Today Danelle, Kelly, and Kerry came back from a week on the beach. We made signs so they could find us as they came off the plane…
It was great to have them home again!
This was a week that started off bad and only got better! Danelle was going out of town for a girls 40th birthday party week and that left the kids and I to hang out. After thinking of lots of ideas of what to do with the kids, I decided to visit my sister Holly in Wichita, KS.
I was supposed to leave on Saturday morning to get there. Unfortunately for me, I got strep throat. The whole trip was up in the air as we didn’t want to get anybody else sick. I woke up feeling fantastic Saturday after the drugs had kicked in. I decided the week would not be a flop, so we headed to the store and bought another kayak 0310. From there we went out to Simpson Lake to paddle. Each kid got their own boat and I got a canoe solo. I only had room for 2 on top of the van, so the Viper went inside making a very tight fit.
To make the paddle more interesting, we stopped in the middle and ate a picnic lunch. The Corvin and Sonora both had a great time paddling with me and being a captain of their own ship.
I called Holly to let her know I was feeling better. Somewhere in the conversation, it was agreed that we should still come to Wichita and visit them. When we got home from paddling, we hurried to put the boats and gear away in the garage and pack for a week long visit. And then the three of us took off for a week’s adventure. To keep things interesting, I didn’t follow Google’s route taking major interstates and instead took as many rural highways as I could. This ended up being a blessing at the end of the trip!
Of course being in a new city, you have to try new things. Just down the street from Holly’s house was a Spangle’s restaurant. The inside had an interesting theme and a first place trophy.
On our second day, we had an adventure planned. I had reservations for Corvin, Sonora and I (Holly’s kids were too small) to go to Strataca. Strataca is an underground working salt mine in Hutchinson, Kansas. We had a 9am reservation and I paid for all the extras since we would not likely come back (due to the distance away).
Below are some interesting notes from the waiting area.
Much of the salt pulled out of this active mine is used as road salt and some for livestock. In a different area of town, the Morton salt company mines salt that is used for food. Its said that there is enough salt in this area to handle human consumption for a few thousand years. Now lets go 650 feet underground!
I failed to mention that there is a high security underground storage company that is using some of the old mined out space to store important things.
If you didn’t already know, going to a salt mine is hard work. We were underground for about 5 hours and the kids were ready to go (I could have stayed longer).
Anybody that knows my dad or I knows that we like strange things. When I travel I like to use RoadsideAmerica to find interesting things to see along the way. Surprisingly, there are a lot of weird things to see around Wichita. We started with a mock Stonehenge. I think its a stretch, but it was fun to come out and see the random rocks.
Also included on the site and nearby is Keeper of the Plains. Its a tribute to the Kiowa-Comanche Indians. The site was very beautiful to look at being at the confluence of 2 rivers. While waiting for sunset, we walked around the river walk. Corvin rode his unicycle. As the sunset approached, people started appearing and a anticipation filled the air as we waited to see if they would light the ring of fire since it was very windy.
The following day Holly took Sonora and her kids to the zoo while Corvin and I did two laps around the outside on our unicycles for a total of 8.01 tiring miles. Corvin and I stopped to enjoy the ride and hang out while the kids did zoo stuff.
It got too hot so Holly and company left the zoo before we finished, but we all had a great time. Back at the house, I had to laugh at David trying to open a case of soda with a Play-Doh pair of scissors!
Another gem from RoadsideAmerica, Jurassic Art: Welded Dinosaurs, is a fantastic thing to stop and see. This artist has some great imagination!
We followed that up with a trip to the aviation museum. We spent several hours here looking at planes, throwing some paper planes, and flight simulators.
Hang in there, we’re more than half way done, congrats if you’re still reading, but you are probably family 🙂
One of the best things about visiting a new city is the ability to see it with new eyes. Most places have interesting things if you are looking for them. Come home from dinner earlier in the week, I noticed a bunch of painted pianos near the street. When I asked Holly and Jim about it, they thought I was crazy and couldn’t think of any along the route. So we went out for a casual drive to prove I wasn’t crazy! Some of them even still played on a few keys.
On our last full day in Wichita, we took a road trip to Lindsborg, Kansas. There you can see Coronado Heights and while it may not sound exciting, the view is spectacular!
Now that we saw the building, we were all hungry, so we found amazing food in town at The Swedish Crown. I wasn’t sure I would like it, but the food was fantastic. The town has lots of painted horses to see as well.
On the way home, I spotted an oil refinery and drove as close as I dared to get photos before continuing on. Now I think I could have gotten further.
