This week we traveled east on I-70 and exited north on Little Blue Parkway, east of the 291/I-470/I-70 intersection to access the Little Blue Trace Trail. The trail was closed at that point because of some construction; so we drove on Little Blue Parkway to Necessary Road, turned east and found a parking area for the trail just off the road next to the Little Blue River. There are several access points along the trail.
We headed north, knowing the trail to the south was closed. It’s a beautiful, crushed stone trail (easy on the feet and bicycle-friendly) which extends eleven miles from I-70 to a shelter on Blue Mills Road north of 24 Highway. The part we walked was almost entirely in the sun. Only a few shady spots gave us relief from the heat. This is a good trail for spring or fall–summer only if one wears a hat and lots of sunscreen. Nice vistas of the river make the walk pleasant, and from experience on the trail, I know there is more shade and also a Civil War monument along the trail farther north.
Following the advice of a friend, we ate at Café Verona on the Independence square after our hike. It’s lovely, romantic, friendly, and has yummy food. This is a date night kind of restaurant in a renovated building with lots of class. I had a very reasonably priced spinach and strawberry salad and shared the artichoke dip and pita. Actually, I don’t like strawberries, but the waitress was very willing to switch out another fruit or vegetable for me, and I was a contented muncher.
South of the square in Independence is the Historic Bingham-Waggoner Estate. A one hour tour provides an authentic view of affluent life in the 1800’s. George Caleb Bingham, famous 19th century American artist and Missouri politician, and the Waggoners, a flour milling family, lived on the estate. The final Waggoner resident died in 1976 and left the estate without an heir so that many of the original buildings and furnishings are intact and carefully maintained by the Independence Historical Society. It is worth a visit, especially for history buffs.
Our walk this week was on part of the Gary L. Haller Trail, a north/south trail which winds it way from the Kansas (Kaw) River at its northernmost point to 119th Street in Olathe at its southern extreme. It goes all the way through Shawnee Mission Park and through or by several smaller parks.
We started at an access parking area west of I-435 on Shawnee Mission Parkway, left on Midland Drive, then an immediate right on Lawrence Road. It’s a pretty creek-side lot with shade for summertime parking. The access trail to the beautiful Gary L. Haller Trail is at the end of the parking area. At the Haller Trail, one must decide whether to turn north or south. To the south, the trail leads to Shawnee Mission Park, is hilly for a time, and then passes meadows with bluebird houses and treed areas with all kinds of deer, wild turkey, and many other animals.
We turned north. The trail is rather flat and easy to walk (no concrete except on the intersecting Clear Creek Trail; we avoid concrete, but it’s good for bikers.) There are shady stretches and sunny areas, and eventually it reaches the Kansas River, turns a loop on a small island and returns.
During the hike we met a bicyclist who stopped to talk. He stopped because one of our group jumped ten feet when he came up behind us and signaled to pass on a narrow bridge. This hiker is nervous about bikers because she’s been hit twice on our walks over the years. To read the story of her terrible troubles and the polite guy with whom we talked, go to my Cozy Mystery Blog. Bikers see KCBike.Info for good trail and ride ideas, and please remember the rules of courtesy for bikers–announce yourself to hikers, be ready to stop quickly if necessary, and pass on the left.
Long walk finished. Time to eat. We drove a short distance on Midland Drive under I-435 to Eggtc. I had the Low Carb Chicken from the lunch menu sandwich section. Actually, it’s not a sandwich at all, but a chicken breast grilled and topped with Monterey jack and mango salsa, no bread. On the side I could have had French fries or fruit, but I chose sweet potato fries–not a low-cal choice, but I love them when they are fried well–not greasy or burnt. These were delicious. My lunch was yummy.