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.


Walking at Unity Village

“This is the best. Isn’t this interesting. I didn’t know about this.”

Those are some of the comments my friends and I made while walking the trails and roads in Unity Village, Missouri. That’s right. Unity Village is a town in Jackson County. It’s surrounded by Lee’s Summit and Kansas City and not far from Raytown, the small village has a lot more than one imagines just from seeing its tower from highway 350. 20141209_111940 The tower, in fact, houses a spa. The central campus for Unity has a chapel, a town hall, an administration building, a library, a bookstore, gardens and fountains, and so much more that we were delighted. 20141209_111844 The nicest surprise, though, turned out to be the walk we took around the village. We intended to walk the nature trail, but it was closed due to upkeep. Disappointed, we started off on a road. But our explorations took us through a wonderland of buildings, stone walls, fountains, pools, and other amenities built nearly 100 years ago. 20141209_104351 20141209_104226  20141209_102734There is a golf course winding through the grounds, and we spotted an old wooden sculpture which made us laugh. 20141209_105505 As it happened, we were glad the wildlife trail was closed that day.

After our walk, our first stop was the Neighborhood Café 20141209_122812 in downtown Lee’s Summit. It seems the café is a favorite of many workers in the area, and we could see why. Good, filling food, and nice service made our visit luxurious. The cinnamon rolls came with the meal! 20141209_120247 Gooey YUM!

Onward to Cockrell Mercantile. What can I say? It’s so great for Christmas shopping (or any other kind of shopping) that I forgot to take pictures. You can take a gander here, or go there and spend some hours looking at all the merchandise.


Indian Creek Trail in the Wintertime

There is an advantage to walking a familiar trail during the winter–no leaves. During the summer, leaves shade the trail and provide pretty surroundings. But they block the view. During the winter, the hiker can see back into the woods, the streams, the stumps, rocks, and hillsides.

Indian Creek Trail from the tennis courts at 103rd and Marty, East to Roe, and back provides some shelter from the cold winds and nice views of the creek side during the winter. 20141124_112151

20141124_111333 After a winter walk, a person is hungry. We found a good Mediterranean restaurant called The Basha. We each ordered the yummy lentil soup and shared the appetizer sampler, a feast of hummus, pitas, Baba ganouj, and stuffed grape leaves. The location at 7016 W. 105th Street, tucked away inside the block of businesses, is hard to find but worth hunting down. Pretty décor and excellent food.20141124_125355


James A. Reed Memorial Wildlife Area Walk & Greenwood Tea Room

20141021_105437 Autumn. The season, this year, of warm, dry weather and gorgeous colors. The season leading toward the excitement of the holidays. Such was the setting for our walk in the James A. Reed Wildlife Area near Lee’s Summit and Greenwood, MO. This can be a true wildlife walk, as was ours, or it can be a leisurely stroll on the roads and trails through the fields and woods. Our walk turned into quite an exploration after we parked near Bodarc Lake  and took the clearly marked trail 20141021_102920 into the wildlife area. 20141021_102934 Soon we were walking into the woods on not so clearly marked, but wild and beautiful trails where we weren’t sure how to get back to the beginning. 20141021_105036 That’s what always makes it more fun! We finally found a place to ford the creek by jumping from rock to rock  20141021_111347 and made our way back to the car.20141021_113341

The delightful hiking trip ended with a YUM in Greenwood, Missouri at the Country Antique Mall and Tea Room.20141021_131438   (Hint: It’s a popular lunch spot. You may want to call ahead for reservations.)


Parkville Landing Trails and Parkville Coffee Shop

My walking group, the Roaming Readers, has hiked the English Landing Park in Parkville several times (see post,) but now a new section of feet-friendly crushed rock trail west of the English Landing parking area is open. The new area forms a loop around a field and along the Missouri River. 20140909_095543  20140909_101344 At a boat dock there, firemen and policemen practice water rescue maneuvers. Some were suiting up when we walked by. Great people! 20140909_100758 (You can see the back of the rescue boat after they launched it in the river picture above.) Park College is visible in the distance from parts of the wide-open trail near the parking lot. 20140909_102516

The west trail connects with the trail through English Landing Park. A well-used and beautiful park and trail. 20140909_103741 We sat for a short time on one of the park benches and watched a barge being filled with river sand. 20140909_104745  20140909_104136

Then it was time for brunch or lunch in Parkville, only a couple of blocks from the park. The Parkville Coffeehouse, featuring fresh roasted coffee, showed a welcoming front window, and we were glad we stopped in. The Quiche (I rate it a yum) tasted incredibly good after the walk. We chose iced tea rather than coffee since the day was warm. The café has good tea, too. In fact, everything on the menu looked delicious. President Obama visited the Parkville Coffeehouse when he visited Parkville on his way to the airport. He may have tasted their coffee!

Kill Creek Streamway Trail and De Soto, Kansas

20140828_085842  Kill Creek Streamway Trail can be reached by exiting Kansas 10 onto Lexington (the sign says De Soto exit,) going south a short distance to 95th Street, then driving east to a parking area. From there one can walk south or north. We walked south first, along the creek on a shady asphalt trail20140828_092005  until we reached a circular turnaround. 20140828_092542   Then we walked north, past the parking area and under the highway to where the trail becomes a sidewalk in a housing development. It made for a nice walk, easy on the feet and with enough shade to make it comfortable on a hot August day.

Another one of those pretty Johnson County trail bridges, this time over Kill Creek

Another one of those pretty Johnson County trail bridges, this time over Kill Creek

We could have walked into the town of De Soto by taking a branch off the trail, but we chose to walk back to our car (a two-hour hike total) and drive into town.

The two businesses we visited in De Soto are hidden treasures and spectacular finds. Mercato Italian Antiques & Artifacts knocked our socks off with its impressive array of  imported antiques and pottery. 20140828_113300  20140828_113242 20140828_113428  Mary Lies, the owner, designed her own tableware collections based on Italian patterns and has them made in Italy for her shop. (Sneaky me–maybe my kids will see this and purchase pieces of the tableware for me for birthday, Christmas, Mother’s Day…Gesso or Compagna, please.) 20140828_113403

Our last stop was across the street from Mercato at Wanda’s Roadside Café, a quaint country kind of place with a full lunch crowd.20140828_115406 I can understand why it is so popular. 20140828_115359 Two of us shared the vegetarian omelet served with crispy hash browns, plenty of food and the best omelet I can imagine, but we each ordered our own piece of Wanda’s homemade pie. We liked it so much that we split the pie, too, buttermilk pie and peach pie with ice-cream–sooooo fulllll, but so happy. Yummy.

Happy Trails!

Tennis Today and FooDoo

lunch-menuAlthough this wasn’t a trail day, I did eat after invigorating exercise. We played tennis on a neighborhood park tennis court, and then I took a shower and took off for lunch in the big city. FooDoo at 3605 Broadway was a terrific choice. The restaurant features vegan and earth food and a juice bar. Certainly it’s vegan; likely it’s earth; mainly it’s delicious. I had the Roasted Root for lunch. The root vegetables–beets, carrots, plantains, and leeks–were well seasoned and roasted in basil oil. Sides of quinoa with roasted mushrooms and citrus greens complemented the roasted veggies and made for a completely satisfying meal. My friend had the Big Kahuna soy burger. She must like it, because this was the second time she’s ordered it there. A yummy experience–pretty surroundings, too. Next time I need to try a dessert, or go for dinner, or both.