Kansas Salt Mine

Descending 650’ in 90 seconds is no joke.  The sheer darkness is enough to scare anyone – big, small, grown, young, man, woman… doesn’t matter.   Losing the ability to determine if your eyes are opened or closed, is frightening.

But how far is 650’?

This article did a great job to help visualize just how far down one would travel if heading to the salt mines by comparing the depth to the height of certain national monuments.

Statue of Liberty = 306′

Washington Monument = 555′

St. Louis Arch = 630′


Since the early 1920’s people have been fascinated by the salt mines and have enjoyed descending into the great depths to explore them.  The Hutchinson Salt Company realized that turning the unused sections of the mine into a museum could bring many tourists to the area. However, using the one small elevator simply would not work since each time visitors were brought down, production of the salt had to stop until the people were safely in the mine.  So the production of a new shaft was started in 2004, taking nearly a full year to complete. 

The new hoist was a double-decker elevator built to accommodate 30 people – 15 on the lower level and 15 on the upper level.   The new elevator also allowed for larger items to be brought into the mine making the process of harvesting salt easier and quicker for the men below.  Some items would require the men to disassemble them so it could fit in the hoist and reassemble it once they were in the mine.

In June of 2013, the Kansas Underground Salt Museum opened. 

Tours take visitors through the many chambers ranging from 2,500 to 15,000 square feet with ceilings as high as 17 feet in some areas.  Each chamber is separated by a 40 foot square block, referred to as pillars, left intact to support the salt above.

At times, sections of the chamber floor began to rise, so workers used railroad ties to help prevent the floors from moving.

Once items were brought into the mine, they remained below forever.   Below is a vehicle referred to as a Mantrip. This type of car was used to transport miners to and from the mining areas.

Miners used railroad cars to help transport the salt along the tracks. 

Not all salt was worth mining.  Some sections of the walls only contained small amounts of salt, and since it would cost more in man power to retrieve the salt, some areas were left behind.

To help keep track of each section, miners wrote the month, day and year on the pillars indicating when that section of the mine had been worked on.

Since the mine is so far below the surface, it naturally maintains a temperature of 68 degrees with a very low humidity. Because of this, the Underground Vaults & Storage uses 26 acres of the mine to secure such items as original movies, television show masters, medical records, valuable documents and even actual costumes from popular movies.  That section of the mine is highly guarded and is not open to the public; however, several items were given to the museum to put on display.

Film reels & documents

A Mammoth Stop!!

It may have taken several years for Mammoth Cave to become a national park, but it only takes 1 visit to marvel at its grandeur.

Mammoth Cave National Park

With family in Tennessee, we have passed through Kentucky many, many times over the years, but never stopped to visit Mammoth Cave National Park.  Each time we passed the sign on the expressway, we ALWAYS said, “We need to stop one year and visit the caves.”

It’s sad to say that at 48, I was finally able to visit this national park.

Mammoth Cave R.R. Co.

Getting to the caves in the early 1900’s wasn’t always easy, so the Louisville & Nashville Railroad built a rail line between the two cities and for $3.00 you could visit the caves.

Our visit, however, started with this…

And cost us $40.00….

Learning about the history of the caves and the massive work it took just so we can walk through it is amazing…  Please keep in mind that I am not a photographer, so my pictures do not do the caves justice. 

The sheer power of water and how it can create structures such as these will forever dazzle me. 

There are numerous tours that can be taken.  We chose Domes and Dripstones which was a 1 ½ -hour tour descending hundreds of stairs.    Would not recommend this one if walking long distances is difficult or stairs are a challenge.

Driving to the caves, we discovered this cemetery:

And learned is was named after a church which was established by Homesteaders who have lived on these rolling hills of Kentucky for centuries prior to the attention given to the caves.

Many are currently resting on these acres.

We would highly recommend making this a stop along on your travels!!

Mike & Ann Lutz

Simplify To Magnify

How does one simplify 47 years of belongings?

Sell your home within 24 hours of listing it and accept a 30 day closing!! 

