Wichita, Kansas Via Roadside America

Posted by on September 16, 2014

***This post contains LOTS of links to the various places we visited today.  If you want more information about any of the stops you can click on the highlighted and underlined text and it will take you to a website regarding that place.

Yesterday we did some Wichita site-seeing the Roadside America way!  It’s been a long time since we’ve done that.  It was fun and a good way to get out and see some different things!

Solstice calendar and Michael posing as 'The Thinker'

Solstice calendar and Michael posing as ‘The Thinker’

A close up of the beautiful mosaic work

A close up of the beautiful mosaic work

Our first stop was at Central Riverside Park to visit Stonehenge Jr.  What it actually is is a solstice calendar created in 2003 by artist Steve Murillo.  The large limestone slabs are astronomically placed so that on the Equinoxes the rising sun shoots through a large metal eye perched atop one of the stones and illuminates a colored glass stone embedded in the ground.

The limestone slabs have been beautifully decorated with colored glass in a mosaic fashion.  If we were here just one week later (September 22) we would have been able to witness the Equinox!  Darn it!

Keeper of the Plains.  You can see the fire rings on the rocks below

Keeper of the Plains. You can see the fire rings on the rocks below

Keeper of the Plains Plaza in search of a Troll…it took us a while to find him…but we eventually did.  But before finding him we stumbled across another Roadside America find that I had decided not to visit as it took place at 9:00 pm.  The Indian Surrounded by Fire (Keeper of the Plains) is lite at 9:00 pm for 15 minutes each night.  However, it was very cool just to see the sculpture during the day.

We were pleased to find over 40 Munzees in the area…most of them virtuals which made it quite easy to capture them.  That was an easy 800 points!

After roaming around hunting down our troll I asked two ladies that were out for a lunch walk and they knew exactly what I was looking for and headed me in the right direction.

 

Hard to see but this is The Troll who's lair is beneath the sidewalk near the Keeper of the Plains

Hard to see but this is The Troll who’s lair is beneath the sidewalk near the Keeper of the Plains

The Troll is a 7 foot, 200 pound sculpture that is chained to some pipes beneath a sidewalk grate.  He is the work of local sculptor Constance Ernatt.  The troll inhabits an abandoned outflow junction formerly used by a nearby energy plant, allowing the city to keep it as an art installation rather than have to pay to dig it up.  Vandals broke into the troll’s lair in 2013, stealing his arm and his bird skull necklace. Constance removed, repaired, and returned him to his lair in April 2014.

He was hard to see beneath the grate but interesting nonetheless.  It was fun to see grandparents bring their grandchild to see the ‘ogre’ before heading off to the playground.

Kelli, from Sugar Sisters

Kelli, from Sugar Sisters

A friend of ours, Allison, from last years workamping gig at the Osceola National Forest recommended we stop at Sugar Sisters Bakery. Her best friend, Kelli, is the owner.  We thought it sounded good to stop in and pick up some sweet treats so we did!  We picked out some cookies to sample (and Kelli threw in a couple of cupcakes too!).  We chatted for a bit and found her to be a very sweet lady and a lovely business to boot.

Tj's Burger House (back door) - just small place but with BIG flavor and portion sizes!

Tj’s Burger House (back door) – just small place but with BIG flavor and portion sizes!

It was after noon by the time we left the bakery with our treats neatly boxed and we happened to see a burger joint, TJs Burger House, on the next block and decided it was high time for a good burger and since the place seemed to be pretty busy so we decided that it was the place to go.

We each ordered a burger and then shared onion rings and cheese fries with bacon and sour cream.  The portions were huge and the food was super tasty!  This was a great choice for lunch.

After refueling we headed just a few blocks east in search of more

Lunch Counter sit-in memorial

Lunch Counter sit-in memorial

Roadside America finds.  The first was a Civil Rights Lunch Counter Sit In which sits in a small pocket park down town where a Woolworth’s sat many years ago.  The sculpture actually honors a 1958 Wichita civil rights lunch counter sit-in. It got no press coverage at the time and was forgotten for years — until Wichita built the sculpture.  

As we walked around downtown we came across various sculptures – animals, children, musicians.  It was fun to come across them as you never knew for sure when one would pop up!

