Tuesday, December 29, 2009

How Feathered Friends Managed the Christmas Storm

The ice and snow that hit Kansas during the Christmas holidays did make Exploring Kansas a little difficult.  At these times it is the small visitations that become important. 

Take for instance a desire to go for a walk on the Sunday following Christmas.  With many sidewalks and even streets still drifted with snow and the temperature well below freezing, this simple exercise became a small problem.   The solution: take the walk in Salina's Jerry Ivey Park and see how the many wild ducks and geese fared during the past week.  (This also brought up the opportunity to use the new camera).  The pond was iced over, with only two small patches of free water. 

These fine fellows bring a fitting cold end to 2009.  Here's to 2010 and the New Year!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Share Your Kansas Exploration Songs Revisited

Back in October 2009 I shared my Top Ten songs I like to play whenever I am out and about Exploring Kansas.  And as an interesting psychological experiment I also invited other Kansas Explorers to share their songs that they play as well. 

So without further adieu here are some of the songlists that have been received.  Unfortunately  not all can be listed do to the amount of space needed, but the following are very representative of the huge musical variety found in all the responses. 



I go between Bob Dylan - several tapes I recorded from KVOD's folk music program years ago - - -

AND I have a great tape of Mahler's First Symphony, the Titan that is great - - - for winding roads, the Overture to Wagner's die Meistersinger - - - -

And in between, I usually have on NPR.

Eric Abraham - World Famous Artist
Eric Abraham's Flying Pig Studio and Gallery
PO Box 321 - 123 South Main Street
Lucas, Kansas 67648-0321


I love the songs you chose! Some of the songs I like to travel by especially when exploring Kansas are:

Somewhere Over the Rainbow – Judy Garland

Cowboy Take Me Away – Dixie Chicks

All We Are is Dust In the Wind – Kansas (the part that says “just a drop of water in an endless sea” always reminds me of how small I especially when traversing the Flint Hills).

Houses in the Fields, Wild Blue Indigo, Home Grown Tomatoes, etc. – Anything sung by Kansas’ very own Anne Zimmerman!

I can’t wait to see what other song suggestions you get. We will have to get all of these recorded on the Ipod for our next Kansas adventure!

Joyce S. Bishop
Holton, KS


(1) *Drive*, by The Cars. Keyboardist Greg Hawkes has Kansas roots.

(2) *Dust in the Wind*, by Kansas

(3) *Written in the Wind*, by Yanni

(4) *Open Road*, by Bryan Adams

(5) *Ventura Highway*, by America

(6) *Long and Winding Road*, by The Beatles

(7) *Life in the Fast Lane*, by the Eagles

(8) *Old Man Down The Road*, by John Fogerty

(9) *Turn the Page*, by Bob Seger

(10) *The Valley Road*, by Bruce Hornsby

Jeanene French
Explorer #4537


Hi Von,

I've been thinking about some favorite songs I listen to while exploring. For me, music gets me in the mood to explore by both energizing me and also soothing me to forget any troubles and worries and focus on enjoying the journey. When I hit the dirt roads, usually the music gets turned off and I focus on exploring only.

So here is my list. Be prepared to do some digging to find and recognize some of these songs. I listen to a lot of music that is not "mainstream". I also enjoy instrumental only songs.

First, some energizing songs:
1) "Rise Up and Ride" by Ann Zimmerman
Ann is a Kansan and an explorer and has a talent for expressing the unique aspects of the Kansas prairie in her songs. This song is perhaps my favorite of hers and is a great way to get energized to explore, or celebrate a good day out exploring.

2) "Born to Wander" by Rare Earth
While this song was not actually written about wandering about and exploring, I feel it is appropriate in my case since I do so much enjoy heading no place in particular and just wandering about an area for awhile.

Some instrumental songs to soothe and relax me:
3) "Geronimo's Laughter" by Cusco

4) "Da Gama" by Cusco
Cusco's music features a lead flute backed by percussion and flowing synthesizers and I find it very relaxing and soothing. Playing these is great for making oneself forget about my troubles and get in the mood to explore.

5) "The Light of the Spirit" by Kitaro
Japanese keyboard artist Kitaro's flowing mellow synthesizer sounds are considered healing by many people, and this is another great song to relax by.

6) "Eagle's Path" by David Lanz and Paul Speer
This song was originally released on a 1986 video music album called "Desert Vision", and featured an eagle soaring over the desert landscape of the southwestern US. It features flowing guitars and keyboards. Listening to this song, I can feel like I'm soaring over Kansas landscapes in my vehicle.

