Sons of Kansas

‘Cause I’m a Jay, Jay, Jay, Jay, Jayhawk, Up at Lawrence on the Kaw — ‘Cause I’m a Jay, Jay, Jay, Jay, Jayhawk, With a sis-boom, hip hoorah, Got a bill that’s big enough To twist a Tiger’s tail, Rope some ‘Horns and listen To the Red Raiders wail – ‘Cause I’m a Jay, Jay, Jay, Jay, Jayhawk, Riding on a Kansas gale. Kansas is a great place to be from. I say that without irony, without remorse, without regret. … Continue reading

Kansas: Land of Ahs

Glinda: Come out, come out, wherever you are and meet the young lady, who fell from a star. She fell from the sky, she fell very far and Kansas, she says, is the name of the star. Munchkins: Kansas, she says, is the name of the star. * * * Ahhhhhhhh! Kansas! Who can resist the serenity of the open space, the allure of the rolling prairie, the hopefulness of the endless horizon, the potential for twisters and thunderstorms … … Continue reading

Out of the Corn and Into the Stars

The next leg of our journey saw us taking literal steps in the cultural past and into its future. Leaving Wisconsin, Jane followed us to Dyersville, Iowa, to visit the farm where the movie “Field of Dreams” was shot. The baseball diamond is still there, and it was the perfect season because the corn was tall, so we could emerge from the corn like the movie’s ghost ballplayers do (Is that the plot? I dunno — I’ve never seen the … Continue reading

Dropping Those Eaves Pays Off

On our loop of the upper Midwest — through Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin — we paid visit to friends in Elk River, Minn., and Mount Horeb, Wis. In Elk River, Tim stayed at our hosts’ house working while Gage went gadding about with his fellow seminarian, LuAnn. In Mount Horeb, Tim set up his workstation in a coffee shop while Gage went sightseeing with our friend and former colleague, Jane. (See a pattern there?) In a providential case of eavesdropping, … Continue reading

On Laura’s Trail, Part 2

The next stops on the Laura Ingalls Wilder trail were Walnut Grove, Minn.; Pepin, Wis.; and Burr Oak, Iowa. The first town celebrated the “Little House on the Prairie” TV show more than the books; the second town was the setting for the first book, “Little House in the Big Woods”; and the third town was not part of the original books at all. Walnut Grove, Minnesota The Ingalls lived a mile or two north of Walnut Grove, first in … Continue reading

On Tim’s Trail, Part 1

Both of us are going to have opportunities to visit ancestral stomping grounds. Our journey back in time technically began in Pella, Iowa, where Gage’s mother’s maternal grandparents were born in 1867. Their parents came from Holland and joined that Dutch community in south-central Iowa. But, we didn’t really do any family-searching in Pella; we were more interested in getting Dutch letters and other tasty treats at Jaarsma Bakery. However, on our way north out of Des Moines, we detoured … Continue reading

THE Great State Fair

In our wanderings across the country, there are only a handful of places we can only visit at a certain time. One of those is the Iowa State Fair, which runs for 10 days in the middle of August. When we lived in Des Moines, we sometimes went to the fair every day. Some of that was due to our jobs, reporting and editing stories and web features for the Des Moines Register. But a lot of our attendance was … Continue reading

On Laura’s Trail, Part 1

While planning Le Voyage Extraordinaire and researching possible waypoints along our indefinite odyssey across the country, we discovered that the path kept intersecting with places that had a connection with Laura Ingalls Wilder and her “Little House” series. Pepin, Wisconsin — “Little House in the Big Woods” Independence, Kansas — “Little House on the Prairie” Maple Grove, Minnesota — “On the Banks of Plum Creek” De Smet, South Dakota — “By the Shores of Silver Lake,” “The Long Winter,” “Little Town … Continue reading

Badlands Gallery

Badlands National Park comprises 244,000 acres of striking geologic deposits that contain one of the world’s richest fossil beds. Ancient mammals such as the rhino, horse, and saber-toothed cat once roamed here. The park protects an expanse of mixed-grass prairie where bison, bighorn sheep, prairie dogs, and black-footed ferrets live today. [Show slideshow]