Jan 28

Flint Hills Discovery Center – Manhattan, Kansas

Underground Room
At first glance the Plains do not seem like much.  Heck after a second and much longer glance it can still seem devoid of eye catching beauty.  However, a visit to the Flint Hills Discover Center will quickly cause you to reconsider.  As we learned at the history center the Plains are a robust ecosystem with exciting discoveries that can be found in the soil to in the sky.
Making the Brand
The Flint Hills Discovery Center is a state of the art museum that allows its visitors reasons to truly appreciate the land around it.  Dedicated to the Flint Hills an area that stretches from eastern Kansas to north-central Oklahoma.  However, there is overarching theme that can be applied to the rest of the Great Plains.  A newer museum having just opened its doors in 2012.  The Flint Hills Discovery Center is interactive and immersive.
Flint Hills
We really enjoyed our trip to this Kansas museum.  The Flint Hills Discovery Center is very informative starting with the grass roots up.  The center atrium leads its visitors through the Flint Hills ecosystem and to keep the young ones interested they have a scavenger hunt set up. My 4-year-old who loves all things science and loves to be read to, we got lucky with her.  She really enjoyed looking for the scavenger hunt panels and answering the clues. My two-year-old on the other hand enjoyed the underground room and trying to sneak back there every chance she gots.
Horsing Around
The Flint Hills Discovery Center also has several areas devoted to the cultural history of the Flint Hills.  From first Americans who inhabited the tallgrass prairie 13,000 years ago, to modern ranchers and farmers that call it home today.  It is a rich history.  Filled with inspirational stories of hard work, perseverance, and making due with what the land provides.  Once again, the people of the Flint Hills Discovery Center did a good job with making the areas interactive as well as informative.  This museum is truly an all ages place.
Temp Exhibit
While learning all about the Flint Hills was more interesting than it might sound.  What really made it a great outing for my young family was their Stepping into the Prairie kids interactive area.  There was a ton of things for my two little girls to do there.  A tunnel and slide area, puzzles, games, lots of toys to play pretend, and a soft cushion toddler area.  A great place to let their imagination run wild.  It really made it seem like the Flint Hills Discovery Center had two attractions for the price of one.  An interactive nature museum and a kid’s discovery museum.  Making a visit much more attractive to families like mine.
Flint Hills Discovery Center
There is also a nice gift shop, a short movie played in their immersive theater, and nice views from their observation deck.  The Flint Hills Discovery Center also has a temporary exhibit area that changes out on a pretty regular basis.  A good idea would be to check their website before planning a visit.  Especially if you will be visiting without children.  Since a large portion of the museum is designed to entertain children.  Directly across the street from the museum is a nice outdoor space with a large fireplace and water features.  We enjoyed our time in this part of Kansas’ Little Apple.

Flint Hills Discovery Center
Located at 315 S 3rd St, Manhattan, KS
Hours of Operation: Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. with extended hours on Thursday and Sunday 12 to 5 p.m. Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas Day
Cost as of this Posting: Adults 18 to 64 $9 Seniors 65 and up $7 and Youth 2 to 17 $4
For more information visit their website at http://flinthillsdiscovery.org/

Jan 15

Museum of the Kansas National Guard

Forbes Field
The Museum of Kansas National Guard in Topeka, Kansas came on our radar as we were looking for free attractions to see while visiting my parents.  On a fixed teacher’s salary, we are always on the lookout for free.  We usually end up at some nice places.  If not, we can’t really complain because it did not cost us a dime.
Museum Exhibits Kansas Guard
As a history teacher I am always fascinated with military museums.  Filled with tons of history.  Plus, as a guy it is pretty cool to see the heavy equipment, weapons, and uniforms.  Having two grandfathers, an uncle, a cousin, and my dad all who have spent time in the armed forces is just another reason to go and learn about others sacrifices for my family’s freedom.
National Guard Museum
Dedicated to the history of the Kansas National Guard which was first formed in 1855.  It covers its history as well as honors the history of the 35th infantry Division based at Fort Leavenworth.  In all the Museum of the Kansas National Guard has over 120 exhibits to preserve the military history of the citizen-soldiers of the Kansas Army and Air National Guard.
MASH Replica
On the grounds of the Museum of Kansas National Guard is a variety of heavy equipment.  Howitzer and cannons to an Abrams Tank and F-4 Phantom.  Major equipment from World War I to The Persian Gulf War.  They also have a replica MASH tent from the famous TV show.  As well as a mock Civil War encampment, a gift shop, and guided public tours.
Museum of the Kansas National Guard
Overall, our visit to the Museum of the Kansas National Guard was nice.  Not that interactive but very informative.  Lots of things to look at and read.  The vehicles, planes, and helicopters outside the museum were fun to see.  The staff/volunteers that we dealt with were very friendly.  If you are in Topeka and have some extra time, a visit to the Museum of the Kansas National Guard is not a bad way to spend an hour or two.

