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On the State LineLarry - half in Kansas, half in Missouri
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History RemainsOld limestone wall in Kansas Flint Hills.
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A Reminder1867 farm subsidies for fence building.
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Beware the BisonA sign we heeded!
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The Great Wide OpenOn the lone prairie.
July 12 - Memory Lane
After 3rd grade, I was raised in Kansas City and graduated from the University of Kansas. So today was about nostalgia: seeing how much things had changed in 50 years (trees on my old front lawn), laughing at the things I remembered (where my locker was in my high school and where i had my first kiss--different buildings), annoyed to see my grade school had been knocked down, quiet reflection as I put fresh flowers on family graves, All the time, Larry lovingly drove me on my journey back in time: "Turn here. Oh no, it's the next one." and "Can you do a u-turn?"
I say all this to encourage YOU to make the visit back in time if you haven't for awhile. It is good to remember where we come from.
Today's lunch continued on the theme of "places kinda like what we have at home." RJ's Bob-Be-Que shack--a very out of the way spot in the suburbs on the Kansas side--has been featured on Diners, Drive Ins, Dives, just like Southern Soul! We shared a platter of meaty wings, ribs (no fat and very tender) and "burnt ends," which I love. These are little charred savory bites from the end of the brisket.
Favorite photo of the trip so far: Larry standing in the middle of State Line Road, the street that divides Kansas City, MO from Kansas City, KS. It is mostly a 2 lane residential street that winds throughout Kansas City's most stately neighborhoods. There are no signs other than the State Line street sign. Every time Larry has been to KC with me through the years, he marvels as he drives: "Really? Missouri is over there and we are in Kansas? " So this time I finally got a picture of him in the middle of the road: one foot in Kansas and one in Missouri!!!
Drove the "old" highway through corn fields to Lawrence, home of KU. (Maybe 40 miles from my home...so why did I live on campus and not commute?). After driving past the mobile home park (nice euphemism for trailer) and Larry commenting on how I'd moved up from the wrong side of the tracks (literally), we ate in a college town burger joint (truffle fries!), strolled through town, paid a couple $3 covers to hear mediocre music and drank $2 beers.
Best moment: walking back to hotel, holding hands, hearing the train whistle through the hot prairie night air. Back home in the Midwest!
July 13, 14 - Topeka and the Flint Hills
Destination Dining: Stopped in Topeka to visit my niece and her husband. They took us to one of the best restaurants we've ever been to: Rowhouse Restaurant, in a restored 1870 row house. If you are ever within 100 miles, don't miss it. Really. NINE course meal (3 desserts) with wine pairings. Many ingredients grown in the back garden. A very pleasant surprise and a trip highlight.
Next AM it was into the Flint Hills, via a spontaneous turn onto the Native Stone scenic byway, through green hills and 150 year old limestone walls, passing about 4 cars. Passing ranches with evocative names like Crooked Post Ranch, Mashed O Ranch, and roads named Bronc Rider, Wildcat and Nighthawk.
After crossing over the Santa Fe trail several times, we took a 6 mile walk through the National Tallgrass Prairie...successfully dodging buffalo (yes, really), dung beetles, scaring some cattle and starting a very small stampede and loving the wide open spaces. Very quiet, except for the prairie wind. You know, they call the wind Mariah! Beautiful!