I wrapped up my time in Missouri with a visit to the Nelson-Atkins Museum in Kansas City, home of the Chefs (not a typo). Another wonderful museum with an impressive collection of Asian art, a beautiful sculpture garden (the Claes Oldenburg shuttlecocks on the lawn were awesome) and all for the low low price of $0! Yes, like Crystal Springs and Saint Louis Art Museum, N-A Museum was also free!
As you know, there are two Kansas City’s – one in MO and one in KS. So getting into Kansas took about three minutes once I got on the highway. Here’s the official sign welcoming me to the state, albeit slightly blurry. I’m also including a pic of the last exit in Kansas as you drive to Colorado, aptly named Kanorado. Hilarious.
Let’s talk about Kansas. Everyone that I’d spoken to said pretty much the same thing…
“Drive through as fast as you can since there’s nothing to see.”
“You thought Nebraska was boring? Wait til you drive through Kansas.”
And so on. So the plan was just to stay on I-70 all the way across. But me being me, I still consulted my Off the Beaten Path book, in case there was anything of interest near/along/close to the highway. Sure enough, there was Mushroom Rock State Park. Sweet. Love cool geological formations. A few back roads and one dusty road later, I was there! This is the smallest state park I’ve ever seen – plus there were only two mushroom rocks. But it was still really cool to see and Juno enjoyed being a part of the action.
I made a reservation to stay at Kanopolis State Park which was about 15 minutes from the mushrooms. Right on a lake, the place was packed with families up for a weekend of fishing, boating, etc. While walking Juno that night, I met Jolene and Chris. I told them this was my first time in Kansas and asked them what else I could do that was in the vicinity. Chris told me about Coronado Heights – a castle on a hill (hills in Kansas??) that was about 30 minutes away. And Jolene reminded me that Russell Stover is based in Kansas and that I should hit the company store. Done and done!
Re Coronado Heights – according to Wikipedia, this is alleged to be near the place where Francisco Vásquez de Coronado gave up his search for the seven cities of gold and turned around to return to Mexico. So yes, there are castles in Kansas. Note the pic in the lower left hand corner – that was the view… flat flat flat.
Since I had already backtracked a ways, I figured I might as well continue my tour of Presidential Libraries and check out the Eisenhower Museum/childhood home/burial site in Abilene, Kansas (because when am I ever going to be in Abilene again???) There are plans for a major renovation next year that will include more interactive exhibits of WWII. Really enjoyed the visit though I unfortunately had to miss the D-Day concert they were having last night – I did get an I like Ike sticker for the MoHo fridge. Also, it’s interesting to note that back-to-back presidents Truman and Eisenhower were basically neighbors!
Time to mosey on to Limon, Colorado which was a five hour drive. First off, the drive wasn’t boring at all – I listened to Serial podcasts and some Elton John. There were all the ads for KU Athletics – Chalk Rock and other assorted phrases that rhyme with Jayhawk. There was the one weird piece of farming equipment that I passed – it looked like an AT-AT except green and on wheels. No clue what the hell that thing was. My favorite thing was seeing the Lion’s Den (an adult store) right off the highway, with a religious sign right next to it saying something to the effect that God sees everything. Right… But despite the fact that Kansas is supposedly flat, I must have been climbing because as soon as I got to Colorado, I passed a sign saying that I was at an elevation of 5,200 feet. Can’t recall if I did a Colorado state sign last year but here’s another one, just in case. The blurriness is actually dead bugs on the windshield. Sorry about that.
A quick note on Colorado. For those of you who followed my first adventure, you might remember that I blazed through without stopping. Well, I’m doing the same thing again this time too. The reason why is I’ve spent a lot of time in Colorado over the years including camp when I was a teenager and doing business in Denver/Boulder for at least 10 years. The first time I got altitude sickness was in Colorado. Also climbed a 14,000+ peak here when I was younger. Bottom line – I’ve checked the box that is Colorado. So off I go to Wyoming! Finally finally finally…
I will leave you with this pic of the MoHo (and Juno) by the lake at Kanopolis state park at sundown. See? The moral of the story is there are good things in every state – even Kansas!!
State count: 39