A Day in The Midwest

We began the day’s adventures at the Weston Bend State Park, looking down over the very muddy Missouri River.

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Lewis and Clark traveled this route, although they probably did not hike up to our vantage point.
Half the stores in town were closed, but the half that were open were plenty. We met Don Browning of The Weston Art House, where a reproduction of a 1937 painting by Georges Rochegroose promoting Don Quixote tickled us with its synchronicity (I had just told the story of being Kidnapped by Kiwis over breakfast that morning). I was also seriously attracted to the reproduction of Johannes Vermeer‘s The Astronomer. On the drive I had been contemplating the kind of art I’d like to have in my own home (somefineday). I’ve always been drawn to geometric shapes, certain types of machinery and scientific equipment, especially measuring tools, as well as ancient time-telling devices and images. Some images from The Scientists (which I’ve gotten back to reading) were in mind, and I was imagining some merger of those interests. The globe in this painting is extraordinary. 🙂
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We ate monster sandwiches and snarfed root beer floats (with homemade root beer!) in the Main Street Galleria, where I noticed this metal box:
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If I had that home already…! Meanwhile Shirley (of “wild and wooley” TR3 and 66 Mustang fame, pictured with dad and Rich in front of someone else’s TR4) stole dad’s pickle, “I still have my gallbladder!” In retrospect, that comment set us up for Fort Leavenworth. Yep. No trip near Kansas could possibly be complete without a visit to the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks and United States Penitentiary. The army required us to turn over our driver’s licenses, which were recorded, and searched the car (all doors open, trunk open, hood lifted) before allowing us to enter. No pictures were allowed at the entrance gate although I was told we could take pictures of anything once we were inside.
We cruised in past the sign announcing Force Base Condition: Alpha. Rich asks, “Does that mean that they know we’re here?” (Answer? No, not yet.) I was curious about the Buffalo Soldier Monument but we were on a mission to find an old military cemetery. We only drifted down a few officer’s driveways before finding the correct backroad.
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Markers for the executed German POWS are along the back fence. Some stones lack birth others display only the name. The cemetery was lined with majestic Dutch Pine, and Shirley collected some pinecones that “look like dog business.”
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We looped past the Federal Penitentiary on our way out of town. The fame of decades of movies involving the prison itself, or references about “being sent to Leavenworth,” give the imposing structure an ominous aura.
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I snapped pictures on our approach, and Rich commented that they used to let you drive up to the front but not anymore. As we approached the arched driveway in the bright late afternoon sun however, we saw cars parked along the gorgeous (weedless!) lawn. Dad pulled in and Rich and I got out to walk to the front for a closer shot of the entrance.
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We’d covered 100 yards or so, chatting about a good angle for the picture when a screaming alarm went off. A few seconds later a white pickup truck hove into view around a monument, popped the curb, and started driving directly at us!
I was wondering what the heck was going on that the driver had to save the three additional seconds it would have taken to follow the road around the corner. I mean, the birds were chirping, no one else was around, it truly appeared as if nothing was happening, Then he lurched to a halt about ten feet in front of us, leapt out and started yelling that we were on government property and he was supposed to confiscate my camera. Holy Moly.
Rich (good boy that he is) immediately apologized but I (can you imagine?) started to argue, “The guy at the gate said I could take pictures of anything . . . ” ”What guy at the gate?!” The guard was near apoplectic. I let it go. Rich explained (to me) that we were no longer on the military base (when did we leave? I am still confused about this.) The guard chilled. I cannot imagine that we appeared actually threatening in any possible way. Shorts, casual pace, camera in full view, smiling. Yeah. Siblings On A Jailbreak. That would be me and my little brother.
Too bad I wasn’t quick enough to snap a pic or two as he charged us on the green. 🙂

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