What a very interesting day. I left Oklahoma City at a decent hour but late enough to miss most of the city traffic. Once I got on the road to Kansas, I couldn't help but be impressed by all of the neat and beautiful ranches and farms that lined the road. Magnolias, redbud, apple, plum,- all manor of flowering trees are in bloom . It's as if someone came and splashed cherry, pink, purple,and white paint around.
I arrived in Hutchinson, Kansas in time to take the 1pm tour of the Kansas Underground Salt Mine. After a safety video, I put on my hard hat, slung a safety pack over my shoulder, and headed for the elevator that would take me down 650 feet to the mine. I stepped out onto a "saltcrete" floor and walked down a large corridor to the tram. The tram tour of the salt caverns was so interesting that I couldn't believe that it lasted almost 40 minutes. This part of the mine is strictly for visitors. The active mine is 1/2 mile down the road. This salt mine , by the way, is strictly rock salt. Table salt is mined elsewhere and the process used is entirely different.
There are gallery exhibits with fantastic videos explaining the modern day mining process - a far cry from the 50's or even the 80's. What surprised me the most was the vault and storage section - a secured 3 million sq.ft.area. It was established in 1959 during the Cold War when the country had heightened nuclear concerns. Now it mostly holds movie reels from Hollywood but there are some historic documents, business records, photographs, engineering drawings etc.
The gift shop sells videos about the salt mining process, Mike Rowe's Dirty Jobs episode AND salt water taffy.
I had just enough time left to go to the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center - a surprisingly fabulous space museum. It houses the Apollo 13 space capsule, the Liberty Bell , the real Sputnik II ( in case Sputnik I wasn't successful), rockets etc. It's not the hardware so much that's impressive it's the manner in which it is presented. A teacher would have such an easy time linking the events that led to putting a man on the moon. Very talented people put this exhibit together. Before leaving I watched a 45 minute Imax film called Hubble . Fabulous!
As you can see I had a really fun day.