Big Brutus
West Mineral, Kansas

(click on image for larger view)

On Saturday, May 22nd, 2004 at 9:30am we met at the Wal-Mart Super Center on Kansas &
I-44 to begin our trek to West Mineral, Kansas (Dorothy & Toto Land).  Those who met to start the cruise were:  Steve & Carol, Gene & Carolyn Gardenhire (Carol's mom & dad), Glenda Brower (Steve & Carol's daughter) and her daughter Amilia (10 months old) and myself. (Cal was in Wisconsin for two weeks for some training classes required by his job).

I took the lead because I was familiar with the routing (this was strange territory.....I'm used to being in the rear with my Nissan 4X4)!  We were picking up Russ and Cheryl on Hwy 96 and junction 39, then cutting through the "sticks" to Columbus, Kansas where we were meeting Jim and Margie.

We picked up Russ and Cheryl without a hitch, and I even gave Cheryl a ride so she could enjoy the A/C?  Ok, so I knew us girls could do some "chatting" while we drove!  We got through Carthage with no problems, and took the cut off to stay on Hwy 96 to the Kansas line.  I was used to staying on the 4-lane and taking Hwy 171 north out of Joplin to the Kansas line, so when we got to the end of Hwy 96 (it dead ended into 171), instead of going straight and up over the RR tracks (which is what I was going to do), we made a right turn (OK, so Cheryl told me if I was going the wrong way that Russ would flash his headlights behind us 'cuz he knew where we were going too)! WRONG! So, I pulled off the road about 4 miles north of the split at a fuel stop and got the correct directions along with a potty break too 'cuz we all needed one.  We turned back around and made sure we took the "correct" turn toward the Kansas line.  (OLD Hwy 96 is Hwy 160 by the way)

After a few phone calls from Jim to my cell phone, we picked up Jim and Margie and Trent (their grandson) by the intersection of Hwy 160/7 and Jim took the lead.
(good thing 'cuz I was lost by then)!


When we got to Big Brutus, the wind was whipping like we were on the ocean!  We could have used a "sail" to get any place we needed to go because the winds were in excess of
40 mph (according to the ladies at the register)

I noticed Charles and Norma Venable's truck right off the bat!  COOL!  I didn't even know they were going to try to make it, but glad to see they did!  They have a very distinguishing truck (a flatbed) so there was no mistaking it was them!

Across the parking lot were Arnold and Leona Rentz too! (sorry you couldn't make it Dennis and Kim)  It was to be a "family" thing for the Rentz'!  So we stood outside for a few minutes chatting and saying "HI" to each other and Russ went inside to get some directions for the picnic and what we needed to do.  They also have RV camping there and showers in the bathrooms too!


We paid our $5, then got in our trucks and pulled through the gates and over to 2 huge covered picnic areas beside Big Brutus where we tried to batten down the hatches 'cuz the wind wanted our coolers and lunch too!  I mentioned that we should move the trucks beside the tables to block some wind, so we moved the trucks to the east end, and of course, I got the closest with the 4x4 (inches between a tree and the building) and although it helped a bit, you still had to hang on to your sandwich!  Good thing I had already made my PB&J before I left home!


Shortly after we began eating, we had another visitor (Bill) who lives only 7 miles from Big Brutus.  Bill had seen where we were meeting on the web site and had also told some of his friends about the cruise and later a buddy of his showed up with a '32 Ford Coupe!  A-W-E-S-O-M-E!  Bill was driving a C800 loaded with drywall for a job he was doing.  We sat and chatted some more, Steve showed him some things on his truck (It's a GUY thing), and the next thing you know everyone was headed down the hill to see Big Brutus!


Cheryl and Bill sat at the wooden bench at the top of the hill and when I tried to get her to walk down with me, she said she was "fine" where she was, and she wasn't much for heights anyway, so I took off on my own to see just how "big" this thing really was....up close!

Big Brutus actually sits in a "hole" that was dug years ago, so you have to go "down" to go "up"!  I'm not good with heights (no depth perception), and since Cal wasn't there to help me with the grated steps, I went to the first level and stopped.  I took most of my pictures from the ground "UP", even lying on the ground looking up so I could fit everything in.  NOT!  Well, you had to be a long way away to get it all in one frame, that's for sure!



I could hear voices above me, but only saw steel until I looked over to the crane operators station where I saw Leona waving at me through the glass.  Too bad she couldn't have picked me up in the "bucket" so I could have gotten some better pictures!


We all got some sporadic pictures (Carol took some too, so I'll try to get them scanned and uploaded), many standing beside the huge tracks.  You don't totally realize the size of this thing until you're standing right beside it and find that even the tracks are larger than an average man!  We all decided to walk back up to the building to look at the museum and get some much needed souvenirs, so off we went along the pathway!


Cheryl helped me pick out some t-shirts and a hat for Cal since he was working so hard up in Sheboygan, Wisconsin on his training and I knew he'd shoot me if I didn't bring him something back!  We chatted some more, looked around at all the souvenirs they had and said our goodbyes as a few decided to leave us.

I was the last to leave (sounds familiar) because I wanted to get some more pictures, so I walked back to my truck (good exercise I might add) and brought it up to the museum, walked through and snapped a few more prints, read some of the information about when and where and why, and talked to the girls behind the counter and of course, I had to leave them a few "flyers" to put up for the Ozarks Run.


I took my time coming back to enjoy the ride!  It was a good day!  W-I-N-D-Y, but good!  The company was GREAT, and it was nice to see some members I hadn't seen since last years run!  We need to do this again!
(when the wind isn't trying to blow Dorothy and Toto into Nebraska)!



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