April 15-21, 2019 — This week we continued on our journey north to Minnesota by traveling from Elk City, Oklahoma to Des Moines, Iowa covering over 800 miles. Now this may not seem like that far of a distance to some, for our style of travel it was a huge amount as we would prefer to go much slower and have the opportunity to spend more time in the areas we visit. We also would have preferred to not travel on several of the days we did as to avoid the strong spring winds that are common in Oklahoma, Kansas and Iowa.
While driving from Elk City to Oklahoma City, OK we experienced very strong cross winds making for a tough and tiring trip. From Oklahoma City we turned north and the winds continued varying from crosswinds to headwinds but consistently between 20 and 30 miles per hour with much higher gusts. The winds from Topeka, KS to Des Moines, IA were out of the southwest giving us a good push north so we took advantage of that and covered the entire 270 miles in one day instead of stopping at the halfway point as we originally planned. Tailwinds are much nicer to drive in!
Even with the high miles traveled and prevailing winds we did get some exploring in. We visited two state capitol buildings, took an elevator deep into the ground, climbed lots of stairs, saw famous horses and much, much more. Follow along below for more details of the sights we visited.
Upon arriving at the Oklahoma State Capitol building in Oklahoma City we noted it was undergoing a restoration project. There was a huge tower crane present, multiple streets were blocked off and lots of commotion was occuring. The tower crane was part of the building construction but the rest of the metal scaffolding structures and congestion was due to the filming of an episode of American Ninja Warriors. The amount of work and equipment that goes into building the obstacle course for the show is unreal. We were amazed at how high the course structures are, much taller than they look on TV.
The Wheeler Ferris Wheel in Oklahoma City, OK has quite the history. From 1996 until 2008 it resided in California on the Santa Monica Pier and served as the areas most recognizable feature. It backdropped dozens of blockbuster movies including “Titanic” and “Forrest Gump” before being auctioned off on eBay. It was purchased by a real estate developer and transplanted to Oklahoma. The ferris wheel was then reassembled and restored to its former glory and now offers riders views of the OKC skyline from the Wheeler Riverfront Plaza.
Skydance Bridge in Oklahoma City, OK is a 380 foot long pedestrian bridge with a 197 foot tall structure that soars over I-40. The sculpture is fashioned after the scissor tailed flycatcher, Oklahoma’s state bird. Estimated construction cost of the bridge which opened in 2012 came in at $6.6 million with $3.5 million coming from federal funds and the remaining amount from the city. Wow that’s an expensive bird!
A 66 foot tall soda bottle located at Pops in Arcadia, Oklahoma along historic Route 66. The abstract bottle is made of metal rings filled with LEDs that provide a nightly light show. Pops is a gas station/diner/convenience store that sells over 700 different flavors of sodas including the pictured “Mustard” and “Toxic Slime”. Anyone thirsty?
Strataca-Kansas Underground Salt Museum in Hutchinson, KS is located 650 feet below the Earth’s surface within one of the world’s largest rock salt deposits. It is the only salt mine in the United States featuring an underground museum open to tourists. The museum and train/tram tours are amazing! It’s a great stop for people of all ages. The museum is a Harvest Hosts site as well and offers overnight RV parking on level cement with room for multiple rigs.
The Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum are located in Abilene, Kansas. The grounds were open during our visit but the museum was closed for restoration.
The Kansas State Capitol building in Topeka is an interesting stop. The exposed limestone blocks in the lower level give it a castle-like look. For those not afraid of heights, the Kansas Historical Society offers free dome tours that take visitors up 296 steps (no elevators) for close-up views of the inner and outer domes. It’s a great experience but the stair climb is both tiring and scary.
Tulip Time at Ted Ensley Gardens in Topeka, Kansas. So pretty! The gardens are set on 37 acres adjacent to Lake Shawnee and feature hundreds of varieties of annual and perennial flowers, trees and shrubs. Paved walking trails meander through the gardens allowing for up close viewing of the beautiful landscape. What a great place to take a stroll on a warm spring day!
There’s always a comedian in the bunch, even among the Budweiser Clydesdales. The group just happened to be in Kansas at the same time we were. How lucky is that!! They are such magnificent and HUGE animals.
Whew we finally made it to Iowa where we have a very busy travel schedule agenda with multiple factory tours scheduled. Follow along next week to see what we discover. See you then!
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