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.
This ring is now the top of the mine.
Freeze pipes used to freeze the underwater aquifer before drilling through. Ran brine at -26 degrees Fahrenheit.
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.
Of course a trip to the salt mine wouldn’t be complete without visiting the original site where salt was found.
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!