We have hundreds of leads to follow up on our family trees in dozens of cities. Our kids are probably delighted that we will be staying out of trouble for a while! Zebras in Nickerson, KS
Flushed with our success in Ellsworth County, we pointed southeast to Hutchinson, through pasture and cropland. Combines stood waiting for the wheat to dry after the last rain. The sunflowers were beginning to bloom. We turned around for a second look when we saw elands, camels, zebras, ostriches --- not a zoo but an exotic animal farm, with a B&B attached.
We found a family gravesite to photograph in Hutchinson, and then drove east just a little to the town of Yoder, which bills itself as an Amish town. We did see one buggy tied up, and found a good Amish restaurant and bakery; but aside from that Yoder looked like any small Kansas farm town.
Wichita is a startling contrast to the rest of Kansas. It's an aerospace city, with Raytheon, Beech, Boeing, Bombardier and others. It almost made us feel as if we were back at work! With a population over 300,000, Wichita is full of modern shopping malls, golf courses, gated communities, etc. As we were leaving town, we noticed a headline story: The number of drive-by shootings, which was 340 in 1992, and had fallen to 54 in 1999, was creeping back up. Wichita River
The Wichita Art Museum (W.A.M.) is supposed to be the biggest in the state, with thousands of paintings and sculptures by famous American artists. We should have known we were in trouble when the sign outside the building said, "Watch W.A. M. grow." It was growing all right -- they were renovating the entire building and only three small galleries had been kept open. We found one work each by Remington, Hopper, O'Keefe and Homer, and a smattering of other works and that was it! The rest were in storage until some time in 2002 or 2003 when the building renovation is complete!
One last tidbit: we find that many older travelers can't seem to slow down; for example, a couple who had retired to Phoenix were pushing north for a visit to their children in Minneapolis. "It's 31 hours," the man said. "You can take days, or you can drive straight through." They were doing the trip in 3 days. We're glad we're in no hurry.