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Hot Air Ballooning
The Kansas City Hot Air Balloon Invitational is held on the final weekend of May in Gardner, Kansas. It's a colorful, family-friendly event that normally includes 20 to 24 balloon teams competing in contests and participating in evening group ascents which are great for photographers.Related to:
- Hot Air Ballooning
- Family Travel
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The Prairie Burn
Before the coming of European settlers to the Great Plains, spring time prairie fires were a natural occurrence as a result of lightning strikes. It was nature's way of preparing the soil for new growth of the indigenous tall grasses and ridding the prairie of foreign plants. Because the vast areas of Kansas' Flint Hills are still grazing land (now beef instead of bison), ranchers annually set fire to those lands - usually in April.
If you are driving through this small vestige of the remaining prairie in the spring, you may be fortunate enough to see this burning ritual - especially awesome when seen at night. Those interested in learning more about the practice of prairie burning will find the following video (by the Emporia Gazette) helpful: www.emporiagazette.com/videos/2010/apr/18/231/Related to:
- Road Trip
State Flower - Sunflower
The Helianthus or Wild Native Sunflower is the Kansas State Flower. There are eleven species of sunflower recorded from Kansas. Most of them are perennials. They grow very well in the hot, dry Kansas summers. Nearly 3,000 years ago the sunflower was domesticated for food production by the Native Americans.
State Bird – Western Meadowlark
The Western Meadowlark became the state bird of Kansas on January 29, 1925 (Kansas Day) after a vote by over 121,000 school children. Meadowlarks are members of the blackbird family. The meadowlark sports a yellow breast with a black bib over its mottled brown body. Meadowlarks are ground feeders. The majority of their food during the growing season is insects, spiders and other small invertebrates.Related to:
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Walnut Valley Festival & Nat'l Flatpicking Contest
This is far more than a local event that takes place every September in Winfield, Kansas! The Walnut Valley Festival draws thousands of music lovers and musicians from all over the world. A week before the festival begins, you will see campers and RVs lined up for miles waiting to get into the camp ground.
The music is what it is all about, but it is a great social event, as well. 2004 was Nancy and my first visit to this festival, but we discovered that people have developed close friendships at Winfield and get together for fun, food and music yearly in September. In 2005, we returned to the festival for two days with hometown friends in tow. We have made reservations to stay three days at the '06 gathering, meeting Nancy's sister and brother-in-law. We hope to return year after year. What a great event!
The music is eclectic. My impression was that it would be primarily bluegrass, but there was much more - old time music, folk, cowboy, Celtic, gospel, a little classic accoustic rock, and some old-style country music. Saturday evening at Stage 1 in front of the fairgrounds grandstand, there was reported to be a crowd of 25,000.
See my travelogues for Winfield, Kansas, for photos.Related to:
Us Kansasan's tend to dress down rather than up for most all events. Going on a date? Wear Jeans. Going to a nightclub? Wear Jeans. Going out for dinner? Wear Jeans. Going to the Theater? Wear Jeans. (Note - Some people do dress up for the theater). I have even seen people wear jeans to a wedding & believe it or not, seen the bride & groom get married in jeans. Yep, when it comes to clothing were pretty laid back.
If you feel out of place when you come to town ..... don't fret, most any retailer sells jean's, just head to any of our local malls.
Streets of Brick
I noticed in more than one place in Kansas that the streets were paved with red bricks. Although they are rough and noisy to drive across, I still found that it was a nice way to retain an air of history and permanence. It actually reminded me of the Portugese custom of using small hand-cut rock squares for both their sidewalks and streets.
As you can see, it is another busy Saturday morning at 9 AM in downtown Fort Scott!Related to:
- Business Travel
- Road Trip
After getting out of the car for a closer look, I noticed that many of these quite large fruit were laying on the ground beneath the tree.
Their skin was very rough and the fruit felt very hard to the touch with not much give. Overall, not very appealing to either the eye or feel! This fruit is not eaten by humans and research suggests that it is also not eaten by any creature native to North America. This is thought to be unusual because, normally, fruits of this type are spread by seed dispersal through wild animals which eat it. One theory holds that the Osage orange tree was originally spread in Texas and Arkansas by ancient giant sloths, which happened to die out at about the same time that horses were introduced to North America by the Spanish. In today's world, the only animal that eats the Osage orange are horses. Where no horses are present, the fruit of the tree simply lay on the ground where they fall. I have since learned from a Kansas VT-member that the locals call these things 'hedge apples' and that one of their uses is to ward off cockroaches!
As I continued the remaining 400 miles of my trip, I only saw two other individual specimens of this tree, both in the Ozark region of southwestern Missouri.Related to:
- Road Trip
- Business Travel
What Kind of Tree is This?
