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.

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Tomahawk Creek Trail in the Springtime

In the high sixties, low seventies by the time our hike was finished, dry, and sunny–beautiful–perfect. Springtime at its best. We hiked the Tomahawk Creek Trail from 119th Street almost to Metcalf and back.

2015-04-14 Tomahawk Cr. trail in spring 005

The creek looked clear and running but not overly full. The trees were in blossom and almost leafed out, and the trail was mostly asphalt. Now what could make for a better hike?

2015-04-14 Tomahawk Cr. trail in spring 001

I forgot to mention the conversation and picture-taking opportunities, plenty of both. And then lunch at The Corner Bakery Café in Camelot Court shopping center.

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Don’t mind the construction. It’s still open and serving up good food. I really liked the lemon-chicken-orzo soup. Yum!

Little Blue Trace and Cafe Verona

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. 20140820_092941  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. 20140820_092950            20140820_094359            20140820_094647 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. 20140820_095615

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.

Happy Trails!