high-minded drivel

high-minded (adjective) - refined; cultured; particularly civilized. drivel (noun) - senseless talk; nonsense.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

A taste of the West without the Mid

This first post after returning from my vacationy hiatus presents a bit of a dilemma.  Usually the pattern of posting is this:
  1. Find something completely meaningless
  2. Write about it at great length
This is typically the pattern because, simply put, there usually isn't much of note going on in life to write about.  But with this trip, there actually are lots of legitimate to write about, so it's hard to choose where to begin!  

The drivel is compromised!  Sound ze alarms!

The route of the trip was as follows:
Columbus to Kansas City (actually a suburb called Overland Park); Kansas City to Frisco, Colorado (west side of Denver); Frisco to Arches National Park; Arches National Park to Bryce Canyon National Park; Bryce Canyon National Park to Las Vegas (aka Hell); Las Vegas/Hell to (woo hoo!) Irvine, California.

While I love to hear myself talk, and then write what I've said, and then read the words I've written (several times!), there's a saying that goes like this: A picture is worth a thousand words.  I think this conversion may be a bit inaccurate, and place it at a number more like 943, but, you know, rounding... Anyway, the point is, Divya and I took like, almost 500 pictures, and I have a strong aversion to carpal tunnel, so let's get to some pictures rather than going too heavy on the text, shall we?

Part I: Columbus to Kansas City

Divya had never scene the Arch, or even heard of the Arch.  Therefore, the decision was made to see the Arch in St. Louis.  Called the Gateway to the West, the opening of the Arch actually faces north/south.  It is made from 504,762 melted down nickels.  In other words, it cost $25,238.10 to make, not including labor costs.  There is a famous pot o' gold at one end of the Arch.

More "factoids" will be liberally distributed throughout this post to show that there was some educational value to this trip, not just sight-seeing.
If you've never seen the Arch yourself, this picture gives you some idea of the scale.  It is largo.
A popular activity at the Arch is to get your picture taken by friends while acting like you are holding up the Arch.  You just have to get the angle with the camera right.  It's kind of like when a plane is flying across the sky, and you pretend to hold it between your fingers.  Same idea.  Unlike pretending to hold planes with your fingers, pretending to hold up the Arch while getting your picture taken is punishable by a $4000 fine and up to 6 months in jail.
Another popular activity at the Arch is taking pictures of the same person going around to different sides of the Arch, continuing to try for that perfect shot that makes it look like they are holding up the Arch.
This picture has artistic appeal because of the sun and clouds backing the Arch.  However, be careful trying to get a shot like this.  Looking straight up at the Arch for an extended amount of time can cause you to lose your balance and potentially crash into the pot o' gold, which carries a $6500 fine and up to 2 years in prison.

 As stated previously, we didn't actually stay in Kansas City, but rather in a suburb called Overland Park.  Overland Park seems like kind of a boring place, and mostly consists of offices and conference centers, but it does have this restaurant, Korma Sutra.  The name of the restaurant is a play on words.  It is humorous.
Korma Sutra delivers.  They'll deliver to your party, they'll cater your event, and they will give you a shower.  This is my own play on words.  It is humorous.

Let us continue...

Part II: Kansas City to Frisco

In my post prior to leaving on this trip I really put Kansas down.  It turns out this wasn't fair, and hopefully Kansas' feelings didn't get hurt too bad.  Kansas - you're okay after all.  How can I make it up to you?  I'm not sure.  The least I can do is praise you a bit in this picture caption.  Hey everybody!  See how nice the corn fields of Kansas look?  They're so yellow!  And abundant!  And...evenly planted in orderly rows!  Yes!  Kansas - soak it in!
Now, you may think I'm being sarcastic again.  But truly, isn't that a nice picture of the corn field with the blue sky and clouds overhead?  With Kansas, I think my expectations were so low that pretty much anything would be a pleasant surprise.  But Kansas is legitimately nice.  It has some rolling changes in elevation, and the road doesn't just go in a straight line for mile after mile.  And sometimes, when you come around one of those bends and come over one of those rises, you find...
Windmills!  Big, gigantic windmills!  And when you see these windmills, you think "Ahhhh, renewable energy!  Love it!  Human ingenuity!  Love it! Kansas!  LOVE IT!"

A little-known factoid about windmills is that when the wind is strong enough, they get so much momentum that they will turn even with 2-3 humans hanging on to them.  The Kansas corn farmers, being good God-fearing capitalists, don't miss out on this opportunity and many times use their windmill farms as amusement parks, selling tickets to adventuresome travelers who want to ride the windmills.  Since the windmills can only serve as rides under certain, very windy conditions, there is an AM radio station specially dedicated to alerts about when the windmills can be safely ridden.
Wondering what this is?  So were we when we came over a rise while driving through Kansas.  Then we looked closer, and realized that it was an extremely tall flag pole.  You know how some places have really tall flag poles, and at the top of those flag poles they have really huge flags, to proudly display the stars and stripes for miles around?  Well, this place apparently didn't get that memo.  They have an extremely high flag pole, but at the top they have one of those flags that kids wave at parades.  Maybe they can't fly a big huge flag because the wind in Kansas is so powerful that it can drive...  
Windmills!  Huge, gigantic windmills!

Another little-known factoid about windmills is that their pure white color served as the inspiration for Steve Jobs to make his popular iPods pure white in color as well (not to mention the very iMac this post is being made on).  Jobs, while driving through Kansas on a cross-country trip, saw the windmills and felt so inspired by their appearance that he immediately pulled over and engaged in conversation with a Kansas farmer.  The farmer, being a good God-fearing capitalist (like Jobs), quickly checked the wind conditions and was delighted to find that it was prime time for windmill rides.  Jobs of course purchased a ride on the windmill, but being the maverick that he is neglected to fully fasten his safety harness, resulting in him plummeting to the corn field below and getting royally f'd up.  To this day a common phrase among Kansas windmill farmers/amusement park operators is "Don't pull a Jobs."  
All of a sudden we crossed the border into Colorado and there were mountains.  Actually, eastern Colorado is much the same as western Kansas.  You know, those borders on the map are just imaginary lines, like the first down lines you see on the football field on TV.  In fact, we didn't really see scenery like this until we were all the way on the far side of Denver.  It's interesting how you associate certain things with certain states.  Kansas is corn fields, Colorado is mountains.  But in reality, half of Colorado is just corn fields too.  I like the state borders though, because when you see the sign saying "Welcome to Colorado!" you feel like you've accomplished something while driving across the country.
Denver and all the ski towns on the west side of the city seem like pretty cool places, but they apparently have a massive problem with drunk driving.  We saw one of these warning signs literally every 5 minutes, if not more frequently.  We had nothing to worry about though, because we had dinner at A&W, where the only kind of beer they have is root beer.  However, while they might not have alcohol at A&W, they do have...

Actually, we didn't have dinner at A&W.  I just wanted to work this picture in somehow.  What happens when capitalism and faith collide?  Well, you probably end up with a sign advertising both Psalm 112 and Chix for $1.99.  Awesome.
Well, to avoid creating a post that is overly long, we'll break here for now and continue on with Part III in a couple days.  Here's a sneak peak at what's to come:

This is just one of the highway rest stops (seriously), so you know the other scenery will be good!

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