We discovered a little problem early this morning. A storm moved through the campground a little before sunrise and you can usually hear the sound of rain hitting the camper roof pretty clearly. But this morning it sounded like the rain was falling inside the camper. It sounded like it was because it actually was.  Apparently the wind we drove through late yesterday ripped off one of our ceiling vent covers.  

 At least when the cover was ripped off, it left most of the hardware.  We stopped at Campers World in Kansas City and got a replacement.  Matt checked the forecast & it’s supposed to be dry all the way home so we didn’t take time to install. Let’s hope the forecast holds true. 

As we made our way across Kansas again today, I was on the lookout for old abandoned houses. Years ago I read a magazine article about the Dust Bowl. The article talked about how, out in the middle of Kansas, you could still find houses that sit like time capsules, created when families suddenly fled the horrible dust storms. I experienced a simple thunderstorm yesterday on the Kansas plains. I can’t even begin to imagine what it was like to experience one of those infamous dust storms. I would imagine life out here even in present day is tough. I can’t fathom what it must have been like for those during the Dust Bowl era.  

  Abandoned farm just east of WaKeeny, Kansas. 

We passed a billboard for the National Orphan Train Museum in Abilene, Kansas.  I had never heard of the Orphan Train so I googled it. Just in case you have never heard of it either, it’s actually quite fascinating. According to Wikipedia (I know, that’s like poison to a teacher but usually gives you a quick run down of what you’re searching for) from 1853 to 1929,  heavily populated east coast cities like New York, were burdened with thousands of orphaned, abandoned and homeless children. This was before the start of the foster care system so most of the children lived in the streets or were taken in by charities that ran institutions and orphanages. At one point, in New York City alone, they had over 30,000 unclaimed children.  

They decided to start putting these children on trains to the newly settled West where the early settlers could use the child labor on their ranches and farms. They would bring in a trainload of children and have the local townspeople sort through and pick which ones they wanted.  Some children were taken in and treated as actual family members. Some were just used as free labor, treated little to no better than indentured slaves. And often siblings were torn apart, never to see each other again. 

  Sample newspaper advertisement for the Orphan Train.

 (Source: http://www.orphantrainmusical.com)

  (Source:  www.christinabakerkline.com)
  (source: http://www.tackk.com)
The Orphan Trains ended around 1925 after the United States started to organize the foster care system.  There. Social studies lesson over. Hopefully you found it as interesting as I did and the best part is there won’t be a test. 

   In a long line waiting to pay our toll to get out of Kansas.  Notice we had exact change ready. We weren’t messing around.  
  I was so excited to find a pack of Garbage Pail Kid cards for Jake. I think he couldn’t care less. He was like “What are these?”  Then it dawned on me he didn’t even know what Cabbage Patch Kids were so finding Acne Amy and Bony Tony really didn’t mean anything to him.  I really don’t know what they meant to me either but Garbage Pail Kids were right up there with scratch and sniff Lisa Frank stickers back in my day. Of course, I was one of those cool kids. Everyone wanted to trade cards and stickers with the mullet girl.  
We found quite a truck stop Mecca today. It had a restaurant downstairs, bar upstairs, tattoo shop, adult book store, boot store and firework store all in one. It was quite impressive. 

  Went through Saint Louis today. This is as close as we got to the Arch.  Jake and Matt did their classic Chevy Chase Vacation shtick.  

Matt:  there it is, the Saint Louis Arch, Gateway to the West. 216 stories and an elevator that goes all the way to the top 

Jake:  can we go dad?

Matt:  nope. There he is the old River. The mighty mississip, the old man. (Insert jake and Matt singing “Deeeeeeeeep River”)

  Hopefully our last stop before home. Grabbed a sandwich and let Piper out so she could shed a little in each state. Two hours from home and it’s calling our name. 

The best things in life are the people we love, the places we’ve been and the memories we’ve made along the way.
-Author unknown