It’s finally stopped snowing, and the rains have come, and the kids are getting out of school. You’re starting to plan your summer vacation. Part of our mission is to encourage Kansans to get out and learn more about our state, so we’ve put together a new travel episode series (that we’ll post every once in awhile) that allows you to listen to locals share places to see and things to do in their towns in order to give you ideas for your travel plans. For summer 2019, we are going to highlight 3 great towns for a summer vacation: Hays, Dodge City, and Manhattan.
In our first episode, we talk with Melissa Dixon, Executive Director of the Hays Convention and Visitors Bureau. There are lots of things to do in Hays, and it makes a great base camp to explore the surrounding attractions. Whether you visit Fort Hays to see how the soldiers lived before there was I-70 to get us across the plains, or the world famous Sternberg museum for its amazing fossil collection, or spend the day at the aquatic park, you’ll enjoy yourself in Hays. If you go to Hays this summer, share pictures with us on our Facebook Page!
Hays Tourism Website
Gella’s Diner and LB Brewery
Hays Aquatic Park
On The Bricks
Larks Baseball Games
Hays Art Walk
Wild West Festival
Ellis County Fair
Tour die Kapellen
Side Trips from Hays:
Cathedral of the Plains
David Hanzlick is a native Kansan who has written a book titled Benevolence, Moral Reform, Equality: Women’s Activism in Kansas City, 1870-1940. Most of us have forgotten that the women’s movement started long before we started burning our bras in the 1960s. In the early days of Kansas City —when we were still a frontier town and a newly forming society— the women of Kansas City had a national voice in the push for equality under the guise of moral reform. This was the generation that brought child labor laws to the mainstream, introduced the concept of public kindergartens, and was successful in getting women seated on school boards for the first time.
We should never take for granted today the hard fought progressive milestones won in the days when Kansas City was beginning to be a railroad hub for the nation. David has brought together the story of how these women fought for equality, with the objective of ensuring a safe and positive home environment for their families.
[Update and disclosure: During the interview of David, Rachel mentions her (then upcoming) plans to climb Mount Sunflower as part of the 2019 Big Kansas Road Trip (BKRT). Due to two serious events affecting two different family members, she and Geoff were unable to attend the 2019 BKRT and they have yet to climb Mount Sunflower. A travel scheme meant to rectify this situation is being developed.]
Benevolence, Moral Reform, Equality - Women's Activism in Kansas City, 1870-1940
Belleville High Banks Track
North Central Kansas Free Fair
Works Progress Administration
Worlds Largest Concrete Prairie Dog – now closed, but check out Prairie Dog State Park instead
Pawnee Indian Museum
Carrie Nation Home in Medicine Lodge
The Kansas Sampler Foundation is dedicated to connecting Kansans across rural communities. One way they do this is through the Big Kansas Road Trip. This happens May 2-5 in 2019, and the Road Trip will be in Cheyenne, Sherman, and Wallace counties in northwest Kansas. Here’s how Marci Penner, founder of the Kansas Sampler Foundation describes the event. “Create your own adventure at your own pace the same day that other people are doing the same thing.”
The Big Kansas Road Trip website
Cheyenne County Kansas website
Sherman County Kansas website
Wallace County Kansas website
Kansas Guidebook for Explorers
In 2018, we recorded 2 episodes about our experience during the 2018 Big Kansas Road Trip. Check them out:
2018 BKRT Highlights
2018 BKRT – The Experience
Angie Pickman is a Kansas artist with a national reputation. Angie imagines and creates artwork in her Lawrence studio that is a modern twist on the traditional Chinese art form of paper cutting. Her love of nature is front and center in her work and growing up in Kansas provided her with a wealth of inspiration. In this Uncovering Kansas episode, Rachel talks with Angie about her round trip journey from Kansas to New York. While travelling her creative path Angie built both her talent and her fanbase, her career flourishes as a result. Rachel and Angie discuss how several stereotypes about Kansas aren't true.To learn more about Angie, please visit her website, Rural Pearl.
Other things we talked about:
An Example of Lotte Reiniger’s work
Lawrence Art Walk
The Sallie House – Haunted Home
Amelia Earhart Birthplace
The Smallest Presidential Library
Chalk Pyramids (aka Monument Rocks)
Once upon a time…
That’s a classic way to begin a story. And it’s the right way to begin this episode.
We’re certain listeners will uncover something interesting about this Kansas event. Please note that this year’s event is scheduled for April 26 and 27, 2019.
Kansas Storytelling Festival website
Andy Wise found himself unmotivated by the conference rooms at his office filled with blank walls. He longed to see whiteboards at his workplace covered in art. A trip to his local library gave him an idea to create a robot that could be attached to the white board and draw whatever picture it was asked to draw.
And, so Andy created what he calls a drawing robot.
He is an example of someone participating in the Maker Movement – a DIY movement that started to gain momentum in 2005. Technology is often a component of this movement but it doesn’t have to be. We discuss Maker Spaces, locations designed for people to come together and work on projects. There are many of these found across Kansas: Andy refers to the Johnson County Library Makerspace in Overland Park. (Other examples are MakeICT in Wichita, and 712 Innovations in Topeka, and Fort Hays State Makerspace in the Forsyth Library.)
