Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Quirky Sightseeing in Kansas and Oklahoma

When last I left you, we were tucked into Alice's RV Park in Hooker, OK for the night, having traversed 3 states on our first day out.  We picked Hooker as a stopping place for a couple of reasons.  One, the name! The town apparently has a sense of humor (the official town slogan is "It's a location, not a vocation"), as evidenced by some of the signage we saw.

The town team is called the Horny Toads!

Not sure if this is still in business...

I had a chance to visit the Hooker Chamber of Commerce and Gift shop where I was able to pick up a little souvenir...

Secondly, Alice's RV Park is the first Passport of America campground we have visited.  And all I'm going to say about that is that I hope other parks in the system are a little, no I really mean a LOT, better!

And, third, Hooker was close to Liberal, Kansas which had numerous oddities that I wanted to see.  We spent a few hours in Liberal, which is a town of about 20,000 people.

The first place to stop was the Tourist Information Center, where there was a statue of Coronado.  What does Coronado have to do with Kansas?  Well, apparently he was sold a bill of goods by a guide who described the area as fabulously wealthy with gold everywhere.  Needless to say, when Coronado and his party arrived, there was no gold and the guide who led them there was killed.

Francisco Vazquez de Coronado

According to legend, the first settler to the area was "mighty liberal" with the water from his well, thus the name of the town!

Liberal is also the home of Dorothy's house from the Wizard of Oz and the Land of Oz museum.  We didn't take the official tour, but were able to walk the grounds and take some pictures.  There are statues of Dorothy on many street corners throughout the town.

Dorothy's House

Dorothy's Storm Cellar

The Yellow Brick Road

Sid and the Tin Man

Me and Dorothy

Next door is the Coronado Museum, which houses Indian artifacts, a Western gallery and a turn of the century doctors office, as well as an old Post Office.  The home itself is beautiful, with original oak staircase and two original bathrooms.

The town library has an unusual feature...the front of the building is shaped like a book.  And in front of the library is a Mom-ument, the Pioneer Mother of Kansas, paying tribute to all the mothers who settled the wilderness.  These statues or monuments are scattered through the country to pay tribute to mothers whenever a community is overpowered by feelings of maternal pride, duty or guilt.

Liberal, KS town Library

Pioneer Mother of Kansas 

Last stop in Liberal was at the International Pancake Day Hall of Fame.  In 1445, a housewife in Olney, England, was making pancakes when the tolling of the church bells began, indicating it was time to go be "shriven" of her sins.  The pancakes were not quite finished, so the housewife grabbed the pan and ran to the church. This became a local tradition with a competition to see who could get to the church first. In 1950, a Liberal, KS Jaycee issued a challenge to the vicar in Olney to make it an international event with the two towns having a friendly competition to see who could run the 415 yard course the fastest.  And International Pancake Day was born.  The Hall of Fame is open only by appointment, but I did get a picture of the stack of golden pancakes on its doorstep!

Hall of Fame

Pancakes with butter...yum!

Tomorrow is another day and we'll be on the road to Oklahoma City.  Until next time...

Monday, March 23, 2015

And we're off!

Here we are, oil changed, propane filled up, toad attached and ready to leave Canon City.  It's the beginning of many firsts, so keep your fingers crossed for us that they will all be as easy as hooking up the car for the first time!

Julie and her toad!

Later on down the road somewhere, I'll give you a video tour of the inside of our humble abode, but for now, let the adventures begin!

We got 10 miles outside of Canon City before the first hiccup.  Our jack alarms went off, so we quickly pulled over, checked things out and couldn't find anything wrong.  So we got back on the road and, knock on wood, everything seems ok.  Saw some wild turkeys crossing Hwy 50 just outside of Pueblo and drove  through Holly, Colorado, the hometown of Roy Romer (bet you didn't know that!) on our way to Kansas.  I was a bit disappointed that Colorado didn't have a farewell sign and the Welcome to Kansas sign was so small that I couldn't get a picture.

Southeastern Kansas was a whole lot of nothing much to look at - miles and miles of huge farms, feedlots, cattle companies, cotton fields and dairies.  We passed through Ulysses, KS , which has a very interesting history.  Apparently, the town was a booming metropolis of 1500 in the late 1800s.  But by 1909, the population had dropped to only 40 and the town was heavily taxed to repay bonds that were issued to make improvements that never happened.  After paying the taxes for a year, the remaining population decided they were tired of paying the taxes and decided to move the town to a new location.  So they put the larger buildings on skids, the smaller ones on wagons and moved the town a couple of miles away, where it thrives to this day.   Maybe people today could affect some significant change if we had the determination of those pioneers!

We slipped quietly into Oklahoma around 5:00 on a county road with no signs whatsoever.  The only indication of change of state was the change in the color of the road!

Kansas/Oklahoma state line

Alice's RV Park in Hooker, Oklahoma is where we're settled for the next two nights while we explore the Liberal, KS area.  The sun is out, the trees are in bloom and the first day of full-timing seems to have gone pretty well.

Alice's RV Park

Trees in bloom outside our door

Until next time....

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Saying Goodbye

One more night in the local RV park and the adventure begins!  The last month in Canon City has been, in a lot of ways, the hardest part about embarking on this new adventure. This is the city and the house we have lived in the longest in all 39 years of our marriage and we've made a lot of really good friends here. As ready as we were to sell the house, even I had a “moment”....a lot of hard work went into that place! And I learned a lot in the process, so I suppose I will take those skills into another house some day. Bowing out of the many social groups I've come to love was difficult – the thought of having only my husband to do things with is a bit daunting, I will admit! And, of course, saying goodbye to our nearest and dearest friends was heart wrenching. Some, I fear, we may never see again, although I sincerely hope they all stay well and healthy until we return.

We took a drive this last week to soak in a last little Colorado ambiance and the scenery is something I will miss, no matter how beautiful other parts of the country may be.

The back of Pike's Peak

The Sangre de Cristo Mountains

A closer view of the "Wet Mountains"

A herd of deer grazing by the road

And where else can you see baby burros in town?

I may originally be from New York, but Colorado has become home to me and the mountains are one of my peaceful places.

But the future, as a full time Rver, holds many promises of new adventures, wonderful memories and, I'm sure, challenges to overcome. I feel incredibly fortunate to be able to take this journey and I hope you'll join me along the way and enjoy reading my take on the known, and little-known, treasures this old USofA has to offer.  Until next time....