Off The Beaten Path

TRAVEL UPDATE!

North Central Kansas was reviewed last week.  I will showcase Iowa highlights this week.  It was a great weekend, albeit speedy, in Iowa!  Below is the original post that kicked off my Great Plains “off the beaten path” reviews.  We have only just begun with Kansas and Iowa.  Stay tuned, more to come!

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I use the phrase, “off the beaten path” often.  I value the adventure of discovery.  I enjoy finding new, seldom explored areas.  I venture away from the norm and I love sharing my explorations with anyone who will listen to my exuberance.

I am a native Nebraskan.  I have lived in this state my whole life.  It is a perfect location for this wandering traveler.  I am centrally located in the United States, I enjoy white Christmases and hot summers, that remind me of my love of winter.  The cost of living in Nebraska is low, owning an acreage is a reasonable goal.  I have wide open vistas in my backyard, trees that tower over my neighborhood and history that is as boundless as the open skies above us.

I feel The Great Plains are the most overlooked travel destination in the continental US.  It is my favorite “off the beaten path” area.  For the next few weeks I will be highlighting some of  my top picks for fun travel adventures in Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, South Dakota and Colorado.  I hope to share with you insights to unexplored or seldom explored areas with the intention of sparking travel desires for you.  Most of the highlights will also be sneak peeks of 2015 for Soul Experiences.  So if have not traveled with us yet or haven’t traveled with a group, this may be the preview you need to embrace a new form of traveling.  Come along with us as we search The Great Plains and beyond for “off the beaten path” journeys.

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Layers

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“Ogres are like onions…onions have layers, ogres have layers…we both have layers!” -Shrek

The hills rose up to touch the heavy clouds that rested on the earth.  As I looked over the panorama, from the crest of another hill, I thought of layers.  My mind slowly playing through layer references.  Ogres.  That is all my brain focused on.  Maybe it was the company of my fourteen year olds, that inspired my thoughts.  Memories of watching the big, green ogre, with my small boys who grew up in the Shrek era.

The scene was a welcome sight for me during these hot summer months.  Leaving Council Bluffs, Iowa, we drove in beautiful layers of fog that left me feeling ensconced with the world.  The air looked more like a scene from the Halloween season than a mid-summer haze.  The hills spectacularly separated by white and grey collections of vapor.  I-80 east of Des Moines is a beautiful drive.  I love the feeling of rolling up and down the hills.  The speed of driving on an interstate is pure joy to me, especially when a destination is waiting for me to explore. 

Soul Experiences will be traveling over these same hills in October on our way to Chicago for Chicagoween!  With stops in Des Moines and Davenport Iowa, exploring historic landmarks while we immerse ourselves in this autumn’s splendor.  We have an exceptional journey planned full of fun, food, history and of course spooktacular haunts!  It is our Fall Extravaganza with plenty for everyone one to enjoy!  Come check out all our professionally designed tours on http://www.soul-experiences.com for a new perspective on group travels.  If you have not traveled with us before now is a perfect time to journey with us to destinations that are “off the beaten path”!  If you have traveled with us, it is a great season to experience all the new tours we have designed in celebration of beautiful beginnings!

Shrek had it right, he has many layers.  An insight all of us can embrace, complex humans that we are.  We all have “layers” helping shape who we are.  We are not just our outward appearances.  We are amazingly layered souls.  Be sure to feed your soul!

Travel well my friends.

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Peace

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We are travelers.  We embrace peace.  We are humble.  We desire acceptance. 

Our world is wrought with uncertainty.  The news of unrest in countries around the world saddens our hearts.  Regions we have visited are tumultuous with violence.  Cultures have been rocked by hatred. People have lost their lives or lives of loved ones, loss of even one life in violence is far too many lost.  Landmarks have been marred by fighting.  History is being erased visually because of greed.

