We were quite pleased with ourselves because we pulled out of Estes Park at 6:20 a.m. Sunday morning. Our goal had been to leave at 6:30 and it's always great to begin a 1,418 mile journey by leaving on time!! We had a long travel day of 557 miles ahead of us and knew as the day wore on that we'd be glad of the early start.
Our first stop was in Boulder where we were sitting at Whole Foods when it opened at 7:30. Well, actually our first stop was at McDonald's for Bill to get a couple of gut-busters (a.k.a sausage biscuits)with which I had bribed him to get him to agree to such an early start! The stop at Whole Foods was to purchase a new brand of yogurt I discovered at the Boulder Farmer's Market that is made by a small company and only found in and around Boulder. It's the best yogurt I've ever eaten and after corresponding with the company, I learned that I could purchase some to bring home at Whole Foods. That didn't take long and we were on our way. Shameless advertisement here: Can't wait till we get our Whole Foods next year!!
The first 300 miles of our trip was uneventful and went by quickly. Sunday morning travel meant little traffic and NO truck traffic, so we stayed on the interstate crossing the border into Kansas in just under four hours. After a quick stop for gas, we made our way towards Colby, Kansas where the plan was to exit I-70 and spend the rest of the day on highway 24. In Kansas, the two-lane roads are so straight and flat that speed limits are usually 65 which means we are able to travel almost as quickly on "blue" roads as on the interstate and believe me, they are much more interesting. We went through numerous sleepy little towns and were quite surprised to find the visitor center open at the Nicodemus National Historic Site. Nicodemus has a fascinating history involving the migration of former slaves from Kentucky and Tennessee who were told to "go west" when the war ended. A few of the original buildings have been preserved and the story of how this community thrived through the help of several men (both black and white) working together is a story of courage and hope.
Moving on from Nicodemus, I was anxiously anticipating our entry into the village of Cawker City, Kansas because it was here that we would visit what has been verified as the World's Largest Ball of Twine. One of my favorite websites for travel planning is Roadside America (www.roadsideamerica.com). Are these types of attractions silly? Absolutely! But the stories of how they get started and become a part of Americana are usually quite interesting. It is incredible to me that this ball of twine was begun on a farm near Cawker City two years before I was born. And yes, it is quite large. Even Bill, who had told me he would be waiting in the car (remember the old commercial??), was impressed enough to get out and take a few pictures.
We got our first taste of heat and humidity during the visits to Nicodemus and Cawker City. It had been 38 degrees when we left Estes Park and by now, it was over 90. We could hardly breathe!
Manhattan, Kansas is home to Kansas State University and we spent an enjoyable evening at the Morning Star Bed & Breakfast. After checking in, we ran out for a quick dinner and drive around the city to see the campus. It had been a long day. We were tired and after spending a few quiet minutes on the huge front porch of the B & B, we called it a night. We had just turned out the lights when there was a knock on the door of our room. When I opened the door, the owner stood there to warn us that severe thunderstorms and tornadoes were in the area and in all likelihood, the warning sirens would sound. She then proceeded to tell us how to get to the basement. A bit unsettling, but we went back to bed and if Dorothy & Toto came through during the night, we didn't hear them. We slept great and woke ready for another exciting day.
Monday, September 26, 2011
A Night In Manhattan - Manhattan, Kansas
Originally published in My Trip Journal on June 19, 2011