Kansas Boyhood Home of General Pershing

Let’s go to Laclede, Kansas.   A road sign directed us to the boyhood home of General John Joseph Pershing.

Laclede, Kansas. Boyhood home of General Pershing

General gained much recognition during World War I.   This statue is a tribute to the General.

General Pershing

But there is more here.

Boyhood home

This is the boyhood home of General Pershing.   His family moved here when he was very young.   We visited the Visitor’s Center here and the ladies told us much about General Pershing, and other points in Kansas.   They said John Pershing was a teacher here for a short time.

Prairie Mound School

Prairie Mound School seems so small now.

Let’s go inside the school

Let’s go inside.   Two doors and two rooms.   First the door on the right.

Door on the right. Portrait and memorabilia

A large portrait of General Pershing greeted us.   Many medals and memorabilia are on display inside.   Next, door on the left.

From World War I

Several flags and posters from World War I are displayed here.   The displays in both rooms are very interesting.   The ladies in the Visitor’s Center reminded us of the Poppy Fields in Flanders.

Poppies and Flanders Field

This sign tells much.   In Laclede, the town citizens have planted a poppy field.   We were there in late October, so nothing was blooming then.

Poppy Garden in Laclede, Kansas. Will bloom next summer.

The garden has been cleaned out for winter, but we expect a beautiful poppy display next summer.  This also is a very peaceful place.   We hope you visit Laclede, Kansas.   General John Jospeh Pershing had a remarkable military career, graduating from West Point, the military academy, being recognized for outstanding service, he was called to New Mexico when Pancho Villa attacked Columbus, New Mexico.   During World War I he was Commander of the American Expeditionary Force in Europe.  General Pershing is the only person to be General of the Armies of the United States.   He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery, near Washington D.C.    Visit Laclede, Kansas, stop at the Visitor’s Center and spend a little time wandering around the grounds.   We liked visiting Laclede and we think you will also.

Over 10 Tons of Twine with Zeb the Duck

We are going to Cawker City, Kansas now.   Another small town trying to attract tourists like us.   Here in Cawker City we see this huge ball of twine.

Largest ball of twine in Cawker City, KS

A circumference of 43 feet.   This ball of twine was started by Frank Stoeber in 1953.   Oh, a clarification.

World’s largest ball of Sisal Twine

This is the world’s largest ball of sisal twine.   Over 8 million feet of twine and more than 10 tons.   That is huge.   Here it is.

Ball of twine. Ready for Halloween

We were there in late October, a few days before Halloween.   The giant ball of sisal twine is ready for Halloween also.   When Frank Stoeber died in 1953, other cities were making larger balls of twine.   Cawker City, Kansas didn’t want to be beat, so they started an annual Twine-A-Thon.   All citizens are encouraged to bring their twine and add to the size of this record setting ball.   But, only sisal twine.   No string.  No yard.   Across the street from the world’s largest ball of sisal twine, we see this restored 1930’s gas station.

Old, renovated gas station

But this is not a gas station now.   It is a mini hotel.

Now tiny hotel

From the sign, you can see there is a vacancy here.   The maximum occupancy of this hotel is 4 humans.   This is a cute town.   The gift and information shop for the ball of twine was not open when we were there, but other shops offer crafts and merchandise with a twine theme.  Near Cawker City, we stopped for this bridge.

Double Arch Bridge

This sign and the bridge are made of local limestone.  This is a double arch bridge.

Double Arch Bridge

At one time it was the main bridge for this road, but as traffic increased and the road was widened and straightened; the new road bypassed this bridge.   Progress happens, but sometimes we like to see the old things.   When you drive through Kansas, slow down, drive the local roads and enjoy viewing unusual things.

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?

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.

The Greyhound Hall of Fame with Zeb and Soapy Smith Duck

You must see this.   Abilene, Kansas is home to the Greyhound Hall of Fame.

Greyhound Hall of Fame, Abilene, Kansas

Dedicated to the greyhound racing dogs, this complex has a theater, meeting rooms, a museum and the Greyhound Hall of Fame displays.    Outside we admired this statue of a greyhound.

Statue honoring greyhounds

Inside we will be met by retired racing greyhounds.   One of the former greyhound greeters, Jade, is buried here.

Jade the Greyhound rests here

But, let’s go inside.   Gary, one of the greyhound greeters, rushed to meet us.   He expects and receives much attention, much petting and much love.   We had so much fun playing with Gary and Ginger, the other greeter dog.

Gary and Ginger. Retired racers, now greeters

Now, Gary decides it is time for a rest.

Gary. Retired racer now greeter

When you visit here, you will be invited to watch a short movie in the theater.   We thought the movie was interesting and informative.   This is from the movie.

From movie of greyhound race

While racing the greyhounds chase a mechanical device, now based on a windsock.

Zeb and Soapy on mechanical windsock

One of the devices is in the Greyhound Hall of Fame.   It’s pretty comfortable for two small ducks.    We saw many photos of racing dogs.   And read much information about greyhound racing.   This was a nice museum and Hall of Fame.   Before leaving we wanted to see Gary and Ginger again.   They had been so nice and friendly when we came in.   But, wait.   Ginger???

