Friday, August 8, 2014

Salt Mine Museum

You know that expression that goes, "Make plans and God laughs."? 
Yeah, sometimes I think that's what I should name this blog. My plans have gone down the drain more times than they've gone as planned. 

Our family had actually planned on taking a vacation this week to Colorado but then two weeks ago we ended up taking a last minute trip back to Indiana. So there went our vacation money. While we were at home in Indiana we were able to do a little bit of fun stuff but our experience was overshadowed with trips to the hospital. (A close family member had us pretty worried for a while but everything turned out better than anticipated.) 

DR and I felt like we wanted to have one more summer fun day with the kids so we headed to Hutchinson, KS over the weekend to see Strataca; the underground salt museum. 

A fairly plain facade, as though it wants to go as unnoticed as the mine beneath it. 

When you get to the mine you have to buy tickets for a certain time. They only take 30 visitors down every 20-30 minutes. We arrived at 1:30 but didn't go down until 2:40 and this was on a Sunday afternoon too. 

Once it's your turn to go down everyone gets fitted with a hard hat and a self rescuer, a nifty 3 lb. device that is slung across our chest that, in case of fire and smoke, we would use these to breathe. Though we were reassured that in 70 years of bringing visitors down no one had ever needed to use them. 

We took a 90 second ride down in a hoist we arrived in the gallery, a huge room/tunnel with a few signs explaining that this salt mine is pure salt with very little other minerals found. 

This is an awfully big hunk of salt!!! I think it was 400 lbs...whoa! 
The Carrey salt mine is still active and is used as the rock salt that is put on icy roads. 

There are a lot of really neat artifacts on display throughout the museum. This is the machine that was used first in the process. This giant chainsaw would saw at ground level under a wall, then holes would be drilled in the wall, explosives inserted in the holes, then....BOOM!!....a pile of rock salt! 

Fresh air is pumped down the mine, of course, and since there are about 150 miles of tunnels there are places that don't need fresh air. Since the very early times miners have been blocking off some of those unused tunnels so as not to waste fresh air. In the distance you can see one such wall built of lumber. Some walls were also built by filling empty dynamite boxes with salt. 

Not only is the mine used to supply salt but some of the empty tunnels are used as storage. Every major Hollywood movie company has something stored in the Hutchinson Mine. There was this Dorothy from the movie Twister, Dean Cain's Superman suit, a uniform worn by Matt Damon from the movie Monument Men and more on display for visitors to see. 

The museum itself is self guided with a natural flow with a variety of artifacts on display as well as videos that explains the mining process. In this photo the family had taken a seat to watch how the salt was transported to the surface. 

You can't leave the mine without your own souvenier piece of rock salt (because THAT'S so hard to come by!) They have a huge pile for folks to rummage through. 


I have miners in the making!! Seriously, Yip is all ready to start training to be the powder man...yikes!!! 

A really neat museum that I highly recommend!! 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Camping Solo (almost)

Wheat harvest started a few weeks ago which made me a harvest widow for a few weeks. Though there wasn't a huge wheat harvest (still in a drought despite June's rain) there was enough to keep DR working some late nights. Which meant it was a great time to take the kids camping!! (Since DR is not a fan of camping!) 

Everything went great if I do say so myself!! 

Hiking into the wild unknown....well, as unknown as you can get on a mile loop around the lake

Contemplating life's mysteries around the campfire.....really the only place for such heavy philosophical work 

Experiments in engineering.....

Gourmet dinners......

We did cut the trip short due to this sky rolling in. I'm not a fan of packing a wet tent. I've done that too many times! 

I'm already looking forward to our next trip!! It's looking like our July weather is going to make a cooldown next week so maybe then! 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Flash Floods are so much fun.

I know I've been absent this summer. Now that none of my kids take naps during the day anymore I don't find a whole lot of down time for blog writing as I used to. (I'm hoping that will change when school starts.) I found a few minutes tonight and thought I'd share some fun pics that are about a month old. 

During June SW Kansas had about 11 inches of rain which was delightful! One such storm brought 3 inches alone! And there is nothing quite as fun as playing in the flooded street after a storm...especially when you know all that glorious water will be gone by the next day. All that rain has literally transformed Kansas into a green carpet that, honestly, confuses me! I was driving down a back road just the other day that I barely recognized because it was so green!

Anyway, when it rains we take full advantage of the flash floods to play in the streets!! 

Saturday, June 7, 2014

The Cloud

A big storm came through last night with an amazing photo opportunity. This Cloud. DR was driving home and took these first two pictures while I was sitting in the yard watching the top of this Cloud move over buildings and trees. It was moving fast. Definitely something I've never seen before and may never see again. 

This is the Cloud that resulted in our flash flood last night. 

