Friday, July 8, 2016

13-30 June, 2016 Close Encounters with Deer, Trains, Zoos, Parks and Old Schoolhouses

We hit the highway again only this time we were in our car with it's air-conditioning (we are sure getting spoiled in our old age!).  The trip to Kansas was uneventful although it's getting so that the fuel tank on the car last much longer than it should meaning we need to start taking rest breaks between fill-ups instead of only when we need gasoline!

We got to KS just fine.  We left our Dodge motor home at my mother's so that we'd have a good place to stay while there for extended time periods.  It makes our life simpler because we have someplace to give my mother a break from a very rambunctious five-year-old who gets more active as bedtime draws near.  Fortunately we had no roof leaks while we were gone so all we had to do was take the tarp off the roof and plug into electricity from the house and we were ready to go.  We keep it stocked with food, clothing and bedding so it's ready to live in when we arrive.  It's worked well for us.

It feels like home to Odie as well.  My mother tends to spoil her with leftover food.

After we settled in a couple of days we took a trip to the zoo.  Before going into the zoo we took a ride on the train (pictured above) around Gage Park.  It's a little larger and fancier than the one at Emporia.  It circled the park giving us a good way to look over the entertainment facilities there.

We first went to the city zoo but they were closed for repairs so we headed for the Topeka Zoo about 60 miles away.  We picked a bad day for that since it was sweltering hot and the lions refuse to leave their cool shelter and come outside to be gawked at.  The giraffes were quite comfortable in the heat though and provided some good entertainment.  The most active critters were the orangutans and the tigers.  We spent awhile watching the orangutans in their glassed in exhibit.  (Being inside in the air-conditioned building helped too.)  The most active was the youngest one who wandered all over the trees they had placed for them to climb on.  He harassed the female endlessly while she tried to get some beauty sleep (which she sorely needed!) and even the old male did some climbing around.  The grossest part though was when the little one urinated in a depression in the tree then drank it.  Anyone who wants to mimic animals or their behavior is welcome to it ... just don't ask me to take part!

The tigers alternated between being inside and outside.  When they came outside they headed straight for the water.  They had kind of a cement lagoon for laying in and they seemed to enjoy it immensely in the heat.  

Scott was really looking forward to seeing the elephants but it was cage cleaning day for them and they were locked away back-stage and not visible to the public.  He also enjoyed being in the insect room looking over some pretty exotic (and BIG) bugs.

After going through the zoo we went across the parking lot to Gage Park.  It's a nice park and is worth a special trip just for it. Here Scott plays on and in the Alligator.

...and the octopus...

...and the "boat."

(Which happens to be mired in the asphalt surrounding it.)

His last stop in the "old" part was a kangaroo ride.  This section brought back some memories since my children also played on the same equipment when they were about his age.

Some of the new things included the "web."  He scampers around on this type of stuff like he's half squirrel.  He even talked grandma into meeting him at the top of it.

And as usual when it's time t leave he has to be evicted bodily in one of his favorite ways to be carried!  (With a promise to return again.)

That same evening after we returned to Emporia we went to Sodens Grove so he could ride that train!

It's a scaled down version that's still a lot of fun.  It's had some makeovers through the years but is still basically the same train I rode as a kid.  (And, no, it isn't powered by steam!)

Raise your hands and scream as it goes through the tunnel.

Passing the train station on the first loop.  (The train goes around twice.)

From there we went across the highway to play on the tank.  The bicycle repair station is a relatively new addition.  I wish they had had that when I was a kid.  I spent many summer days down there with my friends.  We normally rode bicycles down there to play on the tank and fish in the nearby river.  There used to be a small gas station on this site.  The owner would repair bicycle tires for a quarter back then.

Scott and Susan on the old WW 2 tank.  I read the plaque and this tank had only been there for a few years when I was a kid playing on the same tank.  Back then it was across the  highway where the zoo is now.  The highway was moved over when they put in the new bridge.  At that time the tank was also moved and sealed shut.  Back when I was a kid you could still play inside of it and make the turret rotate, raise and lower the gun and open the hatches (including those for the engine compartment).  I really wish Scott could have seen it the way I did way back then.  My friends and I would play for hours inside it.

Susan took off early the next morning to go to Illinois to see her oldest daughter but the trip was interrupted by a deer that jumped out of the median strip in front of the car.  Fortunately she was only five miles out of town when the accident occurred.

She called me and I went out to get them then Susan emptied out the car while we waited for the sheriff deputy and the tow truck to arrive.  Fortunately Susan and Scott were fine.  The car and the deer ... not so much.

