Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Traveling solo- Days 4 & 5 ~~ MO/KS road trip

Hi! If you have not already read part one check it out here first, Part One. Days 1-3, but make sure you come back here when you are done.


6.24.23 When I last left off, I had spent the day trying to drive myself crazy, and not all the way back to Ohio without seeing what I was out there to see.

I woke up on day four after sleeping very well and felt stronger, and clearer headed. Went into the truck stop, took a shower, got some coffee and was ready to roll.  On my way out of Sullivan, I ran by a Walmart for a few things I had somehow neglected to pack.  If you had seen my car, you would have thought there was no way I forgot anything at all.  It seems that the last time I was on the truck, when I got home, I just put my toiletry kit away without refilling anything so I needed to restock.  While I was in WM I felt like I got a message from Susan and that helped my mind and spirit a great deal.  She was always my sounding board, and I spent a lot of time the day before talking to her, trying to hear her, trying to know what she would say.  Not being able to literally hear her voice was probably adding to my mental breakdownedness, but in the end I know what she would have said, and I decided to take her advice and keep going. She always believed in me 100% and was always my biggest cheerleader. So, today and each day of this trip would be better!  

After leaving WM I decided to make a stop that was not on my original itinerary.  Look at me going off script! I had seen a blurb on TripAdvisor about the little town of Cuba,MO and the mural display they had.  That sounded like something that was right up my alley so I decided I would check it out. Cuba Murals

I found the town with no problems.  I was there early on a Saturday morning and there were not many people out.  I parked my car, grabbed my phone and set off.  It was not hard to find most of the murals just by walking around one main area.  There were 14 in total, and I managed to find 13.  

I spent about an hour and 15 minutes or so walking around and admiring the murals.  I really am not a huge art person but two things I love are big sculptures and murals. I think it's due to the size of them. Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed my time walking about Cuba.  I met a couple of local people and spoke with them briefly.  They all seemed to be very friendly and welcoming to their sleepy little town.  I kind of felt like I was walking through the set of a Hallmark movie or something. I could not find parking in order to get to the 14th mural, so I just called it a day because I had to get on to my main expedition for the day. 

I set out from Cuba enroute to Ha Ha Tonka State Park. I had about a 90-minute drive and spent my time listening to a true crime podcast, I mean what else is there?  I was super stoked to go to the state park ever since I saw my favorite YouTubers go there. It looked absolutely gorgeous and so unique.  I mean, this place has a burned-out castle! 

I arrived at the park and of course, stopped at the visitor center first. I met the park ranger, got some info about the park, a map and set out.  I went first to the castle because it was already 96° and I wanted to make sure I at least got to see that before the heat was too much to take.

I parked in the castle lot and then hiked about .5 mile up the hill to the carriage house.  It had also burned down but it was something to see.  The castle as they call it, was constructed in the early 1900s. It was originally used as a summer home but in the 1930s it was turned in to a hotel.  Sadly in 1942 the castle was burned down.  You can read more about it here :Ha Ha Tonka Castle Ruins

I was mesmerized by the ruins. I hung around there for probably 45 minutes just taking 72.9 million photos.  I decided then to do a hike, hoping that if I got in the woods, it would be cooler. HAHAHAHAHA!  Not sure what I was thinking but it wasn't.  I did 5.2 miles of hiking and then headed back to the cool goodness of my vehicle.  I was so wiped by the time I got there, I sat in the driver's seat for about 35 minutes and didn't move. I am so not used to hiking in these temps!  I finally got the strength to move on the trailhead for my next hike. The trail went under a "natural bridge" and I was not sure what that was exactly going to entail.  Spoiler alert: I didn't like it but I did it.  But not without grumbling and giving it major side eye. I'm not a troll, I don't hang out under bridges. I did read after the fact that the natural bridge was originally used as passage to the aforementioned castle.  The bridge is 100 feet high and spans 70 feet.  I am not sure what the clearance is underneath, but it felt like about 5'1". Though it was probably more like 20 feet.

