April 4-April 10, 2016
Cincinnati, Ohio to Wichita, Kansas
Range of miles: 7,255-8,199
Pedal to the metal! We left Cincinnati, and made our way back to Kansas for the TPA Homeschool Convention. We waved hello and goodbye to the St. Louis Arch for the third time this trip. In the afternoon, we stopped at Casey, Illinois, who promotes their own hashtag, #bigthingssmalltown. This town is known for the “world’s largest” of the unusual sort. Example: The world’s largest wind chime!
Second world’s largest pencil (They held the title for a short time before Germany took first place.)
The world’s largest pitch fork (Sorry, we didn’t get the full picture.)
World’s largest mailbox! Yes, you can mail your letters! The post office actually picks up the mail!
World’s largest rocking chair! Look at all the space for snuggling!
Not pictured: World’s largest knitting needles, and golf tee.
Each colossal display has an engraved scripture pointing the spectator to someone bigger, the Creator of the Universe. This little town showed me that one can share the Good News in so many ways and this little town did it in a BIG way.
We closed our day of travel with our second busted tire . My man traded out the tire while BusyGirl and I sleepily dosed on and off. We parked at a truck stop in Kingdom City, Missouri. The night was plagued with a distant humming of machines and interrupted with starts and stops of multiple 2-stroke engines.
We awakened to find out that while we slept, a crew of dedicated workers had cleared the pavement with gas engine blowers and then repainted the parking stripes…all….night….long.
In fact, they worked right next to our van. The only redeeming factor to stoping at this truck stop was that the Dunkin’ Donuts’ fabulous donuts were on sale. I’m sure the painting crew was glad to see us go so they could finish up and get some shut-eye for themselves.
We needed to replace the tire that blew up last night. Forrest rolled out the tire at a local repair shop. It was the first time BusyGirl and I laid eyes on the aftermath. The tire shrapnel was impressive. Once again, we were praising God that we were all safe!
One of my man’s hobbies, besides fishing, is tasting local flavors. So when his eye caught an advertisement for Topsy’s, a restaurant that has been in existence since 1912, he took the next exit off of Highway 70 in order to try it out. We sat on the ol’ diner swivel stools and put our elbows on the counter. The deep voiced waitress welcomed us. In my imagination, her name was “Flo”. We ordered up typical diner food from the menu. In a diner there are usually only two choices of food, one from the greasy grill, or two, from the depths of the fryer. I chose from the greasy grill, Forrest braved the depths of the fryer. We realized after our first bite that if we would have submerged our meals in the ocean, the osmolarity of the food would render the ocean a wee bit saltier than the fried morsels we were ingesting. However, we all finished our meals and displayed a satisfying smile. We even got to put a star on their visitor map. Apparently, no one from Placerville, California had ever been there.
Down the road, we found the Shoal Creek Living History Museum. BusyGirl, our history nerd, was in heaven as we walked the dirt road that lead us through a pioneer town that could have easily doubled as the TV set for Little House on the Prairie.
Doesn’t this look like the mill that Pa from Little House on the Prairie worked at? And can’t you hear Nellie in that annoying voice and snobby attitude slam the door on this Mercantile? Nellie was the perfect prairie villain!
It was delightful little stop. We enjoyed meandering from building to building. BusyGirl could easily live here.
Further down the road, we stopped at Monroe Elementary School the site of the landmark decision, Brown vs the Board of Education. In 1954, the Topeka court ended legal segregation in their public schools. It’s a story of hope and courage and was just one event in a string of events that gave equal rights to all.
The exhibits immersed us into the days where laws didn’t match our constitutional values. The ideal of equality was waxing in the diminishing shadows of prejudice and discrimination.
We continued driving across the windy plains of Kansas. The HTHL van bravely met the 50 mph head wind as it pushed against the front windshield. In fact, we only got 7.7 mpg. Much of the prairie had recently been intentionally burned by ranchers. Why do they burn thousand of acres? It’s a fascinating science lesson. Click HERE if you’re interested.
We arrived dead-tired in Wichita, Kansas about 11:30 pm and found a beautiful inexpensive hotel. We felt truly blessed. We were grateful once gain for hot showers, and our newest addition to our “thankful list”, no parking lot line painters working through the night.
Before we jumped into our workday, we took a stroll along side the Arkansas River. (Pronounced: Ark-Kansas River. I was corrected by the hotel manager.) One section is called “Poetry Walk”. (Sound familiar? See HTHL’s Poetry Walk)
Beautiful sculptures with poems inscribed at the base, line the river’s edge. One sculpture of a pioneer mother caught my eye. Her right hand grips her Bible as she pulls it close to her bosom. She passionately clings to her Savior’s words and promises. Her left hand lovingly cups her young son’s hand with just enough firmness to impart courage to her small boy. Her eyes lay forward; her bonnet prevents her from looking back. The artist named it Hardship and Dreams. I wanted to sit with her and ask her questions. I wondered what she would say to me as a modern homeschool mother. I felt I could learn a lot from her.
