Saturday, July 5, 2014


Ellis is a small, historic community with a finger on the pulse of the past. Although it has only about 2,000 residents, it is home to two museums: The Ellis Railroad Museum and the Walter P. Chrysler Boyhood Home and Museum. Regrettably, neither was open when we rolled into town.

We stopped here for fuel. We started out at the Love's, but upon seeing a severe gas leak at one of the pumps there, we promptly decamped to the Kasey's General Store across the street.

After filling up, we took a look around downtown. There was a large, well-maintained park behind the railroad museum. There were also a train car and an old wagon, which we promptly climbed all over.

My biggest disappointment here was that the railroad museum wasn't open, so we couldn't let the boys ride on the BK&E Miniature train. All the same, it was a very pleasant little town with lots of character. The fountain downtown was beautiful, and it seemed like it would be a great place to visit again someday.

As we drove out of town, I found myself reflecting on I-70. So far, we had driven more than 200 miles on this highway, which runs through Kansas on its way between Utah and Maryland. A hundred years ago, this journey between Topeka and Ellis would have been long and arduous. Now, it's a few hours of smooth driving.

It occurred to me that I-70 is a lot like an artery. It flows through grasslands, over and under and mountains, and across mighty rivers. It is a manmade marvel, engineered to provide a smooth surface over unforgiving terrain. And what flows through this artery? Our automobiles. (Thanks, in part, to Mr. Chrysler, of Ellis, KS.)

The interstate was created specifically to provide a hospitable environment for the soulless servants with hearts of wrought metal and feet of rubber that whisk us from place to place beneath this endless blue sky.

We cannot forget, of course, that our servants must eat. Every so often along the interstate, feeding stations pop their heads up by the roadside. We insert plastic pledges into these stations, promising to pay them half a day's labor if they will feed our hungry automatons. Once satisfied with our promise, the stations disgorge the remains of creatures long-dead into the waiting stomachs of our servants.

After this great automotive thirst is slaked, we drive on, powered by a series of tiny explosions that our bondslaves generate and translate into angular momentum -- into hundreds and hundreds of highway miles.

And so we continue on west, along I-70, into the face of the declining sun...

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