The estimate for repairs.  It will take them about a month to repair the car so we borrowed my mother's pickup to drive home.  More on that later.

My mother wanted some tree limbs cut back so I got out the chain saws to get them ready for work. I opted for the electric saws instead of using a gas powered model.

The electric saws work okay for small jobs around the house.  The chain speed is slower than on my gas saws (which are also larger and more powerful) which makes them a little "jerky" in use but they did okay on the tree trimming.  I used only the small one (lighter weight).  The larger electric one runs faster and cuts more like a gas-powered saw.

I hate working on ladders ... especially step ladders!  But you do what you gotta' do.

This is my "little" sister helping to load the truck.  She was visiting from Colorado. 

And my mother with a broken bone in her elbow from a fall a few days previous.  She has always been very independent and just won't slow down.  The doctors are waiting for the swelling to go down before putting it in a cast.  (They also told her to take it easy!)  She's eighty-years-old and does things her way.  

Scott doing a "cannon ball" in his wading pool.  It had more water in it a few cannon balls ago.

We got some new sealer to use on the roof.  We had some left over from Nevada but it wasn't enough so we bought two more gallons to finish the roof on the "Kansas" motor home.

Packed up and ready to go home again.  In one way the car wreck was good.  We had some things we wanted to take home with us but never had room for them in the car.  So now they're going home in the pickup.  One of them is power miter saw I bought at the auction after my stepfather died.

We took a slightly indirect route home and did some exploring in Wyoming.  The next segment of photos was taken from the back-country west of Buffalo, WY.

The next few photos were taken at Ten Sleep, WY.  Susan's paternal grandfather used to live here between 1914 and 1923. This is a restored school house that he would have seen and may still have been in use back then.

I don't know if it was built in 1896 or they quit using it in 1896.  Probably the former.  Anyway it was restored in 2003.

I think that's the same teacher they had in 1896!

This photo is out of order and should be after the sign below.  What is the water park in summer becomes the ice skating rink in winter.  The skates are stored in an old building nearby.  As near as we can tell the skates are donated and available without charge.  Obviously theft is not a real problem here since the storage room has no locks on the door.

Posted rules for use...

The fees are reasonable.

This is the splash pad being checked out by Scott.

He was one happy and excited boy when we pulled in and he saw someplace to play in the water!

They had a playground nearby as well and we made use of it.

The only downside was the heat.  It was better there but still pretty hot and forget using any equipment that wasn't shaded!

Back in Montana.  This is a wheat field burning.  We never did learn if it was a planned burn or unintentional.  The fire department was at the downwind end and appeared to have it under control.

Scott burning off some energy bouncing on the motel beds.

The first night we had problems finding a motel that would take dogs so Odie slept outside in the truck.  She didn't seem to mind since we opened it up a bit so she'd have more room.
This is the second night and Odie is sleeping outside again.  This time she has her blanket spread under the back of the truck right outside our motel window.  She seemed quite happy with the arrangement.

Back in home territory.  We felt a little strange driving around Montana in a truck with Kansas license plates.  This is the Flathead river not to far from where it flows into the Clark Fork river.

Same place only looking west instead of east as in the previous photo.
We wanted to stop at Hot Springs, MT to play in the water there so we took a different route in (on MT Hwy 200) to cut a few miles off our drive.

We spent a couple of hours at the hot springs in Hot Springs, MT.  This is the lower swimming pool.  The water is cool but not cold.  They have three other, smaller pools that are progressively hotter.  We've never been in the hottest one.

Flathead lake and only about 75 miles from home now.

We got home and spent three days getting the place ready for our July 4th party.  Susan (mostly!) and Scott painted picnic tables while I did yard work.  We also painted his playhouse with a primer coat and moved some vehicles around.  We have (since this photo was taken) moved the big tank in the background to a new location to make it easier to siphon the collected rain water from their barrels.  We have plans to do some major clean-up soon.  Of course it's been raining for two days now so we're catching up on indoor things at the moment.  But that's okay.  We remember the dry conditions and thick smoke from the forest fires last year and the rain seems kind of nice! 

We held our Independence Day celebration on July 2nd this year due to scheduling conflicts with the kids.  We had a special treat of having some friends from Overton, Nevada spend the day with us.  All-in-all we went through about $700.00 in fireworks  (four of us buying them) and enough food to keep two barbecue grills going and two tables filled with the side dishes.  

Note:  Susan is a prolific photographer and while most of my shared photos will be found on this blog she has thousands of them in her Facebook photo album.  Here's the link.  You should book mark it and visit the site when you have some extra time.