• Sage Webb

Gettin’ the Heck Out of Dodge and Ending Up in a Salt Mine

KOAs are great ... or at least the ones at which I’ve ended up are great! Clean, nice facilities, friendly people. And the KOA in Dodge City is walking distance to Boot Hill and downtown, and has lovely hot showers. I enjoyed my ablutions this morning. Scrubbed my hair.... Because this would be my last shower till Tuesday. I’d be dry camping the next three nights. (The terrestrial equivalent of anchoring out in a boat.) No hookups, which in The Pryde means “sponge baths.” But I’m okay with that. I think my outlaw name in the Old West would have been “Dirty” something because I don’t need a shower daily! 😜

Anyway, this morning’s shower felt good. I’d stayed up late for work stuff. In his Birding Without Borders: An Obsession, A Quest, and the Biggest Year in the World, about his year birding around the globe, Noah Strycker tries to show some of the fatigue that comes with keeping up with work while on the road. But that kind of thing never really comes across in books or on television. The adventure overshadows it all. Last night, though, the “adventure” decidedly did not overshadow my need to hit the laptop.

Then again, getting up to Boot Hill and getting a selfie with Doc Holliday was worth it. After the last few weeks of reading James Reasoner’s Draw: The Greatest Gunfights of the American West (a good intro to the Wild West, its gunfights, and its characters, but a bit repetitive), and Mary Doria Russell’s Doc (The Bosun and I are still working on it, but it’s good so far!), I marveled at the fact I’d made a trek from Texas to Dodge City similar to that made by so many of the Old West’s figures. This journey dovetailed perfectly with Tombstone and New Mexico from a couple weeks ago. The stories of the West came to life for me—in the trail here, and the artifacts, and the pleasant breeze, and the railroad tracks, and the sunset.

Heading out of Dodge just continued the connection, while widening the net of stories. I passed Fort Dodge. Then I stopped at a monument marking a place at which Coronado and his men had rested after crossing the Arkansas River in 1541. A historical marker alerted me to stop at the scene of a battle between US and Apache troops in 1848; an Apache woman seems to have served as a leader and directed aid to her tribe’s wounded.

Then just outside Hutchinson, Kansas, I found my Harvest Hosts stop for the night: Strataca, the Kansas Underground Salt Museum. If you find yourself in the area, go! This place offers tours some 650 feet below the earth’s surface, introducing visitors to a salt mine that has seen service since the 1920s. Graffiti, work marks, and trash my tour group saw showed dates from the 1940s and 1950s. We learned about mining logistics (very similar to what visitors to Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry hear about coal mining). Old mining equipment and short, snappy videos gave us a feel for mining over the decades. Tours by train and people-mover cars took us through tunnels, past roof cave-ins and floor ruptures, and beside scars of a fire.

In one area, we learned the mine offers commercial storage for materials that owners want to save from atmospheric elements that can cause deterioration. Hollywood and the government, apparently, favor underground storage for preservation purposes.

The whole thing provided a memorable afternoon. Then it was back to the trailer for a slice of chocolate cake I’d saved from a lunch stop ... and boat pictures from The Bosun that made me homesick.

4 views0 comments

Read Local, L.L.C., is a small (we hope to grow!) community of book lovers. We review books published by independent/university/small presses and post our reviews and thoughts in an effort to raise awareness of independent-press books. The Read Local, L.L.C., entity is owned by the parent company of Stoneman House Press, L.L.C., and that publisher's work appears on this website (we make money when Stoneman House sells books), but not everyone who writes content for us or participates in our community works for Stoneman House. Aside from Stoneman House, we also have relationships (personal and/or professional) with some of the authors whose books appear here. Some (like Sage Webb) write reviews for us and help lead us (and they make money when their books sell). We note when we have a relationship with a book, publisher, or author. Otherwise, we do not have relationships with the authors and publishers listed here. They appear here only because we liked their books and we like reviewing books. (We will be as transparent as possible when we post here about things in which we have a financial stake. Not just because of regulations like those in Part 255 of Title 16 of the Code of Federal Regulations, but because we really are here just to have some literary fun.) If you are an author or publisher of a book that appears here, feel free to reach out to us! We'd love to hear from you. We are at readlocalbooks@hotmail.com. And if you are an author or publisher and you would like us to remove your book from our site, just let us know. We are here to serve the literary community. If you have questions, reach out.

(We also love innovative art and photography. Just sayin'.)

© 2018, 2019 , 2020 Read Local, L.L.C.

(All content on this site belongs exclusively to Read Local, L.L.C. No one may copy any portion of this site or its content without express written permission.)

Read Local is a registered service mark with the USPTO.

Read Local, L.L.C., reserves all rights in and to its marks.