This weekend I’m going on an adventure. The place I plan to visit is off the beaten track. Foreign terrain. Another culture.
I’m going to western Kansas.
Last January, in a post called Beauty on the Plains, I wrote about the subtle beauty of the Kansas landscape as seen from I-70. After reading it, my friend April issued an invitation. “I’m from western Kansas,” she said. “I’d be happy to show you the parts you’re missing by staying on the interstate.” Or words to that effect.
I snatched up her invitation. A weekend road trip with a girlfriend? Count me in. With the help of Kansas Magazine, the Kansas B&B website, and April’s childhood memories, here’s what we hope to see:
- Four National Scenic Byways. Kansas boasts 12 scenic byways, so named for their archaeological, cultural, historic, natural, recreational or scenic properties. We’ve chosen to follow all or part of the Native Stone, Post Rock, Smoky Valley, and Flint Hills scenic byways. Don’t they sound pretty?
- Three significant towns: Alma, home of the Alma Bakery and Sweet Shoppe and the Alma Creamery—Need I say more? Lucas, the self-proclaimed “Grassroots Art Capitol of Kansas.” (Lucas also boasts Bowl Plaza, the second-best bathroom in the United States. Don’t think we’re not looking forward to that.) And Lindsborg, a beautiful Swedish town with more to offer than we can do in one trip. I’m looking forward to the breakfast buffet in our hotel: Swedish meatballs, lingonberries, and waffles, to name a few items.
- Two lakes. April has many happy memories of Lake Scott State Park. I’m interested in the easternmost Pueblo ruins in the United States, along with a pioneer museum located in the former Steele family home. We may also sink our toes into the sand on the swimming beach.
Cedar Bluff Reservoir will be new to both of us, but it looks beautiful. The lake is located on the Smoky Valley Scenic Byway, so we really can’t lose.
- One national historic site. After the Civil War, a colony of former slaves left Kentucky to find freedom on the Great Plains, and founded the town of Nicodemus, Kansas. The Nicodemus National Historic Site tells their story. I love a good story.
So that’s the plan, though I wonder if we’ll stick to it. Once we’re off the highway, who knows what else we’ll find? I’ll bring my camera and extra batteries, and report back next week.
What Kansas landmark do you want to see this summer?