Tag Archives: Kansas

Mondays are for Memories – Kansas Sights!

I remember when we were in Kansas (2012) how surprised I was with all of the little quirky points of interest there were! Here’s a (almost too) long post about some of the sights to be found in the center of our great country!
October 7, 2012 – Ready for Some More?
So – are you ready for a little more Kansas? The cold front that had us pulling out scarves and gloves did not deter us from tracking down some more Roadside Treasures in our little section of Kansas. We set out Friday morning with a short list of goodies to check out, and found some unexpected treasures along the way! This time we pointed north – here’s what 200 miles on the odometer and 200+ pictures later brought –
First Stop –
The Walronds Stockade Marker. This was not on the list – but I think it deserved a stop (and a picture!).
Next up – a miniature replica of the Statue of Liberty.
The plaque reads:
With the faith and courage of their forefathers who made possible the freedom of these United States: The Boy Scouts of America dedicated this replica of the Statue of Liberty as a pledge of everlasting fidelity and loyalty.
Donated by C.A. Kalbfleisch and Daughters 1951

I like it.

Remember the map that I posted where I said we were about in the middle of the Continuous USA? Well, turns out we are only about 40 miles from that exact spot. It was next on our list, but before we got there, Gary made me take a picture of This Guy –
Oh yeah, he was pretty interested in us too…..
Back on the road…….
Hey, here’s an interesting sign – did you know that Smith Center, KS is
? Now you do!
But on to
Needless to say, they aren’t building any Walmarts nearby, anytime soon!
Here we are – we’ve been North and South and East and West. And now we’ve officially been Center(ed).
Along with a couple of benches and a defunct hotel (which I think is currently owned by a group of hunters so it wasn’t terribly derelict, just empty looking) was this cute little chapel –
It was a four seater – so I don’t think they have regular services!
Although the little rest area where the marker sits is quite official, it’s fun to see that the locals are working along with them to bolster their town’s economy.
“Lebanon has Souvenirs” 🙂
It seemed the perfect spot for a geocache, and even though we haven’t done one in a great long while, I fired up my smart phone to see if one was nearby. Well, there wasn’t one actually at the center spot, but there was one just a bit down the road that we even managed to find (rusty though we are!).
Loved that the container was a grasshopper!

Next stop was a very sweet fabric shop in Downs (OK, so the day wasn’t all about Kansas Goodness),
where I also learned that Downs was the setting for the book “Sod and Stubble” which sounds like a book I need to put on my reading list.

OK, next on the All Things Kansas list came
Who wouldn’t want to stop there?
All dressed up in its October finery!
And across the street, hidden in the trees, more local marketing….
From Cawker City we headed to Glen Elder, where we were in search of another tiny church. Sure enough, right on the town square….
I have no idea of the purpose of said tiny church…..
As we left Glen Elder, I noticed this barn –
So if you’re looking for gilt – you can get it here.

We were such tourists that we even stopped to photograph the wild turkeys which were grazing near the side of the road.
We were closing in on our final destination, the town of Lucas, when I saw a turn-off sign for a Double Arched Limestone Bridge – 8 Miles. What’s an extra 16 miles, right?
While it wasn’t spectacular, I was still glad we stopped!
(It’s no longer used – just goes from field to field at this point!)

Ok, Lucas.
The Grassroots Art Capital.
First stop in Lucas was at the Garden of Eden, built in the early 1900 by S.P. Dinsmoore.
Garden of Eden-1
Ol’ S.P. was a Civil War Veteran who built this “Cabin Home” not only for his family, but also so people would come and see it.(If you build it, they will come…..) The house is interesting in its construction (no two window or doors are the same size), but it’s the grounds that seem to tell the S.P. Dinsmoore story.
Garden of Eden-2
The yard is full of his sculpture (everything from Adam and Eve to political commentary) and even includes a mausoleum where he and his wife are entombed.
Garden of Eden-3
Talk about Folk Art! Phew!
But Lucas had more to offer. We had to postpone the Grassroots Art Center (it was closed by the time we got to town), but we did stop at a highly recommended meat market –
Oh yeah, baby. We went home with some of that goodness!
And the meat market guy directed us to the newest Lucas attraction – The Bowl Plaza. Probably the fanciest, most whimsical public restrooms on the planet!
It’s fancy on the outside, but oh, my goodness, the INSIDE was AMAZING!!!!
Lucas Public Restrooms
These Kansas folks will do just about anything to bring folks to their town!

So that was the day. Even though the day was cold and damp, it was still tons of fun exploring Kansas. We saw more beautiful countryside
and drove on more Kansas roads
Kansas Road October 2012
and had an all together great day.
We even managed to find a Dairy Queen!

