadly the building now sits vacant, along with the former gas station next to it. 

We drove into town and, seeking a drink, parked before the Hodge Podge, the local drug store/giftshop featuring an original Soda Fountain.  Unfortunately we arrived at 12:03PM, and the store had closed three minutes before.

So there was nothing for it but go across the street and settle for a pop in the Pepper Pot Cafe.  Nice, big and clean, the cafe was baking rolls for the upcoming supper run as we took our leave.  Down the street we met with the "police dog" (every small Kansas town has one) and, after a few pats and a scratch, were allowed on into Glasco's excellent second hand/antique/computer parts store. 

Then it was a driving tour of the rest of town and we headed on east, going a couple of miles before realizing that we never took one picture the entire time we were in Glasco.  All I can say is, don't read anything into this!  The city is certainly worth a visit and has a great church tour. 

Four miles east of Glasco is a paved county road leading south six miles to the town of Delphos.  Now just under 500 people, Delphos has a unique way to let you know that you've entered the community.  The street sign shown above is located at the city limit line along each major  road coming into town.

And for we slower, uncomprehending people, there also is the normal city limits sign.  A third sign at the city limits is one you can only find in a small town, letting everyone known when the local Lions Club meets.

These days Delphos is primarily known for being home to the little girl, Grace Bedell, who wrote to Abraham Lincoln and suggested that he grow a beard.  A monument commemorating the event can be found in the city square. 

As we headed south into town we immediately discovered what other interesting thing Delphos should be noted for - the town has extraordinary architecture, and not in one location but all over the community.  This grand house seen in the two photos above is a perfect example.  

Without meaning to our tour of town became a grand architectural driving tour!   Above is St. Paul's Catholic Church.  Current Internet sites list services here as starting at 11AM; however, the sermon sign out front sports only one word: CLOSED.

And then a block east of St. Paul's (seen here in the right background) is the remarkable First Presbyterian Church, with its two main entrances and two bell towers.

Only in a small town story:  we had parked just past the church, and I was opening the car door when a SUV pulls up to us.  The driver leaned out the window and and asked if we needed help.  No, I said, I was just getting out to take a photo of the church.  Turns out we had just missed a dinner at the church for a funeral and she thought we were out-of-town people late for the funeral.  She then told us that this is the church where Milburn Stone, "Doc" on the old TV series Gunsmoke, was first married.  In 1925 while appearing at the theater in Delphos Milburn met and fell in love with Ellen Kelman (Nellie) Morrison, a local preacher's daughter. They were married in the church across the street from the Morrison family home.

Now, to us who are from that generation that grew up with this revered Western series, this is pretty big stuff.  We looked all around for a marker or even a brochure to commemorate this significant tidbit of Kansas Explorer information, but there was nothing; only a chance meeting with a knowledgable local citizen exhibiting kindness to strangers and pride in her community's heritage.

On the east side of Delphos is this home with not only a bay window but also the unusual St.Anne-style round tower on the side. 

Continuing the "two main entrances and two bell towers" theme in the town is the Delphos United Methodist Church.

A closeup of the lower tower of the United Methodist Church with its unusual half moon decoration.

Heading back into downtown Delphos one cannot miss going around the city square, which is a city park and a very busy place the day we were there.  On the northeast corner of the square in the two white buildings is the home of Parker's On the Square, your business place for according to the list on the front window just about everything.

At first we didn't really notice the town watertower,  seen at upper left in the above photo.  Then we looked again and of course gawked, much to the irritation of the driver in the pickup behind us.  What happened to the top?  Was the tower never finished?  Was this a Halloween prank?  If you've seen the roof for this tower, good citizens of Kansas, please return it, as it's loss is causing near-accidents among startled visitors to the Delphos community. 

Still on the on the north side of the square are two other important town businesses.  The 1910 First National Bank building, seen above, is now the town library.  Next to it on the left is the Second Street Diner, which closed its doors just as we drove up to it in hopes of getting a drink.  Just par for the course on this journey!

Dominating the west side of the square is the old I.O.O.F lodge hall.  According to family company records my great-grandfather Frank Rothenberger rebuilt one of the building's walls back in the 1910s.  Nice to see it still there. 

