The museum was pretty well done, especially since I had never heard the actual story of Casey Jones. The museum was also built to maximize flow. Starting with a 10 minute documentary to get a broad overview of the story, while also creating a gap between groups. By the end of mini-documentary you’re pretty much an expert and, as soon as you step through the door groups can separate into two or three paths, with sub-paths, that just keep pushing you along and through the museum in a way that allows you to see everything.
The house was nice to look at. And here’s where the efficiency of movement falls apart. You have to make your way all the way back to the front of the tain (and the souvenir shop). But, if that’s the worse thing that happens, you’re probably okay.
I ate at the store and restaurant and checked out some of the other shops before heading out of town.
I stopped off to drop some more trackables before arriving back in Nashville, TN.
That’s what I realized I was missing one. I tend to take projects pretty seriously, especially if other people are buying in; so, I retraced my steps where I was. No luck there, I drove back to Jackson and retraced my steps there as well. Then I gave up. Someone posted that they had found it and would move it along; of course, that was over a year ago and it hasn’t been dropped.
I made it back to Nashville in one piece. I cleaned out the inside of the car one more time. I dreaded having to wash it again as I looked at the front and likened the scene to the catch-tray on a bug zapper…in the middle of the woods.
I woke up and coordinated with a friend I was supposed to have lunch with. Another friend had to bail on dinner, which was bittersweet. Bitter because it took a decade for us to meet in person the first time and it had been a few years since then. Sweet because it meant I could make it all the way to Texarkana in one shot, having dubbed the Austin to Dallas leg the Molasses Leg given how many friends I apparently have in the area.
My friend and I ate and caught up on what had been happening since last we spoke, which wasn’t that long ago actually. We also dropped a trackable by his office as I introduced him to geocaching.
Then I headed out. I said it before and I’ll say it again, Dallas drivers sure know how to drive considering they don’t know how to drive. Watching many of them weave through traffic is amazing and wholly unnecessary.
I arrived in Texarkana and pretty much hit the first hotel that came up in a search. It was the first time I arrived in a city with what I felt was some time to kill. I went to a geocaching spot and dropped another trackable. It was by the Texarkana Post Office, which is the only federal building to reside in two states at once.
It was dark though, which was good considering I was dropping trackables but did not allow for the touristy thing and Texarkana had two sites I told everyone I would see. So, headed back to the hotel and caught up on some things (as I had been interleaving various types of business all along this trip (I love the 21st century).
Woke up and continued the gabfest with my friend who took me to see her mom; who I hadn’t seen since high school. I realized I missed the promised stop at something called “Bruco” in Italy, TX and would need to head that way soon if I was going to make it to north Dallas before it was too late.
When I made it to the Monolithic Institute I felt strange. I was surrounded by all the egg-shaped stuctures. They weren’t odd looking when taken on their own, only the in the context and juxtaposition of where I had come. I pulled into a parking spot at the visitor center.
The visitor center is a small dome building. The front door is perfectly normal. The main room is like walking into a small studio apartment. A couch to the left, a kitchen area opposite that, with a closet to the right of that. I noticed a TV suspended on the wall opposite the front door with an arm and a DVD player.
I headed for the small TV and got sidetracked by the presence of a bathroom. I quickly stepped in and took stock of what was there. A standup shower, sink, and commode. With that I had seen the entire house and releaved my bladder.
I went back to the TV and powered it and the DVD player on to see what I could see. I could only see one chapter on the DVD as there was no remote or way to navigate the menu. I left the vistor center and walked across the street to what was labeled as the office. The Facebook post I sent friends summed it up pretty well, “Looks like The Shire and feels like The Stepford Wives.”
Long story short I got into a conversation with Gary Clark, Monolithic’s Vice President. He gave me the education of what they do from a business perspective. Then we both headed over to what I had come here for, Bruco. The name given the to the main manufacturing plant for the airform of various structures they are contracted to build.