To see our reviews of other Kansas attractions, click here.

Museum of the Kansas National Guard
Located at 15 SE Airport Drive Topeka, KS
Hours of Operation: Monday through Saturday 10 to 4
Cost as of this Posting: Free
For more information visit their website at http://www.kansasguardmuseum.com/

Jan 14

Top 10 Waterfalls in Minnesota

Famous for its lakes Minnesota’s waterfalls might get overlooked.  They shouldn’t.  With 100 or so named waterfalls Minnesota has not only a large quantity they also have a nice selection of quality cascades.  My wife and I are a bit of waterfall junkies.  Hearing the roaring water, trying to capture a silky-smooth picture, and enjoying a family outing in nature got us hooked.  Oh, sweet natural world. We love to explore you.  Our first trip to Minnesota was a quick one to the Twin Cities which we enjoyed.  But we did not get to see much of what the natural side of Minnesota has to offer.  However, in the near future we will be going back.  Not wanting to miss some of the best waterfalls to see we compiled this list of the Top 10 Waterfalls in Minnesota.   After checking the internet and reading Lisa Crayford’s book Waterfalls of Minnesota.  Here is what I came up with.

Top 10 Waterfalls in Minnesota

  1. Winnewissa Falls

Winnewissa Falls


One of the smaller waterfalls on the list with a height of just 15 feet and width of 12 feet. What makes it special is that it is framed in by red rocks. Located at Pipestone National Monument.  It will cost to see this waterfall but the good news is the monument is highly rated.

  1. Illgen Falls

Illgen Falls


A powerful waterfall located at Tettegouche State Park gives its visitors a chance to see it from the base as well as its apex.  This 29-foot waterfall is one of two from Tettegouche State Park to make my list.

  1. Minnehaha Falls

Minnehaha Falls


Arguably the most famous waterfalls in Minnesota.  Minnehaha Falls is located in the heart of the Twin Cities.  This popular city park is free and is popular, but this 53-foot waterfall is worth sharing with the rest of the crowd.

  1. Minneopa Falls

Minneopa Falls


One of the larger waterfalls in the southern part of the state.  At 40 feet tall, Minneopa Falls is worth the admission fee to Minneopa State Park.  To make the place even more worthwhile there is another scenic though smaller waterfall also on the parks ground.

  1. The Cascades on the Manitou River

Superior Hiking Trail


The Manitou River drops over 50 feet during this cascade.  When the river is raging, it is a powerful sight.  However, the fall is just as pretty throughout the season.  The Cascades on the Manitou River is located at George H. Crosby Manitou States Park.

  1. Middle Gooseberry Falls

Gooseberry Falls - Middle


Gooseberry Falls State Park sums up the experience of Minnesota’s Northshore.  Nice hiking, great waterfalls, and shoreline views.  Home to Middle Gooseberry Falls A 25-foot waterfall that changes throughout the season.


  1. High Falls on the Baptism River

High Falls, Tettegouche State Park (8)


The tallest waterfall located entirely in Minnesota. This 60-foot waterfall is located on a 3-mile roundtrip trail.  Definitely worth the hike.  This is the second waterfall at Tettegouche State Park making the place a must see in Minnesota.

  1. Kawishiwi Falls

kawishiwi falls


A massive waterfall located in the northern town of Ely.  Kawishiwi Falls is 140 feet wide and 70 feet tall.  One of the largest by volume in the state.

  1. High Falls on the Pigeon River

High Falls


The tallest waterfall in Minnesota at 120 feet. Located in Grand Portage State Park which Minnesota shares with Canada. The width of High Falls also varies with the season from 20 to 200 feet.  It was hard to not make this my number one.

  1. Partridge Falls

Partidge Falls—a true redux


Partridge Falls located near Grand Portage off of Partridge Falls Road is a waterfall I can’t wait to see.  Not the biggest or tallest but something about the photos I have seen of Partridge Falls places it as my number one.  I guess it is the fact that you get right near the base of this power large waterfall that makes it special.

