Kansas

We left the COE Campground in Missouri and headed west. We made a stop at a Walmart to do some grocery shopping and then stopped for the night in Springfield, Missouri. The Campground was pretty close to the highway and the owner told us it sounded like ocean waves. Tim and I chuckled about this – don’t believe he has ever been to the ocean lol. We did get a good night sleep so we were happy.

Our next stop was Chanute Kansas which is a small town with less then 10,000 people. Our 5th wheel camper was built here and we have come back to have it serviced. We need a new roof, new carpeting and have the slides adjusted and fixed. They cannot schedule us right away – we will need to come back in two weeks. We spent the night in the city park which is free for 2 nights for water and electric. Cannot beat that price!

Our next stop was a COE campground on Big Hill Lake. We were very lucky to get a full hookup campground, tables, fire ring, and a nice spaced site. This lake has swimming, beach, fishing, boating, and hiking. During the weekend it was full but during the week so peaceful. We spent a lot of time reading and a few walks. We also did a lot of sightseeing. We always thought Kansas was a boring place to visit but we really enjoyed our stay in the state.

Coffeyville Kansas was settled as an Indian Trading post in 1869. Inn 1880 it was known as Cow Town due to the number of cattle grazing plus it was a shipping point for cattle herds. On October 5, 1892 the Dalton Gang, which consisted of 5 men, tried to rob 2 banks at the same time. The citizens of the town recognized them and went into the hardware store and armed themselves with weapons. They were able to kill all but one man. He was held in Death Alley in the Old Jail. Today they have murals painted all over town by Don Srague whom did a wonderful job. One of the murals the man seems to be looking right at you – another is a picture of a baseball pitcher throwing the ball and then across the street on a building is the ball. Really cool. We walked around the town and went into a few stores. We even went into a pawn shop which turned out to be interesting. We toured the Old Codon Bank which was raided by the Dalton gang and found it amazing. The town was also the birthplace of cowboy boots.

Another town we found very interesting was Independence, Kansas. Again under 10,000 people but we found many interesting things to do.

Little House On the Prairie Museum had a replic of the original home that Laura Ingalls Wilder lived in back in 1869 They also had a one room school house and a post office on the grounds. Laura loved writing stories about her childhood in a pioneer family. The tv series was based on her books. We also found a beautiful park outside of town and a beautiful field of Sunflowers growing. I had only seen this in pictures before and I must say it was just beautiful.

We dropped our camper off and headed to Marriott Hotel in Wichita Kansas while it was being fixed. Because we use a Marriott Visa Card and charge all our expenses we were able to spend 15 nights for free. Love great bargains. We got settled into our room which had a love seat, chair, desk, king sized bed, tv, small refrigerator and microwave.

Wichita had so many interesting places to visit, good restaurants, great shopping and great bike riding paths. Would you believe they have over 80 miles of bicycle trails. We rode at the county park and really enjoyed that.

The Historical Museum For Adventures In Time was a history lesson on Wichita and its people. It was housed in the 1892 City Hall Building. The exhibits covered the growth of Wichita, the aircraft industry in town, oil industry, the dust bowl, Great Depression, WWI, arts, entertainment and technology. They even had a display of a 19th century home and and old fashion drug store with a soda fountain. I enjoyed the toy collection as we used to have many of those toys. Guess we are getting old to remember things that look so old lol.

Coleman Museum and Outlet is located in Wichita with a display of products built in the last 100 years. Being campers we used many Coleman products from tents, sleeping bags, stoves, heaters and coolers so we really enjoyed the display and the outlet store.

While in town they had an American Indian Festival held at the Century II Expo Hall. We watched a Pow Wow which was very interesting to us. Pow Wow’s are American Indian celebrations of community and spirituality featuring Indian dances, drums and vendors. The drums symbolize the heartbeat of Mother Earth.

Along the Arkansas and Little Arkansas Rivers in Wichita is the Keeper of the Plains Statue. It is so impressive and each night in nice weather they light a fire ring for 15 minutes. They also have a Mid-America Indian Center which is a museum, gallery, and gift shop. It preserves and educates on the heritage of the American Indian.

Old Cowtown Museum is a living history of Wichita in 1865 as a frontier settlement. They have over 40 buildings plus a working farm on the site. We enjoyed touring and learned a little more about Wichita. We even got to see a gunfight in the street showing the wild west.

Old Town has brick lined streets and old warehouses from the mid 1800’s which are now converted into shops, apartments, and restaurants. I had my hair cut here and we enjoyed Chicago Pizza.

Botanica, The Wichita Gardens sit on 9.5 acres with 25 gardens, 50,000 tulips, 100,000 daffodils, 20,000 annuals, 5000 chrysantheums, and 4000 species of plants. Everything was just beautiful and wonderful weather.

We both enjoy zoos so one day we went to the Sedgwick County Zoo. This zoo was founded in 1971 and has over 3000 animals with 400 different species. Enjoyable day.

McConnell Air Force Base is located here also and its primary mission is to provide refueling. We were able to witness that once in Minnesota and I must say it was impressive. We did a little shopping while here ad a quick tour of the campground.

Great Plains Transportation Museum displays old railroad cars. We enjoyed hearing stories about the railroad from a few old men whom used to work on the railroad.

One day we took a ride to Mulvane, Kansas and toured their historical museum. This town was started in 1879 as a rail town and the museum is located in the train station. The woman running the Museum was so friendly and imformative that we really enjoyed are stay.

Abilene Kansas is where the Texas longhorns passed thru and also where President Dwight David Eisenhower lived and where he is buried. The grounds consist of a Visitor Center, Presidential Library and Museum, his boyhood home and a place of meditation which was just beautiful. I love Presidential Libraries and learning more about our great leaders.

Something else we did that was totally different was to tour the Strataca – which is a Salt Museum located in Hutchinson, Kansas. It is built within one of the world’s largest deposits of rock salt and provides the opportunity to go 650 feet (198 meters) beneath the Earth’s surface. It is a unique destination attraction for exploring an environs carved from salt deposits formed 275 million years ago. The Hutchinson mine is home to Underground Vaults & Storage, a secure facility housing documents, artifacts, and other valuable material from around the world.

My favorite place was Lindsborg, Kansas which is called Little Sweden USA as Swedish immigrants settled the town in 1868. Both of my mother’s parents came from Sweden so it was very interesting to me. The town has only 3,458 people so very small. We had lunch at the Swedish Crown Restaurant and had a Swedish meatball dinner. It was good but my mother made them much better. LOL. We walked around town and went into the shops. We even went into a self serve bakery. You take what you want to eat and leave the money in a jar. Imagine that in today’s world? We met a really nice Swedish lady on the street and she told us different things to see. Such a small world – her son used to work at the CT State Library. We went into one gift shop where I bought a Christmas Swedish Angel Chime which we always had growing up.

We stopped at Viking Valley Playground which was built in 4 days by 900 volunteers. They used the ideas that the children gave them for the design and it is really cool. They had a tree house, rocket ship, climbing wall and a castle to name a few. Our grandchildren would have loved this stop.

The McPherson County Old Mill Museum which preserves the early heritage especially time frame from 1870 to 1910. They had a 1898 Smoky Valley Roller Mill which was built in 1898 and used until 1955. It processed over 35 bushels of wheat per hour which yielded 1470 lbs of flour. Most of it was built out of wood and was just beautiful. They also had an 1870 log cabin, 1903 school house, heritage center, chapel, train depot, windmill, blacksmith shop and the Swedish Pavilion from the 1904 World’s Fair. The director of the museum helped me to learn more about my swedish roots.

We visited Coronado Heights Park which we found by driving up a rocky dirt road. In 1930 Works Progress Administration build a castle and picnic area atop a hill. Once inside the castle you get great views of the farm lands surrounding the area. They believe that Coronado visited Kansas in 1541 so that is how they got the name.

Back to Chanute to pick up our camper and then we spent the night in the city park. As we were closing up the next morning the slide did not come in right so back to the factory for an adjustment. I must say that the people at NU-Wa are the nicest people to work with – they listen to you and do only what you tell them to do. We were able to leave everything in the camper and they worked around it. Very happy with our carpet and repairs.

Stay tuned for our next stop