The Walks and the Lunches

Once a week, I will post a description of my walking group’s latest walking and eating adventure. Most of them are within the Kansas City metropolitan area, but sometimes one of us walks somewhere else in the country (Colorado, Arizona, Wisconsin…) or within a day’s drive of Kansas City. We want to share those walks with you. Please comment about our walks or describe your own. Everyone needs new places to explore. Also, please visit my cozy writing and retirement choices blog.


March Walk at Weston Bend State Park

A green spring glade in Weston Bend State Park

Spring started in March this year. It wasn’t a wet March, and only sometimes was it cold. Perfect weather for walking/hiking in and around Kansas city.

We walked at the Weston Bend State Park near Weston, MO on a day we thought would be chilly. It was–for about fifteen minutes. Then, with the exertion from the walk and the sunshine, it became the perfect day. Rain from the weekend left the trail leading to the overlook slightly damp along the edges. The wildflowers were in bloom, but the trees hadn’t yet attained their summer foliage, and we were able to see through the woods to the bluffs and streams and out from the bluffs across the wide river bend to the countryside beyond.

Weston Bend of the MO River through the trees from the bluff.

Weston Bend of the MO River through the trees from the bluff.

I love old trees that have character. There were many of those along the trail. Some had hollows where the park fairies might live. 20160329_115013

The trail led through a different ecosystem every quarter of a mile. Some were glade-like, some wild. Different trees and wild flowers grew in different parts of the park. There was a section where grape-vine covered the canopy and caused us to walk through a spooky tunnel. What a pleasant experience all together!

20160329_122258   The remainder of the day we spent in Weston, only a couple of miles from the park. We had a YUMMY lunch at the Weston Café and took the opportunity to visit our favorite shops for buying gifts and exclaiming over the fashions.

Three Fall Walks in the Kansas City Metro

  1. 2015-09-26 Zoo walk 004 Where can you walk in Kansas City and see penguins along the way? At the Kansas City Zoo, of course. Four of us participated in the Run/Walk for the Orangutans in September. It’s a charity drive that benefits the zoo, but it benefitted us, too. We got exercise, a little breakfast, and an opportunity to see the animals. 2015-09-26 Zoo walk 002 The penguin exhibit is one of the newest. Those little birds are cute! 2015-09-26 Zoo walk 1 001 Lots of folks participated on a beautiful Fall morning.

2. 2015-09-29 Sar-ko-mo park trail 005 A trail from Sar-ko-par Trails Park along Little Mill Creek near Lackman and 87th St. in Johnson County starts in the park and crosses 87th to wind along the creek at the edge of a neighborhood and through various parks along the way. Some of the homeowners decorate both sides of the trail with seating and flower beds. It’s a lovely walk with plenty of variation–woods to grassy parks, to creek side. 2015-09-29 Sar-ko-mo park trail 006 I found another favorite tree, and this one had a lantern hanging from one of its branches. The tree didn’t get a hug, being surrounded by undergrowth, but it was beautiful.

2015-09-29 Sar-ko-mo park trail 009 Love those asphalt trails that are so good on the feet and knees.

3. 2015-10-06 Line Creek Trail south 006 I was feeling tired and rundown when we reached a community center on the Line Creek Trail that we took from Briar Cliff shopping area to Line Creek, up to the center, and back with a several block detour in North Kansas City for lunch. It was beautiful all the way, but my feet didn’t appreciate the concrete part of the trail. I guess those trails save money by needing less maintenance. Maybe I’ll have to have a podiatrist check out the feet and ankles and spend my money that way.

2015-10-06 Line Creek Trail south 002 We took breaks. One time we stopped by a rapid and thought we might have taken a wrong turn and wound up in the Rocky Mountains. 2015-10-06 Line Creek Trail south 003Back near Briarcliff, the path becomes easier on the feet. 2015-10-06 Line Creek Trail from Briarcliff 002 Happy hiking in the Fall.


