Posts Tagged ‘Kansas’

“The first trip of the Pony Express was made in ten days – an average of two hundred miles a day. But we soon began stretching our riders and making better time.” – Buffalo Bill

Pony Express statue in St. Joseph, Missouri. — Wikipedia photo

Adventures with Pepper: Day 13 Continued

            Wow! Two hundred miles a day on horseback!. That’s almost exactly how many miles Pepper and I would be traveling today as we made our way from Prairie Dog State Park to Seneca, Kansas, on Highway 36.

The small pond at the Stallbaumer RV Park in Seneca, Kansas, where Pepper and I spent a quiet night. — Photo by Pat Bean

Our route took us in an almost straight line through Northern Kansas’ agriculture fields, most of which had already been harvested. A sign also told us we were passing through the birthplace of “Home on the Range.”We were also traveling the route of the Pony Express, which began in St. Joseph, Missouri, and went all the way to Sacramento, California. Historical markers, and an occasional hill-top silhouette of a pony rider reminded of this every few miles.

Red-tailed hawks, turkey vultures and one prairie falcon, well at least one I could identify, soared above as we passed. It was easy to identify the red-tails by the vibrant color of their tails, and the vultures were easily identified by the way they flew and the white pattern on the underside of their tails.

It took me much longer to identify the falcon, however, and I guessed it simply by the shape of its wings. As always, I wondered what it would be like to have the freedom of flight.

And so went this day’s drive, a bit of history, a bit of folk art, and a lot of wondering.

Book Report: I’m staying put today and haven’t got to working on Travels with Maggie yet – but I will. I gave my early morning, the time when I write best, to a paying writing gig, which I’ll announce at a later date.

The Wondering Wanderer’s blog pick of the day.

Bean’s Pat:  Daily Diversion http://tinyurl.com/8j6qhyo Just a reminder that there are things we can do when not connected the internet. Besides, I like the dog.

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             “Art is the most intense mode of individualism that the world has known.” – Oscar Wilde

Boyer Museum in Belleville, Kansas. — Photo by Pat Bean

Adventures with Pepper: Day 13  

Geographic center plaque … Wikipedia photo

           Today’s drive through Kansas took me through Lebanon, Kansas, whose population is less than 300. So what was significant about Lebanon, you’re probably wondering?            It’s the closest city to the site designated as the geographic center of this country’s mainland 48 states. I just found that interesting.

But more interesting was the Paul Boyer Museum of Animated Carvings. What a delightful little taste of American folk art.

The museum is run by Ann and Candy, daughters of Paul, who is a carver with a great sense of humor. I got to chat with both of the cheerful women for a while. The pride for their artistic father beamed from their faces.

This creation of Paul Boyer is called Gasser Gertie. She comes complete with sound effects. — Photo by Pat Bean

Paul lost a leg in a car accident in 1965, giving him plenty of time to use his fantastic imagination to create characters with large noses doing everyday things with an inventive twist.

I had read about the museum, located just off Highway 36 in Belleville, Kansas, and had timed the day’s drive to be there when it was open, which is 1-5 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays. I’m so glad I did.

The museum was one of those unexpected surprises that keep me traveling.

Book Report: Travels with Maggie is now up to 53, 617 words.

The Wondering Wanderer’s blog pick of the day.

Bean’s Pat: The Bogs of Ohio:  http://tinyurl.com/9kqjeol Hidden Feelings: This blogger takes the most amazing photos, and these are fantastic.

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 “There is nothing to writing. All you need to do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” – Ernest Hemingway

A morning sky in Garden City, Kansas. It was windy Oz kind of day. -- Photo by Pat Bean


NaNoWriMo update … 47,602 word

Of course these days it’s the computer that takes our blood donations, well at least for most of us, I’m assuming.

The home stretch is in sight. So I’m saving my words for the finish. I need a head start because I have a 2 p.m. appointment tomorrow.

Happy writing everybody.

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“Home is the place where it feels right to walk around without shoes.” – Unknown

The Coronado Museum in Liberal Kansas today. It began life as a Sears and Roebuck mail order home. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Travels With Maggie

On my way to Idaho to escape the Texas heat for the summer, I visited the Coronado Museum in Liberal, Kansas. It was so named because Vasquez de Coronado traveled through the area in 1541 in search of the fabled Seven Cities of Gold. He and his band of soldiers left behind a few trinkets, which are now on display at the museum

While the exhibits were interesting, the tidbit that intrigued me was the fact that the 1918 building housing the museum was ordered from a Sears and Roebuck Catalog. The popular mail-order business sold hundreds of these between 1908-1940, offering 150 different models to choose from.