The airform is designed and welded together. Then it is inflated with air. The interior is sprayed with urethane to reinforce it (and to turn the inflating fans off). A skeleton of rebar is laid inside and then sprayed with concrete; like an upside down swimming pool.
The airforms are pretty interesting and are really what makes this different. They are made of a material similar to a soft-shell many put on a track bed, which is then covered in PVC material making it semi-waterproof and wind-resistent. The airform replaces the traditional framing of a building, providing the scaffold upon which the other materials are applied. When the building is completed, the airform is left in place and can provide rain and wind protection, like shingles and other roofing materials for a few years.
Gary told me that every building on the lot is an experiment of some soft. Bruco itself is an experiment is creating a large dome with minimum building materials while providing high durability and strength. That’s why it’s multiple domes instead of a domed cylinder. If they had gone with straight alls, it would have required more concrete and rebar to maintain strength. Further, Bruco’s exterior is coated in tin sheets that cover the airform to experiment with different exterior solutions beyond the airform.
The main office, which doubles as a retal office, a secondary business and service Monolithic provides is an experiment in heating and cooling. Specifically, can a space as large as the main office be effectively tempature controlled using nothing more than three or four window AC units. From firsthand experience, I think it can. Further, the office employs sound dampening blankets hung from the ceiling to reduce reverb.
I thanked Gary profusely for the education and tour and head on my way to north Dallas.
I made it to Lewisville, TX and opted for a hotel. I dropped another trackable and grabbed something to eat before calling it a night.
Woke up early to be able to say goodbye to everyone. Got into a healthy debate with my cousin-in-law (making up words I’m sure) before heading out.
Dr. Pepper Museum was very nice. I had my first Dr. Pepper in almost five years, when I replaced it with water as almost my sole beverage. This was after over 20 years of drinking Dr. Pepper almost exclusively and actiely avoiding water.
I had a hand-mixed in a cup and a factory-made serving in a glass bottle.
I’ve decided that I can only enjoy Dr. Pepper now if it comes from a glass bottle, in which it was manufactured, and is made with real sugar; needless to say, probably not gonna be drinking a lot of Dr. Pepper.
Then headed to Granbury (outside Dallas). Met a long time friend and her boyfriend and his son for dinner. It was good catching up for the night.
Woke up feeling surprisingly rested. Hadn’t slept that since I lived in my car.
I’m glad I didn’t push through that night because I would have missed Cooper’s BBQ in LLano, TX. Good food and made friends with a couple regulars standing in front of me in line.
Dropped a couple more trackables before making it to my cousin’s house.
My cousin and I hung out and went geocaching to drop some more trackables off before heading to bed.
I woke up early to get on the road to the Dr. Pepper Museum. This was the only soda I drank for almost two decades of my life. When my mother was younger, she used to work at a Dr. Pepper plant in the area of the museum. I had not had a soda for almost five years at this point, but had decided I would.
I have no concept of time as we typically measure it. So, I was a little shocked to find out that The Dr. Pepper Museum was closed because it was Sunday; truth to be told, I was a little shocked to find out it was Sunday. My cousin and I went out caching and I think we dropped 11 trackables altogether, in two caches, we really lucked out.
The it was off to bed.
I woke up and did some more running around to finalize some things. Then mom and I made our way to Midland, TX. The goal was to make it to Austin, TX while dropping trackables along the way. We did not make it to Austin.
While in Midland though I met a gentleman who is way more in the know of all things Geocaching than I and picked his brain before dropping the one attributed to me and then three more into a cache he owns.
I made it to a small rest area my cousin told me about. Found one cache, was too concerned about muggles (non-cachers) despite it being quite late at night. Used the facilities and pressed forward.
Stopped at the next town to drop another trackable. Then kept heading on. Don’t remember when I decided to turn back but I did. Decided I would rather sleep in a well lit rest area than try to push through to Austin.