Ginger? Please don’t taste

That was scary.   Especially for Soapy Smith Duck.

Ginger with Zeb and Soapy

But Ginger was just playing.   No harm, just an experience to add to Soapy’s many stories.   When in Abilene, Kansas, please visit Gary and Ginger and browse through the Greyhound Hall of Fame.   Also, across the street, is the Presidential Library and Museum of former US President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Presidential Library and Museum for President Dwight D. Eisenhower

Abilene, Kansas is a nice town with interesting things to see.   When driving on I-80, stop in Abilene, KS and enjoy the Greyhound Hall of Fame and the Eisenhower Presidential Library.

Arikaree Breaks in Kansas with Zeb the Duck

Here we are in Kansas.

Entering Kansas

Entering Kansas

This is the farmland we expect to see in Kansas, but today we are looking for something else.  We are looking for the Arikaree Breaks.   Driving on US Highway 36 into St. Francis, Kansas, we head north at the courthouse.   The humans are following the self driving tour of the area.   First stop is the G.A.R. Cemetery.

G A R Cemetery

G A R Cemetery

The east half was to be for Grand Army of the Republic veterans and their families.   These are veterans of the United States Civil War.

Civil War Veteran and his wife

Civil War Veteran and his wife

The west half was for citizens and their families.  No lots were to be sold; only a donation for the deed was taken.   The intention was to provide an honorable burial to destitute veterans of the Civil War.  This cemetery was established in 1889.   Our map led us over 4 creeks, most of which were dry.  Next stop was Horse Thief Cave.

Entrance to Horse Thief Cave

Entrance to Horse Thief Cave

Along the side of the road, near the entrance to Horse Thief Cave was this mailbox.

A mailbox for Horse Thief Cave?

A mailbox for Horse Thief Cave?

Why a mailbox?  Who receives mail here?  I, Zeb the Duck, have no idea.  This is the back of the cave.

Where is the rest of the cave?

Where is the rest of the cave?

Wait a minute.   What happened here?  Our map tells us most of the cave has caved in, leaving only the entrance.   When the cave was last used in 1878, there were 2 rooms back here.   The outlaws used the front room as their living quarters.   There was a large back chamber where the stolen horses were kept.  Looking behind the cave, this is certainly not the flat Kansas farmland we expected.

Not flat Kansas landscape here

Not flat Kansas landscape here

Driving further, we find the Lookout Point.

Arikaree Break

Arikaree Break

This is a canyon.   It is beautiful in its own way.  These Arikaree Breaks are 36 miles long and two to three miles wide.   They are really great to see.  Further along, we are reminded that this really is farm country.   The cows are grazing in the breaks.

Cows in the breaks

Cows in the breaks

They get in and out of the breaks on their own.   Information from the nearby city of St. Francis tells us about this area.  The Arikaree Breaks were formed by wind deposited sand, silt, and clay particles, called loess.  After deposition, the loess has undergone spectacular processes of head cutting, and sidewall cutting the advancing tributaries of the Arikaree River and the South Fork of the Republican River.   This all happened during the Holocene Age, a little less than 9,000 years ago.  The humans tell me we will drive through a private farm, with permission from the farmer, to see 3 corners.   I really don’t know what that means.   But, along the way, I see two new friends watching me.

We are being watched

We are being watched

I love to see deer.   We also saw a large flock of wild turkeys.  They humans tell me 3 corners is where 3 of our states all meet.   This is the sign explaining everything.

3 Corners. Meeting of Kansas, Nebraska, and Colorado.

3 Corners. Meeting of Kansas, Nebraska, and Colorado.

We are in Kansas, Nebraska is directly north and Colorado is on the east.  Here I am where these three states meet.

Marking the exact meeting of three states

Marking the exact meeting of three states

This is a great marker and I, Zeb the Duck, am glad to be here.   I wanted to sit on the fence post to gaze over these three states.

Observing 3 states. Getting flatter in all directions.

Observing 3 states. Getting flatter in all directions.

You can see that the land is getting flatter, the typical land of Western Kansas, Western Nebraska and Eastern Colorado.   We are heading back to Colorado now.

Heading back home

Heading back home

It is always good to go home.   On the drive back, we reflect on the Kansas landscape we saw.

We really did see this in NW Kansas. Badlands?

We really did see this in NW Kansas. Badlands?

This looks more like the Badlands of North and South Dakota, but it is the Arikaree Breaks in Northwest Kansas.   We hope you drive around your area and see some surprising features also.

Western Kansas with Zeb, Soapy Smith and JB Duck

Ducks, let’s get in the car.   Those are some of our favorite words.  Driving east on I-70 from Denver, we passed Limon and Burlington and entered Kansas.

We are entering Kansas

We are entering Kansas

Naturally the first stop was the Kansas Welcome Center for travel information.

Let's find out what to see

Let’s find out what to see

The wind was strong here.   Our next stop was Goodland, Kansas to see the Van Gogh.   A huge, 80 foot tall, reproduction of Vincent Van Gogh’s “Three Sunflowers in a Vase”, on an easel stands tall in Goodland.

