Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Kansas is Wide!

Today we spent the whole day in Kansas except for the last ten miles heading to our motel in Burlington, Colorado. We decided early on to see a few sights along the way, and we certainly did.

Our first stop was the Flint Hills Tall Grass Prairie, an overlook a few miles off I-70. The vista across the valley was beautiful.

Our next stop was Abilene, the childhood home of Dwight Eisenhower. We watched the movie first, along with a large number of youngish to middle-aged people, almost all men. I talked to one of them and he said they were military people from 89 countries going through a leadership training program at Fort Leavenworth. The two I spoke with were from the Philippines and Cambodia. Very interesting! After the movie about Ike's life, we had a guided tour of the home. The entire campus was beautifully kept, with four main buildings -- the home, visitor center, museum, and library. There was also a small chapel where Ike and Mamie are buried. The home was small and typical for the late 19th century. His parents raised six sons there. 

After touring the house, we took advantage of a picnic area to have our lunch (no photo; it was the same as yesterday). We did a quick tour of the museum. We were fortunate; the museum had been closed for renovations and today was the first day it was reopened. We didn't tour the library.

And then we hit the road again. The thermometer on the car kept climbing and settled at 100° for most of the afternoon. We were very grateful for air-conditioning! 

Our next stop was further off the highway in the town of Lucas. We had read about an eccentric man who built a house of limestone and surrounded it with sculptures he made out of cement. It was very weird and worth seeing. The house looked like a log cabin as you can see below, but the "logs" were actually limestone. They were similar to the fence posts we saw lining the roads in that area. He called his place the Garden of Eden and many of the sculptures were Biblical. The main entrance showed Adam and Eve. 

The grounds had numerous structures and more odd sculptures all over. The oddest thing was the mausoleum, which the young woman working unlocked for us and a couple who were also visiting. Our hero's coffin had a glass top and his decomposed/mummified body was visible. Pictures not allowed, thank goodness! His wife was buried below him, in cement, of course.

Our last stop was going to be Castle Rock, a supposedly wonderful outcropping in the middle of flat land. However, when we discovered it was 15 miles south of the highway and mostly dirt road, we decided we'd had enough sight-seeing for one day. We got to our motel about 5:30, unpacked, and went to dinner. It was a good decision, as there were only a few people there when we arrived and a crowd waiting when we left. The Dish Room had excellent food; we both had dinner salads.

We've gained an hour each day so far, but we'll be in Colorado for a while now. We are coming along well with Around the World in 80 Days; we only have about an hour to go -- the group has arrived in Liverpool and Fogg has been arrested. (You must know the story...)

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Westward Ho!

Last year when I learned my great-niece was getting married in Oregon in August, I thought it would be great to drive out, see some sights along the way, and visit friends in the Northwest. My sister Lucy, grandmother to the bride, agreed to travel with me for the trip out. So we are underway!

Sunday afternoon I drove to her home in Indianapolis, about a three-hour drive, and spent the night. Monday morning we hit the road at about 7:30, heading west on I-70 toward Kansas City. Our sister Becky kindly came outside and took a shot of us as we prepared to leave.

Our drive was uneventful. Near the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers we saw many fields still flooded from the heavy spring and early summer rains. We drove through one fairly heavy storm, but it was over quickly and the sky turned blue. When we weren't talking, we listened to an audio recording of Jules Verne's Around the World in 80 Days. We had seen the movie, but neither of us had actually read the book. We are enjoying it!

We stopped for lunch at a rest stop along the highway. I had packed a cooler and a bag of lunch items. We had our chicken/cheese/lettuce wraps, sweet potato chips, V-8, and cherries for dessert. It was hot, but we found a shaded picnic table and it was very pleasant.

We had a reservation at a Hyatt Place near Kansas City, Kansas. We arrived, put our luggage on a cart and went inside. When I tried to check in, they said, oh, you're at the other Hyatt Place, not this one. It must happen a lot, as they gave me a printed copy of directions to the correct one, which turned out to be only about a mile and a half away. We settled in and were looking forward to a swim. Lucy went down to check and their pool was under maintenance and not available. She asked if we could go back to the other Hyatt and use theirs instead. Oh, no, they have different owners. But after her sob story of how badly we needed to swim (after all, we are seniors and have physical therapy needs that only water can provide), they called the other hotel and it was agreed. When we arrived back at the first hotel, the kind man who had helped us load up seemed surprised to see us again. When we said we were the senior swimmers, he laughed and said, of course! We had a wonderful swim and headed out for dinner directly from there.

Evidently Joe's Kansas City Barbecue is world-famous and we wanted to try it. As we were standing staring at the menu board, a kind gentleman said "Get the Z-Man." Brisket, smoked provolone cheese, and onion rings on a kaiser roll. We got a side each and shared: barbecued beans and Kansas Caviar, a great veggie mixture. It was all delicious and filling and I can recommend it if you are ever in this area. 

Tomorrow we head on to eastern Colorado.