Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Ottawa Kansas

Thirteen hours into a 12 hours day, 9am rolled by as the parking lot came into view. Walmart night shift management works 4 on, 4 off, 12 hour shifts. I was in the middle of a 4 day stretch. I was finally done for the night. Today I had to make a little trip about 20 odd miles south to a little town called Ottawa, Kansas to take a 2 hour Food Safety Management exam at a company distribution center. It started at 1pm, I had to be back at my store at 8pm to start my next shift.

I couldn’t have invented a more disruptive schedule had I tried. I more or less grew up around Ottawa so I’m familiar with it. The plan was to find a city park I used to frequent as a toddler and try and catch some winks before I needed to drive the last few miles to the testing site. Didn’t quite happen.

As I’m making my way south I find myself in unfamiliar surroundings. The road I knew is no longer in use and the new one sends me veering off to the east. To my surprise, it dumps me out at I-35 on the north east corner of town. The first exit, less than a mile into I-35 puts me 1/2 a mile from the distribution center and right in front of a large parking lot filled with RV’s.

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Turns out to be Crist’s Auto and RV. Years ago, when I was a kid, this was Underwood's John Deere, one of, and might have been the largest John Deere dealer in eastern Kansas.

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I had a fleeting thought as I rounded the corner, I took a quick right and pulled in, heading for the sales floor. I thought to myself, this would be perfect, I am 1/2 mile from my test site, never hurts to ask. They were more than obliging, I could stay as long as I liked (although I only needed a few hours). So off to the back of the back of the back line behind the building I went.

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The view I had was great. There was a Killdeer upset with my presence, but he settled down after a while.

I fired up the generator, flipped on the air conditioning and got a good solid 4 hours sleep before I left. The guys were great for letting me catch a few winks.

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I arrived, somewhat refreshed, tired, but awake and ready to give it my best. I feel the test was a success, results are not in yet.

Afterwards I decided to take the old road back north and do some “Drive by Shootings” on the way. Folks from all over the country read this, so thought I’d take a few snaps of a typical small town Kansas and the surrounding areas. I shot mostly older homes, because that was what I drove by, those were what were build along the main roads 100 years ago.

First thing that caught my eye was this extra large bottle of Corona. How cool is that.

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This house is just one of a few nondescript 100 year old homes available for not much at all.

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This one had actually been restored and was in really nice shape.

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This is a typical grain elevator. Kansas grows a lot of grain, these tall white silo’s are a market for farmers to sell the grain at. The grains are stored in here until it is sold to buyers and shipped out by trucks and trains to mills around the country for processing. Most of them have been around since the 1950’s and before.

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Here’s another typical small home, I’m guessing WWII timeframe.

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This one might be a bit older.

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Heading out of town, I cross a bridge over an industrial area. Sure looks flat doesn’t it. But a beautiful Kansas day.

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There are rolling hills in Kansas, but you need a ladder to see them in this part of the country.

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After a while, the old road I was on ran out and I found myself on a little gravel one linking me to the new 4 lane.

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This old house caught my eye. I do a little relic hunting and coin shooting with my metal detector from time to time. An old place like this can yield neat finds. I may try and find the owner and get permission next fall when the grass is down before the snows fly.

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A little house on the prairie.

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I ended up following this half a house for 15 miles into Lawrence, KS. It would not be worth mentioning except for his poor driving. As we went through a construction zone, the driver hit cones with both sides of the house and I got to play dodge the cones behind him.

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I got back to Lawrence about 4pm, made my way out to my site at the lake and grabbed another 2 hours sleep before heading back to work.

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Was a long day, but the adventure part of seeing old places and taking some photos made it all worth while. Guess I’ll sleep when I’m dead.

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