What is the Big Kansas Road Trip?
The Big Kansas Road Trip took place for the second year on May 2nd to 5th, 2019 in the counties of Wallace, Sherman, and Cheyenne, the northernmost in the state. The BKRT (for short) is the brainchild of Marci Penner and WenDee Rowe. The road trip came after years of the Kansas Explorer’s Club growing into the need for something of this magnitude. The plan was to visit smaller destinations to show what they had to offer and gain exposure for these areas by putting together a follow-along at your own pace event. It is a sheer genius plan and after helping with it this year from a media standpoint, you won’t want to miss the next one.
My friend Sara Broers of Travel with Sara/The Midwest Travel Network and I joined the hard working team behind the road trip for four days. We made Goodland, Kansas (Sherman Co.) our home base for the trip. Each day, we explored a new county and its offerings. We even had a proper Cinco De Mayo celebration at a local Mexican eatery. Here is how our trip unfolded and an account of what we did and where we visited.
Day One: Sherman County
- Ate delicious Hawaiian shaved ice from Terra Bona
- Tour and sampling from Olde Westport Spice Shop
- Visited the local library that not has movie nights and educational classes, but loans books and cake pans
- Toured the historic Sherman Theatre (Kids can enjoy 9 movies for $17 during the summer)
- Took pictures of the Van Gogh giant sunflower, a Big Kansas Road Trip must
- Ate a yummy steak and baked potato from Crazy R’s Bar and Grill
- Toured the US National Weather Service at Goodland (did you know you can do this in your own town?)
- Ate a perfect Cobb salad with homemade dressing from The Bricks by Meg
- Admired the cars at Matt Murray’s “Murray’s Kustoms“
- Conducted a blogger/tourism board session at the Goodland Carnegie Arts Center
- Checked out of the classic cars from the cruise-in event
- Drank a delicious iced coffee from Good Grounds Coffee & Bistro
- Saw the first patented helicopter (and more) at the High Plains Museum
- Witnessed the most beautiful sunset in America
- Took a guided tour of the Ennis-Handy House
- Played Bingo with the locals at the Elks Lodge
Day Two: Wallace County
- Ate stuffed sopapillas and a homemade pop tart at Erin’s Fresh Food Truck
- Visited Erin’s Town’s End Tavern, the newest restaurant in Sharon Springs opening this summer
- Participated in the Stumpin’ for Kansas trivia game at the Wallace County Courthouse with Marci and WenDee
- Toured the Fort Wallace Museum, complete with costumed interpreters
- Saw 1200 wild mares in the fields across from the Fort Wallace Museum
- Went to Mt. Sunflower, the highest point in Kansas where we hit a golf ball and earned a certificate
- Admired the antique tractor collection near Wallstreet
- Shopped for antiques at local stores
- Checked out the rooms at Mt. Sunflower Bed and Breakfast, a converted church and incredibly smart idea
- Ate cookies and drank tea with the Superintendent’s wife at a historic home
There were also three free evening concerts with Michael Martin Murphy but we were unable to catch him.
Day Three: Cheyenne County
- Drank amazing coffee at Fresh Seven Coffee
- Took a tour of the brilliantly done DXD Museum
- Went on a road trip to the incredible geological land formation known as Arikaree Breaks
- Visited three states at one point and took killer photos at Three Corners (where Nebraska, Colorado, and Kansas come together)
- Photographed amazing wildlife
- Posed in a fun Jolly Green Giant display (the voice “Ho, ho, ho” for Green Giant vegetables commercial fame was from the St. Francis area)
- Stopped to pay our respects and see the military heroes monument at the Cheyenne Valley Cemetery
- Toured Horse Thief Cave
- Ate delicious steak and baked potatoes from Caddy Shack at Riverside
- Stocked up on groceries and snacks at St. Francis Super’s
A Very Memorable Evening
My favorite activity of them all during the Big Kansas Road Trip was actually a surreal one. Homestead Ranch and Ken of The Buffalo Guys opened up their ranch to anyone who showed up (two nights) on the Big Kansas Road Trip an up close and personal look at their 600+ buffalo. I have to mention that it is calving season so nearly every animal we saw had a baby with it.
Ken drove us on an ATV, followed by another vehicle with a flatbed attached, through the beautiful fields of cows to reach the buffalo. Since the animals aren’t used to seeing anyone but Ken and his staff, he made us wait to see if the female buffalo were okay with us being so near their babies.
Once they gave Ken the approval (which meant they came up to us inquisitively), we were free to ooh and aah admiring the majestic animals as they sized us up for what seemed like an hour. We went to several different parts of the fields for the best lighting to take our pictures.
The surreal moment came with Roxie Yonkey, from the Sherman County tourism office, led all 20 of us in a group singalong of “Home on the Range”. I’m guessing it was the first time the buffalo had been serenaded and they loved it–I never wanted to leave! Luckily, she caught it on video so everyone that followed along with the Big Kansas Road Trip via social media was able to witness our magical evening.
Having been to see the buffalo at Yellowstone and several other places around the country, they couldn’t even begin to compete with the incredible rush of having dozens of buffalo maybe six to seven feet from you, and surrounding you. We never once felt afraid, nor would Ken have allowed anyone to scare the animals, a move I certainly approved of.
A Road Trip Success
At the conclusion of the Big Kansas Road Trip, I witnessed all sorts of great things, met many new friends, had amazing animal encounters, and explored every nook and cranny of three Kansas counties. I am grateful to have been part of the experience and hope to make the journey again.
Kansas is a beautiful state to learn about. If you haven’t visited the Midwest, pencil in next year’s road trip dates and come explore Kansas for yourself. You can find the trip details once they have been finalized at the Big Kansas Road Trip (BKRT) website.
See you on the road!
BKRT19 Photo Gallery
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