Sunday, July 6, 2008

Get the Hell Out of Dodge

It's been difficult to find a few spare moments to use the computer this week. We leave Kansas this evening, and for the most part, the morning is unplanned, so I was able to sneak online. (However, I can't get my father's overly complicated uber-computer to upload my pictures to my blog, so I'll put up pictures once I'm back home on my computer.)

We left Florida on Wednesday super-ridiculously early (once at the airport, I had to wait for the coffee shop to open- that's early.) My mom picked us up at the airport, then we picked up my dad (he had a doctor's appointment) and we left for Dodge City at about one. From Topeka to Dodge City is about a four hour drive, so we really spent the whole day traveling.

First, a brief history of Dodge City-
Dodge City was once considered "The Queen of the Cowtowns" and was at one point in time or another home to Wyatt Earp, Doc Holiday and Bat Masterson, amongst other well-known Western icons. The cattle industry was vital to Dodge. Cowboys would drive cattle east to Dodge, where they would sell them and ship them east via railroad. Dodge City had a reputation of rowdiness and debachery. Drunk cowboys, buffalo hunters, gamblers and other ner'do-wells would fight, creating the need for the Boot Hill Cemetary. The townspeople with families and friends would have formal funerals and were buried at Fort Dodge, but the drifters rarely had mourners, so when they were shot in a barfight, they were buried, boots and all (hence the name Boot Hill) in poorly marked graves. In the 1950s, 60s and 70s, Dodge City was romanticized in the radio-drama and TV series Gunsmoke.

We had reservations at the Boot Hill Bed and Breakfast in Dodge City, which was in a prime location for sightseeing, as it was just across the street from the Boot Hill Museum, just a few blocks from the restored Santa Fe Railroad Depot, Downtown, &c. Kyle and I were in the Matt Dillon Suite (as in the character from Gunsmoke) which had a balcony that overlooked what remains of the Boot Hill Cemetary. Oooooh... Creepy!
Our first night, we got tickets to the chuckwagon dinner and saloon show at the museum. Dinner was very midwestern- Beef brisket, roasted potatoes, coleslaw, creamed corn and biscuits. I'm not really much of a carnivore, so I only had a bite or two of the beef, and mostly filled up on carbs. The food was good, but nothing fancy. Afterwards, there was a staged gunfight in the street, and then we filed into the saloon for the variety show. It was corny, and the performers were certainly not Broadway-bound, but it was fun, and a good way to end our first day. (As you can see, Kyle was excited to get his picture with the saloon girls!)

Day two (really our last day, as it was just an overnight trip) was spent at the Boot Hill Museum. We were suprised, because from the street, it just looks like a re-creation of a Western street front, but inside, there is a large variety of historical artifacts and information on the history of Dodge City. Up by the cemetary is another museum building (only a couple years old) that focuses more on the history of the Americn West. They're very well done and infromative- I could have spent several more hours there, but we were on a bit of a schedule.
After the museum, we drove another 10miles west of Dodge to see the ruts of the Santa Fe Trail and then headed back eastward towards Topeka.

I'll have a more food-centric post in the next couple days!

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