We are thinking about taking a family ski trip this year, but as a non-skiing unit, we have no idea where to start! Fortunately, my Facebook friends helped me out with three Northern California spots to try skiing for the first time. Our criteria are simple – good ski program for the kids, alternatives to skiing (tubing, sledding, ice skating, snowshoeing) and places for mom to hang out while waiting for the troupe to emerge from the icy wilderness.
Archive: November, 2010
If by any chance I find myself in the vicinity of Powell’s Bookstore in Portland, Oregon (that could be anywhere in the state of Oregon, as far as I am concerned) I will make a point to stop and visit. I leave myself a couple hours to explore everything, then grab a quick bite in the cafe, before carrying on the exploration. I could spend days in the used-book section alone. Oh, and don’t get me started on cookbooks. Ack!
Rolan Gregg, from the Uptake Portland Getaway Crew, gives his review of a recent trip to Powell’s. Have you been? What do you think?
The mission statement of Powell’s Books:
“We have a social responsibility to the community and to our industry to fight censorship, promote literary awareness and encourage authors and their works.”
Casinos are the perfect getaway to enjoy fun activities and meet people, so why not enjoy a delicious traditional Thanksgiving dinner with some new faces? Premier online gaming site GR88.com (pronounced Great Eight .Com) is pleased to select the most coveted casinos for a memorable Thanksgiving holiday.
“The GR88 team values Thanksgiving, and most importantly, its gaming fans,” says Peter Karroll, CEO of IAM Corp. “We know our players and their families want to enjoy an excellent meal and a compelling gaming experience as they travel this holiday season, so we decided to help them and research the spots where they can combine both requests.”
Below are the greatest eight casinos to be at this Thanksgiving:
Wilson, Kansas, is especially easy to find if you arrive in the evening. The 60 foot lighted cross of Excelsior Lutheran Church has been welcoming travelers, and blessing those who pass by, every night since 1976.
Our arrival on a steamy late summer afternoon was a bit less divine, but a single evening stay left an impression on my family.
In the Heart of Post Rock Country
Wilson, Kansas is located just off I-70 in the center of what is known as Post Rock Country. Limestone was the most plentiful natural resource the pioneers had to work with; they quarried it to build grand buildings, like the Historic Midland Hotel, and used it for simpler buildings and fence posts. One fence post now stands apart from the rest. This past summer sculptor Fred Whitman transformed one into a beautiful woman with flowing hair holding a sunflower. Located along the eastern side of Highway 232, the Post Rock Scenic Byway, we would have missed seeing her if our hosts hadn’t shared the story with us.
The Czech Capital of Kansas
The final weekend in July expands Wilson to nearly three times its modest population when the town hosts the Annual After Harvest Czech Festival. The town is hopping with activities including the Czech Queen pageant, Czech dancers, street dancing, sports tournaments, the largest small town parade, a beer garden, an ice cream social and an old time local band playing Czech and polka music. Soon Wilson will be home to the World’s Largest Czech Egg.
Where to Stay
My family stayed at the very comfortable Simple Haven Bed and Breakfast. The original portion of the house is native limestone. A wooden addition was added in the early 1900s by the Borells, Russian immigrants who raised 10 children within its walls. Rooms are spacious and very comfortable; the home made breakfasts are delicious and filling.
Simple Haven is a bed and breakfast that is kid friendly- a rarity in such historic surroundings. Board games and DVDs are available in the upstairs social room while directly across the parking lot from the front door sits the tri-level water tower originally owned by the Borell’s. It has been lovingly restored and now features a relaxing sauna, shaded brick patio and beautifully landscaped flower garden.
Simple Haven B&B; 1-866-514-2744, main website, rooms from $85 per night
The Historic Midland Hotel recently reopened. The hotel has 28 rooms with a variety of layouts; some connect (great for families). Phone (785) 658-2284, main website, rooms from $65 per night.
The Sportsman’s Lodge is a self-catering guest house adjoining Sincerely Yours Gifts and Bakery. It can accommodate large groups, has a full kitchen, dog kennels, garage and 4 double beds. Phone 785-658-2424, main website.
What to See and Do
Wilson is filled with history. Set off on foot and wander through town. Visit the historic round jail; originally a water tower for a downtown city block, in the late 1950’sand early 1960’s the space below was used to temporarily house criminals before they were transported to the county jail. Not far away are the Czech Straw Cottages and a new playground sure to delight any child.
Nearby Lake Wilson provides an enjoyable day out on land or water. The surrounding parkland offers hiking, biking, camping and hunting while the lake, called the clearest lake in Kansas, offers fishing and swimming. Rocktown, a 305 acre National and Scientific Area, features 15 to 30 foot red sandstone outcroppings that defy imagination.
Nearby Smokey Hill Vineyard and Winery offers special events, shopping and the occasional Murder Mystery Dinner.
For your souvenirs visit Kansas Originals, just off I-70. This shop is filled with folk art, crafts and food. You’ll find hand painted Czech eggs, incredible wooden carvings, mesmerizing photographs, braided wheat and so much more. It’s the perfect place to grab some snacks for the road and something to remember your visit to Wilson. Open Monday – Saturday 9am-6pm, Sunday 11am-6pm.Photos (except Sign from Above) by Jody Halsted. Jody Halsted shares her family travel tales at Family Rambling. She loves the Midwest and looks forward to planning another Kansas getaway in the future.