Some instrumental songs to pass the time on long journeys:
7) "Riding the Wind"

8) "Logos, Part One"

9) "Voxel Ux"

10) "Ayumi's Butterflies"
all by Tangerine Dream

Tangerine Dream have been leading innovators of electonic music for over 40 years. I have more of their music in my collection by far than any other artist. All these songs feature percussion, guitars and synthesizers and range from 5 minutes to 30 minutes in length. I never get tired of these and they are a great way to pass the time on those roads which I travel over again and again to get to somewhere new.

Larry Hornbaker
KE #2013


Here are my choices for music to explore by. I love to sing along with the radio and I need interesting lyrics. They may not have anything to do with travelling, though.

1) "Seven Bridges Road" by the Eagles. Great harmonies & beautiful visuals.

2) "Let Him Fly" by the Dixie Chicks

3) "Heartbreak Town" by the Dixie Chicks

4) "Bitter End" by the Dixie Chicks.  I love the Dixie Chicks music & these three are ones that have really good lyrics & visuals.

5) "The River" by Chely Wright.  She's from my home county (Franklin County, Kansas) and she sings about a friend who was killed in the river (Marais des Cygnes) that goes through my hometown (Ottawa).

6) "What if We Fly" - Chely Wright.  Talks about taking chances and seeing where life takes you.

7) "Learning to Fly" - Pink Floyd

8) "Comfortably Numb" - Pink Floyd

9) "On the Turning Away" - Pink Floyd.  I'm a huge Pink Floyd fan!  These are my three favorites.

10) "In My Daughter's Eyes" - Martina McBride.  I like several of her songs (also a native Kansan) but this one speaks to me as a mom of a 9 year old girl.

Laura Miller, Ottawa KS

We sing along with Lee Marvin's "I Was Born Under a Wandering Star" from Paint Your Wagon.

Or we love all of Patsy Cline's songs.

fred & jo pappas


The song I always start singing when I start out on a journey is "On the Road Again" by Willie Nelson. It really puts me in the traveling mood.

Betty Purcell

"There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats." - Albert Schweitzer


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

November 28, 2009 - What to Do, What to Do . . . .

So there we were, sitting in my sister Sue Parker's home in Salina after lunch on a gorgeous Saturday afternoon on Thanksgiving weekend, wanting to go Exploring Kansas but with the reality that between the two of us  had pretty much been everywhere to see everything within a hundred miles radius of Salina. 

So what to do?  We certainly could not waste such a great afternoon.

We thought and brought up this place and that place to no avail, until my sister realized that she had not been to Glasco, Kansas since going roller skating there back around 1970.  Gratefully we packed into her car and headed north. 

Glasco is located on U.S. Highway 24 in the southwest corner of Cloud County.  I showed my sister the buidling that once housed the very popular rollar skating rink, which attracted teenagers from all across North-Central Kansas in its time.  Sadly the building now sits vacant, along with the former gas station next to it. 

We drove into town and, seeking a drink, parked before the Hodge Podge, the local drug store/giftshop featuring an original Soda Fountain.  Unfortunately we arrived at 12:03PM, and the store had closed three minutes before.

So there was nothing for it but go across the street and settle for a pop in the Pepper Pot Cafe.  Nice, big and clean, the cafe was baking rolls for the upcoming supper run as we took our leave.  Down the street we met with the "police dog" (every small Kansas town has one) and, after a few pats and a scratch, were allowed on into Glasco's excellent second hand/antique/computer parts store. 

Then it was a driving tour of the rest of town and we headed on east, going a couple of miles before realizing that we never took one picture the entire time we were in Glasco.  All I can say is, don't read anything into this!  The city is certainly worth a visit and has a great church tour. 

Four miles east of Glasco is a paved county road leading south six miles to the town of Delphos.  Now just under 500 people, Delphos has a unique way to let you know that you've entered the community.  The street sign shown above is located at the city limit line along each major  road coming into town.

And for we slower, uncomprehending people, there also is the normal city limits sign.  A third sign at the city limits is one you can only find in a small town, letting everyone known when the local Lions Club meets.

These days Delphos is primarily known for being home to the little girl, Grace Bedell, who wrote to Abraham Lincoln and suggested that he grow a beard.  A monument commemorating the event can be found in the city square. 

As we headed south into town we immediately discovered what other interesting thing Delphos should be noted for - the town has extraordinary architecture, and not in one location but all over the community.  This grand house seen in the two photos above is a perfect example.  

Without meaning to our tour of town became a grand architectural driving tour!   Above is St. Paul's Catholic Church.  Current Internet sites list services here as starting at 11AM; however, the sermon sign out front sports only one word: CLOSED.

