Our trip north from Nevada to Harrisonville, Missouri was along Interstate 49 and would have taken just over an hour, except we had to make a detour. We had a 10:00 appointment at Camping World of Kansas City, so we had to get an early start. We traveled about 30 minutes north of our next location to get to Camping World and we arrived on time. They took the RV immediately and I assume began working on installing a new set of stairs to replace the ones that broke. These new stairs would actually rotate up to ride inside the RV instead of the original stairs that fold down on the outside. We had nowhere to go, so we found a place in their waiting room as I guessed it would take no more than a couple of hours. After about an hour, we were informed that the stairs they had ordered were 1/2 inch too wide for the doorway. I have no idea how this happened as we gave them the dimensions of the opening which are printed on the side of the door. In any case, they had to see if they could located another set of stairs. So now we had to wait and hope they could find a set that would fit in time to be installed that day. We went to lunch with still no word, however, when we returned from an extended lunch, we were told they were in the process of picking up a set of stairs. This was great news since they got the stairs and had them installed before 3:00 in the afternoon, although it was not fun sitting around for 5 hours in their waiting room. In any case, we were able to drive back south to our next location in Harrisonville, The Oaks at Plaza Drive. This RV park was not our first choice for the area, however, Peculiar Park Place in Peculiar could not accommodate us for the two weeks and had suggested this park as an alternative. When we found the park, I wished we had not acted on their suggestion and found an RV park recommended by Good Sams instead. The only sign for the park was stuck on the side of their dumpster and could only be seen once you made the turn into the park. There is no office and no apparent way to check in. There was also no bathroom or any other amenity to speak of. It was a crummy, dirty RV park with a narrow gravel road and very tight sites. We managed to pull around a small loop at the end of their 20 sites and stopped to ask another camper about checking in. He said the office was a real estate office just to the south of the park, but as long as we had reservations, they didn’t care whether we checked in or not. Since the site we had reserved was open, we proceeded to back the RV into it. Coming from this direction proved to be impossible due to trees in the way on both sides of the RV and in front of the truck. So I had to pull the RV out of the park, get turned around in a parking lot for a strip mall next door, and reenter the park going the other direction. My first attempt at this new direction was still unsuccessful as I tried to angle the RV into the site and it immediately sunk into the mud on the side of the packed gravel area. I was able to pull it back out without a problem and proceeded to back the RV into a very tight site at right angles with very little room to swing the truck around. It took multiple attempts, but I finally managed to get the RV into the center of the site. The only good things about this RV park was it had full hookups and there was a Walmart less than 5 minutes away which we would be visiting at least once a day to use their restroom. Having a choice of views outside the RV of either the city street or the back side of a strip mall would not be my first choice of camping experience! In any case, we were close to Kal’s aunt and uncle and the attractions of Kansas City.
Tuesday we went to spend the day with Kal’s Uncle Gary and Aunt Chris in Raymore. They live in a VERY nice 55+ community that Kal and I would like to find when we are ready to settle down again. We had a very pleasant day with them talking about our travels, childhood memories of Gary with Kal’s dad, and catching up with their kids and grandkids. Wednesday was another day primarily visiting with Gary and Chris, although this time we took our laundry along and they took us out for a nice Mexican lunch. The conversation pretty much picked up where it left off the day before and we had another relaxing and enjoyable day. The picture below left is Gary holding the tub they used on the farm for Saturday night baths. Kal said she remembers it being bigger, of course, she was a bit smaller.
Thursday was to be a day for sightseeing as we headed north to Independence, Missouri to check out the Harry S Truman National Historic Site and the Truman Library and Museum. However, first we stopped at Gary and Chris to help them out by taking them to the store since they weekly ride had to cancel. We were glad to do it and we were still in Independence before 10:00. The Harry S Truman National Historic Site is primarily the home he retired to in Independence after serving as the 33rd President for 8 years. It is also the the family home of his wife, Bess Wallace. While not a modest home for its time, it was also not as large as you might expect for a former President. It was also interesting that the Visitor Center was not located at the house, but a few blocks away on the edge of the downtown district in a small corner location. Unfortunately, their movie was not working at the time, so we walked on down to the house after getting tickets for the tour. Before the tour we checked out the Noland House across the street, which was the residence of Harry’s cousins that he stayed with when he visited Bess while he lived and worked at the family farm in Grandview, about 10 miles away. The exhibits there centered on his growing up in Independence and his courtship of Bess. The tour of Truman’s home began in the kitchen where they spent most of their time. Since Bess bequeathed the house to the NPS when she died in the 1980s, it has all the original furnishings from that time. Thus the kitchen had a lot of appliances that we recognized from the 1960s and 70s. The rest of the home was also modestly furnished, as Truman wanted to return to the lifestyle of a middle class mid-westerner after he years in Washington D.C. Only the formal parlor was decked out with expensive furniture and items for receiving important guests over the years. His study was crammed full of books as he was an avid reader and even had an old radio set that took up most of one wall in the small study. Unfortunately the upstairs bedrooms were closed, so we only got to tour the first floor.
