Category Archives: Road Travel Trips

What I Saw in Wichita

Wichita Locomotive

The Road, Again…For Now

When I found out I had to go, I was depressed.

Winter is not my favorite time of year, and the thought of battling to get to the airport, get on a flight (that’s probably weather delayed) and going to a small city that’s a dot on the map in southeastern Kansas, well, it set me off.  But I had no choice. It was for work.

What’s my work?

Even when I tell people they are confused, but I’ll give it a try: my work is to work with, sell and sometimes market tours to travel agents.

Travel agents? They still exist?  Yes, I get that too, usually after the blank stare and the decision by the person I’m speaking with not to press me any further on my job, because…because…. they just don’t really care what it is I do.

So, Southwest is my carrier of choice out of Midway Airport, Chicago.  The last couple of years the airline with the heart for a logo has stuffed more seats into their 737’s, making if an uncomfortable ride for anybody over five-foot one,  and the Southwest flights have been full to the point of overbooking, even to places nobody wants to go; but Southwest is the best of the worst, and most of the time their cabin crew actually pretends to like you.  A typical flight has me stuffed in a seat next to a wheezing business guy, who is appetite-enhanced and bleeding over the railings (so to speak) into my seat.

But surprise!  Really, I mean surprise: the flight is only two-thirds full, if that.  Oh, happy day.  I seated myself on the aisle and had the entire seat row to myself.  So what the pitch of the seats (how jammed together they are) was probably 29 inches, and my knees were brushing my chin: the sky god was smiling upon me.

And we arrived early.

Wichita had temperatures in the 50’s during the day.  Not bad.  In Chicago, it was in the 30’s and gray and cold and snow was on the ground.

What I saw

I’d been to Wichita — the one in Kansas, in case that was in question– before, but only on quick runs down from Kansas City, Missouri.  Now I had some time here. I had travel agents to see, and, as I try to do, soak in a little of the culture, if there is any. Or that I would know what culture is.

Wichita looks bigger than it is.  It has about 387,000 residents, and is the 49th largest city in the US.  I just really didn’t know that.  It has every major chain of hotel, restaurant, auto repair and big box store that there is.  But there is still a smallness about Wichita that is appealing.

Wichita bills itself as the “air capital” of the world, or at least the US.  Wichita brags about it being a trading center for thousands of years, obviously longer than most of the travel agents I would see have been around.  It was part of the “Wild West” — yes, Wichita. It became a cattle center, and  then, as if people wanted to get out of there: it became a center for the manufacture of small aircraft, like Beechcraft.

The downtown is small and compact and has some bustle to it, and the older center of downtown, is preserved in the Old Town Area.  After I was finished for the day, I walked it from one end to the other, and took the picture of the old steam locomotive.  The Old Town area has trendy shops and pubs and restaurants.

What I did in Wichita

My real reason for going to Wichita was to get people out of it, but only temporarily.  I was working with travel agent Bonni  who booked a group with my tour company, for a trip to Turkey.  I was to talk to the group, in the church basement, on a Wednesday evening.  I have spent a lot of time in churches, but not to pray. Usually it is to sell.  I talk to people who are going to Israel, Turkey, Egypt, Jordan, and more.

Every Wednesday the P Church of Wichita has a dinner.  People come, families come, and they eat.  And they drink, drink wine and beer.  In most churches this is not the procedure.  I met some of the people committed to going on the trip and some who were thinking about it.  I also met Paster O.  All were friendly, and the Mexican Buffett (catered) was really good.

I did my best to answer questions, and not one person questioned me about the safety of going to Turkey.  Not one! I did mention it by way of saying that we and travel agent Bonni love repeat customers and we would never put anybody in harm’s way.  For danger, I suggested coming to the south-side of Chicago, where I live and many people die.

The Way Home

When I got to the airport to get Southwest to get home, I found out my flight was delayed.  But somehow, it arrived at the gate on time. Once again, I got an entire seat row to myself.  And tomato juice, a double. It was a choppy flight, and for some unknown reason we circled Midway Airport back in Chicago at least once. It was a slow circle and I could see from my seat over the wing that they seemed to be spraying out more fuel than necessary.  There was mechanical groaning and moaning,and I began to think that maybe there was landing gear trouble and they were dumping excess fuel over Lake Michigan.  But no.  We came in for our approach; the plane dropped like a rock onto the runway, and the brakes and thrust were applied hard, and we got to the gate — early.


The house was dark and it was cold inside when I finally got home about 9:30pm.  I hate coming home sometimes, because the house is empty; not even a friggin’ goldfish.  Part of the reason is because I live a lot of my life on the road.  Have for the last 30 years.  It’s not glamour; it’s not torture (most of the time); it just is –to get the job done.



Sleeping with “Stubby” –The short, short, short, short trailer

In Odell, Illinois, along the old Rt.66, I stopped for a few moments and took a picture of what a Standard Oil gas station looked like had I  been pulling up in my “Model A” in 1932 or so,  and took a look at a camping trailer parked next to the old station.  The trailer is vintage 1953.  Just think of mom and dad and the five kids stuffed inside enjoying…enjoying — Yes, dammit, enjoying.  And then getting a good night’s sleep stacked like human sardines.  Good times on the family va-ca.                Photo and text Copyright 2014.  All Rights Reserved

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Help! I’ll be the roundabout — and roundabout and roundabout and roundabout again

Call it the second British invasion of the US, after the Beatles and Stones.  Or third, if you count the original one several hundred years ago by redcoats.  I’ll blame the Brits on this, even though these circles of death exist everywhere in the world. I’ll blame the Brits because I can.  And beause one sits on my dashboard. 

I’m talking roundabouts, those circular merry-go-rounds for automobiles and trucks that are popping up all over cites and even in rural areas.  Their stated goal for being engineered on perfectly straight roads is that they keep traffic flowing.  Huh?

Wisconsin Roundabout Circle of Death
Wisconsin Roundabout Circle of Death

My trip took me from Appleton, Wisconsin to Sheyboygan, Wisconsin. a distance of about sixty miles.  Both cities are north of Milwuakee, by just a about half- a -piece of stringcheese on a paper map. 

This being the 21st Century, I was using my GPS, and she — she with a British accent, so-named “Layla”– took me on a roundabout tour  or rural Wisconsin due to US 10 being closed for…for…something — the orange “detour” signs never tell you the why of a road closure. 

So, one roundabout.  Then another.  Then still another and another and another.  And me having to circle around them, with no traffic present, unless you consider the dairly cows on the hilly pastures walking to an fro, chewing cud.. 

I can amost understand roundabouts in cities.  Almost.  Okay, not really.  I hate them.  You yield to vehicles circling around from the left, and then you enter the mini race track and try your luck at getting out on right street.  Often, cars and, worse, big trucks,  will be in the race track and have their signals on to turn right.  You never know if it’s at your current street or the one before or the one after or maybe their turn signal is stuck on.  Who knows? You still have to sit there and wait to see the outcome, so how this speeds traffic along vs a regular, all-American, ninety-degree intersection I am not sure, especially when the only other traffic is a confused cow. 

I finally made it to Sheyboygan, after roundabouting my way there. Talk about going in circles. 

Each roundabout should have a accident or death count pole in its center, so the motorist going round and round and round on these things would know that one wrong entry or lane swing can mean serious consequences. 

In Sheyboygan one visit told me that she had lost her mother in a roundabout.  No, not that way. Her poor mother in her eighties just couldn’t get to a street to exit.  She spent days going in circles.