Wednesday, May 9, 2012


I visited Kansas on the Midwest road trip I spoke about in my last post about Iowa.  There’s not much in Kansas, but it does have beautiful prairies.

When planning a trip to Kansas, you’ll want to check to see if you’ll be driving on any toll roads.  One of the major interstates that we were on in Kansas was a toll road.  The bad news is that there aren’t many side roads to take to bypass the tolls, so check out other options before leaving on your trip.  The good news is that if you have an EZ Pass (mentioned in my Delaware Post), you can get through the tolls quickly.

During our visit to Kansas, we went on a tour of the state capitol building that included the inside and outside of the dome.  If you’re a little scared of heights, you might want to opt out of the dome part of the tour.  Now having been on it, I actually would have opted OUT of it.  I was so scared, but now I can say I climbed the 296 steps to the dome and lived to type this blog post!  But, I really enjoyed my visit.  They also have a very small gift shop to purchase things like postcards, t-shirts, and books.  NOTE: according to the website, tours of the dome were suspended during renovations but will reopen June 2012.

Kansas Capitol Building
Mural Inside
The steps we had to climb to the outside of the dome
The t-shirt that they sold in the gift shop
Like every other state, there are a few things I’d like to do in Kansas when I go back.

Just north of Kansas City is Amelia Earhart’s Birthplace Museum in the town of Atchison.  Amelia Earhart, born in 1897, is one of the world’s most influential female aviators.  Ninety-Nines, Inc., an international organization of women pilots, has owned her birthplace since 1984.  Amelia was their 1st elected president in 1931 and they have made her birthplace into a museum in order to portray her life and those of other women aviators through educational and interpretive exhibits, activities, and events.
Amelia Earhart's House (picture found online)
Just south of Kansas City is the Mahaffie Stagecoach Stop and Farm in Olathe.  It’s the last remaining stagecoach stop open to the public on the Santa Fe Trail and offers a unique hands-on experience for visitors.  Such activities include blacksmithing, stagecoach rides, and “plowin’, plantin’ and playin’ on the prairie.”  I’d love to go on a stagecoach ride!
The Mahaffie Stagecoach Stop (picture found online)
Heading west out of Kansas City, towards Topeka is the Dole Institute of Politics on the grounds of the University of Kansas in Lawrence.  Dedicated in 2003, the Institute is home to state-of-the art exhibits and one of the nation’s largest collections of Congressional papers, now being processed for use in future research.  Together, Senator Bob Dole and Kansas University crafted this beautiful institute to offer public opportunities for all individuals to discover how they might best serve their community, their state, and their nation.
Dole Institute of Politics (picture found online)
Outside of Topeka, in Wamego, somewhere over the rainbow, you’ll find Oz, The Oz Museum that is.  You’ve heard of the movie, the Wizard of OZ, haven’t you?  The museum houses over 2,000 artifacts relating to the magical world created by L. Frank Baum.  I wish I could just click my heels three times and magically be there!

Oz Museum (picture found online)
Heading northwest, you’ll come to the Old Cowtown Museum in Wichita.  Take a self-guided tour of a living history museum and historical reenactments that show you how life was in the 1870s – try a wagon ride, hear the ring of the blacksmith anvil, visit various town people’s homes, or try an ice cold sarsaparilla in the saloon as you take in the gunfire that erupts in the streets.  How cool would it be to be there at high noon!?

Old Cowtown (picture found online)
Right outside of Wichita is the town of Hutchinson, home of the Kansas Underground Salt Museum.  It looks like if you have claustrophobia (afraid of closed in areas), then this might not be a wonderful place to go for you.  I’d be willing to try it out though.  In 90 seconds, you are transported 650 feet below the Kansas Prairies to explore how salt was formed and mined, take a guided tour on a tram, or journey into a rustic area of the mine on rails and ties used to haul salt in the 1920s.  They even have an event where boy scouts can camp down there overnight!  I’m not sure if I’m that brave.

Underground Salt Museum (picture found online)
North of Wichita is the Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum in Abilene.  They provide a glimpse of the life of Dwight D. Eisenhower, 34th President of the United States.  You are able to go through his boyhood home (a typical Midwestern home at the turn of the century) and exhibits in the museum about his family life, military career, and political career.  You can even visit the gravesites of him, his wife, and his son.

President Eisenhower (picture found online)
In the southeast part of the state, 45 miles southeast of Dodge City, you’ll find the Moore Ranch Longhorn Cattle Drive.  It’s a working ranch in the wide open prairie that has about 300 Texas Longhorn cattle and 50 horses.  There you can get the real ranch experience sleeping in cabins, awaking at sunrise, and experiencing a true day in the life of a working cowboy.  They provide two, and three-day cattle drives too!

Cattle Drive (picture found online)
In Dodge City, you should visit Boot Hill Museum and Front Street.  They are dedicated to the preservation of the history of Dodge City and the Old West.  Dodge City was founded in 1872 and quickly became the world’s largest shipping point for Longhorn cattle.  It was the wildest of the early frontier towns, but law and order was soon established with the help of men such as Wyatt Earp.  Dodge City was a town that persisted and grew, and still honors its western heritage.  The Front Street buildings represent Dodge City in 1876.  Activities include a chuck wagon dinner, gunfights, can-can dancers, and storytelling.

Boothill Museum and Front Street (picture found online)
Last but not least, near the border of Kansas and Colorado along I-70 is the town of Goodland.  You’ll just need to look up to see one of the largest paintings you’ve ever seen - the giant reproduction of Van Gogh’s “3 Sunflowers In a Vase."  The project started in 1996.  The 80 foot steel easel holds a 24 foot by 32 foot reproduction.  WOW!

3 Sunflowers in a Vase (picture found online)
These are just the places I visited or would like to go to in Kansas.  If you know of anywhere else in Kansas we should check out, please leave a comment below.  Next, we’ll explore what’s just round the corner in Kentucky.

**Picture were taken by my friends or I on the road trip if not noted.

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