Yesterday I attended the 140 Characters Conference in Hutchinson, Kansas. It was the first social media conference I've ever attended that focused on Twitter rather than blogging. It's actually misleading to say that the 10-minute presentations were about Twitter - they were really about communicating with other people using online technology.
I drove the approximately 250 miles to Hutchinson on Sunday and made it there in time to change into my Halloween costume and head to the Kansas Underground Salt Museum with my roommate Gigi Belmonico, who was one of the speakers.
There was a reception in the lobby and we took advantage of the opportunity to tour the museum itself, which is 650 feet below ground level in a working salt mine. A tram took us around various parts of the mine while its driver explained the history of salt mining in the area. This is the mine where Mike Rowe filmed the salt mining episode of "Dirty Jobs."
Here's Gigi in her Halloween costume and hard hat (every visitor and worker had to wear a hard hat and carry an emergency breathing apparatus) posing by a giant chunk of salt:
An example of the movie memorabilia stored in the mines:
The conference itself was from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Monday. The format was for presentations to last 10 minutes each, which allowed for a tremendous variety of topics. Because the theme of this particular conference's location was "small town," there was some emphasis on agriculture, small town tourism, etc., but most of what was said could be applied to any business or person in social media.
After the conference, there was a reception at the Kansas Cosmosphere. It's only been about five years or so since my last tour of the museum, but I appreciated that we were given the opportunity to get a behind-the-scenes look at some of their collection.
Here's the hatch of the Apollo 13 command module, which was just sitting in the office:
Here's a Russian space suit they had filed away:
I love this stained glass window above the entrance to the museum. The slogan at the top is also the Kansas State motto, which seems very appropriate for a space museum in Kansas:
Obviously, space tourism is big in Hutchinson, but I was still surprised and delighted when I saw the water park in the middle of our hotel. This was the view from our room window:
If I'd been a kid, you wouldn't have been able to get me out of there with a crowbar.
All in all it was a great way to spend the beginning of my vacation week. My thanks to Jeff Pulver and Becky McCray for all their hard work putting on the conference and related activities. Thanks again to Gigi for inviting me and being a great roomie.