June 14: To Barrayar, perhaps, someday?

Oh, the irony, it bleeds.  The sign, in case you can't read it, says, Experience the Flint Hills.  That said, the countryside did become a bit more rolling from that point eastward.
Oh, the irony, it bleeds. The sign, in case you can’t read it, says, Experience the Flint Hills. That said, the countryside did become a bit more rolling from that point eastward.

So. I went to the Cosmosphere in Hutchinson, Kansas, today, and I take back every skeptical comment I made yesterday. I spent three hours going through it, with my jaw hanging open for most of it.

It wasn’t just the artifacts, although there were hundreds of them on display, from German V1 and V2 rockets from WWII to Gemini and Apollo capsules. It wasn’t just that, from a curatorial standpoint, they did a magnificent job (it didn’t even occur to me till hours afterwards that the entire museum is underground, for the obvious reason that well, this is Kansas and they do have tornadoes – just one detail among many). It was the storytelling, starting with the Nazis and their rockets during WWII and ending with the last Apollo mission. And telling the Russian side of the story in more detail than I had a clue about, too. I learned more history today than I ever expected to. I was riveted.

A V-1 rocket.  They had a V-2 just across from it, apparently one of only two or three matched sets still around.
A V-1 rocket. They had a V-2 just across from it, apparently one of only two or three matched sets still around.
A Sputnik prototype.
A Sputnik prototype.
A Gemini capsule.
A Gemini capsule.

If you’re ever within a hundred miles of Hutchinson, Kansas, go see this museum. Even if you could care less about space exploration. It’s absolutely amazing. And, yeah, it was Smithsonian caliber. Without a doubt.

After I finally dragged myself away from the Cosmosphere, I went and got lunch, then made the last of the phone calls to the utilities for my old condo, to pay the final bills, and to convince Comcast that, yes, I did actually return my converter box and remote back on the day I left town two and a half weeks ago, so they darned well better not send me to a collection agency as they’d been threatening. Fortunately, I kept the receipt with the returned equipment code, and it was in the glove compartment. I hate Comcast with the passion of a thousand burning suns.

Then I headed north by northeast for about a hundred miles to the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve, where it was way too hot to go hiking, so I asked the guy in the visitor center about campgrounds (after three nights in motels, which was two nights too many, I wanted a campground in the worst way). He told me about a state fishing lake, and so here I am.

It’s hot, yes, but the site’s shaded, and now that the sun’s going down things are starting to cool off. The sunset was gorgeous, and the bullfrogs and birds are lovely background music.

Sunset at Chase Lake campground.
Sunset at Chase Lake campground.
Wow, it's almost below 85dF at the campsite now!
Wow, it’s almost below 85dF at the campsite now!

Tomorrow morning I am going to get up early and take a walk through Tallgrass Prairie before the temperature hits the 100 it’s supposed to get to tomorrow. Then I’m driving on to Topeka and spending the afternoon in the hopefully air-conditioned Kansas History Museum.

Onward.