Saturday, July 24, 2010

Summer Visits

While our original plan for a trip to national parks in South Dakota was scuttled by Erik's call to jury duty, we enjoyed a brief visit to Michigan. While in Michigan, we picked up our niece Amelia for a Kansas adventure. Various photos and comments from summer excursions follow.

Carter and his cousins posed for a moment. The picture was in honor of their grandparents' 50th anniversary.

Unlike his dad, Carter loves playing in the water. He is a regular at the city pool, but in Michigan a sprinkler substituted.

An avid gamer, Carter plays a matching game with his cousins. He has many favorites at home from the simple (like Uno - see below) to the complex (like Risk).

After fun in Michigan, we hit the (long) road for Kansas. Carter and Amelia had a few sessions at the Lawrence pool during the hot days, participated in a Dog Days workout, attended the final Lawrence City Band concert of the season, and visited several parks and museums in the region.

Amelia listens to the city band above. While the concert was lovely, the most exciting part was the firing of cannons and launching of fireworks during the grand finale.

Carter learns how to fire the WWI-era howitzer.

Amelia gets in on the action, too.

We visited two National Park Service sites - the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve and Brown Vs. Board of Education. The kids both earned Junior Ranger badges at each site.

During Erik's Sunday hockey game, Lea, Carter, and Amelia strolled through Deanna Rose Farm in Overland Park, Kansas. This city park has many animals, and a model one-room schoolhouse. Amelia dons the dunce cap above.

Amelia has a great appreciation for art - especially contemporary abstract art. Here she seeks out a different perspective on a piece at the Spencer Museum of Art at KU.

Above and below, Amelia interacts with sculptures at the Nelson-Atkins Museum in Kansas City.

We stopped for lunch at the original Winstead's, where Erik's dad Thomas worked the malt machine back in the summer of '45. The story from Tom is that Winstead's had to be closed on V-E and V-J days to prevent revelers from trashing the joint.

Council Grove was the last stop on the Santa Fe Trail before its eponymous end-point. We passed through it along the route to the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve and stopped for photos and dinner. The monument above honors women who led pioneer families on their journeys out west.

Small monuments to Native Peoples and pioneers dot the rural highways.

During our various trips, we took several nice shots of nature. Some were snapped by Erik, some by Lea, and others by Amelia. Erik took the butterfly above and lizard below.

Amelia took these great photos of the snake above and buffalo below.

Amelia also captured this insect on a sunflower.

Our final image showcases other temporary visitors to the tallgrass prairie. Cows from Mexico covered the landscape, enjoying the nutrient rich grasses before their less pleasant stay at feedlots in the western part of the state.