Birthday wanderings

In true Wandering Pigeon style, I got lost for my birthday. What an incredible day it was.

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No food left to serve. REALLY cool building though!

First, one of my passions is photographing old and abandoned things. Especially buildings, and my birthday road trip didn’t disappoint. It provided some surprises along the way too.

Osage City provided my first photographic opportunity. But they weren’t selling slushes that day. 😦 The new Sonic is across town. But, I didn’t want a slush by then…

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The next stop was Osawatomie. I hadn’t been there in a while, and I love driving past the grounds of the state hospital. First, let me tell you if you don’t come in on the major highway, the hospital is not easy to find. After driving around town for quite a while (no, I did not ask for directions), finally we found it…the signs are right on the highway!

The first thing you spot when driving near campus is this huge 11666224_10152869854677035_7320978375395732835_nabandoned structure. The building is beautiful so we drove on campus to get some quick shots. Sure enough, we were spotted and not allowed to stay long. But we got a few pretty cool shots. Would have loved to see the inside of the building, but, of course, that wasn’t possible.

11667427_10152869857382035_4644211741100903781_nOn the way back out of town to our next destination we stopped at a memorial. There are only numbers on the headstones: no names. A faceless cemetery. It’s a very somber, sad place. Each and every stone represents a person β€” someone who lived and someone who died. I find it a tragedy that we don’t even know their names.11698395_10152869853517035_5001088201834398_n

The next stop on the map was Rantoul, which I honestly didn’t even know existed until this trip. Again, another charming place with a few abandoned structures to photograph. But the real gold mine of this place wasn’t in town, it was outside of town. We were driving and I looked off to the right. I had to do a double-take β€” there was a field and it was full of jets. Just a random pasture full of planes. We looked to the left and there was a company. The company, called Dodson International Parts, also has a salvage yard full of planes.

11665687_10152869862762035_7393019342610639299_nThe next stop on the list was Neosho Falls. Neosho Falls, located in Woodson County, was founded in 1857, according to Wikipedia. According to the 2010 census, the town has 141 people. The town was once the county seat, but today is mostly abandoned. Entire streets are deserted with e11709611_10152869864792035_3562376862052619439_nmpty lots replacing what was once a block full of homes.

As a newspaper person, I was interested to learn this: “The first newspaper in the county was the Frontier Democrat, which was
started in October, 1869 by Isaac Boyle, who published the paper 11698694_10152869861012035_3849727224818170149_nat Neosho Falls until January, 1870, when it was sold to William H. Slavens, who changed the name to the Neosho Falls Advertiser.” See entire article here.

I got some great pictures in Neosho Falls, especially of the high school, which, according to the article sourced above, closed in 1961.

So, I spent my birthday in wandering bliss! Many more wanderings to co11707528_10152869865072035_5041031833055878670_nme!

I’ll end with one final house: this one actually has a “for sale” sign on it. For $2,500 you can own it! Oh and air conditioning, compliments of nature, is free! (The house to the right is not in Neosho Falls).

Thirty-eight

Tomorrow is my final day of being 38 years old.

After tomorrow, I’ll never be 38 again.

Ever.

I realized that fact tonight as I was thinking about things. And what I figured out is this: while I’ll never be 38 again after tomorrow, I’m not even promised 39. If I’m lucky, I’ll have 365 days of being 39 — like I’ve had each year of my life.

I look back at the last several years of my life. Am I happy with every single moment? No. Am I happy with most of them? I’m lucky enough to say yes, especially the past few years.

Each and every day is a gift — because not one of us are promised we’ll be here the next day. It’s not morbid, it’s a fact. This life is never predictable.

Tonight i posted this question on my personal Facebook account: “Tomorrow is my final day of being 38. How shall I celebrate?”

I got several answers from pampering myself to getting myself a treat.

After much thought here is what I plan on doing tomorrow.

I’m going to go to work like I normally do. I’m going to laugh and smile and spend my day with some of the most amazing, dedicated and hard-working co-workers I’ve ever had the honor of working with. We’ll laugh. We’ll get the job done. We’ll all go home.

