Manhattan, Kansas

“The best way to see Kansas is in your rear view mirror”…until family moves there and it’s time to get familiar with a new destination on our list of places to go!
 
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This eastern area of Kansas is known as the Flint Hills region.  Prairies, rolling grassland, lowland trees… more diverse than we expected. 
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KSU and Fort Riley are significant influences to this little town, as are the Tuttle Creek State Park, dam and lake just north of town and the Konza Prairie Preserve to the south.
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One unexpected characteristic of Manhattan…the percussion of machine gun fire and bombs that rattle the house and echo in the air all day and evening here in the western edge of the city…. sounds from the artillery range and training area on base.
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Add to that the broadcast voice of football announcers and the roar of a spirited crowd at the weekend home games and you can have a sound-laden environment that is definitely unique. 
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The small local Sunset Zoo is a great place to visit… exotic animals in spacious living quarters and a pleasant design to explore. 
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The Konza Prairie Preserve is the only place you will find listed under local hiking options… and you can enjoy a great six mile loop there with history, views and bison.  But we found lots of other open public space close to town with coyotes calling, flocks of bluebirds and hawks soaring overhead.
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We enjoyed walking around campus… this is an old university.. the first established by land grant in the state of Kansas. Lots of open pedestrian areas,and unique architecture   
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After checking out the traditional tailgating parties before the game we also enjoyed discovering the animal sciences store at Call Hall where 40 flavors of ice cream are scooped and sold along with milk, fresh free range eggs, a variety of cheeses, beef, mutton, pork and sausages.  Great local products and an opportunity to support the agricultural/animal sciences program on campus, as well!

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Another day we ventured a bit farther east where the town of Wamego claims to be the keeper of all things Oz.  A museum takes you an a journey through memorabilia and the local winery sells wines with names from over the rainbow.  Other wineries along the way were fun to find … including one in the little town of Paxico where antique stores abound that you can lost in and marvel at the common items that still seem at home here.
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Geocaching is a popular activity here… lots of creative and challenging caches.  Puzzle caches abound as do power trails and caches leading to isolated views and creative locations on farm roads.  We also found several disc golf courses.. with caches embedded for double the fun.   All fun ways to spend a day.
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All in all…Manhattan … “The Little Apple” is a fun place to explore, although the winters are colder and the summers are hotter than we might prefer… there are several spots available for free or reasonable camping nearby… and a comfortable guest room for us to take advantage of, as well. We will keep coming back! 🙂

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TGIF… Revisited

Retirement redefines the calendar.

Once our lives were a steady rhythm of weekday responsibilities and weekends of cherished free time… 

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I remember the melancholy of Sunday night when going to sleep meant relinquishing control back to the demands of the work week.

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Now we generally explore the world during the weekdays when recreation areas are abandoned. 

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Except when we go to spend time with our adult kids and families…still deeply immersed in the work/school stage of life.

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The weekend becomes the window of time when we can relax and enjoy each other’s company all together.

Time for golfing, hiking…

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winery visits, a leisurely game of disc golf,

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antique store exploring, a geocache or two…. early dinner, camp fire

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and evening conversation. 

Special times.

Precious.

Inspirational Ignorance

Today I had the pleasure of  attending university math classes taught by my son as a part of his post-doctoral position at KSU.  

Having spent most of my life associated with educational institutions in some way…. hanging out in the halls of a university felt vaguely familiar and comfortable.  Not being able to follow the advanced mathematics lessons made me wonder how many classes I’d have to go back and take to be able to make sense of it all.    
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I always loved going to school and often thought,  if someone would pay me… I would have eagerly agreed to be a professional student in lieu of having to get a real job 🙂

The most profound thing I’ve learned through years in higher ed, though…is that “the more I know, the more I know I don’t know.”  It is all of the unanswered questions unearthed that reveal the mysteries yet to be explored.
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Hence, my love of education is really less about knowledge….and more about ignorance….because what  I love most is the PROCESS of learning…the  cycles of curiosity, observation, questioning, collaboration, connections….. ultimately generating more questions.  It is this process of wrestling with ignorance that sparks my passion for experience and life-long learning.

This quest for learning even propels my travel… national parks offer campfire talks and ranger led hikes – I love it.  I jump at the chance to attend photography classes, go on organized hikes, watch documentaries, listen to TED talks and subscribe to NPR podcasts.
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And so…. today I am deeply thankful for the enormity of my ignorance….  for I  surely will NEVER run out of curiosities!  🙂