Wednesday, December 4, 2013


I like Kansas--
that is, natural Kansas--
better than I had expected to...
~Horace Greeley, An Overland Journey (1859)

We liked Kansas more than we expected to as well!
We also spent more time there than we had planned on..
since we had some RV issues that needed looking after while we were there.

Canada's geese were migrating south...
and we crossed paths in Kansas.

We passed by man-made mountains of wheat throughout the state...
signs that they had a bountiful harvest there this year.

Some were covered in plastic...
other piles of  Turkey Red Wheat were open to the elements.
I had no idea that wheat was red!

We learned a lot at the Mennonite Heritage Museum in Goessel, Kansas...
15 miles southwest of Hillsboro.
Surrounded by flat, black earth this part of the state is among the world's greatest producers of wheat.
The area was first settled by Mennonite families in 1874...
brought out by the Santa Fe Railroad.
These settlers brought Turkey Red wheat with them from the Ukraine...
and it proved well-suited to the harsh Kansas winters. 
Kansas is one of the world\'s top wheat-producing regions today largely due to the legacy of  Turkey Red winter wheat.

In the agricultural museum...
called the Turkey Red Wheat Palace...
we learned all about the progression of wheat farming.

The Wheat Straw Liberty Bell has its permanent home here.
The bell was commissioned by the Smithsonian Institute for display in Washington, DC in 1976...
for the US Bicentennial.

It s an exact replica of the Liberty Bell made from turkey red wheat straw by local Mennonites.
Quite an amazing work of art!

Hubby quite enjoyed checking out all the old vehicles and equipment.
My dad would have been in his glory there.
We'd still be in that building listening to stories, I'm sure!

We toured an old farmhouse on site...

...the Friesen house.

I noticed that the Friesens had Zwiebach (double-decker buns) on their table...
a trademark at my grandmother's house in days gone by.
Mrs. Friesen seemed to like hats as well...
also reminiscent of my grandmother!
And they had a great porch.

We visited the local bank, the old church...

...and the one-room rural school.
There was a great merry-go-round from by-gone years...
and light fixtures that I could find a place for quite nicely!

Did I mention that we were the only guests at the museum on the day we visited?

The store and office is housed in 'The Immigrant House'...
an exact replica of those built by the Santa Fe Railroad to provide temporary shelter and housing for the immigrants.

The store features a variety of  local history books, Kansas gift items...
and several cookbooks.

What a surprise it was to see Mennonite Girls Can Cook cookbooks on their shelves...
both the first cookbook and the Celebrations one.

The nice lady at the counter had me sign all the cookbooks that they had in stock.
Who knew I would be doing a book signing in Kansas?

She also was very helpful in finding us an RV dealer who could repair our motor home while in the area.

And that is why we spent several nights in the wheat belt of Kansas!

By the way...
I checked out the weather in Kansas...
thinking they would be in the grips of winter by now...
only to find that it was 18°C (66°F) there yesterday.

We could still be pedaling our bikes down the main highway near Hutchinson, Kansas...
like we did one month ago while our motor home was in the shop* (see postscript).
(Should I mention that the highway was closed due to construction...
so we had the road to ourselves? )
Over here...
we are in a deep freeze today!

We followed the Santa Fe Trail west through the state...
making a pit-stop in Kinsley.

Kinsley calls itself Midway, USA.
From this spot...
we were 1561 miles from New York...
and 1561 miles from San Francisco.

We discovered that many roads in the old towns of Kansas are made of brick.
(Not all yellow, though!)

This post is long enough...and there is still plenty to see in Kansas...
so let me take you back there on another day.

I'll just mention that we munched on peppernuts...
purchased at the museum store in Goessel as we made the 500 mile trek across the state of Kansas.
I'm demo'ing peppernuts at the Christmas Cookie Baking at Lepp's tonight.
We're still munching.

PS We had just entered Kansas when a trucker pulled up beside us and motioned to the roof of the motor home.  We discovered that the seal had let go on the rubber membrane and the Kansas wind was raising our roof!  One day later it was re-glued, set and we were back on the road. 
Stay warm!


  1. Okay, I'm breaking my rule knowing that I won't be back to Blogdom today. I really hoped that you'd say what was fixed on the RV. John is curious to know.

    Kansas...I was there in a blizzard. I remember being very excited to see some trees, which turned out to be cattle. But then, I'm repeating myself.

    What fun to find your cookbooks featured there! It may not have been fun to sign them all!

    Have lots of fun this evening! (I saw you doing great work with the packaging at Bev's house, which was at Lovella's blog, sort of the way Kansas is in BC this morning. A gal could get confused!

  2. Awww... I love little towns! Especially towns in Kansas. I was born in Springfield, MO, but raised in Overland Park, KS. I know, it's not a little town, but we were exposed to many towns in the Midwest growing up. My son/DIL live in Manhattan, KS now and I love to visit them and go antiquing at the small towns in their area. Thanks for sharing your travels with us - always fun!

  3. Now that is something to have a whole highway to yourselves! Glad you enjoyed Kansas on your extended stay. See you later!

  4. The history of the Mennonites bringing wheat from the Ukraine is so interesting! I wonder what else was reinvented from their memories? My great grandfather and grandfather invented farm machinery and owned several large factories in the Ukraine. They lost everything when communism took over.

  5. Judy, those 60's temps are plummeting... We're supposed to drop to 20 before the day is over. I love seeing those mountains of wheat and the museum you toured. Glad you got to try out the Peppernuts! I'm heading over to check out your link next. :-)

  6. I must tell you, I find it far more interesting to visit your blog and learn so many new and interesting facts, than I ever did when my dad had us read the encyclopedias they bought for us. Red wheat and Peppernuts, are both new to me. I would love to attend your demonstration this evening! How many miles is it?

  7. I found this to be an interesting and informative post Judy. It was interesting to see the huge mounds of wheat and I've never heard of red wheat and the fact that it came from the Ukraine. Your visit to this town in Kansas proved to be a good one all around. Thanks for sharing the adventure with us! Pam

  8. Such an informative post - lots of history (which I love). I'd heard of Turkey Red Wheat, but didn't realize it was quite so .... red.
    I'll bet that lady in the store was surprised when you told her who you were.
    You're likely baking cookies as I write this comment. Hope it's fun! Loved seeing all the cookie packages come together.

  9. You have a wonderful way of making interesting and informative travel posts, Judy. I thoroughly enjoyed learning more about Kansas and seeing a few of the sights. Those huge piles of wheat were something I've never seen before.
    How fun to see your cookbooks for sale. I'll bet the shopkeeper was thrilled to meet you and have you sign the books.
    I was reading about your cookie demonstration at Anneliese's blog this morning. Oh how I would love to be in attendance. Know it will be a wonderful evening.

  10. I thought of you gals and the cooking class as I drove past Lepp's last night. I hope it went well!
    Kansas - now I will have the line 'I'm as corny as Kansas in August....' ringing through my head all day! This post was so very interesting - so many things I never knew about Kansas.


'The ornament of a house is the friends who frequent it.'
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson