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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Still Adventuring

This blog is now complete since we are no longer in the sesquicentennial year.  However, we are not done adventuring (or will we ever be).  We don't plan adventures as often, but they still happen in our everyday life.  To continue following our adventures, check them out on our new blog:

UPDATE: +Angel Shaver won the title of Ms Wheelchair Kansas 2013 follow that blog at

Saturday, January 7, 2012


We have done it!!  We had 150+ Kansas adventures in 2011.  Many people (ourselves included) were not sure we would accomplish this goal when we began last January.  However, we really had no difficulty finding 150 things to do in Kansas and still have many more on our list that we did not get to this year.  Angel's favorite part of the trip was planning all the adventures. That is always her favorite part of every trip.  :)  It just lets the fun begin way before we head out the door. 

When we look back on all the various adventures we had this year, it was hard to just pick one.  Kansas is full of quite a wide variety of things to do and places to go.  We saw wildlife, outdoor adventures, history, art, different cultures, and some unique creations you can't find anywhere else.  We even got to visit one attraction found in the book Weird USA:  the Garden of Eden in Lucas.  We saw sites that had been featured on cable TV shows (Ghosthunters and Dirty Jobs) and just enjoyed some of the natural scenery Kansas has to offer. 

We did each pick a favorite:
Eric--The Gatherin' and camping at Cedar Bluff
Angel--Wamego and the Oz Museum
The kiddos--Great Wolf Lodge

Overall, we just had a wonderful time being together and seeing much of what Kansas has to offer.  Generally, the kiddos loved anywhere they could run around, explore, and climb--inside or out.; Eric preferred outdoor activities, and Angel preferred museums and other wheelchair accessible cultural activities.  We saw such a great variety of things and tried an excellent variety of foods.

We end this year proud of ourselves for accomplishing our goal of having 150+ adventures and recording our journeys around Kansas.  We also have a list of places we enjoyed visiting and want to see again someday as well as a list of places we did not get to this year, but would like to some day in the future.  There are a few places out there that you really just need to visit once to say you have done that in your lifetime.

What is next for us?  Does anyone ever really know?  Well, we are planning some quiet time at home just enjoying our home and family.  I"m not sure we know how to just be still and stay at home, but we'll see.  Whatever it is we do, we'll be enjoying it together.

Augusta Theatre

We decided to end our year of Kansas adventures by celebrating New Year's Eve at the newly restored Augusta Theatre.  Eric especially enjoyed seeing it restored to it's former glory.  He was reminiscing about his childhood times at the theater, including the Bugs Bunny Club and visiting Santa.

The restoration of the theater is absolutely amazing.  Not every theater in the country has such beautiful art deco details and murals on the wall.  Not every theater has a curtain across the stage that rises before the movie.  Not every theater has the Star Spangled Banner play before the movie and the entire theater standing at attention.  Not every theater has wheelchair accessible seating and a wheelchair accessible restroom.  Thanks for restoring a wonderful landmark.

Checking out the Production Room
1940s projectors that are still used...these are the replacements of the 1930s projectors that were involved in a projection room fire in the 1930s/40s.  Projectors are still used for silent movies and there is a piano down front that is played during the silent movies.

We got to see The Muppets for the second time.  Some movies are not as good the second time around.  We thought The Muppets was even better.  Perhaps it was not the movie itself that was better.  Perhaps it was the magic of the theater.  Perhaps it was hearing the other adult audience members laughing and enjoying their memories of The Muppets from their childhood.  Perhaps it was watching the children having such a great time they could not keeping themselves from doing ballerina twirls in the aisle.  Perhaps it was a combination of all of the above.  Whatever it was, it was a great end to our year.
The original tiles on the outside of the building were thrown away
many years before the restoration began.
Santa's chair

Christmas Concert at Cathedral on the Plains

Sunday, December 11, Angel and her PA (personal assistant) attended the annual Christmas concert at the Cathedral on the Plains in Victoria.  The Cathedral itself is gorgeous.  Is is easy to see why it is one of the 8 wonders of Kansas.  No photos were allowed once the concert began.  If you are in the area and can attend, this is a concert everyone should hear.  There were several different choirs, a sinfonietta, soloists, instrumentalists, and the Brass 5.  One of the best parts was that you never knew where the music was going to come from.  Sometimes, it even came from the balcony at the back of the sanctuary.  All the music was wonderful, but Angel's heartstrings were most effected by the flutist.  In fact, it caused her to go home and see if she can still play her flute.  The answer is YES.  It will be exciting to be able to produce some of that gorgeous music at home.   I (Angel) hope to make this an annual event.  It is definitely worth the travel and even worth the anxiety of waiting for my ride.  Hopefully, someday, when the kiddos are older, they will enjoy this gorgeous Christmas music in this beautiful setting.