We hope you enjoyed our list of the best state parks in America.  With close to 100 waterfalls to choose from it was very hard to just choose 10. Like any top 10 list they are subject to opinion so please give us yours and let us know what you think of our list, is there anything that you think we should not have put on our list and what would you replace it with by leaving a comment.  We are always looking for a new place to visit so let us know about your favorite waterfall in Minnesota.

To see all our top 10 attractions lists like the top 10 waterfalls in Minnesota click here

Jan 09

Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site: Topeka, Kansas

Brown v Board
Brown v. Board of Education National Historic site showcases a pivotal point in American History.  On the grounds of what used to be Monroe Elementary School.  One of the four segregated elementary schools for African Americans in Topeka in the early 1950s.  This historic site helps explain the background for the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Brown v Board.  That court case paved the way to end legal segregation and overthrow the court’s ruling established in Plessy v Ferguson.
Information Brown v Board
It is an important part of American history.  One that should be not be forgotten.  A visit to the Brown v Board of Education National Historic Site or others like it would be a good visit for adults and school children alike.  As a school teacher, I see a variety of students come into school some want to be there unfortunately too many do not.  A shame in many ways.  However, one of the great tragic ironies in life is so many people throughout history fought hard to get quality equal education and some of today’s youth are just throwing it away.  A trip to a place like Brown v Board of Education National Historic Site help reaffirm the idea that a quality education is worth fighting for.
K Room
Even though the former Monroe Elementary School is a two story building, the entirety of the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic site is found on the first floor.  The museum is divided up into 5 sections or rooms.  The auditorium has a highly informative short film called Race and the American Creed that runs a few times every hour.  A gift and book shop.  Two exhibit areas one explaining the causes that led to the landmark case and the other explains the aftermath of the decision.  And my daughters favorite place the Kindergarten Room.  A room that has been restored to its 1954 appearance.  It has a working piano, maps, some dolls, and other things for kids to enjoy.  For adults, it shows what it was like to attend a segregated school.
I found the exhibit set up at the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site to be very similar to our visit to the Civil Rights site of Central High in Little Rock.  Both places highly educational.  The main difference is that Central High is still functioning as a high school. They both make good use of a variety of media to inform.  Both historic sites give a wonderful history lesson not only explaining what happened in Topeka but the reverberating consequences of that decision.
We enjoyed our visit.  However, what turned a nice visit into a great one was the time we got to spend with one of the park rangers. One of the best national park rangers we have ever been around.  A young man from North Carolina was so kind to us.  Very informative, he answered dozens of questions, he was friendly to all of us.  It was easy to tell he really enjoyed his job, which made us enjoy our visit all the more.

To see our reviews of other Kansas attractions, click here
Brown v Board of Education National Historic Site
Brown v Board of Education National Historic Site
Located at 1515 SE Monroe Street Topeka, Kansas
Hours of Operation 9 to 5 every day of the week except Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day
Cost as of this Posting: Free
For more information visit their website at https://www.nps.gov/brvb/index.htm

Jan 07

Debruce Center: University of Kansas

Debruce Center
The Debruce Center is a part of the rich basketball experience that can be had during a visit to the University of Kansas in Lawrence.  The permanent home to the rules of basketball.  The original typed two sheets of paper crafted by Dr. James Naismith to keep 18 young men busy in 1891.  These 13 rules for “Basket Ball” created one of the most popular sports in the world.
With the Good Doctor
The original Naismith rules is housed in a state of the art facility.  Situated in a case that is more in design to protect the document than give visual clarity.  A special dim electronic light will illuminate the rules when pushed.  At the same time, Dr. Naismith, will explain how the rules of basketball came about.  Now how the rules of basketball came to be in the possession of the University of Kansas is a fascinating story.  One given the proper treatment in a 30 for 30 Documentary on ESPN.  Through I am becoming less of a fan of the network over the last 4 or 5 years they still do work when they stick strictly to sports.
Debruce Center Hall
The Debruce Center is a modern looking building that surprisingly does not look out of place attached to Allen Field House.  The rules painted on the outside of the building attached to one of the great college basketball venues in the United States will make any fan of the sport excited.  Even if you are not a fan of the university.  The facility is also home to a café and coffee shop.  There is also a gift shop dedicated to the Original Rules.  Great place to do some birthday or Christmas shopping for the dedicated history loving basketball fan.
KU Timeline
Since the Debruce Center is attached to Allen Field House as well as the KU Sports Hall of Fame it is a must see for any Kansas fan out there.  The Debruce Center has a timeline of Kansas Basketball that I particularly enjoyed.  The hall where the original rules are placed is lit up on both sides by quotes from some of KU’s greatest basketball players and coaches.  Reading some of their quotes leading to Allen Field House would fire up any fan about to enjoy a game.  Not that those KU fanatics need a whole lot of help in that department.
Outside the Debruce Center
As neat as the rules are to see when it comes down to it they are just some rules for a game.  All-be-it a game that a lot of people love.  However, what really stood out for me during a visit to the Debruce Center was not a chance at seeing the rules it was walking the hall and reading the quotes from some of the great ones that played and coached that game.  If you are sports fan no matter what sport you live vicariously through the team you support.  For my family, it was KU basketball.  Seeing those quotes and my mind is quickly taken back to pretending in the drive way I was them.  Watching them at school during March madness when the teacher would roll the TV to the front of the class. My dad taking me to the Big 8 Tournament.  Some many fond memories of a sport that was near and dear to my heart.

