Let’s Get Out Of Dodge…or…Toto, We’re Not In Kansas Anymore

For those of you old enough to remember the Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons along with Boris, Natasha, fair maiden Nell and Dudley Doright of the Mounties…that title should bring back some old memories.

Saturday morning…we went a little slower than normal…we only had 125 miles to go to our next stop in Dodge City KS and we didn’t want to get there too early. We were still on the road by about 0930 and our route for the day was straight west on US-50. We only stopped twice…once at the sign for the middle of the United States and once at a truck stop for a snack and short walking around break.

The center of the US…well according to the folks in Kinsley KS…it’s Kinsley KS. While I can’t begrudge the city the desire to have something worth seeing in their tiny little town…whether it’s the center of the US or not is clearly debatable.

I took a look at it on Google Maps…and from Kinsley to San Francisco is either 1,596, 1,584, or 1,645 miles by road depending on which road you pick. From Kinsley to New York City is 1,489, 1,513, or 1,527…again depending on how you go. 

As the crow files…New York is 1,347 miles and San Francisco is 1,268 miles…at least according to Google Maps and depending on exactly where you click on when finding the distance…I used the marked circle for SF and NYC for those numbers.

Then there’s the whole argument about the center of the US. As noted in an earlier post…the geographic center of the lower 48 is up near Lebanon KS but the exact point depends on how you calculate the geographic center. Although the methodology for doing that is precise…it’s based on coastlines and what the coastline is depends on what data source your map is based on, how precise it is as to the exact profile of the coastline…and even dependent on how you define the coastline. Is it the mean low or high tide mark…the lowest low tide or highest high tide mark, or whatever. However…all of that pretty much smoothes itself out over the large size of what you’re trying to find the center of.

Anyways…I guess ya could carefully choose your end points and straight line vs a road route…but the sign in Kinsley says it’s 1,561 miles to both NYC and SF…for a total of 3,122 miles NYC to SF. Straight line distance on Google is 2,557 and road miles between the two is between 2,902 and 3,075 depending on distance…kinda hard to make that match up to the 3,122 from adding the numbers on the sign. Unfortunately…the sign doesn’t give any worthwhile details regarding how they came up with those numbers…not to mention why SF and NYC to measure between. Just between you and me…ifn I wuz to be doing it…I would draw a straight line ‘cross the middle…say between about the OR/CA border at the Pacific and extending to the Atlantic along NC some place…which would be 2,611 crow files miles or 3,159 to 3,233 driving miles…but that’s just me.

But again…I digress and as regular readers will recognize…I’m more than willing to head down whatever literary, historical, or useless little knowledge rat hole comes to mind as I sit down to write ya these missives.

No matter though…the sign is the sign…and since it says it’s the middle of the US of A…Ima not going to disagree with ‘em…I’ll just post the photo here for ya and ya can make up your own mind regarding the numbers and validity of the claims thereon. According to roadsideamerica.com it’s the midpoint of US-50…but since 50 is 3,017 according to Wikipedia and it’s 3,073 according to the green highway mileage sign…that doesn’t really work either. However…the variation in 50’s length from 3,017 to 3.073 is due to the fact that 50 used to extend all the way to the Pacific at San Francisco…that discrepancy can be explained but neither of those adds up to the 3,122 based on the sign.

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Continuing on down the road towards our destination…this is what Kansas looks like…as you can see there’s lots of bugs to smash themselves to death on your windshield and it’s really flat. Luckily…once we got to Dodge City…Neil broke out his Awesome cleaner. Awesome is this natural based product that you dilute and use to clean stuff with. It will take off bugs, road tar, and just about anything else you might need cleaned up…in other words…it’s awesome…hence the name.

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We arrived about 1230 at Gunsmoke RV Park on the west side of Dodge City and quickly got checked in, pulled into site 92, and setup for the next couple of days. After an afternoon nap…we headed out to Mass at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe…it’s a relatively new building that was dedicated in 2001…it was actually a pretty nice church. The local bishop was celebrating Mass…the only other interesting item was the lady we saw there that had brought her pet…er, emotional support animal she called it I guess because it had one of those Service Animal vests you can buy from Amazon for $19.95 on it. It was this little rat dog…on a leash but poorly behaved as it wrapped its leash around a couple of folks legs on the way up to Communion…so clearly it was not a trained service animal. Both Connie and Neil really hate people that buy those vests so as to have an excuse to take their pet where it shouldn’t be or on National Park Service hikes that prohibit pets. They can’t possibly leave their precious little rat dogs behind…so they abuse the law and make it more difficult for folks that have a real need for a service animal like a seeing eye dog or an epileptic seizure detecting dog to take something they need along with them. Here’s a shot from the parking lot of the incoming thunderstorms as we left Mass afterwards. Those are the storms that were responsible for the overnight winds discussed in the next paragraph.

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We headed out to dinner at the Central Station Bar and Grill…same place we ate last time we were here in 2014. Having looked back at our blog entry from then…Neil noted that he had a steak, Connie had tacos…and Neil shoulda had the tacos. So with that in mind both of them ordered Albert’s Tacos…toasted corn tortillas filled with ribeye, sautéed onions, and cilantro…and sliced avocado for Connie of course. Along with the tacos…and the inevitable chips and salsa we sampled beforehand…we had a couple of Margaritas. The tacos were outstanding…the cocktails were…well, they sucked…which was surprising for a Mexican place. Margaritas are supposed to contain tequila, triple sec, and lime juice…Sprite is never supposed to be an ingredient and you’re actually suppose to put booze in them. They were weak and tasted strange.