That’ll get ya’ movin’!!

It is not easy to go through 47 years of “stuff.”  Our home was only 1600 sf.  I cannot imagine those with larger homes.  The bigger it is, the more you accumulate.  So glad we moved out of that 3000 sf home before dreaming about this lifestyle.

Most people would say, sell it, have an estate sale, garage sale.  But we are all different.  I am not one of those people willing to hold onto something on the off chance someone will want to buy it one day; nor did we have the time to allow for it.  We had 30 days to get packed up and out.

We did what any other parent would do….we told our kids to come in and take what they wanted.  

Now, this can go one of two ways:  1) They will fight over items because they all want the same things, or 2) They will look around the house and think, “Why would I want any of this old stuff.”

Not that our children stated #2 out loud, but all four of them already had homes established, so other than a few pieces (probably those items that reminded them of mom..lol), they didn’t want anything.

So, this still left us with a house full of “stuff.”  We started packing containers with items we knew would one day come into our new home.  All the while, keeping in mind that we will be moving into a MUCH smaller place. 

No more collecting 10 coffee mugs, but really only using your one favorite. 

No more 2 sets of everything: plates, bowls, silverware…can’t have it!!! 

7 spatulas….who needs 7!!!!!  And why did I have 7 to begin with!!!

Packing the items that would be going into the camper with us was the best place to start.  Even though we didn’t know which rig we were buying at the time, we knew the size of the rig would be dramatically smaller.  So, we had to be practical.

SIMPLIFY…  NEED vs WANT.    What do you NEED?

Boy that is a tough question!!!  And depending on which one of us you ask, will depend on what the answer is.

I would probably say, “Yes, I NEED those 25 pair of leggings, AND 7 pair of jeans AND 3 pair of yoga pants, AND 5 pair of workout pants AND…..

You get the picture.  

I went through my closet 4 times and still have the items above…….if you saw the size of the closet I use and the size of the closet Mike uses, you would be amazed (or would you???  Don’t woman always collect more clothing than necessary?)

But, do I NEED them?

The answer is, NO!

Simplify!!!  (if only I could take my own advice…….. )

Leaving the Kids

How does one leave their kids?

I have NO idea.

I had become so engrossed with the idea of traveling that I honestly, at first, didn’t even think about the kids.  After all, our 4 children were grown and have lives of their own.  They are busy with work and activities that we didn’t see them often, so naturally, they were not on the forefront of my mind.

That was until the plan started to become much more real and the idea of not seeing our grandkids became a reality.  Don’t get me wrong.  We LOVE our children, but we absolutely ADORE our grandchildren. Leaving our children was hard – but leaving our grandchildren was heart-wrenching.

I can’t even tell you how many times, mentally, I backed-out of our plans.

And then, I realized, the number of people who put off their plans, for one reason or another, and it then became a distant dream.

Life can be too short.  I do NOT want to be left with the “what if” syndrome.

The 21st century has afforded us the opportunity to stay connected!!!  Our electronically advanced society puts us in the same room as others.  Hell, our grandchildren will have a better grasp on technology than we will.

Watching all the YouTube videos, reading everyone’s blogs – I knew we HAD to do this!!

So, we started tapping into this wonderful technology.  Video chatting!!!!   We decided to try this out with our middle grandchild, Braxton. What a hoot!  He is certainly use to technology – his mother is on it all the time – constantly putting the camera in his face (love you honey).  Now, he wasn’t even 2 yet, so bear in mind his attention span was probably 5 seconds – but it was PERFECT!  It was the affirmation I needed to confirm what we wanted to do is okay.  Not that we needed “permission,” just acceptance that we can be away and still see them – watch them grow!!!

So, how does one leave their children? 

By simply getting in the RV and drive. 

And when you miss them, you call them.  Video chat them.  Scroll through Facebook, Instagram, Snap Chat.  Look at their faces and SMILE.

We are doing what many others only dream of doing – we are living life and exploring our beautiful country.  One state at a time.

Life is always better with grandchildren – 2019