Car bumper horse

Car bumper horse

Just around the corner from the Lunch Counter was the Horse Made From Car Bumpers.  He was pretty impressively built and showed little wear except for a bit of rust on his side that was away from the building he was standing in front of.  We’d seen a bull made from bumpers earlier in the day as we drove by and he looked really impressive.

Memorial drinking fountain built in 1908 to honor Carrie Nation

Memorial drinking fountain built in 1908 to honor Carrie Nation

Next we drove a few more blocks east and parked the truck in front of Naftzger Park where we found the Carry Nation Memorial Drinking Fountain.  The fountain was erected at Wichita’s train station by Woman’s Christian Temperance Union. When the train station closed, the Drinking Fountain was abandoned, and for years it gathered dust in a warehouse.  In the late 1980s it was moved downtown again, to its current spot in Naftzger Park.  

If you’re unfamiliar with Carrie Nation you can read more about her HERE….but in essence she was a bit of a radical when it came to opposing alcohol and would attack property that served alcohol with a hatchet.

Most likely the shrunken head of a European invader to Ecaudor

Most likely the shrunken head of a European invader to Ecaudor

The little park that Carrie’s memorial stands in must be home to many homeless people as they’re several stretched out sleeping on the grass and several more gather around a small pavilion.  When we came back a couple of hours later to get the truck they were all lined up…waiting for food I’m assuming.

This is the pitchfork from the original Wizard of Oz movie

This is the pitchfork from the original Wizard of Oz movie

We walked a few blocks northeast from the park to the Museum of World Treasures.  For $8.95 each (minus a military discount) we gained access to dinosaurs, mummies, shrunken heads, human scalping remains, I Love Lucy’s pearl necklace, war memorabilia, Presidential facts, John Wayne’s jacket and all kinds of stuff in between.  The museum isn’t huge but it took us nearly 3 hours (going quickly) to go through it.  Pictures were allowed on 2 of the 3 floors so that was a bonus!

Our last stop of the day was one mentioned to us by our friend, Roy.  The Coleman Outlet Store and Museum was just around the corner from where we’d parked the truck.

Michael and I both remember having coolers exactly like the one on the left and ones similar to that of the one on the right.

Michael and I both remember having coolers exactly like the one on the left and ones similar to that of the one on the right.

When you first enter the store there is a small museum of sorts with old Coleman stoves, lamps, lanterns, coolers, thermos’ etc that is fun to look at.  If you and your family did any camping when you were a kid or young adult you’ll be sure to see a few things that you remember having….Michael and I both did!

We wandered around the store itself but since we don’t actually ‘camp’ anymore didn’t find anything we needed….oh…except maybe a few new chairs….fire resistant would probably be good.

We were home shortly after 5:30 pm.  We were pooped and had some weary ‘dogs’ from all the walking.  We had a light dinner (baked potato & a Caesar salad), shared one of our cupcakes, watched a couple of shows from the DVR and called it a night.

 

 

7 Responses to Wichita, Kansas Via Roadside America

  1. Tammy franks

    If traveling south via I44/i49. Stop at Coach Light RV park … Would love to meet ya!!!! We are here for another 15 months preparing for full timing!

  2. Tammy

    Kelly,

    Here is a link to the website: http://www.coachlightrv.com/pages/campground
    $32 per night with full hookups (50 amp) free cable and wifi.
    Great hosts!

    Hope you are able to join us for a few days! I’d love to be your personal tour guide!
    Tammy

    • Kelly

      Tammy,

      So close…yet so far! You’r just west of us and we’re going due south from Wichita to Oklahoma City and then into Texas. Back down to San Antonio and then we’ll be making ourselves available to work the oilfield gates.

      Have you been following our blog for a while? Would love to have been able to meet you…the RV road is very small we could cross paths at any time!

      • Tammy franks

        I have followed your blog for about a year. Love reading about your adventures! Hope are paths cross in the future!

        • Kelly

          Well I really glad you ‘spoke up’ and let us know that you’re out there. If you’re on Facebook…add me…Kelly Evans Barnett and we can keep in touch that way too!

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