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.

Riverfront Heritage Trail and Café Al Dente

What a fantastic day for a hike. One doesn’t expect August 12 in Kansas City to be in the 70’s, sunny, and to start off as almost a long-sleeve day. This time it was, and my hiking group plus anyone else who got to spend the day outdoors were the benefactors.

We met in a parking lot in the River Quay area at Fifth and Wyandotte, on the west side of the City Market. To reach our intended hike, The Riverfront Heritage Trail, we walked north a couple of blocks to where a bridge took us to a Missouri River overlook and a tower with stairs and an elevator leading to the trail on the riverbank. 20140812_090008

It happens to be a concrete trail 20140812_090422  20140812_090903(sigh—sorry feet and joints,) but good walking shoes, padded socks, and absorbing views helped me conquer thoughts of foot pain this time. While we walked, we caught different views of the river and its bridges and barges on one side and stunning views of the city on the other. 20140812_091153 20140812_092409 Here and there we stopped briefly to read signs which describe the history of the area. Along the way we met bicyclists, runners, and other walkers who were lucky enough to be able to be on the trail during a workday. It took almost two hours to walk through Berkley Riverfront Park, 20140812_090539 to the Isle of Capri Casino parking lot, back along the river, and around the City Market area.

It was a little early, but we were ready for lunch. Luck was with us, because we found Café Al Dente. Its patio appears to be a favorite luncheon spot for the neighborhood folks and is probably popular in the evening, also. We ate inside. 20140812_114227 A family sitting at the next table told us their pizza was really good, but we chose sandwiches. 20140812_114241 Mine was the Safety Blitz, a yummy combination of turkey, ham, mayonnaise, pepperoni, mushrooms, onions, and pizza sauce—a kind of pizza on a bun—and now I can believe the pizza is excellent. That pizza sauce and combination of ingredients might be my favorite in the city. We all raved about our sandwiches. The smoked turkey breast is killer! 20140812_115220

Finally, we sat down on a bench bordering a grassy park near the market area. 20140812_123638 There we met Mike, a loquacious fellow in a wheel chair, and his lovely dog, Fancy. Mike and Fancy told us all about condo living in the River Quay area and how he gets to know so many of his neighbors when they meet in the park in the evenings. Mike and Fancy are so friendly I’m sure they’d make friends anywhere, but theirs sounded like a wonderful life style to me. Mike is excited that the new streetcar system, which is being built now and will soon connect him to Union Station, will let him and Fancy travel to Hermann, Missouri, spend the day, and get back to their condo by 9:30 at night. Wow! They know how to enjoy life. If you know Mike and Fancy, tell them Joyce and Joyce say “hello.”

Happy Trails!