Due to poor planning on my part, I'd booked the hotel and car rental through Tuesday, and a return flight on Wednesday. I think I must have booked the lodging and transportation with reference to the day of the eclipse, and then booked the flight with reference to the price -- already the fares were getting outrageous. I noticed the car rental first, and figured I'd just keep it an extra day (it'd just be $16 more). But after I got to my friend's place in Lawrence, I realized I also didn't have a hotel for the Tuesday night. So I started looking at switching the return flight (only $3980 by then!) and realized I was going to have to find another way.
The solution: I would stay in Columbia for two nights, as planned, then at an airport hotel near Kansas City for the last night. I'd return the car as originally scheduled too, and just take the hotel's airport shuttle around. So that worked pretty well, although with a slight comedy of errors involving the shuttle -- I traveled from the car return place to the main terminal, and then hopped on the Marriott shuttle, only to find out (a) there are two totally separate Mariott Shuttles and (b) you can call the right one from the car return place. Oh well!
One of my fellow eclipse watchers had recommended I go to the steamboat museum in Kansas City. It was not very convenient from the hotel, but car service there and an uber back made it quite doable.
I arrived just in time for the last tour of the day. The place was pretty interesting. They had us watch a video about the family and friends who got together to track down and salvage the lost wreck:
Notorious for its shifting channel, the Missouri River cut a new path and moved east, abandoning the spot where the Arabia sank. By the twentieth century, the steamboat was lying deep beneath a Kansas farm field. Rumored to be filled with whiskey and gold when it sank, the Arabia drew the attention of treasure hunters and failed salvage attempts for many years.
Using a metal detector, weathered maps, and old newspaper clippings to guide the search, David Hawley located the wreck in July 1987. Years of erosion and shifting sand left the lost paddleboat 45 feet underground and a half-mile from the present channel of the Missouri River.
Apparently, the excavation took them 20 years.
Most of the items recovered were found in bulk, intended for merchants.
Some of the rarest finds were ones that might not seem particularly valuable to us - items made of rubber. They were preserved from oxidation by their anaerobic environment (mud!) and are now preserved in a nitrogen-pressurized case and somewhat dimly lit.
|Fragile (light-sensitive) buttons manufactured by |
Novelty Rubber Co. under Goodyear's patent.
|50-foot tape measure|
|What makes these boots special?|
|According to the guide, they are a rare example of left/right differentiation|
|"If you're gonna stick a man, stick him clear to Green River" (i.e., up to the manufacturer's name)|
|The snag that sank the Great White Arabia|