Replica of Van Gogh's Three Sunflowers in a Vase

Replica of Van Gogh’s Three Sunflowers in a Vase

The reproduction was painted by a Canadian artist, Cameron Cross.   If you are on I-70 in western Kansas, you should stop in Goodland to see this.   Continuing east we took Exit 70 to Oakley, Kansas.   As you may guess, this was the home of Annie Oakley, originally Annie Moses.    We stopped at the Buffalo Bill Cultural Center.

Buffalo Bill Cultural Center

Buffalo Bill Cultural Center

The big attraction here is the statue on a hill.

Buffalo Bill and a Buffalo

Buffalo Bill and a Buffalo

Buffalo Bill and a buffalo.   Inside, the Colorado Traveling Ducks, sat on the head of a buffalo.

Colorado Traveling Ducks sitting on a buffalo's head

Colorado Traveling Ducks sitting on a buffalo’s head

We believe this was our first buffalo sitting.   Buffalos are big.   So far, Kansas was all farmland.

Kansas farm

Kansas farm

We headed south on Hwy 83 toward Oklahoma, and soon we saw pumping oil wells.

Pumping oil wells

Pumping oil wells

Turning off the highway onto dirt roads, we were heading for Monument Rocks.   We liked this view of the road.   There are not many trees, but these two near a river bed formed an arch over the road.

We like the trees over the road

We like the trees over the road

Suddenly we spotted the Monument Rocks, also known as the Chalk Pyramids of Kansas.

Monument Rocks

Monument Rocks

The 70 foot tall sedimentary formations of the Niobrara Chalk were created 80 million years ago when Kansas was a vast inland sea.   We parked and walked around some of the chalk pyramids.   They are really big and we are really small.   Mom had to be careful where we sat.   The wind blew us away a few times.

We are in this photo

We are in this photo

We love arches.   We three ducks are on the ground on the right side of the arch.

Colorado Traveling Ducks on right side of arch

Colorado Traveling Ducks on right side of arch

If you look closely, you can see us.   These Monument Rocks, or Chalk Pyramids were the first to be designated as a National Natural Landmark by the US Department of the Interior.   These Chalk Pyramids are on private rangeland but the owner opened the land to the public.   The Chalk Pyramids are fragile, and humans are asked not to climb on them.   The Monument Rocks, or Chalk Pyramids are on both sides of this dirt road.

Monuments Rocks or Chalk Pyramids of Kansas

Monuments Rocks or Chalk Pyramids of Kansas    Mom is experimenting with the panorama feature on the camera.

We think these formations, about 27 miles south of I-70 are worth the time to leave the interstate and see some of what Kansas has to offer.   When you are in Kansas, be prepared for lots of wind.

Cousin Duck Goes to Topeka, Kansas

None of the Colorado Traveling Ducks have visited Kansas.     Mom’s friend, Tom and his son, Mike, took Cousin Duck to Topeka to the 140th reunion of Topeka Lutheran School.   Tom was a teacher there from 1971-1974.     They checked into a motel in Topeka, near the school, and Cousin Duck found something new.

What is on the pillow?

What is on the pillow?

What is this, he asked?     This is a mask for a CPAP machine.

Now I can sleep better

Now I can sleep better

Cousin Duck says he breathes better with this mask.   Driving around Topeka they found the house where Tom, Mike and the rest of the family lived in Topeka.

The humans lived here over 40 years ago.

The humans lived here over 40 years ago.

Big yard here.   They are now in the school, the home of the Topeka Lutheran Wildcats.

Am I a Wildcat?

Am I a Wildcat?

Cousin Duck now thinks he is a Wildcat.

A trophy

A trophy

Some of the former students are holding a trophy, won when they were teenagers.   Wildcat Duck likes Brad and Pam, his new friends.

Brad and Pam are Wildcat Duck's new friends

Brad and Pam are Wildcat Duck’s new friends

They were Tom’s former students.     Now what is this?

Paddles?

Paddles?

In the early 1970s students could be paddled if they misbehaved in school.   Mmmmm.   Sometimes a little persuasion teaches students valuable lessons.   The students that were paddled realized that maybe they deserved it and none were angry about things now.   For more information about this school, visit http://www.TopekaLutheran.org   Sunday, Tom and Mike, with the newly named Wildcat Duck visited Washburn University.

Wildcat Duck at Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas

Wildcat Duck at Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas

Across from the University is a great store.   They went into Time Machine Records and More.   Another former student, Brent, was there.   Look at this album from Freak Brothers.

Ducks love vinyl!

Ducks love vinyl!

Wildcat Duck really like the figures behind him.   This is the immensely popular band, KISS.

Wildcat Duck is with KISS

Wildcat Duck is with KISS

That is so perfect.   Everybody loves KISS.    For more information about this store visit http://www.timemachinerecordstopeka.com   We think Wildcat Duck had a great trip.   But it was time for them to leave Kansas and come back to Colorado.

Goodbye Kansas

Goodbye Kansas

Thanks for the trip Tom and Mike.   I, Wildcat Duck, had a great time.