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.
I love old trees that have character. There were many of those along the trail. Some had hollows where the park fairies might live.
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!
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.
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!
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. 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.
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!
Ah, springtime. Time to get out of the malls and into the great outdoors. This winter we often hiked at Oak Park Mall and Crown Center. Once we went to Independence Center. Those are the three indoor malls big enough for a good walk left around the K.C. Metro. Crown Center and over the skywalks makes for a dandy walk. Union Station always slows us down because there are so many things to see. It was beautiful at Christmas time. The shops at the Mall draw our attention, too, but we try to wait until after the walk to do our shopping.
On one of our Crown Center walks, we drove out of the free parking after three hours and drove to Thirty-ninth Street where we ate some fabulous food at The Blue Koi. At the Oak Park Mall we usually eat at Panera, always a good choice for nutritious soups and salads. Independence Center is farther for all of us, but it was fun because it was different for us. We traveled to downtown Independence and found a nice restaurant new to all of us.
That’s not to say we were too wimpy to walk outside during the winter. Everything looks stark, but one can see more of the surroundings on winter walks because of the lack of foliage. The gray and brown landscape has a beauty of its own. Indian Creek Trail can be good in winter when it’s dry. The Basha is a good choice for a place to eat after a cold hike. All the outdoor trails can be walked in the wintertime. Just be careful of ice and wet places, and dress in layers. Enjoy.
“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. 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. 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. There is a golf course winding through the grounds, and we spotted an old wooden sculpture which made us laugh. As it happened, we were glad the wildlife trail was closed that day.
After our walk, our first stop was the Neighborhood Café 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! 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.
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.
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.