Day 235 – Missouri and Kansas

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Jefferson City, Missouri

It was impossible to miss the capitol building in Jefferson City.  It dominates the skyline of Missouri’s quaint capital.  I spent a little time poking around, both inside and outside, and came up with another type of restroom available to me – government buildings.  Parks, Wal-Mart, restaurants, rest areas, and gas stations generally serve the purpose, but churches and government buildings have recently been added to the list!

After a short stay in Jefferson City, we traveled to Kansas to pick up the eastern portion of my “Kansas East and West” tour and the northern portion of my “Flint Hills Highlights” tour as part of the Reader’s Digest Scenic Drives of America.  I completed the other halves in March when it was downright freezing!  It was much warmer today.  I would say hot, but it seems to have cooled down remarkably from my night in St. Charles…either less humidity or I’m getting used to it.

Speaking of nights, it’s amazing to me that last night at Wal-Mart was quieter than my last two nights in campgrounds.  In St. Charles, some little kiddos had some type of video going that I could hear plain as day two spots over.  Normally I would have stayed up, blogged, and waited out the noise like I did in Michigan for a group of teenage girls that couldn’t stop their  shrieking giggles, but it was so hot I just crawled up in the top part of VANilla, prayed for breeze and didn’t stir.  A few nights prior, I camped next to a family of four.  One of them, I presume the father, snored so loudly, I could hear him over the crickets, frogs, and cicadas that chirped in harmony all night long.  I’m surprised his family slept a wink.  I ended up placing the fan about two inches from my ear to drown the sound!

Olathe and Edgerton, Kansas

Upon reaching Olathe, Kansas I attempted to visit Mahaffie Farmstead, once a stagecoach stop.  It was closed…forgot it was a Monday!  We carried on, following the Santa Fe Trail toward Edgerton where we visited Lanesfield School, an old one-room school that seemed randomly located in the modern day era.  Signs directed us from the two lane highway along some side roads, where the school sat in a field a few hundred yards from a power plant and across the street from someone’s house.  A cache happened to be hidden in a brushy area on the back side of the field, so we got a good view of the power plant as we crossed the prairie beneath the beating sun. The cache description warned to watch for poison ivy.  I didn’t find any poison ivy, but I did find a tick crawling on me…ICK!

Battle of Black Jack

Slightly farther along Highway 56, we turned off to see wagon wheel ruts left in the ground from 100 years ago.  The waist high grass, giant grasshoppers buzzing my head, and the thought of snakes and ticks kept me from venturing too far, but I did find a cache hidden near one of the signs.  The place that I found to be even more interesting, however, was just a quarter mile down the road; the Battle of Black Jack site.  The Battle of Black Jack, fought on June 2, 1856, is considered by many to have been the first battle of the American Civil War.  I’m showing my ignorance in history…I did not know this. I may have learned this at some point in my teenage years, but it doesn’t ring a bell…though not much history does…it was so monotonous to me as a kid.  In fact, up until this trip, I still found it a bit dull.  The visualization of it on my tour has made it far more interesting…I may read a history book in my free time!

When Kansas Territory opened for settlement in 1854, it was quickly flooded with pro-slavery and free-state settlers.  The opposing groups jostled for political dominance over whether slavery should be allowed.  The clash in 1856 was the first time pro-slavery and anti-slavery forces took up arms and fought a pitched battle.  The men on both sides, totaling around 90 to 100, engaged in intense fighting for several hours in the ravine and tall grass.  Remarkably, no one was killed. Henry Pate, who led the pro-slavery camp, presumed he was outnumbered as
well as surrounded by John Brown’s free-state militia and eventually surrendered.


Petey and I took the small, wooden bridge over the ravine, checked out the battle grounds, and found another cache (and another tick), before continuing west to Council Grove where we turned north.  The drive took us past the tallgrass prairie and across Tuttle Creek Lake before we finally reached Marysville.  This was not a suggested stop in my book, but one I really liked.  I had my eyes open for signs pointing to Hollenberg Pony Express Station that according to my book was northwest of Marysville.  I noted a sign to “Original Pony Express Home Station No. 1” along the highway just after passing a city park with a few campers parked on the sides of a horse shoe lot.  I turned into the town square to find an original stone barn used by the Pony Express which also acted as a museum.

Pony Express Building

Originally I had planned on continuing my travels to the beginning of my next scenic drive, but it was getting late, and I was interested enough in learning more about the short lived Pony Express, so I stayed the night in Marysville to visit the museum when it opened at nine in the morning.

I circled back to the city park where a few RV’s were pulled over and asked a guy walking his dog if anyone could camp here as there weren’t any signs explaining fees or procedures. He said, “Yes, you can pull in wherever and park.”

“How much is it,” I inquired.

“Unless you use electricity, there’s no charge,” he answered.

This was such a unique place to me.  Numbers were painted along the slanted curb of the horse shoe entrance and vehicles could just pull in.  Trees shaded the grassy area where campers
could set up a tent.  Across the way were tennis courts and a public pool.  A free place to camp with flush toilets…no complaints here!  ETB


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Beth Bankhead

Former public finance professional turned award winning travel blogger and photographer sharing the earth's beauty one word and image at a time.

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