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2012 Road Trip Photos #40: The Season Finale: Look Back in Outtakes

Nine days. Five states. 2,887 miles. 828 photos. One mountaintop. Fourteen stops for gas. Innumerable sights and memories. Nine consecutive entries for journals written on location. Forty entries for photos, additional commentary, and hindsight. My wife and I have taken a road trip in some fashion each year since 1999 — before we were married or even dating, back when we were best friends. Our week-plus excursion to Colorado via Kansas was one of our most ambitious, successful, and draining road trips to date. Thanks sincerely to those lovable readers who followed along with us and offered encouragement throughout the process, whether in ways great or small, conscious or unwitting.

As my way of concluding the “2012 Road Trip Photos” series and holding the blogging equivalent of a post-production wrap party, please enjoy this assortment of previously unshared photos from the journey. Some are alternate viewpoints of sights you’ve seen; some are little moments bypassed till now. For the complete itinerary, check out the 2012 Road Trip checklist for the ultimate reading guide, with links to all the notes and photos, day by day. They’re a fun way to kill an afternoon or help decide how your own future trips to these locales will be even better.

Let the montage begin!

F-14 Tomcast, WaKeeney, Kansas

DAY TWO: my wife peeks out from underneath the F-14 Tomcat in WaKeeney, Kansas.

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2012 Road Trip Photos #38: the Landscape of Joplin-That-Will-Be

Our family had an ulterior motive for cruising Route 66 on Day Eight besides meeting Mater. It was the most straightforward path from the Little House Museum to our relatives who live across the Kansas/Missouri border in a town called Webb City. After so many days on the road with just our trio keeping each other company, it was a relief to unwind and chat with other familiar folks. My wife’s sister, her husband, and our irrepressible li’l nephew have called it home for several years, at a distance hard from us to traverse under normal circumstances. Luckily for us, this year’s itinerary provided a convenient excuse to veer in their direction for a visit.

Times in the area hadn’t been easy over the previous fourteen months. Webb City neighbors a nationally recognized city called Joplin, which occupied headlines in May 2011 when an F5 tornado wrought over twenty-two miles’ worth of obliteration and sorrow.

After our first home-cooked meal in a week, my gracious sister-in-law offered us a status update of Joplin via personal guided tour. Even though fourteen months had elapsed, I hoped we wouldn’t be ghoulishly gawking at a DMZ of too many sobering sights.

St Johns Hospital, Joplin, Missouri

Lingering destruction comprised a minute portion of what we encountered. Continue reading

2012 Road Trip Photos #37: Tow Mater Welcomes You to Route 66

The scenery east of the Little House Museum remained steady and unremarkable until we navigated our way to famous Historic Route 66. Originally connecting Chicago and Los Angeles, the formerly cross-country thoroughfare that inspired a TV show, a Pixar film, and innumerable road trips was ignobly decommissioned decades ago when it found itself superseded by the newfangled interstate system. Many sections were downgraded, renamed, or scuppered altogether. A few segments across America retain the original name, shape, and celebrity, including a few miles’ worth in southwest Kansas, leading east into Missouri.

Historic Route 66 road sign

Some locals still cherish the heritage of Route 66 and cheerfully commemorate its legacy and impact on pop culture. Galena, for example, is a rare small town that can justify boasting about a life-sized stand-in for the one and only Tow Mater.

Tow Mater, Route 66, Galena, Kansas

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2012 Road Trip Photos #36: Little Museum on the Prairie

After two major attractions and lunch at Freddy’s Frozen Custard and Steakburgers, we finally exited Hutchinson and pursued other Kansas fancies on Day Eight. We headed southeast, skirted the perimeter of Wichita, wound our way down I-35, and negotiated the offroad highways leading near the town of Independence to one of several Midwest locations that once housed the original Ingalls family, stars of the biographical Little House on the Prairie series that was mandatory reading for all women of my wife’s generation.

As you can imagine, this short stop in the middle of drought-stricken agrarian territory was for her benefit. We were a long, long way from the manly gadgetry of the Kansas Cosmosphere.

Little House on the Prairie Museum, Independence, Kansas

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2012 Road Trip Photos #35: the Kansas Cosmosphere, Part 2 of 2: Starship Parts Catalog

As we saw in our previous installment, the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Museum in Hutchinson, Kansas, provides a good, safe home to many retired spacecraft and spacecraft understudies. Their collections are a comprehensive tribute to those pioneers and daredevils who yearn to see mankind reach beyond our spatial boundaries and discover what else lies in store for us in God’s universe.

Ad Astra per Aspera, Kansas Cosmosphere & Space Center, Hutchinson, Kansas

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2012 Road Trip Photos #34: the Kansas Cosmosphere, Part 1 of 2: Starship Graveyard

Once we returned from the Underground Salt Museum to the surface world, Day Eight of our nine-day journey continued on the other end of Hutchinson at the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center. Our family has seen space-race paraphernalia in other museums such as the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum (2003), Kennedy Space Center (2007), and Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry (2009), but the Cosmosphere competes in its own way, particularly with souvenirs from foreign contributors to the space race. Kansas seems like the last place on Earth you’d find a dedicated repository for cosmonaut relics, but there it was.

Kansas Cosmosphere & Space Center, Hutchinson, Kansas

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