Kansas – wheat, wheat, wheat – everywhere! 

Flat green fields of wheat – many different types – are everywhere as you drive into Kansas from Oklahoma. It’s the most amazing land for its rich agriculture nature – farms – large, small – corporate and family owned predominate. You can see for miles as you drive north towards Topeka.  We have never see land like this so we snap photos the whole way.  You share the road with all sizes and types of  farm equipment – we love trying to figure out what each piece does. Grain elevators or silos as we might call them dot the landscape – most newer manufactured from shiny aluminum with complex machinery to handle product storage and transfer.  Railroads are a significant element here – used to transfer harvested products. 

Waves of grains for miles…..

Storing grain requires hard work and science. 

Tractors, combines, watering vehicles – all colors – all sizes. 

According to Google, one out of every four bushels of wheat consumed in USA is from Kansas – and we passed the fields where it grows.  Less is being grown this year due to depressed prices last few years – durum wheats are more popular than those used for breads – pasta products being very popular & driving that choice.  Variety in planting helps farmers weather market fluctuations.  Our appreciation and respect for the hard work required to make any success here grew every mile. Every time you eat pasta, toast or cereal – thank a farmer! 

We do need to add a weather note –  we did not experience any tornadoes watches but had several tornado warnings –  a few severe thunderstorms.  But we are ever mindful of the Mother Nature’s power and we take care to monitor all weather station apps and pay attention to their alerts. 

The World’s Largest Ball of Twine – Cawker City, Kansas

Remember Chevy Chase in that crazy family vacation movie?  Well Rick did, and this stop was on his bucket list so I found a campground a hour away so we could check this box! 

Lenny, Lola, Rick and I loved this quick stop – we could have added our own Twine to the balk but sadly did not bring any with us. There’s a tiny inn if you stay overnight but no place to eat in Cawker City. 

We came across this sign in Glen Elder and wanted to recognize this special area which is a beautiful state park today. 

Kansas folks have a great sense of humor – you frequently see signs remarking on the Oz theme – one declared it was Home of college national basketball champs and Dorothy!  Our campground had several metal sculptures – the Tin Man was my favorite. 

The Twine from the big ball leads across the street to the Inn……right off Rte 24. 

Late Oklahoma City addition

Several elements we forgot to include in our Oklahoma City update must be added here. 

Bricktown is a lovely refurbished area of the city that contains restaurants, shops, a canal water taxi with guides, lovely renovated warehouse buildings, new and varied housing opportunities plus cool minor league baseball park, but…there are two monuments/ memorials with sculptures that are show stoppers! 

Great Oklahoma Land Rush Memorial

More than life sized – the detail and art in sculptures is enticing and memorable. The figures represent courageous settlers who took advantage of the opening of new territories to settlement in the mid 1850s.  Stretched out across canal and riding off to the west – the rush to re-settle in new land is off! 

Detail of one statue – giant horse carrying eager new settler. 

Wagons with families who braved unknown risks and terrors for a new start and a piece of land to call their own. 

Chickasaw Nation Plaza 

This large Native American nation, once a part of the Choctaw, flourished after relocation from east of Mississippi River to land in new territory that became Oklahoma & Kansas. Today the nation, operates 18 casinos and hotels, several fuels stops on major highways, a large cultural and education center, schools and their own healthcare company – an annual income of over $14 million allows the nation to advance their agenda and support their members.  They also participate in all facets of Oklahoma civic life. The nation has a history of democracy predating European arrival.  This monument celebrates their history, contributions and leaders.  

Tishomingo – one of many distinguished leaders. 

The surrounding tablets tell the Nation’s story and comment on their accomplishments.  Take the time to read and enjoy!

Kansas City – Part One:

President Harry Truman Library & Museum, Independence MO

Do not hesitate to visit this amazing museum if you are nearby.  President Truman was a fascinating man who became an accidental president and ultimately guided America through the end of a world war, the Korean War and peacetime recovery. We learned quite a bit about the President and his times – the museum opened our eyes and fed our appetites for information, knowledge and historical tidbits. 

A statue of Harry gazing out into the garden he designed. 

The gravesite of President Truman & his wife Bess who he treasured above all – the history of their courtship and marriage is touching and inspirational.  

Given today’s controversies regarding truth and facts – I thought this quote was remarkable. 

Just in case we have forgotten…..Harry never shirked his responsibilities – to his country, its soldiers and sailors, or it’s people white or black, and his dear family. He became a leader during his service in WWI and that experience benefitted him and us in the Number One seat! 