Then I plan on going home and spending time with those I love. Living this amazing life I’ve been given with the amazing people I have the true honor of spending my time with.

That’s what I shall do tomorrow. On the eve of my 39th birthday I shall celebrate this life — celebrate another day on this Earth — another day I was gifted.

Because another one is never promised us.

Happy birthday, mom

Today is my mom’s 60th birthday.Β Happy birthday, mom.

In true Wandering Pigeon fashion, my mom and I wandered around Wellington Saturday. My mother, brother and I lived in Wellington for a couple of years before moving to Wichita. I spent my 7th, 8th and part of my 9th grade there β€” go Wellington Blue Knights!Β My mom worked at the hospital in Wellington β€” it was her first medical technician job out of school.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAVisiting our old stomping grounds Saturday was a lot of fun β€” and at 60 degrees in January β€” what a gift!

Our first stop in Wellington was our home on C Street. We lived right across from an elementary school. My brother and I recall burying a time capsule at that home. Our hopes is that the current residents will one day let us dig it up β€” if it still exists.

Our next stop was our next house we lived in β€” a modular home located at the edge of town on A Street. We actually had two modular homes, which were connected by a breezeway. Only the main home remains today β€” alone and abandoned. I loved that home because I had the bedroom in the back and right out my window was a horse corral. I could see the horses right outside my window β€” a young girl’s dream!

Today, only the horses’ shed remains, along with the bathtub that served as their watering hole and a lone section of fencing. I’ll admit it made me a bit sad that so little remains. I remembered feeding those horses. While they were not ours, I’d sneak into the shed and grab them a tiny bit of grain as a treat every now and then.

My brother and I used to play in the creek that is across the horse field and in some woods β€” simple, carefree times for us spent at the creek looking for fish.

That house also is where I learned to respect red ant hills. Railroad tracks ran in front of the home across the road. One hot summer day I foolishly decided to go over to the tracks and stomp on an ant hill. The angry red ants ran up my legs, which were bare because I was in shorts. Even today I have a healthy respect β€” and even a bit of fear β€” for ants.

After looking around the outside our former home, we headed back into town and drove by the former Wellington High School, which is no longer being used as the high school. I recalled standing on those steps with my friends waiting for school to start.

Our last stop in Wellington, was at what is known as “The Pink Palace.” This adobe-style, (and very pink), home is something I remember fondly from when I lived there. The external architecture is so striking. The outside of the home is covered in pink stucco and tiles lead up to the majestic home’s entrances. A quick peek in the window yielded a level of architecture I had never seen in a home before. “Exquisite” doesn’t even begin to cover this home β€” the sad part is that the home needs signification repair though it appears recent restoration attempts have been made.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

My family and I have always loved to wander around looking at things β€” not just places we used to live. We once drove to Nebraska on a whim, came across a lone, old abandoned house that we peeked into. Inside the house was an old piano. My then-child self asked mom if we could take it home. Her response: we’d have to take home the spiders that lived inside it too. Enough said. We, of course, left the piano.

Other family road trips included runs out to California where my mom grew up. We’d throw our bags into the car on a Friday night after mom got home from work and we’d be there by Sunday. We’d visit the coast, Disneyland and mom’s childhood stomping grounds. You learn so much about a parent, relative or friend by going with them to their former haunts β€” I highly recommend it.

One of the best parts about roads trips with someone is time to talk and memories being made. I love sharing experiences on road trips with family and friends taking photos, talking, laughing and just wandering around β€” most of the time no destination is needed. Growing up we usually just all got into the car and wherever we ended up β€” there we were.

So, another great birthday road trip with my mom on Saturday. More memories made, more laughs shared.

Happy birthday mom. I love you. Let’s do another road trip soon!

β€”Brandy Nance is the online and news editor for The Emporia Gazette. Her blog, The Wandering Pigeon, can be found online at thewanderingpigeon.com. Brandy can be reached at brandy@emporia.com.