Saturday, October 13, 2007

Day 41 -- The road to Liberal

The on ramp to US 54 was just a quick turn from my Wichita motel, and US54 will take me all the way to Alamogordo. Today it got me as far as Liberal, Kansas.

Part of the route has been four-lane divided highway (70MPH) and much of it is two-lane undivided (65MPH). Of course, going through populated areas, the limit goes down -- way down. Few rest areas along the way, and some of the towns are minuscule, so you have to select your stops carefully. I zipped past one town figuring I'd stop for a snack and a bio break in the next town, Greensburg. Oops. As I arrived I spotted a Dillon's (supermarket) that was nothing but a shell. I looked around and saw piles of rubble. The few trees I saw were very stubby and strange looking. Then it dawned on me: The town had been hit by a tornado. The hospital was a row of quonset hut-shaped tents -- like a M.A.S.H. unit. There were quite a few trailers. Apparently, the town was wiped out just last May. I was tempted to stop and take pictures, but I don't like treating some else's misfortune as a tourism opportunity.

I pushed myself to get to Liberal, the last town before the state line, because it seemed to have the most motel options -- and it's the home of Dorothy and the Yellow Brick Road. The Land of Oz Exhibit is right across the street from my motel. I understand that some of the original Munchkins were visiting today. Someone told me they may still be around tomorrow. Since I made it so far today, I figure I can spare a little time to visit tomorrow. And maybe have a pancake breakfast, too.

[Weather on the road was clear and warm. Needed air conditioning in the car. Just as I got to Liberal, high clouds started to fill the sky. It's night now. As I went to check on my laundry, flashes of lightening lit up the sky.]

Oh. About the end of the conference: The featured speaker was Penny Patterson, who works with Koko (the signing gorilla). She spoke, of course, about ape language skills using examples from Koko. One of the last slides of her presentation included a black&white photo of a tiny chimp pointing. (Many people say apes can't point referentially.) She said, "This is a little chimp named Charlie ... from the Portland Zoo." Later I told Penny I was a "friend of Charlie" and asked whether I could get a copy of that slide. She said she could send me a whole pamphlet. She said she has been working with a woman who worked with him in the early days. I wonder if that is the person who is supposed to come and address the A.P.E. meeting at the Oregon Zoo.

And one more Oregon Zoo connection. I mentioned already that our orangutan Kutai was born in Wichita and his father was born in Oregon. I got photos of his mom, Blonda, and half brother, Panji, who are still at the Sedgwick County Zoo. Someone else at the conference kept referring to Panji as the half brother of Robby at Rolling Hills in Salina, KS. (I've met Robby twice during past visits to Kansas.) We finally got it figured out, Robby and Kutai are full brothers. We're going to exchange pictures.

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