This is the 49th of the fifty states that we have been to!
Atchison is the birthplace of Amelia Earhart and near the campground at Warnock Lake, was the International Forest of Friendship which is a tribute to pilots, especially, women pilots. Here there are native trees donated from each of the 50 states, DC and 40 countries in a gesture of unity and friendship. There is a statue of the Amelia, of course.
We awoke to blue skies this morning and last night’s rain seemed to have cracked (not broken) the humidity. We carried on to Topeka, the capital of Kansas and took a little tour around the Capitol Building before visting the Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library for some wifi. This is quite the library with lots of reference rooms, media rooms and the like.
Monday we got to one of the two Tallgrass Prairie National Preserves in the country. The other, much larger one, is in Oklahoma but both are part of the Flint Hills. As it was spring the grass was not that tall but still an impressive site. There are some original ranch buildings on the site as well whichare well preserved and declared historic buildings. We look a loop hike and actually went through a small grove of trees full of the sound of cicadas – it would drive me nuts to sleep near these!
That night we made it to Hutchinson where we explored the Kansas Underground Salt Museum next morning. They take you down an elevator 650’ and they have lots of galleries, information videos and displays about the mining operation. Most of this salt is used for roads. A section of the mine which has been mined is now used for storage – papers and film. There are documents, film, movie costumes and the like stored here in the constant temperature. Good use of a big hole in the ground, huh?
We learned that Kansas is not the flattest state in the US as many think; there are five flatter including Florida.
Weather is still very hot and sunny; they said about ten degrees above normal.
The next stop along the westward trek was Dodge City, Kansas: “the wickedest town in the west”. Here we went to the Boot Hill Museum. This includes a replica of the 1870 town of Dodge City’s Front Street with the saloons, shops and businesses and a small Boot Hill Cemetery. We have been to Tombstone, Arizona which is done very well so we were not sure what to expect and other than a hokey little gunfight show, the museum and buildings are quite interesting.
Wednesday night was Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals so we hit a sports bar in Garden City, Kansas where the locals actually asked us why we stopped here of all places!
We continued north to Monument Rocks National Historic Landmark. It’s a very lovely site especially in the sunshine. White chalky rock mounds with arches and holes in them as well as swallow nests. It has NO NPS signage and actually only one sign on the main road pointing you down a dirt county road seven miles to it. We loved it cause it made us feel we were back in remote parts like southern Utah with no one around. There were a lot of biting flies here and it took a while to get them all out of Tigger later that day.
Western Kansas reminded us of that Windows XP wallpaper of the rolling hills of green. We continue to gain elevation as we crossed into Mountain Time (we’ve been on Central Time since the beginning of January! except when we flew to Canada) and cross into Colorado where we spent the night in the small town of Kit Carson parked in the town museum’s lot. We got a lot of rain that night which drastically help bring the hot temperatures down.