Tour de Kansas – Day 1

Who says Kansas doesn’t have any great geographical points of interest?  Maybe we don’t have one of the highest mountain peaks or the longest man-made wall but my friends, we do have many treasures waiting for our discovery right here in our fine state.

Monday, June 6th the family loaded into the van and headed north on I35 to Rock City.  As we pulled off county road 18 onto 106 just south of Minneapolis I had to imagine what the pioneers saw as they came over the hillside just as we did.  Giant boulders protruding from the ground all gathered together in an area roughly the size of a football field with nothing but open prairie all around them. Our own Easter Island or Stonehenge?  Maybe fossilized dinosaur turds? The technical and scientific jargon indicates that the 200 boulders are Dakota sandstone concretions formed millions of years ago while Kansas was covered with sea water.  I prefer the fossilized turd theory myself.  While meandering through the various  rock formations we met two gents from the Netherlands.  Of course we had to ask what brings two guys all the way from the Netherlands out into the middle of no mans land in Kansas.  They said they were following the trail their ancestors took when they left the old country and came to America. The path just so happened to pass close by so they thought they’d stop and see what Rock City was all about.

Stop number two finds us pulling into Abilene to tour the Seelye Mansion which was built in 1905 for a whopping $55,000 by Dr. A. B. Seelye.  Seelye made his millions by developing and selling cure-all medicines such as Wasa-Tusa, Fro-zona, and Ner-vena.  The house includes such rooms as a ballroom on the third floor, a miniature bowling alley in the basement and 11 bedrooms.   The place is still furnished with most of the original furniture and fixtures.  Plan on an hour and a half to two hours for the tour and  about $10 per person to get it.  It’s well worth it.  I just wish they gave out samples of Wasa-Tusa.

Headed south out of Abilene, we arrived in Council Grove in time for dinner. Looking for a non-franchised eatery we pulled into the Trail Days Cafe and Museum.  It’s a turn of the century old home that’s been restored and is both a museum as well as a restaurant.  An older couple dressed in period attire shared history tidbits of the settlers that started the area as well as the indians that lived in the area. The menu consists of all made from scratch dinners that the early settlers (German, French, Italian, Swedish) would have cooked. Even the buns for cheese burgers and the Buffalo Joes were freshly made right there in their kitchen.  If you go, plan on spending a couple of hours.  There’s lots to see but even more stories to listen to.