We left earlier than usual to take a fairly long drive to an RV park just north of Wichita Kansas. All of the drive was on Interstate highway and all due north of where we had been at the fairgrounds in Norman Oklahoma. Shortly after we crossed into Kansas (a new state for our RV travels) we encountered a toll booth. By the time we exited the toll road (I35) we were charged $4.50. Not a large sum but it still bothers me to pay a toll for a road that was built using federal tax dollars.
Anyhow, we pulled into a small mom and pop RV park called North Star RV in the town of Valley Center, Kansas which turned out to be a perfect spot to explore nearby Wichita. First on our agenda was visiting the downtown area of Wichita.
We discovered some self guided walking tours on-line and chose the one that would describe some of the history and architecture of the downtown area. There are some really neat buildings to be seen in Wichita. My favorites were the Victorian Renaissance building known as the Old Sedgwick County Courthouse which was established in 1888 and the Orpheum Theatre which opened its doors in 1922. Another cool building (on the religious buildings walking tour) is the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception which is among the oldest churches in Wichita.
Next up on our tour of Wichita was a stroll around the campus of Wichita State University which began in 1886 as Fairmount College, a "Young Ladies College." A nice campus but somewhat lacking in architectural diversity. Nevertheless, it made for a nice 2 mile hike and there were interesting sculptures scattered around the campus. The most interesting sculptures were actually ones that were composed of huge round bales of hay and steel. We both loved these pieces of art!
Last on our list of things to do in Wichita was to hike along the river and see a five ton sculpture at the confluence of the Little and Big Arkansas Rivers. The sculpture was placed on on a sacred site of the indigenous Native American people. The sculpture, named The Keeper of the Plains is a 44 foot tall sculpture honoring the Plains Indians and has become a symbol of Wichita, Kansas. At night the city lights fires in huge pots known as the Ring of Fire at the base of the sculpture. Although the river is very high and much of the trail was under water we really enjoyed seeing this tribute to the Plains Indians.
Before leaving Wichita we also checked out a funky little brewery in town called the Hopping Gnome Brewing Company. They were celebrating their birthday so the place was lively and fun. We enjoyed our craft beers and engaged in some conversation with some of the locals as well.
We certainly enjoyed our brief visit in Wichita but it became time to move on. Next on our agenda is a COE park just north of Manhattan Kansas…
NOTE: I have been getting some great suggestions on places to see so I am going to start putting in a leading comment of where we are now and where we are going next. Seems we are past some of the suggested places since I am a few days behind blogging about where we actually are. We are in Manhattan, KS now but leave tomorrow for Perry, KS.