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Middle America History Tour


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This kitschy jaunt takes you deep into the vast expanse and featureless tabletop of middle America. If you’re a short-attention-span type, take a pass.

Days: Three
Roundtrip: 600 miles
Must-Have Souvenir: A length of twine, added to the ball for bragging rights

On the Road:

  • Take a short detour on I-70, you’ll run right into Oakley, Kan., the home of the world’s largest prairie dog at Prairie Dog Town. Be careful, it’s a freak show.
  • Bourquin’s Old Depot Restaurant—yes, within an old train depot—is a part of an RV park and cabin rental destination in Colby, Kan. It’s shining attribute is the classic mom-and-pop vibe.
  • If you pass through Cheyenne Wells during July 16 and 17, you’ll make it just in time for the Tumbleweed Festival. Activities include a Rocky Mountain oyster fry.

Otherwise, head south and hit I-70 and go east to Hwy. 36 to Cawker City, Kan. With frequent stops on the way at small town flea markets and garage sales, this is a good 6- to 7-hour jaunt. Cawker City is where Frank Stoeber assembled the world’s largest ball of twine that, thanks to an annual Twine-a-Thon in August, is now about 40 feet around and measures an estimated 7.8 million feet long (unrolled it would stretch from Cawker City all the way to Boston).

You can call it a day at the Ball of Twine Inn, just across the street, and grab dinner, cheap drinks and beer at the Corner Bar and Grill, about three blocks down the street. From here, wend your way south on Hwy. 181 to Lucas, Kan., to Civil War vet Samuel Perry Dinsmoor’s Garden of Eden. The home is made out of “logs” of postrock limestone and no two windows or doors are the same size. The interior, finished in finely detailed oak, walnut and redwood, is a work of art in itself. From Lucas, head back east to Hays, Kan., and check in to the Tea Rose Inn Bed & Breakfast.

Head south from town on Hwy. 183 to the Postrock and Barbed Wire museums in LaCross, Kan., (open 7 days of the week during summer). Then head back to Hays for the night and dinner at Gella’s Diner and Liberty Brewing (home of two-time GABF gold medal-winning stout).

The next day, head south to Hwy. 96 and then east to Eads, Colo., and take in the nearby Sand Creek National Historic Site where Col. John Chivington and his men led a cowardly and shameful massacre of more than 100 Cheyenne and Arapahoe women and children Nov. 29, 1864, after a drunken bender the night before. From here, get on U.S. 287 and dash on home, knowing you’ve been to the heart of America and collected some fantastic tales.

Road Trips – And Countless Adventures on the Open Road

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