(I know this has been long (who knew there was so much to see in Central Kansas!), but if you’d like to see more pictures, including the ones that were in the collages, check them out HERE!)

I Like Ike

In this highly charged political climate, it seemed quite restful to visit the boyhood home of Dwight David Eisenhower in Abilene, Kansas.



“Ike” was raised in this modest home along with his five brothers by his devoted parents (with a little help from a grandpa that also lived with them).

Eisenhower was the first president that I have any memory of (he was president from 1953-1961 and I was born in 1951) and I confess that I didn’t know a great deal about him. Well, I knew he was a Five Star General and was HUGE in WWII and that he was married to Mamie and his grandson married Richard Nixon’s daughter. But by the time I left I realized what a remarkable (and humble) man he was. The museum on the grounds took us through his early military career, his pivotal role in World War II, and his reluctant entrance into politics.
Did you know that BOTH the Republicans and the Democrats wanted him to run? That’s pretty hard to believe given today’s political climate!

The museum also had a special exhibit of the fiber art of Shin-hee Chin that was fabulous! I was working with a different camera, so my shots are not all that great, but here are a couple from the exhibit.
A blurry Anne Frank
A close-up of Anne Frank. Amazing.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Not sure who this is, but here’s what it looks like close-up –
Pretty amazing exhibit!
So if you’re ever near Abilene, take the time to stop and see this wonderful testimony to this Soldier/Statesman/President. We’re glad we did!

The rest of our drive to Anadarko, Oklahoma, (and our November project at Oakridge Camp) was uneventful (just the way we like it!) – here are a couple of sights along the way!
Gotta love a little road art!
And here we are, all settled in for the next three weeks!
Settling in at Oakridge Ministries in Anadarko, OK  :)

We’re looking forward to a day trip into Oklahoma City in the days ahead and since Anadarko is the self-proclaimed Indian Capital of the Nation, I’m sure we’ll be enjoying some Native American education too!

Have a good weekend, everyone!

A little R&R

We have just had four of the nicest “down” days at the very lovely Wilson Lake in Kansas.
Lake Wilson-8
We’ve pretty much had this 86 spot campground all to ourselves,
Lake Wilson-5
and aside from a quick trip to Lucas on our first day here (including a visit to the Grassroots Art Center – excellent!) we stayed close to home. I’d like to say we just sat back and read and napped and meditated, but truth be told, we used the time to take care of some chores (Gary on the RV, me on Christmas sewing) along with the all the relaxation. 🙂 But we had such lovely weather, you know I had the camera out!
Lake Wilson-18

Lake Wilson-6
This was the shoreline where we were parked, and there were usually lots of these guys along the shoreline or in the nearby cove.
Lake Wilson-10
We’ve identified them as American Coots – not actually ducks, but more closely related to the Sandhill Crane. And speaking of the Sandhill Crane – even though we heard and saw many flocks overhead (and even tried to find where one group landed), this was actually as close as we got to those beautiful birds –
Lake Wilson-13
And as we drove through the park –
Lake Wilson-4
Lake Wilson-2
Lake Wilson-16
Ok, so it’s not the “Fall Colors” that I grew up with, but it certainly has it’s own loveliness – don’t you think?

But, really the loveliest time of the day was sunset. From the slant of the late afternoon sun turning the surroundings golden
Lake Wilson-21
to the sky that was painted anew every evening…..
we were blessed with a wonderful quiet time of refreshment.
God is so very good to us!

Tomorrow we pack up early and begin our drive to Oklahoma. First stop will be the Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum in Abilene.:) We’ve had a couple of recommendations for places to eat along the way, so that might just be happening too!

There are more pictures from our time at Wilson Lake HERE – but, here’s one for the road…..
(taken literally out our front door!)

