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. 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. 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. 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! 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. Pretty!
The Shawnee Mission Park Trails circle the park and also connect with the Gary Haller Trail in the Mill Creek Streamway on the west side of the park. Hiking within the park on a recent overcast day gave us plenty of miles and an abundance of beautiful scenery to admire. The asphalt trails delight our feet and joints, and there is a wildlife/horse trail for those intrepid enough to douse themselves with insect repellent and hike through the woods. (We like to do that in the early spring or late fall.) Shawnee Mission is as great for walkers as it is for picnickers, fishermen, and water sportsters.
After this invigorating walk, we drove to Old Leawood where we found Jerry’s Bait Shop, a bar and grill with a great, award-winning pizza. We almost passed this little gem by, because we took the name literally, until we peeked inside and saw the bar and outside, the courtyard eating area. Good clues. We got there early, before the crowd came in and we were joined by lots of discerning folks for a yummy pizza lunch. There are also a number of other good-sounding items on the menu. Fun place.
When I got home, I noticed how much my kitties were missing me on a cool day in September. Not. When they are cold, they like to curl up together in an armchair, sleep, and pay no attention to their humans.
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.