Exercise and Exploration

As I’ve said before, summertime in Kansas City can be hot and sticky. This year, it was also rainy. Hiking is tricky when there are puddles to jump and insects to avoid. Some of us humans serve as gourmet meals for chiggers, and after getting their fills, they leave nasty bumps that itch for at least a week. The good news: insect repellant works wonders and muddy shoes can be cleaned. Go for it, summertime hikers.

Here are some Summer hikes we took and some of the great eating establishments we found:

  1. Powell Gardens and Café Thyme– We visited to see the impressive Lego and butterfly exhibits. Thousands of Legos were used to build these amazing works of art placed among the plants and flowers of the gardens.

20150805_101213 20150805_105142  20150805_105548 20150805_110651 20150805_111806 But the rest of the gardens are so gorgeous that a visit with no special reason makes a hike into a day in Wonderland. 20150805_112237 20150805_112422 20150805_113007 Our unusual amount of summer rain helped keep Powell Gardens green and blooming this summer.

As an added bonus, we discovered that Powell Gardens has its own café that uses fruits and vegetables grown in the gardens. Café Thyme’s food is as fresh and appealing as the gardens themselves. Yum!

2. Tomahawk Creek Hiking/Biking Trail— South of 135th Street in Overland Park, the Tomahawk Creek Trail follows the creek through woody green spaces near parks and south of the Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead and St. Andrews Golf Course. Its shade makes a summer walk a pleasure. Some of my favorite trees live alongside this trail. 20150819_092438 20150819_092517 20150819_092605 20150819_105849 To me, the mature trees represent my connection with nature. I want to hug them or climb up into them and visit often. I’d tell you their names, but they’d prefer you go visit them so they can tell you.

There are tons of eating places near 135th and I-69, but we chose to eat at the Gaslight Grill near 147th and Nall. The lunchtime specials are very special. YUM!

3. Gregory O Grounds Park at Lake Remembrance  east on I-70 in Blue Springs, Missouri– This is a beautiful new trail that we walked for the first time this summer. It’s a ways if you live on the other side of the Metro, but the beautiful views and shady asphalt series of paths make it worth the drive. 20150825_093052 20150825_094240 20150825_104815 After the hike, we drove to old downtown Blue Springs to find lunch. Lucky us, we also found Inklings Book and Coffee Shoppe. The lovely proprietor of the Bookstore took six copies of my books to sell, and I will be signing my books there December 2. What a great place to browse for books, trade in you old ones, and find books by local authors (such as ME, yay!) We also found yummy gelato in the coffee shop. Great day! 20150825_133552

4. Turkey Creek Streamway Trail — One of our favorite trails passes along Turkey Creek through greenways and parks. We began the trail at 75th Street and I-35 and walked north to a Sonic where we bought diet limeades as rewards for the hot walk. Yum. The walk is pretty in the good ol’ Summertime, 20150901_085240 20150901_102803and much of it is shady.

Because it’s one of our favorites, we drove to the Twisted Sisters Coffee Shop on Johnson Drive for lunch. Yummy and very reasonably priced lunches.

5. Kansas City Streetcar tracks — We hadn’t walked in downtown Kansas City for a while, and we wanted to see how the new streetcar tracks were coming along. So, instead of our usual downtown walks, the Riverfront Heritage Trail, Union Cemetery, or our winter Crown Center and Union Station walk, we decided to follow the streetcar line. We started in the City Market parking lot, walked to the beginning of the line and followed the tracks to Union Station along Main Street. There is still plenty of construction going on at this writing, so we had to cross and recross the street a couple of times, but we made it to Union Station by walking across the pedestrian bridge that crosses the tracks between the freight yard restaurants and the back of the station. 20150914_103006

The bridge led us into the station through the model trains display–fascinating. After pausing for a short history lesson from one of the Union Station volunteers, we crossed the street to Portfolio, a kitchen design store. If you want to remodel your kitchen or design a new one, they have impressive ideas.  20150914_104649 20150914_105207

On the way back to the City Market area, we stopped at Bob Jones shoe outlet. (We are shoppers as well as hikers, you know.) Then we stopped to see our attorney friend, Michael Dailey, at his office. (I think he missed his lunch by taking time to talk to us, but he didn’t complain.) Finally, we crossed the highway into the River Key area and ate at Harry’s Country Club. My spinach salad was delish. Yum. 20150914_134530

My goodness, next week we’ll be starting our Fall, 2015 walks. Ever onward, fellow hikers.

