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.

Tomahawk Creek Trail in Overland Park, KS

Today we accessed the Tomahawk Creek Trail from a parking lot just west of 69 Highway off 135th Street on Hemlock (turn south on Hemlock between the old Mimi’s/new Strouds and the Landmark Bank building.) The parking lot is on the left. The trail isn’t visible from there, but walk to the back of the lot and across a thin strip of grass to find it. IMG_5144

We headed southwest on the trail toward Antioch. The morning was beautiful, but we appreciated the shady asphalted path both for the sun block and for our foot comfort. IMG_5127

The path goes under Antioch Road, IMG_5128 over the creek, IMG_5129  past a park, and eventually under Switzer Road where a cycling group had stopped to have a photo taken. IMG_5131

Lots of joggers, walkers, bicyclist, dog walkers, and any other kind of trail user you can name were on the trail because our usual heat and humidity took a short break today. It was in the 70’s with a nice breeze. Hurray!

West of Switzer, the trail runs along the south edge of Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead—very busy today —and St. Andrew’s Golf Club—also busy. There’s access to a restroom next to the trail on the golf club grounds. IMG_5138 It came in handy, because by then we had walked for almost an hour and had left home earlier than that. We thank St. Andrew’s and the trail supporters who made the facility available.

During some of our six mile walk, we felt as if we were in the middle of a deep woods; IMG_5135 in other parts we glimpsed beautifully landscaped back yards; IMG_5136 still other parts were open and sunny.  IMG_5137

On the west side of the golf course, the trail divides. One path continues to the southwest; the other heads north. We walked north up to 137th Street and then headed back. South of the Deanna Rose Farmstead someone previously built some little elf houses in several hollow trees and named that part of the trail “Hollow Tree Lane.” (See my write-up and pictures and the short story I wrote, inspired by the mysterious creator of the elf houses.) Now the clever houses are gone (sad, sad) but a reminder or two remain. IMG_5133  IMG_5132

After the hike? Food, of course. A new area called Prairie Fire became our destination for lunch in a place where neither of us had been. There is a multistoried parking garage adjacent to the restaurants and recreation venues. It’s a good thing, because multitudes of people found this area before we did, and there wasn’t one parking space available on the street. We roamed through Pinstripes. It’s a gigantic, gorgeous new building which features bowling, bocce ball, and a bistro (plus bars, meeting rooms, lounge areas, and a huge outdoor eating space.) Our food was average-to-high priced but delicious. I had the Tuesday soup of the day, stuffed green pepper soup. Yum. And the bread sticks with pesto oil for the table tasted terrific to us starving trail walkers. We asked for more bread.

Down the street and around the corner from Pinstripes is the amazing-looking Museum at Prairie Fire. It’s associated with the natural history museum in New York City. IMG_5150  IMG_5149 That and the cinema, the brewery, and the rest of the restaurants and shops present reasons for future visits to Prairie Fire.

Happy Trails.