After spending a couple of hours at the two homes, we walked back to the truck and rode over to the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum. We have seen most of the Presidential Libraries east of the Mississippi (somehow we missed President Kennedy’s) and we both agreed this was the best we have seen so far. The main part of the library was devoted to his Presidential years, as you would expect, however, there were some great exhibits in the basement about his life before Washington. The main level was well organized to lead you through his years as President beginning with a movie overview and then his inauguration from Vice-President after the death of President Franklin Roosevelt just 82 days into his fourth term. His Presidency covered the period from the end of World War II through the Korean Conflict and the beginning of the Cold War. The museum is very well organized leading you through his years and the momentous decisions he had to make both domestically and internationally. He was obviously much more successful on the international stage as a Republican controlled Congress kept him from implementing very much of his domestic agenda. Beginning with the defeat of Germany, he then had to decide to drop the atomic bombs on Japan and convince Russia to declare war on Japan to force them to surrender. Then came the beginning of the United Nations and troubles at home with food and housing shortages making the transition back to a peacetime economy difficult. However, this soon changed and the US entered an extended phase of prosperity. In Europe, the situation was much more dire as they struggled to recover from the war and the rise of Communism, especially in Eastern Europe. Thus began the Marshall Plan to assist Europe in their recovery and the Truman Doctrine and NATO to limit the spread of Communism. This period also saw the rise of Senator McCarthy in answer to the fears of Soviet spies, especially after Russia developed nuclear capability. The Soviet Union also blockaded Berlin which led to the Berlin airlift to bring in supplies to the parts of the city under non-Soviet control. All of these plans were very controversial at the time, including the recognition of Israel late in his first term. Even his reelection was controversial as he was not expected to win according to the experts and polls. The Democratic Party was fractured with Truman leading the center of the party, the Southern Democrats forming the State’s Rights Party over Civil Rights issues, and the left wing under former Vice-President Wallace forming the Progressive Party. It seemed like Republican Dewey could not lose. Truman was woken up the next morning with the news he had won. His second term saw an intensification of the Cold War with the Soviet Union and the emergence of China as a Communist state under Mao Tse-Tung. The Korean peninsula was the ultimate location where this conflict would play out in the Korean Conflict. The museum does an excellent job of providing detailed information about each and other decisions Truman had to make, along with some interactive videos where the audience gets to vote on these decisions as well. The basement of the museum also had some great exhibits about the pre-President years of Truman that cover his boyhood, service in World War I, and his failed haberdashery business, and years as the Jackson County Judge which was an administrative position. Outside you can also visit the graves of both Harry and Bess Truman and have a look inside the office he used on a daily basis at the Library. It was certainly a full day learning a lot about the life and times of Harry S. Truman.
Friday started early with a long drive to Liberal, Kansas. Kal’s dad passed away in February and her mom the previous April, both of them being cremated for later burial. Now was the time to travel to Liberal for the grave site services. We had positioned ourselves close to her dad’s brother, Gary, in Kansas City in case they needed a ride to Liberal and to be as far north as possible. It turned out that Gary and Chris would ride with their son, Bill, to Liberal, so we were on our own. The trip took 8 hours, so it was a full day driving through Kansas that we knew well from our childhood. Even though we passed through familiar sounding towns north of Wichita, we did not go through Wichita where we grew up as it was out of our way. Still it was a drive that reminded us of our childhood, especially for Kal as we left most of the trees behind into southwestern Kansas. We did drive through her early childhood memories in Kismet, a very small town close to Liberal that is even smaller today. There are few people there today that probably even remember the Lindsay family, however, we did post the grave services in the local church bulletin in case there were any. We got in early enough to greet Kal’s brothers, Mark and Phil, along with Mark’s wife, Pam, cousins Holly and Tal, and her aunt Wanda from Wichita. We got settled in and headed over to a local restaurant where we were met by Gary, Chris, and Bill. We had a nice time at dinner and then told family stories for hours in the hotel lobby.
Saturday morning was all about the grave site services at 10:00, so we all got into some nice clothes and made the trip to the Liberal grave yard. Being a minister, Tal was asked to conduct the service which included a ceremony from three local American Legion representatives. I was not expecting this and was grateful for their participation. There were even a few people from Kismet and Liberal that remembered the family, so we had a nice small group for the service. Tal did an excellent job and were thankful that we had a minister in the family. After the services we went back to the hotel to change and check out before heading over to another restaurant in Liberal for a family lunch. Unfortunately, Gary, Chris, and Bill had to leave before lunch to pick up a family heirloom being held by local friends. Even though the group was a little smaller, we still had a great time eating pizza and calzones.
