Saturday, June 6, 2009

Birthday Trip Across Kansas, Part 2

2:20PM, June 5, 2009 - After leaving Partridge, Kansas KE #4419 and myself venture northeast into Hutchinson, where we take part in a guided tour of the official 8 Wonders of Kansas, the Kansas Underground Salt Museum. The only one of its kind in the Western Hemisphere, this tour takes you 650 feet below the ground into 67 miles of tunnels and storage sites of this still-active salt mine.
An exhibit of a wooden rail car holding explosives used in the mine's early days.

A shot of polyhalite, a red salt seen occasionally throughout the mine.

Our tour guide gave our group time to look over a pile of salt and take a souvenir piece home - as long as it was "palm-sized" or less.

Here KE #4419 stands next to a huge block of salt crystal that is 98% pure. The tour is well worth the experience!

Upon leaving the Kansas Underground Salt museum we headed on back roads north through Buhler and to the The Barn, the headquarters of the Kansas Sampler Foundation. KE #4419 had never been here before. We were a bit surprised to find the inside decorated for a wedding rehearsal, featuring 80 guests! There were actually two extra chairs, but for some reason we were encouraged to continue on our journey. Sigh. Always the bridesmaids . . . .

We then headed east on backroads through Moundridge and then north on Kansas Hwy. 15, where we came upon the historic Alexanderwohl Mennonite Church. Then we turned east on US Hwy. 56 and then State Hwy. 150 into the Flint Hills. In Chase County we turned north onto State Hwy. 177 and the Flint Hills Scenic Byway toward our destination of Council Grove, where we anticipated an excellent supper at the iconic Hays House Restaurant.
Downtown Council Grove consists of several architectural gems that at another time would entice us to explore a bit, but right now we had a single thought on our minds: FOOD!

At last! We spied the Hays House Restaurant, still located in its original site since 1857. It is the oldest restaurant in the United States west of the Mississippi River. A cavalcade of cars and motorcycles form other customers on this busy Friday night made it a bit tough to find a parking space, but we made it.

Inside my "8 Wonders of Kansas" T-Shirt drew instant attention by our waitress, as the Hays House is one of the current finalists for the 8 Wonders of Kansas Cuisine contest. I also mentioned that it was KE #4419 who sent in the actual nomination of the Hays House for the contest, and that was all it took for us to get free desserts! Sometimes there are perks to being an Explorer.
We each ordered the Prime Rib dinner with beef & noodles soup, homemade bread and sides. Then came the dessert - cinnamon ice cream! The Hays House is one of four places in the Sunflower State that makes their own ice cream.

I know what you are thinking, but no, we firmly believe that the bright light you see upon the ice cream came not from the camera's flash but rather From Heaven Above. Once again, the first taste of this incredible taste feast was an ephipany of taste in epic proportions.

And once again, I need a moment. Just the memory of that taste . . . .


It was that good.

Trust me.

A truly fitting end to a great day. We reluctantly turned back west and north and rolled back into Osborne at 11PM, having driven 482 miles in the Sunflower State and never left it.
And that's the way it should be. Happy Exploring!

1 comment:

WenDee KE#36 said...

Another rousing post on your journey's throughout Kansas. We too stopped at the illustrious Hays House for a very early dinner today and had the famous Strawberry Pie. Hmmm, somehow we didn't get a FREE piece of dessert! Guess our first name should start with the number "8"!