The Advent wreath

Pie and Pipes

On December, 10, 2011, we had the chance to attend Pie and Pipes at the Bethlehem Lutheran Church in WaKeeney.  It is not every day that you get the chance to hear bagpipes in concert.  They played some traditional Scottish bagpipe songs, as well as some Christmas carols.  And, we were blessed to get to learn about how bagpipes work and what might happen during your training. 

The pipes were a little louder than we expected, since we've only ever heard them out in the open air.  The acoustics are much different inside a church.  The kiddos favorite part of the afternoon was the pie served in the church basement after the concert.  It was great pie!!  They even brought Angel a piece upstairs since the basement is not wheelchair accessible.  Eric enjoys bagpipes so much he would like to learn to play them.  All in all, we are so blessed to have various types of cultural experiences available in Kansas.

Listen to one of the songs.  :)

Polar Express Train Ride in Ellis

On Friday, December 2, we got to ride the Ellis, KS version of the Polar Express.  Well, the kiddos did anyway.  There was quite a line that wound through the train depot with special events along the way--like a visit with Santa and free cookies and hot chocolate.  Finally, it was our turn for the train ride.  The kiddos got to ride through beautiful scenes of Christmas lights, Eric walk along in the cold & took pictures, and Angel stayed nice and cozy in the depot.  When asked how the ride was, the only response was COLD!!!  It was not the nicest night in the world to be running around in pajamas, but that is the only authentic way to ride the Polar Express.
It was definitely COLD out there!!!
The evening ended with supper at Arthur's Pizza and Mexican Food.  We were all thrilled to be able to be in the warmth and get warm pizza and hot chocolate in our bellies.  There were even "Polar Express" specials if you were wearing your pjs, the wait staff were wearing pajamas, and there was even a Polar Express type train set on display in the shop.  All in all, a COLD, but fun time.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Beginning of Christmas Season

Well, the Christmas season is finally here.  Most towns around Kansas decorate for Christmas on Thanksgiving weekend.  We started our holiday adventures by visiting Santa Clause in Norton on November 26.  We did miss the cookies and sleigh ride, but dinner at McDonald's was fun too.  :)  Our son forgot to tell Santa one thing he really wants for Christmas, so I guess he'll have to write a letter. Our daughter told Santa what she wants, but her picture came out fuzzy.

We did not make it to the Christmas Tree lighting at WaKeeney.  We were not in WaKeeney that day and the weather forecast was for too much wind for us to drive that way.  We did get to see the beautiful lights later, but missed the official lighting by Santa Clause.  If you happen to be driving by WaKeeney any time this month, drive downtown to see the lights.  It is the Christmas City of the High Plains.

University of Kansas Natural History Museum

The Natural History Museum at KU was listed as a must-stop for families. So, on our adventure October 30, we stopped.  We were not disappointed.  Well, our daughter was a bit disappointed because the live snake exhibit was closed for renovation.

The museum itself is separated into 3 floor (will be 4 when renovation is complete.)  Each floor is a very different experience.

We began our adventure in Bugtown--where kids can be bugs, pretend to order at the diner, and watch three bugs commenting on Sci-Fi Bug Movies in the style of Mystery Science Theater 3000.  Our son could have stayed there all day if we let him.


The Tar Pits

Narwhal Tusk

The main floor housed the all important gift shop as well as panorama of wildlife.  We had just been to Cabaella's and their North American wildlife display was even more awesome in our opinion.  If you are looking for North American wildlife, that is the place to go.

The top floor we could access had an exhibit about Exploring Evolution.  We looked at all the exhibits and tried out all the hands on stuff.  Eric had a great time imitating chimpanzee recordings.  :)  It was a unique experience to get to explore with our children and talk about the differences between scientific fact and theory.  It was a great springboard for talking about Creation and how amazing the world is that God has created.
They even had a stair lift
It was almost as much fun as being at Disney