season outing put us at Sedgwick
County Zoo here in Wichita .
We went on a $1 Wednesdays, which is available during winter. Some
of the more temperature sensitive animal were not on exhibit, but
hey it was a buck. This is also a very nice zoo, and I have especially
recommend the tropical aviary .
This aviary is one of the best that I have seen anywhere! It's full
of tropical vegetation, with a long winding path with plenty of
benches. The path goes through a tunnel under the the aviary's tropical
lake showing South American and African fish, as well little duck
buts overhead. The aviary is literally a-flutter with birds life,
of all sizes, not just the big showy birds. Little colorfully wings
are flying everywhere. Also look out under your feet as they have
a number of small mammals running loose too.
We also visited the Exploration Place, even knowing that it was
child's hands-on place. But we found it a little to elementary (about
grade school level). The aviation area was the most interesting
and informative. Who would have guessed that in Wichita .
Our next trip was to the northwest of Wichita to the town of Yoder,
with is a small Amish community. It was interesting, with a small
number of specialty shops and a large place with wonderful handcrafted
furniture. But again we were a little under-whelmed. It just didn't
meet our expectations. We finished with a late lunch at the Carriage
Crossing Restaurant. Anna had their chicken fried chicken, and
I had a grilled chicken fillet sandwich and a bowl of their soup
of the day (clam chowder (I know, clam chowder in Kansas? But it
was actually very good)). We both agree that all the food was very
good, with excellent service. I am sure we will stop again the next
time we are traveling that way.
By the way, I am starting to work at Cessna Aircraft Company next
week. Working for Computer Services Corp.
The next trip, the following weekend, was to meet some of our friends
in Ponca City, Oklahoma. We met at the Head
Country Barbecue restaurant. Anna and I have long enjoyed their
commercial barbeque sauce, and wanted to try their restaurant. We
ate lunch there, and spent a few hours visiting with our friends.
All agreed that the barbecue was just average. We tried their brisket,
ribs, and sausage. Everything was cooked well, and was very tender
and juicy. But there was very little smoke flavor, or flavoring
from a rub.
The following day Anna and I went to the Quivira National Wildlife
We found that the visitor center is closed on weekends, so we could
not stop to find out where was best to see the wildlife. Thousands
of ducks and geese, a few hundred sandhill cranes, and well as about
3 dozen bald eagles have been reported. They also have a large prairie
dog town .
We travel a good portion of the refuge, but didn't see anything
really exciting. We will try back in a week or so, when the visitor
center is open. We did meet a nice couple who were watching a small
lake full of ducks. They told us of another prairie dog town closer
to Wichita (I am hoping to get some good picture of these little
guys, and hopefully of the burrowing owls that can also live in
On a personal note, Cliff had four thyroid goiters (growths on
the thyroid gland) removed from his neck this last week. One was
about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. There were no problems with the
surgery. Cliff will have a nice scar, several inches long, across
his throat that he can make up stories about. All the pathology
reports were negative for cancer.
Our next outing was to the Museum
Of World Treasures ,
in Wichita itself. The museum in housed in a fairly small building
for a museum, and we weren't expecting much from our trip. But we
were pleasantly surprised. This museum might be small but it is
absolutely packed with displays, items, and artifacts. Some of the
more notable items are the actual pen used by General Robert E .Lee
to sign the civil war surrender papers at the Appomattox Courthouse
Frank James' personal revolver, a piece of the Berlin Wall ,
one of only eight known true Viking battle helmets, the mummy of
one of Ramses the Great's daughters ,
complete actual skeletons of a Tyrannosaur Albertosaurus and Edmontosaurus
dinosaurs (no replicas!). Check out the pics on this web
page. Anna also like the Mayan burial urn
and the area with the Buddhist artifacts.
I took an day trip without Anna to run up to Hutchinson, and to
go back to the Quivira
NWR. In Hutchinson I was looking for the prairie dog town that
we had been told about before. I wasn't hard to find. It is right
along Hwy 61, going northeast out of town, and right beside the
Lowes hardware store. The little guys were everywhere, but the light
was wrong for good pictures (but here's one anyway ).
So, after watching them for a little while I headed back to the
wildlife refuge. Once there, I soon found a flock of wild turkeys
and a small herd of deer in the fields just after entering the refuge.
The prairie dogs were at the far north end of the refuge, but finding
them wasn't difficult. The colony probably covers twenty acres or
more. I spent about 2 1/2 hours sitting behind a bush in this "town",
but the little critters never really came back in that close to
me. So, the pictures were just so-so. I made another tour around
their "big salt marsh" before heading back. There I saw
yellow-headed blackbirds, which was only the second time seeing
this bird for me.
One day, a couple of weeks later, Anna and I finally got around
to checking out the Great
Plains Nature Center. I say "finally" because this
nature center is only about 1 1/2 miles from the apartment. I had
taken a quick look early in our Kansas stay, and I didn't see much
to go back for. Also, they do not allow pets, so we couldn't go
there to walk the dog. The problem was that during my first quick
visit I missed seeing the biggest part of the place. So, on a day
warmer than most had been, we decided to go take a closer look just
to get outside for a few hours. The nature center turned out to
have a nice museum/exhibit hall, and a large number of very nice
trails that wandered out through the prairies and scattered trees.
One special thing to point out here is a captive (non-releasable)
albino screech owl .
The only albino owl that I have ever seen, and even more interesting
because the screech owls are so tiny.
The final day out for us in Wichita was a trip to the Old
Cowtown Museum. As the name imply's it is a recreation of on
old west cattle town, with old western style re-enactments. But
it is run as a museum, not a amusement park. Many of the building
are originally old buildings that have been saved and moved to the
museum grounds. Some from 1800's era of Wichita itself. There was
a pioneer/trapper camp ,
and everything you would expect to find in an old west town. A sheriff's
office, doctor/dentist office, newspaper, blacksmith ,
general store, railway station, livery stable ,
saloon, bank, funeral home, church, school, a working 1800's farm
and so on. And because this is Kansas, it had a working steam-powered
grainery. It was a very nice day, and we found the museum very entertaining
and informative. It is a very pleasant way to spend a few hours
during a nice spring day.
Soon after this we packed up both vehicles and headed on to our
new home, with the normal stop in Oklahoma to repack for summer
at the next stop in our roaming.
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