It was the second such building I had encountered in my travels. The first was a historic farm house in Battle Ground, Indiana, adjacent to Prophetstown State Park.

That Indiana home, the Hillrose model, came complete with all electrical and plumbing fixtures, and had been shipped by rail to the site, at a cost of $6,880. For tourist purposes, meaning dollars, that house had been recreated at a cost much exceeding the original.

What got me thinking about these homes were two things. First, the main topic of conversation on my Story Circle Network chat group the past week has been the green benefits of smaller, older homes vs larger, newer ones.

One of the mail order homes offered by Sears and Roebuck between 1908 and 1940. -- Illustration courtesy of Wikipedia

Having once lived in a small home built in 1912 that had thick walls and real wood construction – and low utility bills, I weighed in on the side of smaller and older. While not exactly small, the Kansas mail-order former home and now a museum looked as if it had stood the test of time.

The second thing that got me thinking about Sears and Roebuck homes was a great mystery writer, Blaize Clement, whom I discovered a couple of weeks ago. Her heroine’s grandparents, and now her brother, lived in a Sears Roebuck mail-order home. The fictional home was mentioned in all five of her books, which I gobbled up the past two weeks.

It’s sort of funny how when once you learn something new, you come across it everywhere. It makes you wonder why it’s only now come to your attention.

Has that kind of thing ever happened to you?

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Kansas in the rear-view mirror -- Photo by Pat Bean

“Life becomes precious and more special to us when we look for the little everyday miracles and get excited about the privileges of simply being human.” — Tim Hansel.

Travels With Maggie

Maggie and I left Kansas and its winds behind today as we drove west on Highway 50 to John Martin Reservoir State Park in Colorado. Route 50, like the more famous Route 66, was created in 1926 as part of the original U.S. Highway System.

But while only bits and piece of the more famous Route 66, which stretched from Chicago to Los Angeles, remains today, the longer Highway 50 is almost intact, stretching from the Atlantic in Maryland to Sacramento, California. Originally it went all the way to San Francisco, but that section got eaten up by larger roads, not much different from what Highway 50 did to earlier travel routes.

Portions of Highway 50 used to be part of the Santa Fe Trail, back when travel depended on feet, human or animal. That unpaved trail, stretching from Missouri to Santa Fe, New Mexico, was heavily used from 1822 until the railroad came to Santa Fe about 1880.

Today’s drive was quite peaceful, with little traffic, giving me time to consider how fortunate I was to have four wheels carrying me smoothly to my destination. My passing RV spooked a striking male ring-necked pheasant in the grasses beside the road and I got to see him skitter away, his red and green head bobbing and his long tail waving behind him.

As I drove, gaining elevation, I could see father behind me than ahead. It was a puffy-white cloud day, and the sky looked like a sea with white-capped waves. The image in my rear-view mirror was striking enough that I snapped a picture of it as I drove. Not too smart probably but there were no other cars in sight.

Time passed fast and soon we were pulling into the campground, where I backed my RV, Gypsy Lee, up next to Hasty Lake. Robins, Eurasian doves, great-tailed grackles, blue-winged teal floating in the lake and a twittering titmouse welcomed us.

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A scene from Dorothy's House -- Photo by Pat Bean

Western meadowlark, photo by Kevin Cole

 “It’s a warm wind, the west wind, full of birds’ cries; I never hear the west wind but tears are in my eyes. For it comes from the west lands, the old brown hills, and April’s in the West wind, and daffodils.” — John Masefield

Travels With Maggie

Kansas: The sunflower is the state flower and the western meadowlark its state bird. While I was a bit too early for sunflowers, I saw lots of western meadowlarks. This is a bird whose beauty I failed to see until I first looked at it through binoculars 12 years ago.

It’s golden breast, adorned with a black necklace, is so brilliant that on seeing the feathers magnified I forgot to breathe for a bit. Now when I see one flitting alongside the road as I drive, and I saw lots this day, I remember the intensity of the golden color even if all I see to identify the bird is its outer white tail feathers as it skims the grasses in the opposite direction from the road.

Besides meadowlarks, I also experienced plenty of Kansas’ Oz-Land winds, although not quite as bad as the one that sent Dorothy’s home flying out of this world. The state, in case you’re interested in trivia, is named after the Kansas Indians, who were once known as People of the Wind.