Whacha bin doin

We’ve come to the end of another SOWER project and now that I’ve shared about all the interesting sights in the area – like the World’s Largest Ball of Twine and the Barbwire Museum, I guess it’s about time I shared how we spent our working days.
Let me say this – we stayed plenty busy! Stream of God Ministries recently relocated to this small Kansas town after their ministry efforts into Mexico became too dangerous to pursue. As they searched for a new location – their vision being to start an International Bible College (via the internet) and also reach their community with a summer camp program – they were offered a no-longer-used school and adjoining property in Central Kansas. As Ralph, the director, said, it wasn’t exactly the area they were thinking of, but believing that God was leading them there, they jumped in with gusto! The school itself is quite unique – an 8 sided building with the gymnasium located in the middle.
Ralph and a variety of volunteers have been working hard to transform the building (in good shape, but definitely has that institutional/school look and feel) into an inviting ministry center. Dividing walls have come down to make a chapel and a dining hall, hallway walls have come down to allow rebuilding with windows and more open areas. I’m happy to report that we have had nothing to do with the “walls coming down” part. Because to go from this
to this
to this
is a little more muscle power than us old folks signed up for!
Instead we focused on the “building back up” process!
Here’s the chapel when we arrived. The dividing wall had been removed (leaving quite a gap in the carpet) and the wiring had been done for new lighting. By the time we left, the lights had been installed, the carpet patched and the walls had been painted all the same color.
Our first day –
Gary working on the lights –
Gorlyn working on the carpeting –
and Ruthie and I cleaning up the windows.
This was taken before the painting was done (the brown wall is now white), but I think it looks pretty darn good!
Gary also tackled getting all the heaters up and running –
and then I got to go around and clean them and put in filters.
Gary also redid the electric in the areas where the walls had been knocked down and wired up the new office that had been studded in (after he installed the windows.) 🙂
I think it’s just about ready for the sheetrock! Gotta save something for the next group, right?!
Here’s Gorlyn working hard on the painting. He had just enough paint to do all the walls (that needed doing!).
Ruthie and I kept busy being the extra set of hands for whatever project was up that day –
From pulling nails
to helping to hang a chandelier!
With Gary as our fearless leader much was accomplished. But the reality is there is lots and lots and lots yet to do! Ralph has a wonderful drawing of the completed property – with gazebos, a pond, a pool with a giant water slide (he already has the slide!), but for now it’s one day at a time. One wall down, one wall up. One more trip to the Habitat Re-Store to see what else might be of use at the school. We’ll be keeping this ministry in our prayers – and we’ll be sure to stop by next time we’re driving through Kansas to see just how things are coming along!

So what’s next for the Conrads? Well, our next scheduled project is Oakridge Retreat Center in Anadarko, Oklahoma. It’s one of our newer projects and we will be the first SOWERs to serve there.  No pressure. Right.  But before we head to Oklahoma we’re heading to Wilson Lake for a nice long weekend of some peaceful R&R.
Lake Wilson-3

Guess what? There are more pictures of the project HERE! You knew there would be, right? 🙂


Luray, Kansas

OK.  So I’ve shared about points from all around our home base this month, so I think it’s about time I share a little bit about Luray –
Luray is located in the Smokey Hills area of Kansas, pretty darn close to not only the center of the United States (see previous post!), but it’s also only about 20 miles from the geodetic center of North America. Talk about being in the center of things!
Luray is a classic Kansas small town, 30 miles from the interstate, which had it’s heyday in the 1940’s with a booming population of 400+, and now is home to roughly 200 Kansas-ans. Like all towns in Kansas (or so it seems to me) there is the feed co-op
and of course the water tower.
(there behind the RV!).
Here are some shots of the “downtown” area –
The local real estate office.
The cafe/bar that closed a while back
The public library, on the right (and wifi hot-spot!).
The Senior Center (again, the right side only).
One of the side streets
and the old church that is now a museum. We’ve been going to the Methodist church across the street. It’s the only church in town. The folks have been very friendly and the pastor actually goes between three churches in neighboring towns every Sunday morning. Phew.
And then there’s the walk home from church –

So that’s about it for town of Luray. Along with the library, a senior center and the Methodist Church, there is also a post office, a bank, and a mayor (who also has a jingle business). And everyone we’ve met is very friendly – a very sweet little town!

So why have we been in Luray the last three weeks?    We’re working on a SOWER project here that is unlike any we have worked on before.  Stream of God Ministry, a ministry previously located in the Rio Grande Valley, was virtually given the empty public school in town (along with about 15 acres of playing fields, etc.) for them to develop into a ministry center.  The long range plans include a Bible College with a global emphasis  and a summer camp for area children.  I’ll fill you in on just what we’ve been doing for the last couple of weeks (we’ve been plenty busy, trust me), but for now – here’s the school.
And from our parking spot…..
We’ve heard that it’s the first Hexagonal school built in the country (circa 1960). It’s pretty interesting.
But I digress – I’m supposed to be talking about Luray.
I guess you can tell that most of these small towns in Kansas are looking for anything that makes them special (Like the fancy restrooms over in Lucas). This is Luray’s attempt –
Halfway between paradise and goe
Now we know about the Garden of Eden –
Garden Eden
but we definitely had to check out Paradise…..
Hmmm….looks a little like a little Luray (with a bend at the end of town…..) 🙂