As I roam the country, I’m always encountering both the expected and the unexpected.
TL;DR – there are surprises everywhere you turn.
Big Red. Sure you expect everything to revolve around Cornhusker football. I watched a local 4pm newscast on a Tuesday and they managed to work “big red” into every story – traffic accident (won’t impact Saturday’s big game), robbery, back to school backpack drive, art fair, utility rate hike, and on and on.
The Old Market. But I was surprised to find The Old Market District, a hip downtown area of restored and preserved buildings from the late 1800s and early 1900s. Many of the buildings have been converted into chic lofts with restaurants, bars and retail on the ground level. Hipsters, cowboys and tourists mingle in the easily walkable downtown.
Boot Hill. Dodge City fully embraces its old west heritage. The Boot Hill Museum preserves a street that looks like it came right out of Gunsmoke. Throughout the city center preserved or period appropriate designs dominate.
Unexpected Service. While I was in Dodge City I placed an Amazon order. Amazon screwed up the shipping label (removed all spaces and line separators, WTF?) and UPS couldn’t deliver the package. After a few calls I was told I could pick up the package at the UPS depot. It was only about 12 miles away so I rode over there. The agent saw the size of the box (typical Amazon, the 3 ft x 18 in x 24 in was holding 90% air), and my bike, and offered to follow me back to camp in her personal vehicle and deliver the box. Now I was prepared to unpack the box and discard all the packing on site, riding home with just my purchases, but I accepted her gracious offer. Who does that? Extraordinary.
Tornados and Oil. Sure you expect three tornado warnings in ten days and to see oil wells everywhere.
The National Memorial. Of course if you’re in Oklahoma City you go to the National Memorial honoring the victims of the April 19, 1995 bombing of the Murrah Federal Building. I wasn’t prepared, however, for just how big an emotional impact it would have. The site stuns with its beauty and tragedy. The museum walks you through the timeline from before the bombing to the execution of Timothy McVeigh. Near the beginning of the tour you sit in a recreation of a hearing room that was across the street from the Murrah building, where a water resources board was conducting a routine hearing. You listen to the actual audio tape of the hearing that started at 9am and ended with the sound of the blast.
Sleepy Town. Naturally, a small town of 4000 has very little going on.
Crazy big City Park. This little town has a beautiful, well maintained city park cover half a square mile. There’s a nine hole golf course, basketball, tennis, volleyball, a pool, rodeo grounds with seating for the entire population and even RV parking.
Route 66. Like every town along Rt 66, you have kitschy souvenir shops, themed diners, and murals of the glory days.
World Class Dinosaur Museum. Mesalands Community College has a well regarded paleontology program and operates a world class museum where you see the fossils they’ve recovered and see the scientists working on fossils.