About 3 hours after I had left Kansas City, Missouri, I was pulling into the tiny dorp of Pleasanton, Kansas when I passed by a very unusual looking tree. It was so unusual that I had to stop and reverse back for a closer look. It stood all by itself beside the road and along a division between two fields. What caught my eye were the very large fruit hanging from its branches, as well as numerous others scattered below on the ground where they had fallen.
A little research after returning home tells me that this is an Osage Orange, a strange tree native to Texas and Arkansas. In the 1800's, it was spread through some parts of the USA as living fences and hedges because of its thorns (this was before the invention of barbed wire). The properties of the wood of its branches and trunk also allowed it to be used to make bows by Indians as well as fence posts because of its ability to resist rot.
As for its fruit, read on in the next Tip!Related to:
- Road Trip
- Business Travel
I was struck by the wide streets in the downtown area of all the towns and villages that I drove through in Kansas. Apparantly, when you have that much space, there is no need to crowd things! That being said, there was also not much traffic, which is not surprising in a state only slightly smaller than New Zealand yet with only 2.7 million inhabitants!
Angle parking seemed to be the standard here, something that disappeared for parallel parking many years ago where I live. Also, the core areas of all the places that I drove through had that 'Old West' look to them with multi-storey brick buildings, even if they looked a bit run down in a few locations.
The houses seemed to vary from large Victorian-type mansions to small bungalows, with large porches supported by solid pillars. These small houses reminded me of ones from eastern Canada and New England that I had seen in my youth. In many ways, eastern Kansas was like stepping back to an older time and a slower pace of life. I liked it.Related to:
- Business Travel
- Road Trip
The two finger driving wave
It took me a while to decide what they were doing, those drivers of the oncoming cars.
Then I realized what a jerk I was being. I grew up in the country and this is what you do to be friendly to other drivers - the city had made me forget.
You are not going to get legally in trouble if you don't do this. The other driver will probably just mutter "Damn city folks"
Leave your hand on the top of the steering wheel. When you see a driver coming on the road (the more deserted the road the better) you lift the two fingers closest to your thumb into the air. It was probably a full wave at some point that just started underachieving.Related to:
- Road Trip
Stuckey's convenient stores...... anyone who's travelled in the southern US has seen one of these! Yes sir..... if you've ever traveled the highways of this great country of ours, you're bound to have become a confirmed Stuckologist!!!!!
I am not like many baby boomers, on long car trips that would amuse themselves by following the colorful Stuckey's billboards, and with mounting anticipation, await the arrival of the roadside oasis at the next curve in the road..... because I was not born in the U.S. and I moved here well into my teenage years. But I can relate to it all..... I've heard though: that there isn't as many nowadays as there used to be.... friends have told me of how they'd wonder 'Would it be on the left or right? Would it have the old style canopy over the gas pumps or the more modern wavy roofed metal awning? Would their dad's stop?' :o)
For most people, a neat roadside stop might entail a visit to something like a Johnny-come-lately 'Cracker Barrel' place. These and others of their kind all can trace their very existence back to the mother of all roadside stops: 'Stuckey's'!!!! the nirvana of roadside kitsch!!!! ;o) Find postcards, food, anything you might need on your trip.... on the way... when there's absolutely 'NOTHING' else around.... Stuckey's are indeed like 'an oasis in the desert'!
Dumb Kansas LawsRabbits may...
Dumb Kansas Laws
Rabbits may not be shot from motorboats.
Pedestrians crossing the highways at night must wear tail lights.
No one may catch fish with his bare hands.
The state game rule prohibits the use of mules to hunt ducks.
If two trains meet on the same track, neither shall proceed until the other has passed.
It is illegal to spit on a sidewalk.
All places of business must provide a horse water troft.
All cars entering the city limits must first sound their horn to warn the horses of their arrival.
No one may wear a bee in their hat.
Musical car horns are banned.
It is against the law to leave your car running unattended.
The installation of bathtubs is prohibited.
Before proceeding through the interesection of Douglas and Broadway, a motorist is required to get out of their vehice and fire three shot gun rounds into the air.
Any person caught using or carrying bean snappers or the like shall upon conviction, be fined. -City ordinance 349 of Wichita, Kansas.
Everyone I have met has been...
Everyone I have met has been friendly except for the rude lady at a gas station in Manhattan and I have heard that the girls at Kansas State are fairly snotty to military guys. But seeing as I am not a military guy, I don't speak from experience.
Kansas cowboys drive pickup...
Kansas cowboys drive pickup trucks. Horses in Kansas spend as much time riding as they do being ridden.
Service was outstanding from front desk to the maintenance man who went out of his way to say good...more
2300 W. 6th Street, Lawrence, Kansas, 66049, United States
Good for: Families
I only stayed here once. It is stale and not many people usually stay here. It is the anchor hotel...more
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