After a great hour-long architectural tour through Delphos we finally headed east out of town on Kansas Highway 41.  Three miles east we then turned south along a paved county road towards the Ottawa County seat of Minneapolis.

Suddenly sound exploded in my ear.  "That house!  You've got to see that house!" exclaimed my sister.  I pulled over, turned the car around, and headed back north to the intersection we had just passed.  A quarter mile east of the intersection stood this farmhouse, which is certainly more impressive than this photo gives credit.  As I got out of the car to take the photo the owner came up from the yard.  He explained that the house had stood six miles to the southwest and that he and his wife had spent the past nine years restoring it. 

Heading on into Minneapolis we found the place to be on the weekend - the Virginian Restaurant & Bar.  Friday and Saturday is Steak and Crab!

It seems that the Ottawa County Architectural Tour continues!  At the west end of downtown Minneapolis is this great St. Anne-style home.

North and east of the downtown area is this mansion with its copper-roofed tower.

East of the downtown is an entire street of fine architecture.  On the south side of the street was this elegant home, while across the street to the north . . . .

Can be found this fine home, the photo for which does not do it justice.  And it's for sale!  Anyone who is interested can contact the fine people shown at the left. 

The end of our visual tour comes with this shot of the Minneapolis Nazarene Church at 302 Argyle.  It caught our eye as the size of the steeple is amazing in view of the overall size of the church.  Its effect of drawing one's eye into the sky is impressive in its simplicity.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

When Daring to Do Dirt in Kansas One Must be Mentally Nimble

At sometime or another we've all griped and complained at the bewildering myriad of road signs we've encountered once in a while when driving complex intersections in urban areas.   Well, I take back everything I ever muttered at those signs.  For it turns out that all of them have nothing on a routinely empty rural intersection right here in Jackson Township of southern Osborne County, Kansas.

You can see the three standard county rock roads in the above photo: the one you are on, going straight ahead; the one curving off to the left and the one curving off to the right; and the one that looks like a line going left to right in the foreground.

And here is the road sign for this remarkable intersection.  Even some of the locals once in a while have to take a moment to recall just what goes where.  Don't worry - due to the intersection's rural location, you can spend a few extra minutes staring at this puzzler.   And good luck! 

{Photos courtesy of Kathy Bristol)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Some Good Economic News for One Small Kansas Town

Arizona Undertaker Seeks to Revive Dying Kansas Town

By ROXANA HEGEMAN (AP) – Oct 11, 2009

PRESTON, Kansas — Like hundreds of small towns across rural America, Preston has boarded-up storefronts lining its Main Street. The roof has fallen in at the long-abandoned high school, while peeling paint and broken windows disfigure once stately, now vacant homes. This central Kansas farming town of 170 people is dying — and an Arizona undertaker has a plan to bring it back to life.

Two massive concrete grain elevators mark this as an iconic Kansas farming community, a cluster of homes tucked among undulating fields of wheat, corn and soybeans in Pratt County. For all its simple beauty, the county has slowly hemorrhaged residents: Since 1930, nearly 30 percent have left, making it an all-too-common anecdote of a fading prairie population.

But for Arizona transplants Ken and Donna Stanton, it's the perfect place to build a mortuary and crematorium, the unlikely cornerstone of an ambitious community revitalization plan that features Old West-styled building facades, old-time street lights and faux-board sidewalks.

Joining the couple are more than 30 relatives and friends who plan to establish their homes, businesses and a non-denominational church in the town.

"What is happening to Preston is truly a godsend," said Mayor Wayne Scott, who graduated from the high school's last class, in 1966. "I don't know too many towns in rural America, across the country, that are having an opportunity like this take place for them. I personally consider it a blessing this is happening in our town."

For the Mesa, Ariz. couple, Preston has become a labor of love borne of deep-seated family roots. Donna Stanton's late father, Don Cox, grew up in Pratt County, and her uncle, Dean Cox, still lives in Preston. The Stantons have taken family vacations in the town for 30 years.

"My father-in-law loved it here. He had a dream to see this little town revitalized and we kind of caught the vision," said Ken Stanton, 53. "It was kind of dwindling and drying up. I thought this was an opportunity to provide a service."

In its 1960s heyday, Preston boasted a post office, restaurant, hardware store, drug store and two grocery stores. Today the only businesses left are the grain elevators and a butcher shop, along with City Hall and a senior citizens' center.