While the wind blew outside this morning I, appropriately, toured Dorothy’s House that sits beside Liberal’s Coronado Museum. Both the historical museum, and its recreated kitchen of Aunt Em’s time reminded me of my grandmother’s home, perhaps because I was born the same year the Wizard of Oz movie was released.

Two antiques on display at the museum, an icebox that was kept cool by a daily visit of an ice wagon and a treadle sewing machine that was foot-powered, had strong memories for me.

I remembered waiting for the ice man to come to my grandmother’s home before she finally broke down and bought one of those newfangled refrigerators, and I remembered the time I played around on her sewing machine and put a needle through my thumb.

Gosh! I hadn’t thought of those things in a long time.

Back outside in the wind, Maggie and I only made it to Garden City, just 65 miles up the road from Liberal, before calling a halt to our travels for the day.

“I’m tired of fighting the wind,” I told the clerk when I checked into RJ’s RV Park.

“Perhaps,” he said as he assigned me to a site on Tinman Alley, “it will be calmer tomorrow.”

I doubted it. After all, unlike Dorothy, I was in Kansas.

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I think Maggie was as surprised as I was on seeing a circular sidewalk, landscaped with funky art, that led nowhere off to the side of the Western Star RV Ranch in Liberal, Kansas. -- Photo by Pat Bean

I saw turkeys alongside the road when traveling Highway 83. — Photo by Pat Bean


“He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe is as good as dead; his eyes are closed.” Albert Einstein

Travels With Maggie

After rising early, drinking my cream-drenched coffee while posting my blog, catching up on e-mail and reading the New York Times online, then waking and taking my dog, Maggie, for a walk, I decided to get a few extra miles on the road this day.

I did just that – making it from Vernon, Texas, to Liberal, Kansas.

Vernon lies along the route of the former Great Western Trail and millions of cattle passed through the town during the late 1800s. Liberal lies along the route Coronado took in his search in the mid-1500s for the mythical Seven Cities of Gold.

The distance between the two historic cities, if you take Highway 287 west to Childress and turn north on Highway 83, is 261 miles. It was an eye-opening journey.

The landscape was mostly occupied by agriculture fields with an occasional oil rig plopped down in the middle. Sometimes the pump was rusted and still, sometime rusted and pumping.

The flatness of the land was broken by stumpy hills whose summits looked out for miles and miles to an almost endless horizon.

A multitude of birds were out enjoying relief from the high winds that had dominated the outdoors for the past several days, during which I had mostly only seen turkey vultures. This day I identified robins, great-tailed grackles, house sparrows, mourning doves, meadowlarks, red-tailed hawks, horned larks, rock pigeons, Eurasian collarded doves and even a half dozen wild turkeys.

Then there was the dinosaur near Canadian, a funny name for a Texas city I thought. A bit of internet research after I had settled in for the night told me the town was named after the Canadian River. Since the river’s headwaters are in Colorado, that left me wondering where the name of the river came from.

I’m still wondering about that, but I did learn more about the dinosaur that sits on a prominent Mesa for the viewing pleasure of Highway 83 travelers. The 50-foot brontosaurus was created by artist Gene Cockrell and named Audry after his wife. You can see a picture of the long-necked creature – the dinosaur not the wife – at RoadsideAmerica.com

I laughed when a huge RV overtook and passed me towing a fancy barbecue smoker with all the works. Then I wondered where those folks were going to settle for the night and if I could finagle an invitation to dinner. The rig disappeared over one of the hills, however, and I never saw it again.

Almost before I knew it, the miles were behind me and I was hooking Gypsy Lee up at the Western Star RV Ranch on Highway 54, five miles outside of Liberal.

The park had a a circular sidewalk, leading nowhere and with funky landscaping art, where I took Maggie for a walk. A patch of sickly grass with stickers, however, lay between it and the graveled RV area.

Poor Maggie got a sticker in her paw. She stopped, lifted her foot and demanded with a painful look that I Remove the nasty offender! After it was out, I then got the toasty brown-eyed look that said Carry me to the sidewalk.

Of course I did. She’s the boss, or so my kids are always telling me.

I also shared the red beans and rice leftovers from the night before with her before we settled down to watch an episode of Castle on my DVDs. She got a doggie treat and I got some peach yogurt to eat as we watched.

As my travels go, it was just an ordinary day. But I loved every minute of it.

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