Center of the United States with Zeb the Duck

This may not be the center of the world, but we are at the geographic center of the contiguous 48 states of the United States.   That means Hawaii and Alaska are not considered when determining this center point.

Geographic center of the 48 states

Remember, Hawaii is thousands of miles away in the Pacific Ocean.   And Alaska is north of Canada.   This flagpole displays the flags of the United States of America and the State of Kansas.

Flagpole. United States and Kansas flags

This geographic center is near Lebanon, Kansas, 12 miles south of the state border of Kansas and Nebraska.   There is a small chapel here.

Small chapel

We went inside and this is the view from the door looking toward the altar.

Inside chapel. Looking to altar

A really is a small chapel.  Looking from the front toward the door.

Inside chapel

This chapel has 8 pews, so no big crowds, please.   Here you can see the whole area.

Nice area

The chapel, a covered picnic area and the flag pole.   We enjoyed this peaceful setting.   We just didn’t bring a picnic.   Maybe next time?

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Happy Veteran’s Day 2018

Today, and every day, we thank those brave men and women that have served, and those currently serving, the United States of America.  Today, November 11 is the official holiday to honor all our veterans.   Veteran’s Day is from Armistice Day, the end of World War I.   The treaty was signed at 11 a.m. on the 11th day of the 11th month.   That was November 11, 1918.   Yes, this is the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day.   Please call and thank a veteran today.   Perhaps take a veteran for coffee or a meal.   Visit a hospitalized veteran.   Deliver some veteran’s day greeting cards.  We, the Colorado Traveling Ducks and our humans, pause to reflect on how much we owe our veterans.   Please don’t let Veteran’s Day be a lost day, overshadowed between the shopping frenzies of Halloween and Christmas.

Happy Veteran’s Day

Thanks you veterans.

Zeb the Duck Visits Lucas, Kansas, The Grassroots Art Capital of Kansas

Continuing north from I-70, mom saw a sign for The Garden of Eden in Lucas, Kansas.   Here we are, entering Lucas.

Welcome to Lucas, Kansas

So, mom, tell me about this Garden of Eden.  Samuel Perry Dinsmoor, (1843-1932), a US Civil War Veteran who fought for the north in the Union Army for 3 years became a teacher.   Upon his retirement in 1905 he started a second career as a sculptor.   He built a 12 room log cabin, with logs made of Kansas limestone.

Garden of Eden, Lucas, Kansas

He created over 200 concrete sculptures which reflect his political and religious convictions.   Sculptures are inside and outside.

Back yard. Garden of Eden in Lucas

In one corner of the lot is the final resting place of Samuel Perry Dinsmoor and his first wife, inside a mausoleum.   Tourists that purchase tickets to take a tour of the property can view Dinsmoor’s body inside his concrete coffin.   This Garden of Eden had good online reviews, but we decided we did not want to go inside to see more.   We saw enough for us from the street.   On the welcome plate coming into Lucas, it claims to be the Grassroots Art Capital of Kansas.

Grassroots Art

This downtown property has a display of grassroots art.   In the back of this photo you can see the fork art section.   This was a prominent piece of grassroots art.

Grassroots Art

Our new cow friend, Tari the Cow, is sitting on this, directly in front of the throat.   While Lucas is trying to attract tourists, the town realized it did not have public toilet facilities.   So this artistic toilet was created.

Entrance to public toilet

As you can see, Tari the Cow, is on the handle of the real restroom door.   This is to represent a toilet with the toilet lid up, forming an entrance.   The rim of the toilet provides benches for resting.   Let’s go inside.   This is an interesting wall.

Inside ladies room

OK, now into the ladies room.   Lots of work and creativity to create the wall by this bathroom sink.

Inside ladies room

And not to be neglected, the opposite wall is also quite a work of art.

Inside ladies room

I, Zeb the Duck, just don’t know what to say about all this.   Back outside, we notice that the sidewalk leading to this public toilet is really part of the sculpture of a giant roll of toilet paper.