I went to post these on Facebook and it seemed like everyone in town was putting up their version of this Cloud too. 

My favorite is this shot taken by Luis in front of the golf course. 

And only an inch of rain!!!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Flash flood!!!

A nasty thunderstorm is going through right now. 

Everything is flooded.... My backyard....

My poor garden won't know what to do with this much water. 

And here is the main street of town. Do you see the fire hydrant? yeah that is the sidewalk!!!

Believe it or not my rain gauge only had an inch of rain for the whole day!!!! Now I know the meaning of a flash flood. 

Saturday, May 31, 2014

I'm really not ignoring you.....

You probably wonder where I've been. The month of May was SUPER busy for Painting Parties! Yay!! Most exciting, for me, was that I was able to paint with a lot of kids this month!  So here's a not so short run down of my month of May!

My month started off with a Sunflower party but this group of ladies really went above and beyond with their flowers to make them so unique.

Then I led my library ladies in painting Sunset (or Moonrise) on the lake. This has become a favorite for many painters and it's especially a good one for first time painters.

My next party in May was a birthday party for a mountain loving gal! Everyone went home with a present. What a lovely group of ladies. And most of them hadn't painted before and they did just marvelous.

But my favorite party for May was painting Pigeons with Preschoolers!! They were awesome!! Really, I could paint with kids all day long. They are just the best!

Then I painted clovers with my boys 4H Club. I won't lie, it was more chaotic than I was used to and there was no way we could get a group shot, but I think they all had fun!

Whoo....are we done with the month of May yet??? Not quite...

Towards the end of the month I led my first Peacock Party..also the first time I've had to break out the flashlight on my phone to paint by!! We were painting in the hostess' photography studio which has awesome windows that allow in wonderful light. Great for photos, not so good for a late night painting party!

Then a very ambitious three hour party of an old farm truck that went extremely well! Even though we were rushing around the last 20 minutes as we were expecting a hail storm to hit...that never materialized.

The very next night we painted (and drank) wine to celebrate a friend's retirement. Congrats!! This ladies were a blast!! I could paint with them every week.

And FINALLY I ended the month painting seasonal trees with a brand new group (all newbies!) from a nearby town.

Whew!!! That's alot for one month but I loved every bit of it. Thanks to all you lovely painters!!

So I'm really not ignoring my blogging here, it's just that these painting parties have become a real hit and it's keeping me jumping. In fact I'm leaving for one more in a couple hours to round out my month of May. This is sure never something I ever expected to be doing when I became an art teacher 16 years ago but I must say that this is so much fun. I get to meet all kinds of people with all different backgrounds and these painting parties are so flexible!
But the greatest reward has been when one of my artists go off independently and paint without me. My greatest goal is to teach myself out of a job. If everyone I meets gains the confidence to create on their own then I've done my job!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Dry Kansas landscape

 The kids got out of school on May 16th. I'm not bragging or anything, just stating a fact. I know plenty of schools (Indiana) are still in school. 
Summer; so far so good...meaning that my kids haven't driven me completely insane....yet. Which is surprising because this is the first summer in ten years where I don't have any kids taking a daily nap!! Who knew how exhilarating no naps could be!! No more tiptoeing around the house!!
The weather has been mild lately, only in the 80's, and we've been taking advantage of it with open windows and plenty of outdoor time before the 100's arrive...and they surely will.
Over the weekend we drove out to friend's house to go shoot. As we were tooling down the dirt road I was astonished to have to swerve around a snake in the road. Believe it or not after almost four years living in Kansas this was the first snake I've ever seen.  We backed up and leaned out the window to try and catch a glimpse of a rattler. All I managed to get a picture of was the tail, no rattle. After I described it to my friend she said it was probably a bull snake.

Here's a shot of the wheat field we drove through.
Not pretty. We've been in a drought the whole time we've lived here. A drought worse than the Dirty Thirties. When we first moved to Kansas I wrote a lot about the drought but after living in it for almost four years it's too depressing to write about all the time.

Heck...driving by fields like this everyday is depressing.

On a less depressing note the kids and I use this little trail to practice their driving skills. They are getting better. Yahoo wanted to drive too so she sat on my lap for a few bit and steered.....she's crazy!! If it were up to her we would definitely have ended up in a wheat field!

Sorry, no photos of the shooting...gotta focus!

Close up of the wheat.
I'm not sure if I'd recognize pretty wheat if I saw's been such a long time since I've laid eyes on healthy wheat.
Summer is starting off slow but it's quickly building up momentum as I've started adding more and more events to my calendar. T-ball, Baseball, Camp, 4H, swimming, Bible School. If only we could get some rain, that's the only thing that would make this summer better!!

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