And then a block east of St. Paul's (seen here in the right background) is the remarkable First Presbyterian Church, with its two main entrances and two bell towers.

Only in a small town story:  we had parked just past the church, and I was opening the car door when a SUV pulls up to us.  The driver leaned out the window and and asked if we needed help.  No, I said, I was just getting out to take a photo of the church.  Turns out we had just missed a dinner at the church for a funeral and she thought we were out-of-town people late for the funeral.  She then told us that this is the church where Milburn Stone, "Doc" on the old TV series Gunsmoke, was first married.  In 1925 while appearing at the theater in Delphos Milburn met and fell in love with Ellen Kelman (Nellie) Morrison, a local preacher's daughter. They were married in the church across the street from the Morrison family home.

Now, to us who are from that generation that grew up with this revered Western series, this is pretty big stuff.  We looked all around for a marker or even a brochure to commemorate this significant tidbit of Kansas Explorer information, but there was nothing; only a chance meeting with a knowledgable local citizen exhibiting kindness to strangers and pride in her community's heritage.

On the east side of Delphos is this home with not only a bay window but also the unusual St.Anne-style round tower on the side. 

Continuing the "two main entrances and two bell towers" theme in the town is the Delphos United Methodist Church.

A closeup of the lower tower of the United Methodist Church with its unusual half moon decoration.

Heading back into downtown Delphos one cannot miss going around the city square, which is a city park and a very busy place the day we were there.  On the northeast corner of the square in the two white buildings is the home of Parker's On the Square, your business place for according to the list on the front window just about everything.

At first we didn't really notice the town watertower,  seen at upper left in the above photo.  Then we looked again and of course gawked, much to the irritation of the driver in the pickup behind us.  What happened to the top?  Was the tower never finished?  Was this a Halloween prank?  If you've seen the roof for this tower, good citizens of Kansas, please return it, as it's loss is causing near-accidents among startled visitors to the Delphos community. 

Still on the on the north side of the square are two other important town businesses.  The 1910 First National Bank building, seen above, is now the town library.  Next to it on the left is the Second Street Diner, which closed its doors just as we drove up to it in hopes of getting a drink.  Just par for the course on this journey!

Dominating the west side of the square is the old I.O.O.F lodge hall.  According to family company records my great-grandfather Frank Rothenberger rebuilt one of the building's walls back in the 1910s.  Nice to see it still there. 

After a great hour-long architectural tour through Delphos we finally headed east out of town on Kansas Highway 41.  Three miles east we then turned south along a paved county road towards the Ottawa County seat of Minneapolis.

Suddenly sound exploded in my ear.  "That house!  You've got to see that house!" exclaimed my sister.  I pulled over, turned the car around, and headed back north to the intersection we had just passed.  A quarter mile east of the intersection stood this farmhouse, which is certainly more impressive than this photo gives credit.  As I got out of the car to take the photo the owner came up from the yard.  He explained that the house had stood six miles to the southwest and that he and his wife had spent the past nine years restoring it. 

Heading on into Minneapolis we found the place to be on the weekend - the Virginian Restaurant & Bar.  Friday and Saturday is Steak and Crab!

It seems that the Ottawa County Architectural Tour continues!  At the west end of downtown Minneapolis is this great St. Anne-style home.

North and east of the downtown area is this mansion with its copper-roofed tower.

East of the downtown is an entire street of fine architecture.  On the south side of the street was this elegant home, while across the street to the north . . . .

Can be found this fine home, the photo for which does not do it justice.  And it's for sale!  Anyone who is interested can contact the fine people shown at the left. 

The end of our visual tour comes with this shot of the Minneapolis Nazarene Church at 302 Argyle.  It caught our eye as the size of the steeple is amazing in view of the overall size of the church.  Its effect of drawing one's eye into the sky is impressive in its simplicity.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

When Daring to Do Dirt in Kansas One Must be Mentally Nimble

At sometime or another we've all griped and complained at the bewildering myriad of road signs we've encountered once in a while when driving complex intersections in urban areas.   Well, I take back everything I ever muttered at those signs.  For it turns out that all of them have nothing on a routinely empty rural intersection right here in Jackson Township of southern Osborne County, Kansas.

You can see the three standard county rock roads in the above photo: the one you are on, going straight ahead; the one curving off to the left and the one curving off to the right; and the one that looks like a line going left to right in the foreground.

And here is the road sign for this remarkable intersection.  Even some of the locals once in a while have to take a moment to recall just what goes where.  Don't worry - due to the intersection's rural location, you can spend a few extra minutes staring at this puzzler.   And good luck! 

{Photos courtesy of Kathy Bristol)