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.
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.
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!
My travels took me through the rolling hills of northern, central Kansas. Stopping occasionally for little points of interest, I quickly realized someone’s quirkiness is probably someone else’s pride.
I came across a small rural community that beckoned me to leave the blacktop highway for a visit. As I drove down ‘main street’ the sounds of the passing traffic lessened and gave way to children’s voices and a mower chewing up a resident’s lawn. The city park was quietly entertaining a few children as caregivers chatted under the picnic shelter. I found an empty picnic shelter of my own and settled in for writing inspiration. Needless to say it wasn’t there. So, leaving my respite, I wandered down the street to what seemed to be the town’s gas station. Looking for a Dr. Pepper to quench my thirst the first thing I noticed when I walked through the door is the aroma was more of a bait shop then convenience store. The outside appearance of this establishment was unadorned. The inside, however, was a spectacle. Not only can you re-fuel your vehicle, you can pick up lunch, dress a wound, bait a hook, or buy a fishing hook for that matter! You can also choose a new light fixture for your home, buy a souvenir to take to that home, and then indulge in a custom blended, soft-serve ice cream cone (if you can get past the fishy smell)!
All in all my stop in Randolph Kansas was not what I expected but an adventure in the unknown.
The patch of barren earth is green now, where the building once stood. The shell has been removed, the sidewalks have been swept and flowers are blooming in the planters that used to touch the side of the building. The side of the adjoining building is a scarred reminder of the structure that once stood proudly nearby. A community has moved on from a tragic fire in the historic downtown area. Soon the talk will be of “I remember when…” about this empty lot but for now the renovations have begun. Life moves ever onward.
Originally posted on Soul Experiences
April 1, 2014
While traveling through a small town I was shocked and saddened to see a shell of an old building. The building had been gutted by fire. The evident age of the building presents its historical significance. A history that was erased for the next generation by an all-consuming fire, a history now only preserved in photos and recollection.
The structure was once a local watering hole. People gathering to share stories with each other, mixing in their laughter with the friend or stranger next to them. Now this once bustling building stands empty. Void of life. Surrounded by a safety fence. What will become of it now? Torn down I suppose, to be forgotten in time.
What does a building really signify to a community? It is just mortar and bricks, not a living breathing organism. Yet our memories are tied directly to tactile objects that stir in us those repressed feelings, thoughts, and senses. Recalling a special event in our lives or even just a quick hide away from the day-to-day of our lives. Physical items serve as anchors for our memories.
Embrace what is here and now but be ready to let go of the “things” that tether us to this world. Life is out there, happening every day. Enjoy all your life has to offer!
When people speak of traveling through Nebraska and Iowa the most common thought is ‘boring’. I can see how that can be the conclusion as your car rockets across the flat plains of Nebraska at 75 miles per hour along I-80. Traveling East towards Iowa on I-80 your first sign of a metropolitan area is more of a dehydration desert mirage. You believe you are approaching a major urban area and then the interstate curves and skirts the edge of Lincoln and in 7 quick exits you are back to rural Nebraska. At least the rolling hills are a change from the endless open prairie. Rounding another curve you are blasted into sprawling communities consumed by the Omaha Metro area. Two design elements were necessary when this area was settled, water mobility and future rail access, Omaha has both. This river town planted itself righteously on the banks of the Missouri River and grew West. Requiring all travel along the interstate to carve straight through the city.
As you cross the Missouri River into Iowa the city continues only now it is Council Bluffs. The community is aptly named for it is positioned on and in the bluffs of a millennia ago ice age. Ice bergs the size of Texas carved through this area creating for us spectacular bluffs along the rambling river that seem so out of place on the prairie. As you climb into the western hills of Iowa the terrain seems to roll instead of lay flat, but after the first twenty rises and falls you realize you might be trapped in a Groundhog Day type of repeating cycle. When you finally reach civilization again it passes by quickly and the other side of Des Moines feels a lot like the first three Easterly hours of I-80.
My recommendation, to really enjoy and get to know these beautifully historic states is to leave the interstate system. Travel along the hills of Nebraska. Journey into the seldom explored gems of Iowa. Most of the true joy of any area is not found along the road most traveled. Soul Experiences Tour and Travel
Posted in Travel Talk
Tagged bluffs, I-80, Iowa, Nebraska, off the beaten path, prairie, roadtrip, rural, soul experiences, Travel, urban
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.