Mid-Week Update 3-1-2006


It is a rare mid week update blog.  Andrew arrived safely late Saturday night.  His journey started with a delay so his plane could be de-iced.  This caused a concern that his connection might be tight.  But not too worry, there was no flight crew for the connecting flight.  Needless to say, he didn’t arrive in Wichita anywhere near his originally scheduled arrival time of 11:00 pm.  But he did arrive safe and sound.


We decided to take Andrew on an adventure as part of his stay in Kansas.  None of us had ever been to Oklahoma, and so we decided to add that state to our list of places we’ve been.  It was much more of an adventure than we had anticipated.  There are indeed places in the good old USA worse than Kansas.  My friends explained to me why there was so much wind in Kansas: “Oklahoma ‘sucks’ and Nebraska ‘blows.’”  Wink was trying to document our arrival in Oklahoma.  It was so flat that she missed it.


There was an easy way to tell the difference between Kansas and Oklahoma, the road changed.  In Kansas, it is a toll way.  In Oklahoma, the road was free, but not maintained.  We got considerably lost in Oklahoma.  We had the highway map book and a local map printed out from Map Quest.   It was impossible to reconcile the two.  Sometimes there were road signs, but just as often they shot out or missing.  We did find this one:



By the time we saw that I was desperate, so I got out and followed instructions.  After a ten mile back track we found the town we were looking for.  After a few more mis-steps we arrived at our destination.



It is really difficult to find the words to describe this place.  We planned to eat lunch here and then return to Kansas.  The food was served in the Bingo hall.  It was a gymnasium sized hall filled with tables.  The smoke was so thick you could cut it with a knife.  We had to walk through there to get to the casino.  The smoke stuck to you as if it were seaweed.  I couldn’t hold my breath long enough.  We got through to the casino.  It was another gymnasium sized room filled with modern slot machines.  They are all electronic and all one has to do is push a button for it to steal your money.  I invested six bucks, but Andrew and Wink wanted out so bad they couldn’t wait for me to lose it.  So I printed out a cash-out ticket and went to the cashier.  The whole adventure only cost me the fifty cent tip for the cashier.  It was almost cashless after the initial investment.


Andrew was appalled.  He found the whole experience unnerving.  Here where a room full of people older than his parents squandering their pensions in a smoke filled room.  He didn’t even find pushing a button and watching a video screen particularly appealing.  He really couldn’t understand the appeal.  I have to admit it took a couple of hours and a pitcher of margaritas before I couldn’t taste the smoke anymore.  We escaped as soon as possible and returned to Kansas.


Kansas is a funny red state.  The maximum tax rate in Kansas is 7.9%.  In the blue state of Michigan it is only 4%.  You can either tax rich folks like us 7.9% or everyone 1%.  It seems to be a very blue state idea.  Also there is a special tax to pay for facilities on any modern construction, i.e. anything built since 1920.  The auto registration tax is also much higher than in Michigan.  There is no incentive to buy a new car in Kansas, because you pay for it twice, retail and taxes.  There is even a 1% tax for a stadium that they can’t even agree to build.  To top it off, I just got our assessment today.  Because we bought the house, the assessment went up 25%.  I don’t know if it is just us or everyone else as well.  I think it is a blue stater welcome.


There is a side benefit to Andrew being here.  The food has improved significantly.  We don’t seem to be willing to cook for two, but add a starving college student and WOW!  Last night was Taco Salad with guacamole and chips.  Andrew doesn’t eat beef, so it was Turkey Taco Salad:




Tonight we made California Pizza Kitchen Thai Chicken Pizza.  Wink got their cookbook and put her bread machine to good use.  We also have a pizza stone in the oven.  It was another enterprise that left the kitchen in shambles.









It was fabulous.  Andrew said it was close the real thing.  His only complaint was that it didn’t have enough greens.  We made two pizzas and one was almost enough to feed the three of us.  Andrew threatens to finish the second pizza as a midnight snack.  If he does, he might be doing us a favor.


We are getting the sewing center set up.  Will probably blog with the results if we make any progress over the weekend.


Having fun.  It was good of Andrew to visit.


Functionally, today was the first day of spring in Kansas.  Spring comes early and it was a beautiful day.




Mark and Wink