The hike itself, aside from the potentially skull crushing natural bridge, was gorgeous.  I followed the trail until I got to this big 'ole sinkhole. The only way forward was to go through the sink hole and climb up and out the other side.  The sinkhole was 150 feet deep.  I stood there eating a snack, drinking some water and staring at this sinkhole, and debating if i was going to go forward and scramble through the hole and over the boulders to get out the other side or what. After my 15-minute snack break I decided that since I stood there all that time and saw no one else on the trail that PERHAPS it was not the best choice to go climbing through there by myself (see, I do normally make good, safe choices).  Slightly bummed but not feeling bad I turned around and came back the way I came. It was hot as hades (102°) at this point anyway and I was ready to be done for the day.  I trekked back to my ride, took off my trailrunners and slipped on my cool feet shoes.  I drove around the park a little more just checking things out but didn't do any more hiking.  I had enough for the day.

I drove for about two hours and got to my sleep spot for the night, the Pilot in Nevada, MO.  Today was a great day.  I felt so much more confident and self-assured than I did the day before.  I didn't doubt my ability or my reason for being out there at all, and I just enjoyed each moment.  I slept like a baby.


6.25.23  Woke up early when a couple of nutcases were screaming at each other in the parking lot at 5:15am.  Like, who does that?  These folks do.  That's who.  I laid there and half tried not to listen to them for about 35 minutes, until they apparently kissed and made up and drove away. From the sounds of it she didn't like the way he was looking at some girl at the party they had been at, and he said he would not have to look at anyone else if she still cared about her appearance. Ugh dude.  Take it home, eat some pancakes and work it out, or don't, but some of us in this parking lot are trying to sleep.  Anyway, after they left, I went in and showered and got ready for my day. I was really looking forward to today.  I headed about 30 minutes away to Fort Scott National Historic Site.  I got there super early, just as they opened.  I was really surprised to see how the fort was right smack in the middle of a town. Like, with all the land in Kansas why on earth did the build the fort in the middle of a town?  Ha ha, just kidding.  
The fort is literally right behind me.  See what I mean about it
being right in the middle of a town?  LOL

I love forts and battlefields and historical sites.  It's fascinating to me to see how the early folks lived.  I sometimes think I would have loved to live back in the mid 1800's, and then I remember I wouldn't stay at a campground with no phone signal the other night, and I just laugh at myself.  I mean get real, how would I carry all my nail polish and socks in a wagon?

Of course, my first stop was the visitor center.  Picked up my map, my patch and my post card.  I talked to the park ranger for a bit and she gave me some information about the NPS app that had an audio tour on it for the fort.  I took a moment to download the audio tour and was off.   There was no one else at the fort when I got started and it was glorious.  I took my time wandering in and out of the buildings.  The fort and its exhibits were ridiculously well done.  Everything was labeled clearly, and the audio tour was a really great bonus.

Wanna hear one of the funnier but dumber things I said to myself on this trip?  I can't believe I said this

I spent a little over three hours touring the fort and grounds. I thought about finding some other things in town to do, but then decided to move on.  I had a three-hour ride to Wichita to get on with. I was pretty stoked that I would be staying in a hotel for the next three nights.  I was not comfortable staying in the car in a bigger city, so this was something I had planned from the start.  I arrived at my hotel and checked in.  Was pleased to receive an upgrade to a "suite style" room up from my single queen bed I had booked.  As I was checking in a met a couple that were visiting Kansas with their son who was playing baseball in some big tournament.  They were from Cuba.  It was very interesting to talk to them.  I decided to treat myself to some real food (that didn't come out of my cooler or a tote in the car) and I went and got takeout from Cracker Barrel. It was delicious!  I got settled in, put on my jammies and retired for the evening.  It was a nice break to be able to stretch out and relax.



Going to leave off here for now so I can do all of Wichita in one post.
Thanks for reading! Love to you all.

Murals of Cuba




Ha Ha Tonka State Park

Fort Scott

1 comment:

  1. Brava!!! What an adventure! I can’t wait to see the next installment. You are an inspiration.