Vehicle issues, heat and storms in Kansas…

Last Thursday we left Oklahoma and headed for Kansas. It was a longer drive than our preferred 3-4 1/2 hour drives. We had a check engine light come on in the truck. The van had the message, “required oil change”, come up while driving even though we weren’t even close to due for an oil change. And once we arrived in Kansas, our RV would not auto-level.

To my surprise, manually leveling the RV wasn’t hard. I am the one who handles all the hydraulics, meaning the jacks and slides. Once we were set up, we said, “Kansas is hot!” We are from Texas. We are used to temperatures above 100 degrees. Heat typically doesn’t rattle us. Kansas really surprised us, though. It really was just so hot. We stayed in an immaculate RV park with flat concrete slabs, but we were definitely missing shade.

We regularly check the weather. We prefer to know if a storm is heading our way. All looked clear on that first night in Kansas, so we went to bed as usual. It wasn’t windy, so we left our awning out. About 2:30 in the morning, I woke up to a noise and shaking I recognized. Our awning was going wild in the wind. I woke up Ryan, and he quickly put the awning in. We checked our phones and had alerts that 60 mph wind gusts and quarter size hail were headed our way. If you’ve ever experienced either in an RV, it’s not fun. But experiencing it with scared kids is a whole different level of intense. So…we woke all the kids up and made our way through thunder, lightning and gusty rain to the storm shelter. I’d like to say, we love that Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska have storm shelters! Surprisingly, the kids weren’t terrified. We goofed around talking and laughing for about an hour while we rode out the storm. It ended up not hailing, which was great. We checked off another box of interesting adventures and a good story to tell.

The next day, actually the next four days, we were exhausted. We were hot, worn out and just wanted to chill. So that’s what we did. We played games, read books, sat around, walked in the late evenings when it cooled down and played on the playground. We found out the truck just needed new oil filters, the van just had not been reset when it had its last oil change and how to reset our jacks so that auto-level would resume working. Oh, and our awning did survive the wind gusts. Thankfully! Monday I did something I never do…I baked. I baked a blackberry cobbler. I can’t take much credit because our friend, Diane, premixed most of the ingredients for me and wrote the simplest version of the recipe down for me. I used the blackberries our kids picked in Texas that we’d frozen. And it was really good. The kids were shocked. Ryan was shocked. And I was just happy to partake of the yumminess.

By Monday evening we realized we had not seen or experienced Kansas at all really. So, we made some plans for the next couple days.

On Tuesday we drove by Brown vs. Board of Education National Historic Site. We thought it was closed due to COVID-19, but we wanted to at least check. It was closed, but we got to see this amazing wall of murals.

Then, we decided to go to the Evel Knievel Museum – Ryan’s suggestion. It was pretty fun and fascinating.

Evel Knievel was an American stunt performer who attempted more than 75 ramp-to-ramp motorcycle jumps over the coarse of his career.

It was funny seeing our kids’ reactions. Most of them asked, “Why on earth would he risk his life?!” As their mom, it was comforting to me that they asked this question. Ha. But we all were amazed by the stunts Evel Knievel performed, all the broken bones he got over the years and that he always got back up and went for it again.

Traveling during COVID-19 is definitely different. Most places are set up to function the best possible and to facilitate social distancing. At the Evel Knievel Museum, we were given a map and asked to walk a specific path in order to avoid two groups meeting. We saw two men walking the museum, that’s it. It is interesting to see how each place is choosing to handle things during this time. I know it is not easy on these businesses!

Wednesday, we really wanted to go to Old Prairie Town in Topeka. On the internet, it appeared it was open, but it wasn’t. It’s open Thursday through Sunday, so we were a little bummed that we wasted those days not knowing we were missing out on this. It did look really neat, and we’ll definitely plan to go if we are ever in the Topeka, KS area again.

We ended up at Gage Park.

There is a carousel, mini-train, aquatic center, walking trail, playgrounds and a rose garden.

There were so many people there! We were surprised. The playgrounds, train and carousel were full of kids. We decided just to walk around the flower garden. There weren’t many people there, and that’s not something we’ve done before.

We spent over an hour walking around, looking at and smelling flowers and taking photos. We all really enjoyed it.

I think we just had a rough start in Kansas, we weren’t prepared for the heat and we were worn out from going non-stop in Oklahoma. We did actually like Kansas, and we know there is a lot more to do and see.

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