We worked from the hotel room on HTHL business while BusyGirl did her school work. We finally stopped for dinner, (Marie Calendar’s frozen food cooked in the microwave), and ate popcorn while watching the Food channel. We easily slipped into slumber mode.
Warm winds called us to enjoy another pre-work stroll along the river. The wind wasn’t blowing nearly as strong, and we were able to explore the water’s edge further than the day before.
We crossed a foot bridge to a section dedicated to educate the traveler about the culture of the American Plains Native American. It was a beautiful display, and I was quite impressed with how the designers informed using words and art.
We arrived at the TPA Convention for set up and discovered that Susan Marlow and HTHL were vendor neighbors! It was fun sharing the aisle with this lovely spunky lady. Vendors become friends quickly. We share the road and the rhythm of the homeschool convention season.
HTHL families understand the “Pencils Up!” shout out. It’s what HTHL kids say before every writing warm-up. They lift their pencil high in the air, give the shout,”Pencils Up!” and begin writing. It’s a shout of writing confidence and a HTHL tradition.
I had a wonderful turnout for my workshop. The young TPA volunteers were charming and made me feel at home. It was a pleasure to share with such an eager group of parents.
Before the doors opened, I had the opportunity to interview TPA president and board member, Jeff Gorman. TPA is laser focused, very well organized, and has a heart to serve not just at conventions, but all through the year. Catch our interview at On the Road with HTHL Episode#7.
Throughout the day, I spoke with lots of concerned homeschool moms about how to better serve their child with dysgraphia and dyslexia. We spent a lot time time sharing practical ideas and setting long term goals. I love dedicated homeschool women, who don’t give up on their kids even when the “system” does.
After standing on my feet all day in heels, my man with our comfy sneakers in hand is a welcomed sight. This time tear down took 1 1/2 hours, a personal best for Team HTHL.
We attended Pathway Church with the Gorman family (Jeff’s wife, the TPA convention coordinator, and some of their very tired kids stayed home). Pathway Church has a large homeschooling population and is very active in serving their community. Forrest, BusyGirl and I soaked in God’s Word. Our spirits were renewed through praise and worship. BusyGirl was invited by Jeff’s daughter to attend youth group later in the evening. BusyGirl couldn’t wait.
We try to rest on Sundays and do things that recharge us. Forrest likes to relax watching a movie and also have the opportunity to slip into his “beauty rest” as our granddaughter calls it. BusyGirl likes to chat with friends or her sister via phone. I like to ride my bike. The cares of the world just seems to roll off my shoulders when I rotate the wheels of my bike. So I set off on my own little adventure.
Wichita is a beautiful city to explore on bicycle. I ended up at the Cow Town Museum along the river. They were hosting an outdoor event where all the participants were dressed to the hilt in historical costumes. One gentleman in an old cowboy outfit said, “Bet you can’t ride THAT bike.” He pointed to an old penny- farthing or high two-wheeled bike.
I quickly answered, “You’re right! I bet I CAN’T! You got training wheels?”
“No, but that feller over there can help you!” He pointed to a goofy guy in a top hat.
The “Mad Hatter” helped me take a spin on this classic bicycle. I texted this pic to Forrest. He texted back, “I can’t leave you unattended for 30 minutes, can I?” I wobbled though my first attempt. However when I dismounted, the Mad Hatter demonstrated his skill and admitted to the surrounding crowd that he was showing off as he sat perched high on the seat and switched his legs from one side to the other.
In the evening, BusyGirl went to youth group with Jeff’s daughter. Forrest and I went on a date, just the two of us. After a couple of hours we picked up BusyGirl and went to Freddy’s for ice cream and fries with Jeff and his daughter. Forrest and I loved getting to know the Gorman family.
Thanks for sharing the road with us! Come along with us next week. We’re taking a little side trip to Bassett, Nebraska and Mount Rushmore before we make tracks to Peoria, Illinois for the APACHE Convention. I’ll be speaking April 15: Friday, 2:30pm (Treating Writing Allergies) and April 16: Saturday, 1:00pm (Finding Pieces to the Puzzle/Special Needs).
From Our Home (On the Road) to Yours,
Follow our journey on HTHL’s Google Map (Click: HERE)
Don’t forget to keep up with the latest On the Road with HTHL YouTube Vlog: Click HERE!