Day 42: A Space Oddity
A quick missive from Hutchinson, KS, home of the largest collection of American and Russian spaceflight artifacts. But why?
Day 42 we slept in. Because that's what you do on a rest day. Then we headed to a strip mall in town that had the two things we needed most, just two doors down from each other: a coffee shop and a laundromat. We had blog entries to catch up on, and biker shorts do get rank. And rest doesn't mean sleeping all day, after all. It just means not biking double digits with panniers.
But then we decided to do a little touristing. I mean, when are we likely to be in Hutchinson again? Let's see the sights!
Which, as far as we could discern, were two in number. We could either go to Strataca, a working salt mine where you can take underground tours 650 feet below the city streets, or to the Cosmosphere, a museum about space flight. We could either go up or down. And since we'd already been to Mammoth Caves on this trip, we decided to go up. Ironically, the museum was still mostly underground.
And… strange? Is everything just strange right now? Or, four years ago, could you read without a lurking sense of unease about how Russia's early Space Race successes were "the most politically and technologically embarrassing moments in the history of the United States"? What about the part of the museum dedicated to Nazi success with the V2 rockets, and how much we owe to their discoveries? What about the dog the Russians sent up, knowing they didn't yet know how to get it back down? (Sara: "I don't know if I'm just fragile right now, but I'm feeling like none of this was worth that dog's life.")
The place had settled on a narrative where getting off the planet was the ultimate good, where the generic thumbs-up was still given to this globally destabilizing outer-space pissing contest. We eventually stopped reading most of the exhibits, except to figure out what things were. But we saw a moon rock, as well as the actual control center from the Apollo 13 flight. And Sara found a big wraparound screen that let you plug in anywhere on Google Earth and feel immersed in the street-level view — so she spent a few minutes standing outside her parents' house, which was a nice trip. Maybe that's worth the price of admission.
And then, friends, guess what we made for dinner. Glorious carbonara.
Back at it in the AM.