That evening, we promised the kids Chuck-E-Cheese, so we went just to play games. Then Snorkie came out to play with the kids back at the house.
We left Wichita early in the morning to get to our surprise visit. If your memory goes back to the start of this post, I mentioned rural highways and a blessing… Our last RoadsideAmerica visit was to Big Brutus. This is the largest electric shovel in the world. None of the photos do it justice for the size!
Sonora is still talking about going back to visit it again, so dad for the win! Overall a perfect week vacation. Thanks to Holly and Jim for putting up with us for that long!
We decided to have a family bike trip. OK, Corvin was not there, but Danelle and Sonora were. I picked Cliff cave cause it has a nice flat lower section and though it would be nice and easy for all of us.
The first thing I noticed when I came into the park was that it was under construction. It was always a bit dangerous, but that was part of the excitement for going there. I didn’t get any photos cause I was driving and was in shock at all of the trees that were cleared. The cliff part that was always just fine was now labeled as unsafe/no trespassing.
Enough of the bad stuff. It didn’t take long during the ride to realize that we may not be able to go very far, the recent flooding left the park with lots of water in various places that would normally be dry.
In the photo above, there is a clear line in the trees showing how high the water had been during the recent flooding.
I’m working on my unicycle skills, so I decided to ride in harder mud filled areas of the trail to get better. They say if you’re not falling, you’re not getting better. So maybe I’m better?
The South Dakota Kayak Challenge is a 72 mile paddling race down the Missouri river. Danelle and I had previously completed this race and though it would be fun to do it again with friends. I borrowed a 4 person aluminum boat and talked Andy and Terica into joining us for the trip. We only had two training runs in this boat, but I was confident we would fare fine as we are all distance racing veterans. So off we went to KC on Thursday night with the kids to drop them off at my parents house.
With the kids gone, we snuck out early from the house for the remaining 5 hour drive to Yankton, SD. Along the way, we were passed by Rusty who was able to drive a bit faster than me. As luck would have it, we stopped at the same rest area for a break and had a nice chat before heading back on the road.
Like last time, we stopped at a high point to check out the course and get a break from the drive.
We were in contact with Terica and Andy during the drive, but they were a few hours behind us, so we didn’t wait for them. Once in Yankton, we unloaded and got settled. Our large aluminum boat sitting next to a more competitive boat…
Then I drove to South Sioux City, Nebraska where the race finish is. There, I would park the van and ride a shuttle back to the start of the race. I caught up with Terica and Andy here, always in great spirits!
After checking into the race, we led them to the The Riverfront Hotel (they were staying at the same one we were). On the way, we were bragging about how awesome the rooms are. For some reason, they were out of space and we had to walk to their other building, so we all took the hike together. When we got to Andy’s room, our mouths dropped. His room was $20 more than ours and it was nicer than my house. Oh yeah, it also had a walk in safe!
Saturday morning, race time! When we woke up, it was lightly drizzling rain. I love paddling, but I always prefer when its dry. I was worried it would be a miserable day of racing. But to keep things light, we had some laughs before the start. Danelle, Terica, and I all colored our hair. Andy said he would wear a wig if we brought one… He was a great sport and let us get a photo before putting it away.
The race went great. The team did a great time together and we had lots of hilarious conversation. Many paddlers were shocked when we passed them mostly due to our boat size. They commented that they could hear us coming but could do nothing about it. Needless to say, we had a fantastic time!
One other interesting note, I broke a carbon fiber paddle. I traded paddles with Terica so she could try out a shorter one and she liked it. So I started using hers and I called out a 20 count (20 hard strokes to get the boat and blood moving). On my second stroke I heard a loud snap! I looked down and realized the paddle snapped.
We were fortunate that we carried a spare paddle and kept going. We finished the race in 10 hours and 41 minutes.No one said that racing was easy!
We were too tired to think after the race, or we would have gotten a team shot, but here is Danelle and I the next morning.
Another fantastic race in the books for us!
I let myself get talked into a bad haircut again. I didn’t loose a bet, I just wanted a colored mohawk to celebrate summer and the upcoming South Dakota Kayak Challenge. It started off with Sonora pretending to be a cat, and then a turtle…
Eventually, it was my turn and Danelle decided to have fun with me. We went through several bad styles before landing on the last bad one.
Eventually we got some color and it looked better…
Somehow we missed the family shot of the 4 of us with colored hair this time. Maybe next time I”ll pay for the bad haircut and then dye it myself!