Thursday, August 8, 2013

Want a Perfect Day Late in the Summer?

With all the rain, time for a little indoor fun.

There are two amazing, fun, educational attractions in Hutchinson, Kansas, about an hour northwest of Wichita. They are Stratica, the Kansas Underground Salt Museum, and the Kansas Cosmosphere and Discovery Center.

Stratica, is the only salt mine in the western hemisphere open for touring. The extreme stability of the salt formation is extremely secure and the atmosphere is conducive for preserving documents and other objects. For example, here is the front page of the New York Herald with headlines about Abraham Lincoln's assassination.

Six hundred fifty feet underground, Kansans mine salt in a technically similar way to the way coal is mined. The floor is saltrete, just like concrete but with salt instead of cement. You are not allowed to take drinks into the mine because it will liquify the saltrete.

Kathleen is touching a two ton block of solid salt. It is the only place I've ever been with signs that say, "Don't Lick the Walls."

In addition to innumerable documents from around the world, most of Hollywood's output is there, including a surprising piece of meteorology, Hollywood-style.
Temperature-wise, it is very comfortable. You will not need a sweater. The air has a wonderful freshness that really (in a good way!) clears out your lungs.

The Kansas Cosmosphere and Discovery Center as long-time readers know is one of the two best space museums in the world. While the collection is not quite as large as the Smithsonian's. their extensive collection is better displayed and explained. It is one of only three museums in the world to have capsules that have been flown in space from the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo programs, including Apollo 13's capsule and Gus Grissom's Mercury capsule that the Cosmosphere found and pulled off the bottom of the Atlantic. They even have the dimes he carried with him into space.

Touring both museums will take a full day but are well, well worth it.

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