One year Ruth and I decided to take some time to see what we were bypassing on our way to Colorado and discovered that there’s a worthwhile attraction in practically every town on the Kansas part of I-70. Travel lesson: the 425 mile drive across The Jayhawk State need not be boring. This time Ruth and I, traveling west to east, visited Walter Chrysler’s boyhood home and a re-creation of Van Gogh’s sunflowers for the 1st time and revisited The Cathedral of the Plains, where we learned of recent honors.
In Goodland there’s a giant easel holding an 80 feet tall reproduction of Vincent Van Gogh’s Sunflowers. It’s a bit kitschy like the world’s largest ball of string (also in Kansas in Cawker City) and the world’s largest ketchup bottle (Collinsville, Illinois) but it’s impressive nevertheless. It’s actually one of 3 such projects by Canadian artist Cameron Cross and pretty appropriate. Kansas is, after all, also the Sunflower State.
The Prairie Museum of Art & History is Colby’s contribution to culture.
I really like the Fick Fossil and History Museum in Oakley. I suppose it’s the child in me that thrills to dinosaur skulls, sharks’ teeth, and strange marine fossils from the time when this part of Kansas was undersea. The founding Fick’s story is interesting too.
Wakeeney is home to Mini-Speedway, an attraction that the official Kansas travel guide for 2014 calls “Kart racing at its best.” Although I haven’t been yet, it sound like lots of family fun and welcomed relief from, “Are we almost there?”
Hays has at least 20 roadside attractions. One I find worth seeing is the Fort Hays Historic Site. Between its construction in 1865 and its abandonment in 1889, Fort Hays was charged with protecting emigrants on the trail, railroad builders, and mail carriers. Such famous names as George Armstrong Custer, Wild Bill Hickok, and Buffalo Bill Cody either passed through or resided here. While cholera and flooding took their toll, this fort was neither attacked nor walled because, since it’s in a flat part of The Wheat State, no enemy could approach unseen. I wish that the combination chapel and dance hall, a frontier mixed message, had not been torn down in 1878.