Like other small towns, many of its residents left for jobs in bigger cities, and small businesses dried up along with its population. The advent of cars made shopping in Pratt, 12 miles away, or Hutchinson, 41 miles down the road, an easy drive.

In November, the Stantons bought a shuttered bar and grill — a brick building built in 1915 — to remodel as a funeral home that they hope to open in December — the first new business in their ambitious plan. The crematorium will be the only one in the area and they expect it to draw business from a 50-mile radius.

The family also bought two residential city blocks for homes, a second downtown lot, and are looking to buy another downtown building for a '50s-style restaurant.

They said the biggest expense — labor — will come from family.

Preston is the latest Kansas small town to get the makeover treatment. The Kansas Farm Bureau started its Kansas Hometown Prosperity Initiative in 2008, picking as its pilot projects the towns of Sedan, Onaga and Atwood.

"We've had government work on rural development for nearly 100 years and look what we have: We've had 100 consecutive years of 'out migration' in rural America. It is time we stood up and did something about it ourselves," said Steve Baccus, president of the Kansas Farm Bureau.

The bureau's stimulus program aims to develop community leadership, promote small business entrepreneurship, engage youth and staunch the transfer of wealth that leaves rural counties when aging residents die.

Ken Stanton said that amid the excitement some in the community are apprehensive about his plans.

"I hope people will see it is not our heart or desire to invade or take over," he said. "We just would like to see the town come to life."

Mike Schmidt, who has lived in Preston for 35 years, is happy about the redevelopment.

"That will be a big boost for Preston," the 54-year-old said.

Most people left in the town are old and there is nothing there now to draw young people, Schmidt said.

"Our Main Street right now is pretty run down ... anything we do on Main Street is going to be an improvement."

The irony of a mortuary as the cornerstone of a community revival plan is not lost on Ken Stanton or his family.

"This is a place people are dying to get into," he quipped.

His wife added, "We are coming to Preston to raise the dead."

Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Exploring Kansas: A Weekend of Lucas to Inman to Hillsboro & Back

Last Friday I rediscovered that running away from home when you're an adult with no one immediately dependent on you can be a lot of fun.  And as October 23, 2009 was a dreary and depressing day anyway, I decided that it was time to go forth and do a little Exploring in Kansas.  Besides, I had not been out of the house alone in well over a month and therefore needed a respite from the daily grind.

Heading south on US Highway 281 out of Osborne can be both lonely and relaxing - sometimes too relaxing.  This particular 22-mile portion of the highway from Osborne to Luray was last rebuilt in 1953, which means that the roadway is more than a bit narrow by today's standards and accidents are, shall we say, not unknown.  You listening, Kansas Department of Transportation?!!!

My first stop was in Lucas, where in the Chamber of Commerce I found both Connie Dougherty and Lynn Schneider hard at work at last plans for the upcoming Haunted Night in Lucas the next evening.  We had a quick conversation and then I let them get back to work because they are that dedicated to what they do.  You listening, Lucas Chamber of Commerce members?!!!  From there I stopped and paid homage to that 8 Wonders of Kansas Art icon, the Garden of Eden.

Located just south of the Garden of Eden was another of Lucas' iconic attractions, the World Headquarters for World's Largest Things,  Inc. - you know, the World's Largest Collection of the World's Smallest Versions of the World's Largest Things Traveling Roadside Attraction and Museum.  The fine director of this unique institution is one Erika Nelson, who was home for once on this dreary day.  We caught up on a number of items incomprehensible to most people and then it was time for me to be once again on my way.

I passed on south over the Wilson Dam and along the Post Rock Scenic Byway and into the Czech capital of Wilson, where I stopped by Wilson Family Foods, the local grocery store.  As usual the odor of homemade sausage and other succulent thngs that are probably bad for you in the long run assailed me as I opened the door.  In the back I ordered a pound of homemade summer sausage and a pound of Smoked Swiss cheese as a gift basket for later and hightailed it out of there before I completely unloaded the ol' bank account, which is easy in a place like that.   And before the good folks at Lucas begin inhaling their lungs and start asking why I did not stop and buy All Things Kansan in their community, I wish to point out that I had stopped and ordered sausage and cheese there the weekend before, and so as a good Explorer I believe in spreading my money around to deserving Kansas attractions.  You listening, Kansas Travel & Tourism?!!!

