Our Cross-Country Odyssey: Days 25-26 – Kansas City, KS to Wichita, KS (July 21-22, 2010)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Day 25: Wentzville, MO to Kansas City, KS

Decided to avoid the interstates and head up on route 79 along the Mississippi River. We took a short and interesting detour at Winfield, MO to investigate a red dot on the map representing a ferry. We drove through lots of fields of corn and what I later learned was soybeans and came to a little road that ended at the river. A very nice farmer eating his lunch in the cab of his truck while waiting for the ferry told me that the people of Winfield didn’t want a bridge, since it would bring too much traffic (and that the crop was soybeans). We continued up towards Hannibal, MO. I was knitting and looked up at one point to see that we were driving through about a foot of water. So the thunderstorm we experienced the night before had really affected the local area. We drove through Louisiana, MO (and the low level of water), but got stopped further up and had to take a detour. We saw amazing amounts of water flooding the cornfields, including a drainage pipe that went below the road, so it made a whirlpool on one side and a spring on the other. We got to Hannibl and found that the park we planned to have our picnic lunch in was under water. We looked at the cute little downtown and had a great lunch in the Irish Rose. They had AMAZING roasted red pepper soup. We got our coffee (YAY) at Java Jive, where I actually considered buying a t-shirt. I normally don’t wear t-shirts with words on them, but this one was great: “Java Jive- the first coffee shop west of the Mississippi” (Hannibal is just over the bridge from Illinois).

As we headed west across Missouri, we noticed a lot of county roads with letters and that there were a lot of “E” next to “Z.” This was almost as good as getting to the cabin in Wisconsin by taking county road F followed by county road U.

We saw lots more open spaces, groves of trees, cornfields and such. We continued to see flooding and cemeteries on hills and noted that cemeteries on hills don’t flood….We continued on to Clarksdale, where we visited James’s mother’s second cousin, Pat and her family on their farm. We had a very enjoyable visit with them. James and Pat looked at photos and talked genealogy and I went out to see farm stuff with Pat’s grandson, Seth. I got 2 very, very fun rides on the ATV through the pastures and down the gravel roads. I got to see how those round hay bales are made and held together, saw the horses and cows, got a few new mosquito bites, and learned about hedge balls. These are a sort of fruit that grow on trees and look like a big green orange. They are apparently a favorite of cows and, it turns out, keep away the spiders, mice and other vermin in the house. James decided to take some with us to help us scare off the rats that live under our house…. The amusing part was that the next day, Uncle John saw them in the trunk and said, “Hedge balls! Cool! Can I have a few for the spiders?” Apparently, according to Margaret (see below), they are also called hedge apples or Osage Oranges.

We headed out pretty late, got turned around trying to get to James’s uncle’s house (largely because I fell asleep in the car and lost track of the roads) and got in to Kansas City quite late. We finally went to bed at one a.m.

Day 26: Kansas City, KS to Wichita, KS

We were up early to see kansas City with Uncle John. We drove around and were really quite impressed by the town. It is much more interesting than I expected. Uncle John could easily be a tour guide, except that much of the description was of what used to be there…We met up with James’s uncle Tom and aunt Marianne and headed out to lunch. The Bar-B- Q at Oklahoma Joe’s was excellent and it was great to spend time and catch up with family.

After lunch we headed west into Kansas. We turned southwest at Topeka and headed towards Wichita. We picked the particular road because of the “scenic highway” designation. We absorbed miles and miles of green fields and blue skies and finally looked at each other and asked, “How on earth did they decide THIS is scenic????”

We found James’s mother’s half-brother Dennis and his wife Margaret in Hope City, MO, just outside of Wichita. They fed us a fabulous dinner of steak and potatoes (home-grown beef…) and, again, James and Dennis sat and shared photos and stories and genealogical records. Dennis and Margaret have extended their hospitality to us and we are enjoying the opportunity of the internet connection. Tomorrow, on to Denver!

Favorite signs:
Yukos – Dog Poop Scoop company, Wentzville, MO Christian Disposal, Winfield, MO

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