The road trip began in earnest on Monday morning and with the little white truck packed and ready to go, we high-fived each other, and with big grins, we headed out to discover the real USA.
Day one, we basically drove on an interstate for 8.5 hours, seeing no one but a gas station attendant.
We made it to St. Louis and the Gateway to the West around 2 pm and we spent an hour and multiple attempts to get close to the base and the park around it so that we could go to the top. Finally, I had to call it. It wasn’t going to happen. I could see the arch. My GPS could see the arch. But there were no roads that went to the arch. So, the symbolic “Welcome to the West” wasn’t quite the symbol we were hoping for. I began to have just the slightest superstitious fear for the success of this adventure. So, we decide to forget the arch and move on. We bravely headed across Missouri to make it to Kansas City, KS by that evening.
The next day, Tuesday, we were excited to go the Thomas Hart Benton homestead and studio. He is one of my favorite painters and his studio was left just as it was when he died.
Also, there was the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. They have a huge collection of Edward Weston photographs – who, in my opinion is the greatest photographer…ever.
So, all revved up to start day two, I go online and see that neither of these places are open on Tuesdays. Sigh.
Day two, strike two.
So, what do you do? You head west, young man…head west. We hopped in the car and took off across Kansas, 424 miles. Now, here’s the thing. Of all the places we were going, I was looking forward to this leg of the trip the least. I mean… Kansas, right? I anticipated flat, flat, fields of nothing for hours on end. Put on a book-on-tape, cause you are going to need some distraction. Well, let me tell you. I was wrong. Kansas is beautiful. Kansas is charming. Kansas has hills and valleys and beautiful little farms and quaint little towns. The moment that we decided to leave the interstate and head out across those fields and into those towns, that was when the trip really started.
Welcome to Wamego, KS. Home of the Wizard of Oz museum. Home of the Friendship House café. And Wamego Historic Museum. This was a town in which you would want to raise your children. Less than 5,000 people and, as Garrison Keillor would say, where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average.
We first stopped in the Oz Museum. Kitschy fun at it’s best! Having the world’s largest collection of Oz memorabilia, you would necessarily have to have somewhere to display it. This was the place. A maze of dioramas and glass cases and a gift shop at the end where I purchased my first souvenir…a pair of ruby bedroom slippers!
Off to lunch next at the Friendship House where I had a lunch that was so pretty, I took a picture of it. And, the chef wanted to use it for their website. And they paid me in homemade cookies. (A real bargain on my part!)
Then we took off across a lovely little town park to their history museum and village. Lovely ladies that ran it and took us on a tour where they proudly described all their little artifacts.
A good time was had by all. But, we have to get back on the road and we were heading to Goodland, KS (close to the Colorado border) to spend the night. Why Goodland, KS you ask? Well, because they have the world’s largest tribute painting of Van Gogh’s Sunflowers. 40 feet tall, including the steel easel. You can’t pass that up.
So, on Wednesday morning, our tour of Kansas is done, we head into Colorado to some of the most breath-taking scenery in the world. And, that is where tomorrow’s post begins. See you then.
Thanks for coming on the ride with me.