Traveling east on old US Highway 40 led me into the legendary cowtown of Ellsworth, the stock photo of the downtown of which is shown above.  The good folks there are in the middle of replacing their downtown curbing and sidewalks for a new look sure to enhance the local businesses.  In Ellsworth I called upon Linda Denning, longtime editor/publisher of the Ellsworth County Independent Reporter.  After spending some time catching up we talked over at length the state of the newspaper business in the North Central region of Kansas. 

From there a stop down the street at the Ellsworth Antique Mall provided me with a much-needed homemade ice cream cone to keep up my strength, and then it was back on the road down Kansas Highway 14 to Lyons, Kansas.

Something I had never done before was to just drive at random around Lyons.  I started with the downtown square and managed over the next hour to pretty much acquaint myself with the community, a stock photo of which can be seen above. 

From Lyons I headed east on US Highway 56 to the now-ghost town/gas depot community of Conway, and then 15 miles south via county paved roads through Inman to the headquarters of the Kansas Sampler Foundation.  There Director Marci Penner and Assistant Head Honcho WenDee LaPlant had already spent a busy day announcing the winners of the 8 Wonders of Kansas Customs contest in addition to holding a board meeting of the Foundation.  I delivered my Wilson gift basket and Marci was kind enough to spend a few minutes of chat before she headed back into the fray.  Once again, a stock photo of the Sampler Foundation headquarters can be seen above.

 Wandering east from the KSF I took county roads and eventually arrived at Interstate 35.  My stomach overcame my sense of adventure and I therefore turned north on I-35 to Salina, where I spent the night at my sister Sue's home.  This worked out well, for when I ran away from home I really did just that and left without packing anything, and so I need to spend some time shopping for clothes and other essentials.  A late drink out with my sister and niece Katie it drew the curtains on another day in the Sunflower State.

The next day Sue and I headed back south on Interstate 35 to McPherson, where we met Sue's friend Elsie for a great lunch at the Main Street Deli.  Before that we shopped in town, spending much time at the Cook's Nook and also at The Cake Lady.  Did you notice that food quickly became the theme of the day?

After lunch we headed east on US Highway 56 to Hillsboro, where at Dale's Supermarket we stocked up on Dale's homemade sausage.  Yes, you out-of-state skeptics, you really can eat your way across Kansas without culinary regret.  Actual weight-gain regret, we cannot be held responsible for.

Wandering around northeastern Hillsboro turned up several architecturally-interesting homes.  The one above employs one of the more interesting roof designs I have ever seen.

   "Reflective of a prosperous midwestern family in the early years of the century, this home of Lutheran immigrant, William F. Schaeffler from Germany, was constructed in 1909. Part of the reason the house is now a museum could be attributed to its "modern" construction, making it modern then and interesting to visitors today. The house features an open staircase, wrap-around front porch, pocket doors, servants' staircase, dumb waiter, carbide gas running to each room for lighting, strictly decorative fireplaces, inside bathrooms probably used only at night and for the sick, and a carriage house.
   Much of the charm of the Schaeffler House Museum comes from the items left by the family and those added by the historical society. The family left a beautiful 12-place china set which is set on the dining room table and stored in a china cabinet that highlights its beauty. The office cabinets are stackable oak shelving, which run at several hundred dollars per stack and there are 10 stacks.
   The master bedroom houses an exhibit of Hillsboro Business and Industry containing pictures, portraits, a vintage Zenith television, and High School memorbilia.
   Hear the history of the famous Schaeffler Mercantile Store while guided through the home.
Admission: Adults $3.00, Students $1.00, Pre-School Children with parents, free
Hours: Open by appointment only
Address: 510 South Ash, Hillsboro Kansas
Phone: 1-620-947-3775"

The above description comes courtesy of the City of Hillsboro LASR website.  The photo comes courtesy of my poor lense-challenged camera.

Yet another architectural style home found in northeast Hillsboro.

To the west of the previous home we found a fantastic grouping of bushes in full fall color!

