March Walk at Weston Bend State Park

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.

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. 20160329_115013

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!

20160329_122258   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.

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.

Summer Walks, 2015

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. 004 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. 005 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. 003 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! 002 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. 001 Pretty!

Camp Branch Glade Trail

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. campbranchglade 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. campbranchglade1

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! Jovita's


Mission, KS Walking and Twisted Sisters Eating


This morning the group walked a trail starting south of I-35 and Metcalf. It’s a continuation of the Turkey Creek Trail in Merriam, KS, but the trails don’t connect under the interstate. The map of Northeast Johnson County trails shows the disconnect and also the access points. It’s hard to believe the highway is only a short distance away on the other side of those beautiful trees. It’s a nice walk, though traffic noise makes conversation a little difficult for a group of people.


After enjoying the short walk, we drove south on Metcalf to the Target parking lot south of Johnson Drive. Then we set off along the trail on the south side of the Target, along Turkey Creek, and into Mission. It led us close to Johnson Drive and Nall where we found the delightful Twisted Sisters Coffee Shop. Twisted Sisters logo  We each had a satisfying (YUM), well-priced lunch and enjoyed the cozy, convivial atmosphere. The service was fast and friendly. 20150602_121656  20150602_121712 One of the owners, Sandi, took the time to talk with us and tell us about the shop. 20150602_121621

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!

Parkville Landing Trails and Parkville Coffee Shop

My walking group, the Roaming Readers, has hiked the English Landing Park in Parkville several times (see post,) but now a new section of feet-friendly crushed rock trail west of the English Landing parking area is open. The new area forms a loop around a field and along the Missouri River. 20140909_095543  20140909_101344 At a boat dock there, firemen and policemen practice water rescue maneuvers. Some were suiting up when we walked by. Great people! 20140909_100758 (You can see the back of the rescue boat after they launched it in the river picture above.) Park College is visible in the distance from parts of the wide-open trail near the parking lot. 20140909_102516

The west trail connects with the trail through English Landing Park. A well-used and beautiful park and trail. 20140909_103741 We sat for a short time on one of the park benches and watched a barge being filled with river sand. 20140909_104745  20140909_104136

Then it was time for brunch or lunch in Parkville, only a couple of blocks from the park. The Parkville Coffeehouse, featuring fresh roasted coffee, showed a welcoming front window, and we were glad we stopped in. The Quiche (I rate it a yum) tasted incredibly good after the walk. We chose iced tea rather than coffee since the day was warm. The café has good tea, too. In fact, everything on the menu looked delicious. President Obama visited the Parkville Coffeehouse when he visited Parkville on his way to the airport. He may have tasted their coffee!

Kill Creek Streamway Trail and De Soto, Kansas

20140828_085842  Kill Creek Streamway Trail can be reached by exiting Kansas 10 onto Lexington (the sign says De Soto exit,) going south a short distance to 95th Street, then driving east to a parking area. From there one can walk south or north. We walked south first, along the creek on a shady asphalt trail20140828_092005  until we reached a circular turnaround. 20140828_092542   Then we walked north, past the parking area and under the highway to where the trail becomes a sidewalk in a housing development. It made for a nice walk, easy on the feet and with enough shade to make it comfortable on a hot August day.

Another one of those pretty Johnson County trail bridges, this time over Kill Creek

Another one of those pretty Johnson County trail bridges, this time over Kill Creek

We could have walked into the town of De Soto by taking a branch off the trail, but we chose to walk back to our car (a two-hour hike total) and drive into town.

The two businesses we visited in De Soto are hidden treasures and spectacular finds. Mercato Italian Antiques & Artifacts knocked our socks off with its impressive array of  imported antiques and pottery. 20140828_113300  20140828_113242 20140828_113428  Mary Lies, the owner, designed her own tableware collections based on Italian patterns and has them made in Italy for her shop. (Sneaky me–maybe my kids will see this and purchase pieces of the tableware for me for birthday, Christmas, Mother’s Day…Gesso or Compagna, please.) 20140828_113403

Our last stop was across the street from Mercato at Wanda’s Roadside Café, a quaint country kind of place with a full lunch crowd.20140828_115406 I can understand why it is so popular. 20140828_115359 Two of us shared the vegetarian omelet served with crispy hash browns, plenty of food and the best omelet I can imagine, but we each ordered our own piece of Wanda’s homemade pie. We liked it so much that we split the pie, too, buttermilk pie and peach pie with ice-cream–sooooo fulllll, but so happy. Yummy.

Happy Trails!

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!

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!