Huge roll of paper

Tari the Cow, likes sitting on this giant roll of toilet paper.   Lucas, Kansas is a very interesting town.   Like many small towns, Lucas tries to create something that will attract tourists and tourist money to their towns.   They hope you will purchase something.   Perhaps gasoline for your vehicle, a beverage, a meal, maybe some souvenirs.   And if the town has a motel, they would like you to spend the night.   So, we like to visit many small towns to see what they have and usually purchase something.  On the way out of town, Tari the Cow, wanted to sit by the welcome plate.

Leaving Lucas

Now we are saying goodby to Lucas, Kansas.   Maybe you will stop when you are in the area.

Zeb the Duck Visits a Huge Czech Egg in Kansas

A quick turn off I-70 in Kansas.   Mom saw a sign that caught her interest.    We are in Wilson, Kansas.

Wilson, Kansas

The Czech capital of Kansas?   Wilson, Kansas was settled by people from the former Czechoslovakia.   The part that is now the Czech Republic.

World’s largest painted Czech egg

This is the largest painted Czech egg in the world.  This egg, with a fiberglass shell weighing 8,000 pounds is 20 feet tall.   It is also 15 feet wide and painted with traditional Czech patterns.    This is some information about Czech painted eggs.

What about Czech eggs?

I did not know that egg were exchanged during Easter in the Czech Republic.   This is a nice tradition.   Our next stop was the Wilson Chamber of Commerce and Visitor’s Center.

Chamber of Commerce and Visitor’s Center in Wilson, Kansas

Isn’t that a cute building, built in a popular style and colors in the Czech Republic?  Unfortunately it was not open when we were there.   Wandering around town, we found the Midland Hotel.

Midland Hotel, Wilson, Kansas

This 1899 three story limestone hotel still houses visitors in 28 restored period rooms.   Online we found good reviews for The Sample Room, but it also was closed when we were there.   Wilson is a rather small town.   According to the 2010 census Wilson had a population of 781 residents.   Near the Midland Hotel, in the park area between the hotel and egg, we saw this monument to honor Soldiers, Sailors and Marines.

To honor Soldiers, Sailors and Marines.

You will notice that I am not in this picture.   Because we were traveling through America’s farmland, we added a new friend, this bear in a cow suit.   We decided to have her pose for some photos while I rested.   Being a model is hard work for a duck.   I, Zeb the Duck, noticed that these fence posts were unusual.

Fence posts of limestone

They are made of limestone.   This part of Kansas has a lot of limestone.   Remember the hotel is made from limestone also.   Leaving Wilson we drove a few miles north to Wilson Lake.

Surrounding Kansas farmland.

See, we really are driving through America’s farmland.   Wilson Lake is a large reservoir with parks and many recreation areas.

Fishing in Wilson Lake

A couple humans are boating on Wilson Lake, trying to catch a few fish.   There are nice picnic areas along the lake also.

Picnic area near Wilson Lake

Our new friend likes picnics.   One last look at Wilson Lake and we continue on our journey.

Beautiful Wilson Lake

This is a great road trip.   We are just driving for a few days with no plans and no time schedule.   All we know is we want to be in Indianapolis, Indiana Monday.   But more about that later.  Time for more exploring now.

Cathedral of the Plains in Victoria, Kansas with Zeb the Duck

We are on another road trip.   I just love road trips.   Driving through Kansas on I-70 we saw a sign for Cathedral of the Plains.   So, of course, we had to see it.

Cathedral of the Plains

This church is beautiful, and big.   This church is not a seat for a bishop, so it really is not a Cathedral.  In February 2014, the church was declared a minor Basilica.  The first Basilica in Kansas and the 78th Basicila in the United States.   But it is still called Cathedral of the Plains by many people.   We liked the carved Bible verses in front of the church.

Scripture

This Basilica is 220 feet long, 110 feet wide with two towers, each 141 feet tall.   From the other side, we can see an additional area for church use.