Wandering into the northwestern side of Hillsboro we were greeted with a most unusual site: the remains of a historic truss-style bridge sitting in the backyard of a seemingly innocuous residential home.   Talk about a conversation piece!

Then just down the street to the south we came upon a former church being renovated and used as a greenhouse.  In Kansas recycling was never a late 20th-Century innovation; its' been a way of life since day one. 

Homeward bound at last we headed back west to Canton, then turned north and via county roads passed through Gypsum and back to Salina.

That night I experienced what Katie later termed a true "Hot Pocket."  We were sitting playing a card game when I felt something hot and sharp, like something biting me on the leg, or perhaps a small stick poking me from inside my front pants pocket, which held my change and other items.  I  adjusted the change and went back to concentrating on the game.  About twenty minutes later the sensation hit again, and this time I put my hand in  my pocket to try and locate whatever was poking me.  My fingers encountered something hot enough to make me withdraw with a yelp.

This mystery had to be solved.  So I reached in again and quickly pulled everything out of my pocket and onto the table.  There amid the quarters and nickels and dimes and pennies were two small AA batteries - backups for the ones I normally carry in my camera.  I could find nothing else in my pocket to explain the poking or heat.  And then I picked up the batteries.  Both were hot - way past the warmth they should have been for being in my pocket all day.  But how did they get that way?

And then I discovered that several of the coins were equally hot.   We arrived at the theory that the coinage - especially the pennies - had acted as conductors for the electrical charge held in the batteries.  Lucky for me my pants never caught fire!

Back in Salina on Sunday it was still overcast and dreary and depressing out, but fairly warm.   So Sue, Katie and I went to the city park to see if we could take some photos while there were still flowers about.  In the photo above it is evident that Katie is not quite ready to have her photo taken just yet, or something to that effect. 

So of course I went ahead and took it.  And publicly published it here.  Katie will be so pleased with me.

We also wanted a "formal portrait both for the blog and for Halloween," so Sue and I sat on her front porch while Katie took over the photographical duties. 

And then we both heard a weird and ominous CREAK, and instinctively looked up at the old cottonwood there, sure that a branch was coming down on us.  No, Katie assured us after taking our photo (and thus getting back at me for the previous photo), the CREAK came from across the street behind the tree, where a neighbor had opened his oil-deprived car door.

After that brief  adventure something told me that it was time to head back to Osborne.  So I packed up and headed on west on State Highway 140 through Ellsworth and on back to Wilson, where I had a date with more sausage and cheese - for me this time.  Being overcast and dreary and depressing out there were few other travelers on the road with me the rest of the day.

I then headed back on north up State Highway 232 to Lucas, and quickly discovered the lone place of interest for the populace on a late Sunday afternoon - the movie at the Lucas Community Theatre.  All About Steve sadly did not hold much interest for myself and therefore I headed on out of town west on State Highway 18.

At Luray I turned north once again on US Highway 281 and definitely had the road to myself.  Thank goodness for the music of Billy Idol, Joan Jett and Bon Jovi; I was certainly not bored. 

Just ten miles south of Osborne is the crossroads where the old community of Twin Creek was once located.  Here I met my first car in what seemed like hours; the incident was exciting enough for me to take this photo of the opposing car's headlights.  Hey, you do anything to stay alert when driving 281!

A half mile south of Osborne one can still see the remains of an old gas station, dating from the 1910s and 1920s when this junction was part of the Midland Trail highway.

The southern entrance into Osborne sadly has to be one of the more uninviting entries into any Kansas county seat community.  A lot of discussion about improving it has occurred over the years but to date nothing concrete has come to pass as yet.

It was in Osborne that I finally found some traffic.  Actually, for six p.m. there was an abnormal amount of traffic!

Passing by the future home of Blue Hills Bikes on South First Street I noticed that their new sign had been put in place while I was away.  The business is scheduled to be opened at this location by January 31, 2010. 

Downtown Osborne was dark and dreary and depressing - just like I left it.   Sigh.

Taking in the above and below photos of modern Osborne is something to behold when comparing them to this 1917 photograph of the same location, when the town's east water tower was in construction.  That's right, Osborne's two municipal water towers are now 92 years old. 

The west side of the 100 block of North First Street, now also US Highway 281, has seen numerous businesses come and go since the previous photo was taken.   Who knows what the future will bring?