Summer Walks, 2015

The summer arrived here in the metro area, and the weather turned hot. Not dry, just hot. In the heat, my walking group starts earlier and finishes earlier, trying to be inside by the time the thermometer almost melts and we have to slide into a café in our perspiration. We still walk every week, though. If it’s too hot for man or beast, we walk indoors. The Oak Park Mall is one of our favorite walking places whether it’s because of too much ice or too much sun on the trails. We’re not the only ones. There’s a space filled with tables and chairs and a lovely little coffee shop where many walking groups or couples meet to walk. 004 Then it’s down the hallways and up the escalator and around and around. It’s fun for window shopping, stopping at the restrooms, and finding whatever we’d like to eat at Panera or in the food court. 005 Ah, air conditioning, aren’t we lucky?!

I’m not saying we have to walk indoors every week. We aren’t completely allergic to sweat. One day we rubbed on the sunscreen and the insect repellent and struck out on the Gary Haller Trail. We met at the parking area near Shawnee Mission Parkway and Midland Drive and walked south toward Shawnee Mission Park–a nice shady walk with some invigorating hills, bluebirds, and some relaxing flat path. This trail is asphalt and therefore easy on the feet and joints. 003 When we got back to the cars, one of our members told us about a place to eat in Bonner Springs. We popped into one of the cars and over to that little town where we hiked a little path starting in the city park and snaking along a creek at the edge of town. Then we walk to the business district where we found the Cowtown Cheesecake Company. Inside are a few tables and a choice of tasty sandwiches for a reasonable price to eat before enjoying a piece of their cheesecake of the day or a piece of pie. How fun to find new places to eat and to explore new suburban towns close to the metro! 002 Yummy cheesecakes for sale there, people.

Of course, after all the rain, we had to walk the Indian Creek Trail starting at 103rd and State Line. We’ve walked that trail many times, but the water was higher and faster than we’ve seen it. 001 Pretty!

Camp Branch Glade Trail

Rain, family commitments, heat, and trips have limited our summer walking trips this summer, mostly to trails I’ve featured before on this blog. However, we did try one new trail in southeast Johnson County, the Camp Branch Glade trail. campbranchglade We went on a very warm day, but it had been rainy the previous week. We found mushy places on the trail because most of it is natural and doesn’t have a wood mulch cover. The nature trail has diverse areas and would be a pleasant destination for a picnic and short hike on a nice day. Are you aware that prickly pear cactus grows in every state except Maine? Well, along this trail you can observe some of the Kansas prickly pear. campbranchglade1

Due to road construction (this is the summer road work season, you know), my walking group ended up on State Line Road and had lunch at one of our favorite places, Jovito’s Italian Cafe and Bakery. My advice, try one of the Italian lemon cookies. Yum! Jovita's


Mission, KS Walking and Twisted Sisters Eating


This morning the group walked a trail starting south of I-35 and Metcalf. It’s a continuation of the Turkey Creek Trail in Merriam, KS, but the trails don’t connect under the interstate. The map of Northeast Johnson County trails shows the disconnect and also the access points. It’s hard to believe the highway is only a short distance away on the other side of those beautiful trees. It’s a nice walk, though traffic noise makes conversation a little difficult for a group of people.


After enjoying the short walk, we drove south on Metcalf to the Target parking lot south of Johnson Drive. Then we set off along the trail on the south side of the Target, along Turkey Creek, and into Mission. It led us close to Johnson Drive and Nall where we found the delightful Twisted Sisters Coffee Shop. Twisted Sisters logo  We each had a satisfying (YUM), well-priced lunch and enjoyed the cozy, convivial atmosphere. The service was fast and friendly. 20150602_121656  20150602_121712 One of the owners, Sandi, took the time to talk with us and tell us about the shop. 20150602_121621