Listeners with certain Kansas interests, will note my conversation with Andy Wise includes the following:
Liberty Hall, Lawrence Kansas
Kansas State Fair
John Steuart Curry
If you want to see the drawing robot in action, check out these links:
This mini-episode contains on-location interview with Wichita native and Kansas City Developer Dan Clothier, who gave us a tour of the Cedar Point Mill during the Chase County Christmas event (see episode 10). Cedar Point Mill is on the National Register of Historic Places and is one of the most fascinating buildings Geoff recalls ever having come across (Kansas is not immediately thought of as a place of old millhouses constructed of stone). The structure needs restoration. Learn about the process and efforts to restore this piece of history. And if interested in contributing to the efforts, you can donate through the Cedar Point Mill website. More about the history of the Cedar Point Mill, here.
Note: in the episode, I refer to Dan as a volunteer, but he is also the owner of the mill.
Kansas is known, often infamously so, as a flat state. For those of us who have done some exploring, we know that isn’t true. There are plenty of flat stretches, certainly. But there are also areas where the hills undulate and take your breath away. The Flint Hills are spread across the central part of Kansas, and Manhattan is situated toward the upper end the expanse. In this episode, we will talk with Eric Doran, who has spent the last 10 years exploring the Flint Hills. Eric shares some of his favorite places to visit in and around Manhattan for those who love to explore nature and take in the beauty Kansas offers.
Manhattan may not be Hollywood, but it does have a similar sign, right at the top of Manhattan Hill, or Blue Mont Hill. Hike up to the top of this hill for a great view of the Flint Hills.
Though not a name anyone would expect for a Kansas location, Top of the World is another place you can hike to see the surrounding views of Manhattan and the Flint Hills. These well groomed trails are easily accessible, and the trail is a fantastic way to enjoy the company of your dog.
A visit to the Konza Prairie Biological Station gives you a chance to see how the tall grass prairie is being studied and preserved by the Nature Conservancy and K-State’s Division of Biology. This joint venture is primarily focused on long-term ecological research, prairie preservation, and education, but they offer hiking trails open to the public, so everyone has a chance to experience the prairie first hand. The trails range from 2.6 to 6.2 miles and are considered moderate due to the occasional steep climb.
Linear Park Trail is a loop around the city of Manhattan and offers the most urban trail covered in this episode. This is a great option for bikers and joggers since it is about a 9-mile loop.
Manhattan River Trail is a 5.4-mile loop that runs along the river. It is a great option for mountain bikers, but is also good for hiking. It is considerate a moderate trail due to the terrain along the river.
Pillsbury Crossing will give you the chance to see something you don’t see often in Kansas – a waterfall. This is a beautiful wildlife area that is situated at a low river crossing area – a section of a river that is low and allows for crossing of vehicles and, in the good old days, wagons. While you are here, check out the Deep Creek Schoolhouse, build in 1892.
If you want an education in the Flint Hills check out the Flint Hills Discovery Center, whose mission is to inspire people to celebrate, explore, and care for the Flint Hills, a moving landscape Kansas hosts.
If you want to be guaranteed to be surrounded by animals, then Sunset Zoo is a great option and can enjoy both Flint Hills flora and fauna.
The Gardens at Kansas State University offers the opportunity to visit a botanical garden right in the heart of the Flint Hills. The garden gives students the opportunity to develop, maintain, and operate a world class botanical garden and is open to the public.
Liquid Art Winery grows grapes in the Flint Hills, and it is a great place in Manhattan to wind down after a long day exploring nature. Sit outdoors and watch the sun setting below the hills while enjoying a glass of wine.
If you are looking for something a little more adventurous, you can zipline through the Flint Hills at Wildwood Outdoor Adventure Park.
In November 2017, on Small Business Saturday, the Saturday during Thanksgiving weekend, we took a day trip to Chase County for their Country Christmas Festival. It was the community’s official Christmas season kick-off. Here’s a fun fact: The very first recordings we did for this podcast are in this episode! We needed to practice. More importantly we knew we’d return to Cottonwood Falls in November 2018—the journey and experience was worth an episode. We’ve appended and updated these first recordings with an interview Rachel did with Toni Schneider, Chase County Chamber of Commerce Outreach Coordinator, in late October 2018. Toni and Rachel discuss details for this year’s celebration. There is a lot happening in Chase County on November 23 and 24 for kids and adults, including the Ugly Sweater 5k Run, the Holiday Home Tour, Arts and Craft Shows, Silent Auction, a visit from Santa, and the parade.
Please listen to the episode, we think you’ll enjoy it. And we hope you not only consider supporting small businesses during the holiday season but that you’ll consider visiting and supporting smaller communities as well. If you live in northeastern Kansas, Chase County is an easy and accessible drive from the suburbs and the community’s Christmas Festival is a great way to spend a day with family and friends.
Links to some key mentions in the episode:
Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve
Ad Astra Restaurant
Grand Central Hotel
Chase County Christmas
While on the Big Kansas Road Trip, I came up with an idea to set up a pop-up restaurant in small towns in Kansas that can't support a wide variety or large number of restaurants. I think it would be fun, but can't pull it off by myself. So if you are interested in joining the effort to establish a pop-up restaurant in Kansas small towns, let me know by sending me a note through the form. We won't use this information for anything else.
The podcast about culture, travel, people, history, and enterprise in Kansas.