After lunch everyone headed back. Holly, Tal, and Wanda drove to Wichita, Mark and Pam to Dallas, Phil to catch a plane in Amarillo, and us back to Kansas City. While those traveling to Wichita or Kansas City had no problems with the trip, Mark had planned to stop in Wichita Falls for the night. The hotel room was so dirty it gave them headaches and they decided to just drive on home. We had plans to stop in Pratt which is about half way, however, the hotels were all full for the weekend with a Miss Kansas Pageant and baseball tournament. So we headed on to Hutchinson only to find out they were full with another baseball tournament and twirling contest. So it was on again to Newton in search of place to stay only to find out the major hotel chains were full with some kind of pilot convention. So we ended up finding a room in an old motel for twice the price we paid for a nice hotel in Liberal since now it was nearly 7:00. However, this is no comparison to the nightmare Phil had with American airline. He had no problem with the flight into Dallas-Fort Worth, however, his connecting flight to Birmingham was canceled. The next flight also got canceled, as well as, the last flight to Birmingham. By now he was faced with spending the night in the airport as the next flight was at 6 the next morning. The next day way one canceled flight after another leading to yet another night in the airport. The first flight the next morning was also canceled and the next flight boarded and set on the tarmac for 30 minutes before deplaning as now the pilots had been too long on the job and could not fly the plane!! So he finally gave up and paid for a seat on United into Birmingham. I don’t know if he will ever get reimbursed from American and there was never any explanation for the canceled flights since there was NO weather problems. Kal did some investigation and found that American was having problems agreeing to a new contract with the maintenance and we suspect this was the reason. In any case, I was glad we did not fly ourselves.
We spent part of the day on Sunday driving on back to our campgrounds in Harrisonville, where we collapsed in the RV for the remainder of the day. Monday was also spent in the campgrounds waiting for my sister, Suzy and her granddaughter, Kaytlynn. They were driving up from new Knoxville, TN so it took them most of the day. We had to do some reshuffling of our things in the RV to make room for them, but the pull out bed in the couch is a welcome addition.
Tuesday morning was busy as we had to get around quickly so we could take the truck into the Ford dealership in Lee’s Summit for servicing. We knew we had at least the rest of the morning to kill since I asked them to inspect the brakes and replace them if needed. So we drove over to Camping World so I could get the roof treatment for the RV and spent a couple of hours looking over their RV to give Suzy an idea of what she might be interested in. She is not sure if she wants to travel by herself in a small RV, but wanted to get an idea of what she would be looking for. After that we had a very leisurely lunch and headed back to the dealership to find out that the front brakes did need to be replaced. Thankfully, they were done by 3:00 as we had evening plans to drop in on some college buddies of both Suzy and Kal. As a reminder to those of you reading this blog, Kal was Suzy’s roommate at Southwestern College in Kansas when I met her and I spent a good bit of time visiting while I was at school at Oklahoma State. Suzy was a theater major and I truly enjoyed spending time with her fellow theater friends on the weekends, so I also considered them my friends. It turned out that three of them, Dave Lungren, Bill Christie, and Suzanne Smith along with their significant others, had retired in Kansas City. We all met at Dave’s house for a cookout surprising Suzy who we had not told before that day. Since they had not got together since graduating, although Kal was in contact with them using Facebook, we had a lot of catching up to do. We stayed late and got back to the campground after dark feeling that the day was a huge success.
Wednesday we spent in the campground and I got Kaytlynn out to help me with cleaning the RV and treating the rubber roof. This took us a couple of hours and both of us got wet in the process. It is certainly more fun cleaning the RV with a nearly 14 year old to make it enjoyable!