Replica of Truman’s office in the White House – during his first term he and the family moved the Blair House while the entire interior of the President’s house was rebuilt and modernized from the inside out.  Years of poorly designed additions & repairs weakened the structure, caused ceilings to collapse and major plumbing issues. After three years, the rebuilt White House was prepared to last well into the next century. 

Loved this quote – it’s a reminder that leaders need to be readers….. we are doomed make the same mistakes if we don’t know about earlier ones our predessors made. 

Kansas City, Missouri Visits

We visited Kansa City Missouri prior to joining the Fantasy RV Rivers West/Lewis & Clark Expedition Tour so we have much to report on about this city.  The weather has been interesting – hot, thunderstorms galore and several tornado watches, but we did fine and will ultimately be happy to leave “Tornado Alley”!


Oklahoma City – Bricktown – new hot spot!

DSC00155DSC00195Our visit to OKC included an afternoon in “Bricktown” – a renovated section of the old city that was originally mills and factories along the railroad line. There was a large rail station adjacent that is being renovated into restaurants & shop as well. Winding they Bricktown is a man made canal opened in the 1990s with water shuttles that offer a narrated tour of the area.  It’s a great way to learn about the buildings, their history and the newer features such as the sculptures commemorating the great Oklahoma Land Rush of 1889

“The Oklahoma Land Rush of 1889 was the first land rush into the Unassigned Lands. The area that was opened to settlement included all or part of the present-day Canadian, Cleveland, Kingfisher, Logan, Oklahoma, and Payne counties of the US state of Oklahoma.”

A photograph is often better than words….






Also the Chickasaw Nation Monument


National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum 

This visit was fascinating and very educational as well as fun. There were amazing collections of western saddlery, great photographs and remarkable portraits as well as artwork of all kinds. Both the cowboy, or settler and Native American heritages were exhibited and explained with good balance and respectful presentation. There was a cool rodeo exhibit as well as a wonderful Native American clothing and beadwork exhibit.  Maps of where native tribes began as well as where they were moved to in the “Trail of Tears” relocation were valuable learning elements.  As ugly as this history might be – it is an important part of our heritage. 

Entrance to this fun museum…..

Beautiful leather tooled Saddle and silver spurs as well as a trophy goes to the champion horseman or woman in this case! 

The role of women who traveled with western army personnel to this western forts was significant and this exhibit highlighted their courage and their important contributions to the community. 

Classic stagecoach – how the west was traveled by families and individuals – and opened up to those who wanted to start fresh in the new territories. 

The first President from the “West”,  Lincoln was instrumental in helping encourage settlement and expansion of the new territories.  So many important developments came during his presidency he is credited here at the Museum as a vital leader and contributor to our Western Heritage. 

A replica western town had all the events you would expect – mercantile store, grain store,small church, hotel, newspaper, bank and of  course a saloon!

Interesting exhibit about Native American scouts for explorers and for the army  obviously this activity required a delicate balance on the part of the scouts – proof that the history of the western USA is a lot more complicated than we sometimes imagine.  It was a time of remarkable transition and required men and women who were courageous and brave – willing to be their generations explorers if the unknown!

This trip to this museum highlighted what is unique about where we are now traveling – west if the Mississippi! 

Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum 

Rick & I visited this emotional memorial and remarkable museum one morning this week.  It was a beautiful day – not unlike that day in April 1995 when a massive bombing claimed 168 lives and changed America forever.  It’s an important reminder of the horror of domestic terrorism as well as the strength and resilience of our people – this sobering and stunning memorial should not be missed. 

Looking through the first arch – named 9:01 – representing the time before bomb to the arch named 9:03 – time after the bomb – when the healing began.  A shallow reflecting pool separates the two archs and may offer solace  in a such a painful and sad place.  

The National Parks maintain the memorial and Park Rangers give quided tours to explain the memorial to the visitors who come to pay their respects. 

                   See 9:01 at top of this arch. 

This young boy was reading each name on the chairs that represent the victims – smaller one in the background is for a child who died in the child care center.  Earlier I eavesdropped as his Dad had explained the memorial to him. It was a touching sight I could not miss. 

The chairs are placed in 9 rows –  one for each floor where victims worked or were found.  Victims were found in a Social Security Administration office on first floor as well as outside on sidewalks. Each chair has a victim’s name and is illuminated at night to show never ending reverence. 

The Museum – on the right seen thru the 9:01 arch – is in a building damaged by the bombing but rebuilt as a museum with scars left intact. 

This photo was taken from the plaza above the building footprint –  it was not damaged and became the triage area immediately after the attack. 

Wall of tiles made by children around America and sent as condolences to Oklahoma City in the aftermath.  Each has their hand print and their City & State at the bottom of the tile. 

