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!

Tomahawk Creek Trail from Leawood Park

Besides being beautiful, IMG_5187  IMG_5171 Leawood City Park IMG_5186 is a useful place for hikers and bikers to meet in the parking lot near the swimming pool and tennis courts. IMG_5169There are three different routes one can take from the park–east on Indian Creek Trail to State Line into Missouri and on southeast toward I-435, west on Indian Creek Trail under Mission Road and on as far as Olathe, or southwest on Tomahawk Creek Trail. IMG_5170

Today we chose Tomahawk Creek Trail and walked toward 119th Street through Tomahawk Creek Park. We walked across Indian Creek. IMG_5173

There are side nature trails along the way, but we weren’t prepared with bug spray and long socks. IMG_5175

Huge oak trees and smaller trees of every type line the trail. IMG_5185

The confluence of the two creeks can be seen along the way, but only if one looks for it. Especially in the summer, hikers must leave the main trail and walk toward the creek on a little unmarked side trail. Look for it not far from the bridge. IMG_5181

It was a lovely walking day; so after one of the group left, the rest of us walked westward on the Indian Creek Trail, crossed the road on an access trail and ended up at Small Cakes in the Mission Farms shopping center. The cupcakes are beautiful, IMG_5167and they have muffins, too. IMG_5168I guess the coffee is good, but I’m a tea drinker, and the shop has no hot or cold tea.

Happy Trails