Friday, 8 August 2008

Day Fifteen - Saturday, 5 July - Part I

Today's Big Adventure was to show everyone the Twister Museum in Wakita, Oklahoma. There is a small story to tell first.

When I joined our running club back in 1996 I was, as now, the slowest runner the club had ever seen. Over the years I've seen members take turns from their usual runs to guide and support what I called The Baby Group. However, there was no Baby Group when I started. Bill had done two horrible races in consecutive weekends and so decided to give himself a break for a while and run with me. This continued for a couple of months and one evening I was telling him that my uncle was the set dresser for the movie Twister, which had just come to Newcastle theatres, so I ought to go see it. He said "Well, I'd take you to see it, but I have my children this weekend". I thought that was a really clever way to ask me out, but not ask me out -- no risks, see? The ball was now in my court to either pick up or not. So, I said "Well, we could go next weekend if you don't have your children then." Twister was our first date; I blame it all on Pat.
Wakita is a small town of about 400 people.

It is interesting to see how a small town works around it's main attraction.
A few years ago when Pat first took Bill and me to see the Museum it was shut, but then the mayor's wife happened to drive by, stopped and asked if we wanted to go in. Within about a quarter of an hour someone showed up and let us in. For this visit Pat had called ahead and they'd opened up a couple of hours early, as we were going back on the road after this visit. Try to imagine a big city museum accommodating a group of 3-10 people in this way.
They clearly have a massive influx of international vistors -- from everywhere including the Pacific Islands and the Artic Circle, if the map is to be believed.

The museum is basically full of paraphernalia from the making of the movie. Twister is about storm chasers, people who collect meteorological data about tornadoes. (The link above requires clicking on a series of underlined phrases to get into the site). Tornadoes are a fact of life in Oklahoma and the other states in 'Tornado Alley'. People who live there seem to have a mixed attitude of being somewhat blase but at the same time having respect for the damage a tornado can do. I enjoyed parts of the movie, but I thought the flying cow was sort of foolish.

We had the benefit of Pat's running narrative concerning many of the objects and his experiences as the set dresser for a portion of the film -- it was filmed in a number of other locations besides Northern Oklahoma.
According to Pat, actor Bill Paxton is in the habit of having pinball machines created depicting each of the movies he makes. He generously donated this one to the museum, so apparently it isn't so he can play them all.

As mentioned earlier, we were due to head for Dodge City, Kansas, after we finished here, so we took the opportunity to have a group photo.

And one of me with my Uncle Pat.

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