Basilica of the Plains

The exterior of the Basicila is made from native limesone blocks.   We admired this exterior, but I want to see the inside.

St. Fidelis Church in Victoria, Kansas

We are getting closer, and mom said we can go inside.

Interior of Cathedral of the Plains

Wow!   Isn’t this beautiful?   The ceiling is 44 feet above ground.

Altar of Italian marble

This altar is made from Italian marble.   Along both sides of the church there are beautiful stained glass windows.

One of many stained glass windows

I love these big windows.   The sun shines through the glass in a perfect way.   From the altar, let’s look to the doors and the choir loft.

Looking back to choir loft and circular stained glass window

Isn’t that circular window beautiful?  Don’t you just love to visit huge, beautiful churches?  I do.  Construction on this church began in 1908 and was completed in 1911.   The community had outgrown three previous churches.   The first 23 pioneer families arrived here April 8, 1876.   These pioneers were Volga-Germans.   As more pioneers arrived, the town flourished and this church was built.   Across from the Basilica, we admired this statue, a tribute to the early pioneers.

Tribute to pioneer families

Victoria, Kansas is a small town that is proud of its history.   I, Zeb the Duck, hope you visit St. Fidelis Church, commonly known as the Cathedral of the Plains.   It is just a few miles from the highway and I think you will love it.

Zeb the Duck Tours and Tastes at Celestial Seasonings Tea Factory

Today I, Zeb the Duck, took mom and one of her friends to Boulder, Colorado.   We visited and toured the international headquarters for Celestial Seasonings Tea Company.

We love tea

We love tea

Our first stop was signing up for the next tour.

We sign up for free tour here.

We sign up for free tour here.

All tours are free.   There were some great seasonal decorations here.

Seasonal decor

Seasonal decor

We received a packet with 4 tea bags of Sleepytime Tea.   This is our ticket for the tour and a great, tasty souvenir.   Sleepytime is the most popular tea blend, so we will certainly enjoy our gift.   While waiting for our tour, we sampled several tea blends.

Many flavors of tea ready to sample

Many flavors of tea ready to sample

Some teas were hot and some cold.   A menu of all teas is also on the counter and we could request any of the teas.   We did try an additional blend and all of them were delicious.   Also available, for purchase, were these gorgeous pastries and other snacks.

So tempting

So tempting

Some small tables by a window made waiting for our tour a pleasant break.   Here is a picture of Mo Siegel, one of the founders and current head of Celestial Seasonings.

The beginning of Celestial Seasonings

The beginning of Celestial Seasonings

As the herbal tea blends became popular, tea bags were needed.   This sewing machine was used to make the first muslin tea bags.

Sewing machine

Sewing machine

Our tour was called, so into the theater we went.   After watching a short video about the company, including the humble beginnings, international source of tea, and shipping Celestial Seasonings Tea to various countries around the world.   All tea is packaged in Boulder and distributed from this Boulder factory.   On display is this ensemble.   The dress, shoes, hat and purse are all made from Celestial Seasonings tea packages.

Dress, shoes, purse and hat all made from Celestial Seasonings tea packages.

Dress, shoes, purse and hat all made from Celestial Seasonings tea packages.

This dress was commissioned in support of the Heart Truth campaign of 2006, to raise awareness about the risk of heart disease in women

After the film but before entering the factory, everyone must put on a hairnet.

Visitors wearing required hairnets.

Visitors wearing required hairnets.

