Thursday, August 12, 2010

Whole Lot of Nothing

The Jedi left me with an assignment. Find some stopping off places on our route between Kansas City and Denver where we can get out and stretch our legs a little. Yeah.

Now, when the kids and I were looking through library books yesterday, we saw an illustration of castle rock in Kansas which looked really cool. So we wrote it down on our list of possibilities. Then we saw pictures of the real thing today.

Toa said, "I don't want to go there."

This is FIVE HOURS from Kansas City.

And, after five hours in the van, we need something. And, as mind-boggling as this might be, this lonely stand of rocks is the most interesting feature on our route. (One of the coolest things about this location is that Castle Rock is actually on privately own land, but the owner welcomes the public to visit this landmark.)

I found a website of photos of the area. Sweetling was upstairs looking through the book 101 Places You Gotta See before You're 12. I ran upstairs and got Sweetling, yelling, "Guess what? Guess what? I found the middle of nowhere! And we're going to drive right through it!"

Sweetling, giggling and excited, ran back downstairs with me where I showed her this photo I had found, aptly titled, "Nothing!"

Toa said, "We're going to have fun there!" And we all laughed.

But really, the badlands near castle rock look cool....

I'm trying to look at Google Maps and follow the directions given on the Castle Rock Badlands website to determine just how much off highway drive time this would be.

All right, I'm coming back to edit this post to say I have maligned Kansas. There is stuff to do and see, I just lack the google-fu to find it quickly. So, I'm not being fair when I say "nothing." I'm just blown away by the flat expanses of empty land.

Just 3 hours out of Kansas City is the city of Salina, Kansas. And 4 hours out of Kansas City is Hays, Kansas. 

In Salina, there is the Smoky Hill Museum, with free admission. I love free. It's open Tues-Fri 12-5, Sat 10-5, and Sun 1-5. And have I mentioned that it's free? Not just free to us 'cause we have a Cincy Museum Membership, but just free and open to the public. (This photo is from the blog of another visitor to Salina, Beth at Home and Abroad.)

Restaurant wise in Salina, I found some reviews for a 50's style hamburger dinner named Spangles. We'll be driving through this area around lunch time, so burgers and fries fast would be good.

In Hays, there is Frontier Park, with buffalo  and Historic Fort Hays. "Fort Fletcher, later renamed Fort Hays, was established on the Smoky Hill Trail in 1865. After the fort was virtually destroyed in a flash flood in 1867, it was relocated to a site now just south of the city of Hays. Four of the original structures, the stone blockhouse, guardhouse and two frame officers' quarters survive today...along with a modern visitor's center. " Admission to the fort is $3 for adults and $2 for students.

But, also in Hays is Stenberg Natural History Museum, which is on our list of reciprocal museums.(ie, free for us to visit.) And from Beth's blog, a restaurant recommendation in Hays with German food, Gella's Dinner. See, I do love my Jedi husband. (And kids eat free every Tuesday, if it happens we're traveling through Kansas on a Tuesday.)

I got excited with a blog that had a link to PrairieDogTown, but I think we'll skip that. Thanks. Even me, who really wants to see prairie dogs, doesn't want to spend the equivalent of three gallons of gas admission (per person, really?) for the animal equivalent of a circus side show.

So, plan A is drive from KC to Hays (a four and a half hour drive), then do lunch and the Stenberg Museum. Then drive the 5 hours 20 min to Denver.  (Depart KC at 9am, Hays at 1:30-4pm, Denver at 9:30pm--note that this has no dinner break and is, therefore, totally unrealistic.)

Plan B, which I like better, is drive from KC to Salina, 3 hrs, have burgers and tour the Smoky Hill Museum. Then drive another 4hr20mins to Burlington. Play on the playground at Outback Territory Park. Have dinner (cause we have to stop for dinner anyway), and then drive the other 2hr 40min to Denver. (Depart KC at 9am, Salina 12-2:30, Burlington 7-9pm, Denver at 11:40 pm. Which sucks getting into Denver so late.)

Plan C, cause I can't leave well enough alone. KC to Salina, as above, then 3hr20 minutes from Salina to Colby, Kansas. Then 3hr43min to Denver. (Depart KC at 9am, Salina 12-2:30, Colby 6-8, Denver at 11:40. I think we just need to pick something on the south side of Denver. We're going to be dead tired otherwise.)

Colby Research for Plan C:
Fike Park. Playground. Enough said.

Montana Mike (steaks I think)
Gambino's Pizza (no web site)
Chester Fried Chicken. (no web site)
Butch's Smokehouse (no web site, but a description..."Dine-in, Carry out BBQ Restaurant. Meats are slow cooked over wood (oak-hickory-fruitwood) a variety of styles of BBQ from several parts of the US.  We also cater banquets-picnics-reunions and other events." If its a nice enough evening, I'd vote for getting a carry-out dinner from here and taking it to the park.)


Beth Partin said...

Hey, thanks for the link. I like your post about Kansas. There is stuff to do there, but western Kansas especially is very flat. As is eastern Colorado. The kids might like the Sternberg Museum better than the Smoky Hill museum, especially the top floor with the moving dinosaurs. Depends on their ages.

Tonya @ Live the Adventure said...

I just realized that you've been posting Field Trip Fridays! So sorry I haven't stopped by before. We loved, loved, loved the Santa Maria when we lived in Ohio and reading about your trip really brought back memories. I always wanted to set up a group for one of the overnights so they could sleep on the ship but couldn't get enough interest. Next week my field trip post will be about our recent trip to the Nina and Pinta that actually sailed into the marina last week here in Alabama.

Your trip sounds fascinating. I just drove through Kansas in July and was loving every minute of it. I think (not sure) that you'll be sticking pretty close to 70? There is a travel guide available from the state that highlights attractions at each exit. I was by myself but took advantage of that handy resource and found some great gems. Abilene was the end of the Chisholm Trail and one of the wildest west towns there was. Tons of history and some cool attractions that include Pres. Eisenhower's Presidential Library, Boyhood Home, Museum and Resting Place. I know, nothing to do with the Wild West, but a great stop. Everything is free except for the museum. I have blogged about it if you want more information Also, across the street is the Greyhound National Hall of Fame. I'm not into dog races but this was a really neat stop. Two greyhounds greet you as you step inside the doors and it turns out that Rip is a record holding racer. Also free. Not far from the interstate and great place to stretch your legs if you need to get out of the car. I don't believe it is too far from Salina. Before you reach Fort Hays, you'll come to the exit for the Cathedral of the Plains, one of the 8 wonders of Kansas If you stop, make sure you go inside, I didn't take time for that. Fort Hays was closed when I was passing through so I was only able to view the grounds outside Didn't mean to write a whole book! Blessings! :)