I love Kansas. It is my home. It is where I grew up. It is where I chose to live once I graduated college. My father and I manage a small engineering firm out of Salina that does municipal electrical maintenance all over the state. Throughout my years of service to these municipals I have traveled all over this great state. Yet I am still finding new things about the small towns that make up most of the state that make me smile. I have always thought that people who call us a fly-over state are crazy. There is no such thing. Everywhere in the world has something worth seeing, it might be a whole day of fun, or just a moment that you keep with you forever. After having one of those moments earlier this week, I decided that I was going to dedicate some of my posts here to sharing some of the great things about these small town, that most people just drive by or fly over, with you.
So yesterday, I was helping a Cummins technician troubleshoot a communications issue between a 3 Mega Watt Generator and the cities control equipment in Augusta, Kansas. We had narrowed it down to one part by noon, and he was going to run back to their supplier in Wichita to get a new one. This left me with a little over a hour to grab some lunch while he was gone. I don't really like eating in sit down restaurants alone, so I figured I would just grab something quick and drive around town a little. Now the city of Augusta has been one of our loyal customers for years, so this was by no means my first time here, and I had explored the town many times before. But I had not even managed to grab lunch before something new caught my eye. A giant mass of orange and black in the middle of downtown that I had never seen before. So I looped around the block to take a closer look and I did not believe my eyes at first. What I was looking at was a city park, but it was not like any one I had ever seen before. It looked like the play area out of most kids' dreams with huge sky walks, lots of slides, and a rail mounted gliding chair. I was honestly sad that Gabriella wasn't with me so I had an excuse to go climb around on the thing. I will definitely be taking the kids on a short detour to go play there the next time we are in the Wichita area. This was not something I would have expected to find in a town of less than 10,000 people but small towns never cease to surprise me.
Once I was done being awestruck by this cool improvement to the cities landscape; I still needed to eat and its hard to beat a Wendy's Four for $4 when you're both a cheapskate and hungry. While in the drive through, I was left staring at the Twisted Oz Motorcycle Museum, which I had never taken the time to stop by in all my trips through town. I am not a huge motor-head and I sold my Kawasaki Vulcan when Gabs was born at my wife's request, but I still appreciate a nice bike, and there were some beautiful ones parked out front of the place. I figured I could at least go look at a few of them and needed a place to eat my jr. bacon cheeseburger anyway. Before I even finished looking the first bike over, the front door popped open and a friendly little old man welcomed me to come inside. A little surprised that they were open with the state of the world, but remembering I had some time to kill, I took him up on the offer. Now what was awaiting me through that door was far more than I was excepting based on look of the outside of the building. There were motorcycles from almost every year from 1960 all the way back to 1905. I didn't even know they made motorcycles way back then. Every bike had a little sign with the make, model, and year, as well a few fun facts about that particular model. Did you know that most of the original motorcycles also had pedals so the bike could be used without burning gasoline, as it was much hard to get a hold of back then? Have you ever seen a belt driven bike instead of a chain driven one? Cause I had not. Did you know that old style dinners used to be mass produced and ordered out of catalogs? You sent a check and the model number you wanted and they would ship you the whole building complete with tables, chairs, and utensils. They also had some other cool pieces of history like a popcorn vending machine, an old pinball machine, and a gas powered Pogo stick. I would go buy one of those today if they still made them and I can't imagine why they ever stopped. The coolest part of the whole place though had to be the owner: The little old man who welcomed me inside. I didn't catch his name unfortunately. He opened that museum after he retired, in order to share his passion about this incredibly influential part of American history with other people. As we walked through that little building, he told me facts that weren't on the cards and showed me the progression of the mechanics on the bikes from year to year that only someone who had spent their life amassing that knowledge would know. It was a great way to spend the extra time over my lunch. I was honestly upset when Zack(the technician) called and said he was almost back to the site. I had only made it halfway through the museum and will be going back to see the rest next time I am in Augusta.
I am sure there are other things in that little town that I don't know about (yet) and every other little town across Kansas. As I find them, I will tell you about them here. Because there is no such thing as a fly over state or a drive by town. At least not to me.
I hope this message finds you in good health and of a sound mind. I am just another confused father from Kansas wondering...
HOW DID I GET HERE?