We got back to the rig and watched TV until bedtime…keeping an eye on the developing storms around us. We missed the thunderstorms (mostly) and hail…but it got pretty windy…25 knots and gusts to probably 35…and stayed that way until the wee hours of the morning. We were rocking and rolling in our 23,500 pound rig…I can only imagine what the 6,000 to 8,000 pound travel trailers around us were going through.

Sunday morning…we got up a bit later than normal, had some eggs for breakfast, then wandered over to the laundry room to get 3 loads done. We spent a pleasant 75 minutes or so talking to a newbie RVer lady who lives with her husband in Alaska during the summer and will be RVing down in the lower 48 in winter…they are on their first RV trip from Knoxville TN up to Seattle where they’ll store the rig for the summer. Sunday turned out to be a beautiful day after the overnight wind and occasional showers.

After laundry…we had some lunch and then headed off to our first Fun Stuff© destination in Dodge City…the remnants of the Santa Fe Trail route where thousands of wagons crossed the prairie along the banks of the Arkansas River to get to the west of town about 8 miles.

Everybody’s heard of the Oregon Trail that was used by settlers…but there was also the Santa Fe Trail which was also used by settlers as well as commercial freight operators to get to the newly opened western US. The Santa Fe Trail essentially operated from about 1821 to 1880. Like the Oregon Trail…it wasn’t a road as such…just a general route over which the covered wagons traveled…contrary to popular belief they didn’t proceed in a convoy nose to tail but spread out a little to lessen the dust they had to breathe…while remaining close enough together to quickly form a circle when necessary to defend against robbers or Indian attack. What’s left of the trail has been long overgrown by prairie plant life…but in some places you can still faintly see the remains of their passage…usually shown by slight gullies that when viewed from a distance are more obviously a path where something passed. 

Here are some shots from the site.

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Shot of the trail remains…it’s the grayish line almost horizontal across this shot but rising slightly as it goes left to right. The slight trail was easier to see by eye than it is in the photo…you don’t have the depth that helps delineate it better in the photo.

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Connie got some flower shots…of course.

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Another shot of the trail…it’s running vertically in the center o this shot as the wagons came up the slope.

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Neil spotted a Kildeer.

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After that we headed back for town…and Neil pulled over to get some photos of this fine truck for sale. As you can see…it’s got no windshield or windows…and when he looked in the window it’s got no seats, steering wheel or dash either.

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And no paint that isn’t rusted away.

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And oh yeah…the bed is in really fine shape as well.

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Zooming in on the For Sale sign…you can see that Jim has it for sale, it’s a 1948 Ford pickup, he wants $1500 for it, and ifn you’re interested his phone number is right there for ya.

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Right at the city limits of Dodge City coming in from the west there’s this cool sculpture to welcome you to town.

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Back at home…we did a few chores on our list Sunday afternoon before dinner and watching TV until bedtime.

By about 0200 Monday morning…another line of storms came through and although there were a few thunderstorms it was mostly just rain and cold…only in the mid 50s for the high temperature today. Nevertheless…after breakfast we headed out for our remaining Fun Stuff© item here in Dodge City…the Boot Hill Museum. It pretty much rained all day though…quite a wet day for Fun Stuff©.

This is a museum dedicated to the original Boot Hill cemetery in town as well as a bunch of famous folks who happened through here…Wyatt Erp, Bat Masterson among them. The museum includes a recreation of the Long Branch Saloon owned by Miss Kitty, Marshal Dillon’s office, and various other locations from the long running series Gunsmoke. Although not filmed here…Matt was based in Dodge City and many of the business names and designs were copied from the original locations along the original Front Street in Dodge City.

Some beautiful Indian clothing on display.

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And a shot of the cemetery…which was only in use for 7 years. I guess they filled it up and had to open another one someplace else.

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This sign talks about the known burials in the cemetery as recorded in newspapers around the state…seems a lot of folk got shot in bar brawls or fights over cards and similar circumstances. Nobody ever died of natural causes I guess.

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After finishing our museum tour…Connie stopped in the gift shop for a few items then we headed home via the Golden Arches drive through for a quick lunch and Walmart for some grub. Our original plan was to head out for a steak dinner…but Connie was feeling poorly…she’s getting over her cold but isn’t quite there yet and we travel again tomorrow…so we’ll just stay in and have something here instead. No reason to go back out in the rain.

Tomorrow…another 210 miles westward to La Junta CO…hopefully the rain will have stopped by the morning so we won’t have to hitch in the rain…that’s no fun at all.

Interesting stuff found on the net this week.

Neil and Connie fit perfectly into this demographic.


The power of marketing.



Singles ad.


And a riddle for you…what does this one mean?


Why…the Czech is in the mail…of course.


About Gunther

The full time RV travels and experiences of Gunther the Bear and Kara the Dog…along with their human staff neil and Connie.
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