I said my farewells to my hiking companions, spent an evening in Las Vegas, and the next day I headed out in a rental car, going north to Salt Lake City. I had a list in my mind of places I wanted to see and that’s where I headed: the Mormon Tabernacle, the Brigham Young Park, Beehive House, and the Genealogical Center. I had floated a few months earlier in the Dead Sea in Jordan, and now I wanted to float in the Salt Lake Sea, both in the same year, something I had never done before. I went to Antelope Island north of Salt Lake City and reached the island by a long causeway. There were antelope on the island and changing rooms along the shore. There were not many people as there were too many flies and a strong unpleasant smell to the area. I was on a mission, so I put up with these minor problems, since I didn’t know if I would ever return to this place. I took photos to prove I had accomplished this!
After my dip in the Great Salt Lake, I drove east and took an opportunity to hike in Dinosaur National Monument. It is a Fossil Bone Quarry. I stayed in Vernal, Utah where the dinosaur museum is located, since so many dinosaurs were found nearby in the nearby quarry.
Now I was close to my goal of visiting all fifty states: it was time to do the last two, Colorado and Kansas. I drove on into Colorado, stopped at the source of the Colorado River, walked on a short hiking trail in Arapaho National Park, and walked a few miles around the city of Denver. I toured the US Mint, Molly Brown House, and Look Out Mountain, home of Buffalo Bill Cody.
I drove straight east of Denver and was soon on the flatland, headed to Kansas, the last state for me to enter. I really was excited and I literally drove from one side of the state to the other. My first stop was Fort Hays, commanded at one time by General George Custer; Wild Bill Hickok, Buffalo Bill Cody, and General Philip Sheridan spent time here. There was a herd of buffalo fenced in, grazing here as I entered the gated premises.
Besides hiking, I enjoy visiting presidential libraries, and The Eisenhower Presidential Library in Abilene, Kansas is a great one. I came late in the day and stayed nearby so I could go back the following day to take in the family home, museum, and library. You never know what you will find in a tiny country town in the middle of Kansas, but across the road from the Eisenhower Presidential Library is the Greyhound Hall of Fame. Everywhere else are cornfields and large silage bins, towering above the landscape.
Kansas is full of history. I stopped at Fort Riley, another National Heritage Site, and an active military base. On the way east, I stopped and walked on some remaining wheel tracks of the Oregon Trail near the Vermillion River. In Wamego, Kansas is the Wizard of Oz Museum. I couldn’t pass this up, as I found a pair of red shoes for each of my granddaughters. For a long time after they were given to the girls, the youngest one still tried to squeeze her feet into those sparkly red shoes!
One last stop on this trip was in Kansas City, at the presidential library, home, and museum of Harry S. Truman. There is so much to learn about history at a presidential library—after a few hours I needed to take a break! I walked outside along the sidewalk for a few blocks. I came upon a busy doughnut shop, where they were making homemade doughnuts. As people entered and left the store, the aroma that came out was irresistible. I went in for a great treat before going back to the Truman Library one last time, before heading to the airport to leave my trusty rental car and take my flight home.
Another adventure was coming to a close. I had hiked with a small group in the Grand Canyon, Bryce, and Zion National Parks; and I had toured alone from Las Vegas, to Salt Lake City, through Utah and Colorado, across the Rocky Mountains to Denver, and then to the flat lands of Kansas. My last state of the 50 to visit was Kansas, a state which I found exciting: friendly people, presidential libraries, and home to Dorothy, Wizard of Oz. I flew home with great memories of happy experiences.
(posted January 5, 2016)