We had made plans to meet Dave at the National World War I Museum in Kansas City on Thursday, since he volunteered there and could give us a private tour. I must admit that of all the armed conflicts over the history of the United States, I now the least amount about World War I or The Great War. I knew that basically this was a war between the great empires of Europe and thus included their worldwide colonies and thus was a global war. I also knew that the United States attempted to remain neutral for the first few years of the war. After an initial land grab by Germany, the war became essentially a stalemate with both sides dug into a huge network of trenches using artillery and gas bombs against each other. However, I knew little else about the war. All of that would change as the National World War I Museum has the largest collection of artifacts from the war in the world. We learned from our “tour guide” that the original WWI Memorial, completed in 1926, was a granite plaza with two relatively exhibit halls at the east and west end, the Liberty Tower that soars 217 feet in the Kansas City skyline, and two Assyrian Sphinxes with their eyes covered guarding the entrance. The number of artifacts collected very quickly overfilled the exhibit halls, however, it was not until structural problems closed the memorial in 1994 that major plans were made to expand the museum. The museum did not reopen until 2006 when a much larger museum under the original memorial was completed. So we started our “tour” in the original exhibit halls and tower. The most impressive feature of these exhibit halls are the surviving pieces of the Pantheon de la Guerre. Painted by a group of artists during the war in Paris, this circular panorama is 402 feet in circumference and 45 feet tall depicting over 6000 prominent Allied wartime figures from around the world. It was on loan to the Chicago Worlds Fair in 1933-34, however, after the World’s Fair it was forgotten and was stored outside for nearly 20 years. It was bought at auction in 1953 and donated to the World War I Memorial in 1957. Of course it was heavily damaged, but pieces were salvaged and put on display in the museum. While still a VERY impressive work, I can only imagine what the entire painting would have looked like! After visiting the two old exhibit halls we traveled up the tower for some great views of Kansas City and the surrounding terrain. From there, Dave treated us to lunch and we proceeded to the newer main gallery. The main museum is VERY well designed to give visitors the history of the war before overwhelming them with the collected artifacts. You begin with a video about the factors that led to the war before exiting into the collection of the first two years before the United States entered the war. The most interesting part of this section of the museum is their recreation of trenches the soldiers lived and fought in. Through a series of peep holes in the side of the trench you get a good sense of their living conditions and stories. Then another video presentation give the factors leading to the United States entering the war followed by many exhibits of the war effort and supplies provided by the United States to turn the tide of the war. Finally, there is a video presentation of the aftermath of the war as you complete the circle back to the entrance. I was frankly overwhelmed with the artifacts from that time period, as well as, attempting to entertain Kaytlynn who was not really that interested. This way, Kal and Suzy got to spend more time with Dave in the museum and we all had a good day.
Friday was more sightseeing as we headed back into Kansas City to the banks of the Missouri River and the Arabia Steamboat Museum. This is a steamboat that hit a snag in the Missouri River in 1856 and sank with over 200 tons of cargo destined for general stores and homes in 16 midwestern frontier towns. Over 150 years the Missouri had changed its course many times and the steamboat was now buried 45 feet deep in the mud and silt under a cornfield. Protected from light and air the cargo was amazingly preserved over the years. In 1987, Bob Hawley and his sons, Dave and Greg were self-styled treasure hunters and went in search of the wreck. They used old maps and proton magnetometer to locate the wreck. In November of 1988 the Arabia was exposed and four days later the cargo began to emerge. For the next three months every day was Christmas as more and more of the cargo was excavated and put into storage in freezers. The long work of preservation then began and will not be completed until at least 2022. Organic material such as wood and leather must be treated with polyethylene glycol (PEG) and then freeze dried. Nitrogen is injected into jars and cans to preserve their contents. Unfortunately, anything of cotton has deteriorated, so leather boots must be resown. After about a 20 minute tour and video giving the history of the wreck and recovery, you get to meet one of the owners and get a small look at the largest pre-Civil War artifact collection in the world and it is truly mind blowing. You feel as if you have entered a pre-Civil War Walmart!! There is everything imaginable on display and I could not begin to list them all. Stacks of dishes and china, kitchenware and utensils; leather boots, hats, clothing, and jewelry; jars of medicine, food, and champagne; farm equipment including nails, hammers, shovels, and every imaginable wood working implement. There were not able to salvage the hull itself, but they did bring up a piece of the stern which is on display. They also recovered the steam engine and paddlewheel from the wreck. All in all, it is an amazing display and one that is still growing every day. You even have the opportunity to watch an expert doing their painstaking preservation work. After spending at least an hour looking at the artifacts we entered the food market along the river where we had so many choices for lunch it was difficult to get a consensus. After a late lunch, we had all had enough for the day and retired back to the campground for the afternoon where we broke out our collapsible card table for games of spades and other games.
Saturday was spent with Kal going into town to do laundry, while the three of us cleaned the inside of the RV. With all three of us, this went very quickly and we had the entire afternoon to play some more games. In the evening we all went to a party hosted by Gary and Chris to spend time with their son Bill and daughter, Jana and their families. It was a nice pizza dinner and Kal got to spend time with her relatives. I attempted to keep Suzy and Kaytlynn somewhat entertained to give Kal the opportunity. Gary and Chris have a wonderful family and everyone had a good time.
Sunday was our last day in this crummy campground and we relaxed until the US Women’s World Cup match came on in the afternoon. After we watched them easily win their game against Chile, we had supper and played some more spades and other games in the living room.