Dear Kansas, I'm sorry for what I said about you...
I'm sorry for what I said about you in the past. On roadtrips across the great USA it is often necessary to drive through Kansas. So, I have been through Kansas quite a few times. With the destination in mind, it seems that it has always been a rush, with no time to stop and explore. I have been guilty of complaining about the seemingly endless farm fields, flat lands, and wide open spaces.
But something happened this week, this week we are driving through Kansas with time to spare. Our journey is taking us from southeastern Colorado to North Central Missouri. The trip is about 800 miles and we have almost a whole week to do it.
Upon entering Kansas from Colorado, we stopped at the welcome center to enjoy some free coffee, stretch our legs, get a photo with Dorothy and the rest of the Wizard of Oz cast, and pick up a couple of travel brochures. I am a sucker for welcome centers and travel brochures/magazines. Even with my handy smart phone, I find these old-fashioned paper sources of information much more informative and I like the tactile feeling of flipping pages as opposed to staring at a screen. Anyway, we were able to find some great information about some places that we would stop at later.
We drove a little further into the state and stopped along a rest stop. I had read on my RVParky app that Kansas rest stops offer free dump stations and overnight parking was allowed. The rest stop had a large circle drive past the dump station. There was adequate space for us to park and have a picnic and run around in the yard. It really was a park-like setting and we decided to stay for the night. Thankfully the extreme heat from last week had passed and we stayed cool with our windows open.
The next day we made a pitstop at Walmart and then drove on to the town of Oakley. We stopped at the Buffalo Bill Cultural Center. I didn't know much about Buffalo Bill apart from his famed wild west show. Apparently it was near the city of Oakley that William F. Cody earned his nickname after winning a Buffalo hunting competition against William Comstock where he killed 69 buffalo in one day! Poor Buffalo, but there was a purpose for all that hunting - the meat was used to feed the railroad workers.
We enjoyed taking a few photo opps with the giant sculptures and face-cut-outs of famous western figures outside of the center. Inside the center we talked to the friendly, helpful workers and did some shopping at the gift shop. I found an interesting book about Annie Oakley (but no, the town was not named after her)
Also in the town of Oakley is the Fink Fossil Museum, housed in the same building as the public library. This museum has a very impressive collection of fossilized shark teeth and various sea creatures. These sea creatures' bones and teeth were found right in the middle of Kansas! I am often amazed that there is no mention of a world wide flood in museums around the USA, as the evidence seems to point to that possibility, but there is only one accepted viewpoint on the history of things and I wish alternative theories were mentioned. Nevertheless, the fossils were very interesting to look at, even if I disagree with the timelines that were given.
In this museum there were also several displays about the local history of that area, including a sod house, a replica of a train station, local shops, an old firetruck, and a nice collection of artwork by local artists. Before we left we bought a few pieces of candy and the nice lady at the counter gave each of the kids a fossilized shark tooth.
The area where all these fossils were found is near Oakley and is called Monument Rock. It is kind of like a minature version of the Badlands. Is it terrible that we didn't actually go and explore it? The kids were much more excited about the playground next to the library, and I figured I had given them enough learning opportunities for one day. Maybe next time we come through.
We made the trip into Kansas City for some famous bbq. It was difficult to choose where to go, there are so many choices and they all had great reviews. We decided on Arthur Bryants for pure historical/nostalgic value. Technically they are in Missouri, oh well, close enough. Arthur Bryant's did not dissappoint. Yum! Everything was messy and delicious.
After our bbq adventure of yummyness we spent the night in the Cabella's parking lot just west of Kansas City (we actually left our RV there while we drove into the city for dinner). This particular Cabella had a wildlife museum and the world's largest collection of mule deer. It was interesting to see all of the varieties of animals and the large aquarium. It is funny to me that sometimes we seem to enjoy boondocking in store parking lots just as much as a campground.
An amazing perk of full-time travel is there is plenty of time to explore small towns all across the globe. Even if you don't travel full-time, there is always something new to experience and explore if you look hard enough. It is worth the effort, who knows what kind of adventure you will have!
The lesson I learned in Kansas could apply to other areas of life. Complaining about boredom is never a good idea. I don't let my kids do it, so maybe I should take my own advice. I remember reading somewhere the words of one wise mother who would reply to the classic "I'm bored" complaint from her kids "There's no such thing as boredom, only a lack of creativity." True.
Thank you for reading along, I hope you are all having wonderful adventures!
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