Men with beards also needed to wear a beard net.  The humans did look a little funny, but nothing except tea and herbs will be in our next cup of tea.    Sadly, we are not allowed to take photos inside the factory.    In the processing area we touched and smelled samples of the product of the moment.   They were making teas with lemon grass.   I like lemon and this smelled so good.   We passed large sacks of tea blends that have been certified by the tea master, insuring proper quality and flavor.   The conveyor belts fill, wrap and seal the boxes.   There are boxes of various sizes for various foreign countries.   One of the most memorable stops on the tour is the mint room.   We love mint, but the aroma was so strong that I, Zeb the Duck, and most humans could not stay in the room very long.   The room is sealed shut most of the time to prevent the strong mint flavor and aroma from dominating all tea blends.   Did you know that the tea blend, Tension Tamer contains catnip?  Yes, the same stuff that cats love.   It is even listed on the box as an ingredient.   The tour ends in the gift shop, or tea shop.  This is just one wall of tea varieties.

So many tempting types of tea

So many tempting types of tea

So hard to decide, but of course we purchased Tension Tamer with catnip.   And with all this tea, how should we drink it?  Here are a few suggestions for mugs and teapots.

Love the mugs

Love the mugs

Want more choices?

Presentation is important and so much fun with tea.

Presentation is important and so much fun with tea.

And there are even more.    Mom has several teapots and teacups, so we did not purchase more.   But this is what we brought home.

Look what came home with us. And we already had a lot of tea. Yes, we do like many varieties of tea.

Look what came home with us. And we already had a lot of tea. Yes, we do like many varieties of tea.

We already had several blends of tea at home, but we do really love and drink a lot of tea.

Estes Park and a Close Encounter With Elk

A gateway city to Rocky Mountain National Park, we love the resort town of Estes Park.

Estes Park, Colorado

It was overcast with car headlights on the rock.   We liked the shadows on the stone.  Fall River flows from Rocky Mountain National Park into Estes Park.

Water wheel in river by park

We love the water wheel in the river by this small park.   Elkhorn Avenue is the main street in Estes Park.

Elkhorn Avenue

We usually walk from one end to the other, stopping in various shops and often a restaurant.   One of our standard stops is The Taffy Shop.

The Taffy Shop

There are several taffy shops, but we have been coming to this one since mom moved to Colorado in 1975.   The taffy is made right here and it is delicious.  Try the Texas Pecan.   Another regular stop is Laura’s Fudge Shop.

Laura’s Fudge Shop

A few years ago, Laura’s expanded but the shop is always crowded with locals and tourists.   That really says the fudge and more is excellent.  We enjoy Turtle Fudge and Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge.  And the toffee, and the caramel apples.   Yum!   We did our shopping, crossed the road, followed the river and got in our car.

River flows under main street near parking area

This is fall, the rut, or mating season of the elk.   This time of year, we hear the male, or bull elk, calling his mates, sounding like a bugle.   The female may answer with a rather shrill squeal.   The elk often leave Rocky Mountain National Park and wander in and around Estes Park.

Elk herd leaving lawn of Aspire Residence at Stanley Hotel

This herd is behind the Aspire Residences, part of the Stanley Hotel.   There were several humans sitting on balconies enjoying the elk herd.   As you can tell, the herd is gradually moving to another area.   But some are not in a hurry.

Baby elk nursing

This young elk is hungry and trying to nurse, but mom doesn’t stand still very long.   They have moved, crossed a major street, and are now in the golf course.

Elk herd on golf course

The lone male watches the females.

Bull running to keep females together

He tries to keep them together.   This bull does a lot of running, or sprinting, to keep the girls where he wants them.   Oh, a second herd is arriving.

Second herd approaching golf course

They will join the first herd on the golf course.   How will this end?

Two bulls calmly passing

The two bull elk, one from each herd, pass each other, without incident.   But, we don’t think the elk can read.

Tee time?

Only golfers on the golf course.

Elk on the Golf Course

Well, is it tee time ladies?  The elk and humans mingle well.   If the elk want to move, the humans scatter to allow the elk freedom to go wherever they wish.  Further along, a herd is around Lake Estes.

A bull elk in Lake Estes

This bull is cooling off and probably drinking in Lake Estes.   The sun has set.

The Stanley Hotel at sunset

The Stanley Hotel is illuminated by the glow of the setting sun behind the Rocky Mountains.   A beautiful end to a beautiful day.