This is a sculpture of the controversial photograph showing the firefighter coming out trying to save a dying child. Although difficult to view – it serves as an important reminder of the lost innocents as well as our lost innocence that day. 

I included this view shot from the Museum to show Oklahoma City’s resilience and continuing efforts to rebuild itself after such a terrible tragedy.  The Museum dramatically takes you back to the day, reminding you of how suddenly life changed for all of us. But most of all it tells the stories of rescue, life saving and recovery.  It is a respectful  and reverent tribute. 

OOOklahoma – where the wind comes sweeping down the plain….

If you don’t know that phrase you haven’t seen the famous musical Oklahoma – too bad it’s terrific and it’s pretty accurate about a few things. The wind is a constant it seems and we have had days with gusts to 60 mph and the weather is visible in distance – you can watch it advance across these plains for miles. The land is distinctive – flat with rich red soil that colors all the rivers red and feeds the cattle, horses and people who call this area home. The city is relatively small and compact with rural suburbs connected by highways that surround the city. 

A photo taken during drive north to KOA Campground – wind doing about 60-70 Mph – speed limit 75 mph – like an amusement park ride! 

A large wind farm on outskirts – for oil country we were surprised by the eco friendly energy generation and use for transportation – lots of solar and natural gas buses in the city.  Proof that the two elements are compatible. 

This picture shows a front moving north east – it generated damaging thunderstorms, torrential rain and hail, and up to 90 mph winds. We saw some of it’s damage in Oklahoma City later that week. 

You don’t need to go far to see farms and large grazing areas for livestock.  The scenery is very unique and quite beautiful – so different for us eastern coastal dwellers. The people are warm and welcoming and we have found a great site in the Oklahoma East KOA, patio, table and chairs, gas grill and Adorondack chairs included!

No trouble getting Satellite tV at this site and The doggies get their little fenced in area too.  

Our visit included a day trip to the Oklahoma National Memorial & Museum as well as the Western Heritage & Cowboy Mueum. Both were amazing experiences and highly recommended.  Separate posts about each place will follow this one.  

We also spent several hours at the local Cummings dealer getting the coach engine and generator computer updates that will enhance their performance. Folks there were Super and it was a positive experience. Later this week we will travel down to Lewisville TX to the NIRVC location to get our generator transfer switch replaced – this will prepare us better for our big trip west this summer. 

NIRVC Rally in Thackerville, Oklahoma

The rally was held at the Winstar Casino & RV Resort – owners & operated by the Chickasaw Nation – this is one of the 18 casinos that this large Oklahoma based Native American tribe owns. They also own a healthcare company and numerous petroleum travel stops along major highways as well as operating a large cultural center off Rte 35. Their holdings are diverse and productive bringing in over $13 billion in annual income for the nation’s members.  Along with the Choctaw nation, they have a very strong & beneficial presence in Oklahoma.  Both were among the tribes relocated during the mid 1800’s from east of the Mississippi to reservations established by the US government. The “Trail of Tears” refers to their shared experiences during the time they were forcibly removed from their homelands.  A sad chapter in our history, but it appears that these two nations have made the best of a bad situation.  Both were originally based in lower half of the Louisiana Purchase territory – land deemed more aporopriate for easterners settlers. 

We drove across US Rte 20 into Texas and at Dallas turned north on Interstate 35 to get to Thackerville Oklahoma just over the Texans border 

We met up with some old friends at this NIRVC rally – our first since buying our new motor coach.  Friends from North Carolina, Texas,  and Alberta, Canada joined us in the festivities and great local themed meals. This is a lovely RV Resort and has all the amenities you need. The weather was not great – we did have severe t-storm threats but dodged that bullet this time. For those that gamble this was a huge casino – says it’s the largest in the world. With areas themed as famous world cities,  it is filled with those seeking their fortune through risk and luck similar to the early settlers who came to this new land almost two hundred years ago.  There is a golf course as well as a spa which offers massage and facials – several of us sampled these offerings. 

Wonderful barbecue – low calorie of course!

Over two hundred attendees enjoying a great dinner!

Lots of beautiful class A motorhomes lined up in the resort – most made by were Entegra, Newmar and  Tiffin. 

Incredibly windy all the time we were there – Rick, Kathleen & our friend Jim with Lenny & Lola – photo by Steve, Jim’s partner. 

We didn’t win any prizes during Saturday night’s Age of Aquarius themed party – these fellows did and we had a great time! 

Said goodbye to all that night and got ready for a windy drive to Oklahoma City the next day. 

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