We, of Soul Experiences, would like to offer our prayers of peace to all who are or have been affected by any form of violence.  Our heartfelt wish is for peace.  Let us all pray, in whatever fashion, for healing and for the olive branch of peace to be extended to all in need of guidance.  Quiet your mind, even for a moment, to be thankful for everything you have.  Please keep your hearts and minds open to the worlds needs around us. 

Peace be with you and with the world.

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Bring Home Travel

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“Every step we take is a step closer to discovering who we are meant to be.”

Our travels with Soul Experiences takes us all over this vast world.  It is sheer joy to experience new destinations with fellow travelers.  Immersing yourself in another culture with patience and understanding feels easier to accomplish when you are not alone.  While we journey to our next discovery our feet trod across any number of surfaces.  Who walked here before us?  What did this road look like before it was paved?  Where will this path lead?  Our feet kiss the earth with determination, taking with them every place we have graced.

It is a soulful moment when you arrive home only to find you have brought a little of the foreign land with you.  As you wash your travel worn clothes, unpacking all your treasures, settling back into your ‘real’ life, you reveal to yourself the magic of a smear of mud.  Not just the grime of the place you call home but the smudge from half a world away.  

The rejuvenation of travel feeds our spirits, our souls, the part of us that makes us…us.  Bringing home the experiences of our travels reminds we must move forward everyday.  Moving ever toward the person we are meant to become.

Travel well my friends.  

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Morning Commute

Yesterday I came across a flock of geese crossing the road during my morning commute. This would not be noteworthy if I traveled through anywhere except city center. A half mile from my home, one block north of the main road, in the heart of the city, geese lingered in the street. My first reaction to the truck ahead of me was annoyance. It stopped in the seemingly empty street, then slowly swerved left of the waterfowl. As the truck moved beyond the parade, my annoyance melted into a smile. The waddling gaggle looked so out of place in amongst the houses and manicured lawns that I couldn’t stop my grin.

Remember to keep an open mind to the world around you. You may not see the reasons for someone else’s actions right away. Most of the time another’s actions are not negative to you but positive to them or others.

Travel well my friends.

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Tiny World

This area of Kansas is stunning.  The Flint Hills remains much the way it was at least 300 years ago.  The dusty ruts of the California and Oregon Trails may be gone but the history of their migration are steeped in the landscapes, architecture, and residents. 

As I traveled back north towards Nebraska the little towns were begging for travelers to stop and stay awhile.  Signs for historic hotels and landmarks.  “Two-dog, cow towns” diminishing with less rail traffic,  beautiful sturdy limestone buildings erected to conform the non-conformists, and the “oldest round-a-bout in Kansas, which was a fun gathering area for the citizens of Blue Rapids.

The world seems tiny when traveling in a local areas.  Take some time to really enjoy what each of your stops offers.  Our world may seem tiny while looking at the big picture but when you slow down to experience the big gifts of small towns you might just see how really magnificent tiny can be. 

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Scenic Kansas

The road climbs up to carve through the sandstone layered on the top of the hills.  Shale flakes litter the shoulder of the blacktop.  I see trees growing through the crevices of the rock and wonder at our natural world.  The determination of the vegetation.

Every ten miles or so another group of houses are situated along the highway.  Growing over the years into small towns.  Welcoming signs greet weary travelers.  Convenience stores planted firmly right off the two lane road.  No two towns look the same but the feel is very similar.  Leaving the highway and venturing into town, I find landmarks of historic value or architectural anomalies embraced by the residents.

This is the northern tip of the Flint Hills in Kansas.  The vistas flow on for miles.  Prairies stretch on as far as the eye can see.  Following Highway 77 south takes me skirting past Turtle Creek Lake and Milford Lake before landing in Junction City.  This growing Kansas city has balanced the historical nature of The Flint Hills with a family friendly atmosphere.  I was intrigued and surprised to find the 1800’s blending seamlessly with the modernized city.  Whether you choose to shop the day away or entertain the kids with outdoor activities Junction City offers it all.  I would recommend a leisurely drive and relaxing weekend in this spectacular area, your adventure awaits!

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