To see our reviews of other Kansas Attractions. click here

The DeBruce Center
1647 Naismith Drive, Lawrence, KS
Hours of Operation: Monday through Thursday 7 to 6 Friday 7 to 5 and Saturday 10 to 5 and special hours during home basketball games.
Cost as of this Posting: Free
For more information visit their website at https://debrucecenter.ku.edu/

Jan 04

Natural History Museum: KU

University of Kansas Natural History Museum
For the longest time, I never paid much attention to the university museums.  However, I am starting to have a change heart with the few that we have visited.  The KU Biodiversity Institute and National History Museum was a pleasant experience.  Very similar to our visit to the Sam Noble Museum at OU and the Michael C. Carlos Museum at Emory in Atlanta.  All three are quality museums.  What we have found is that they are reasonably priced, entertaining, not too large for our little girls, and highly educational.
The University of Kansas Natural History Museum had live-animal exhibits including a bug room, displays of fossils, and still life displays of animal habitats.  In all they have 1.2 million archaeological artifacts in their extensive collection.  The Natural History Museum at KU has an extensive collection at its disposal and to educate the public.
Being a Bug
We had never been to their natural history museum before so we ended up going through a side door which led us right into their Bugtown.  Could not have been a better choice.  Our little girls had a lot of fun looking at those creepy-crawlies.  Their glassed-in honey bee hive, the giant walking sticks, and variety of vividly colored beetles were all a hit.  They also liked crawling through the worm tunnel.
Animals on Parade
After leaving the Bugtown we took the elevator ride up to an area I would call their hall of wonders.  Here they have a variety of fossils on display.  Dinosaur bones like a Camarasaurus femur and triceratops skull.  As well as a Pteranodon and mosasaur, two animals up to just a few years ago, I would have called dinosaurs.  Now that my oldest daughter has caught the dinosaur bug and has corrected me for the umpteen time I know better.  These halls are filled with a variety of prehistoric species from different eras.  They also have modern animals on display from skulls to full mounts. Something that made the KU History Museum different from other natural history museums we have been to is that they also had a few live animals on display.  Several encased areas had snakes.
DNA Exhibit
The most impressive exhibit and what the museum is known for is their Panorama of North American habitats.  This was part of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago where a person gets a 360-degree-view of North American mammals in their natural surroundings.  From a woodland scene to the arctic tundra if it is a large mammal from North America it is on display here.  We used the area as our backdrop for eye-spy.  I think it is going to be tough getting things past my girls, they do not miss much.
Hall of Wonders
Our day vacation to Lawrence ended up being a lot of fun.  The Natural History Museum had at least something that every member of our family enjoyed.  I even got to see Comanche the only living survivor from the Battle of Little Big Horn.  At least from the losing side of that battle.  That was pretty neat because I teach about the battle in my history class.  We also had a great time at the KU Sports Hall of Fame and the Prairie Park Nature Center.  Going to the nature center at the end of the day made for a nice conclusion to our outing.  Some of the stuffed animals we saw at the Natural History Museum alive and kicking completed our journey through the circle of life.  Until next time Hakuna Matata.

To see our reviews of other Kansas attractions, click here
Natural History Center
University of Kansas Natural History Museum
Located at 1345 Jayhawk Blvd, Lawrence, KS
Hours of Operation Tuesday through Saturday 9 to 5 and Sunday 12 to 4
Cost as of this Posting: Suggested Donation of around $5 per person
For more information visit their website at http://biodiversity.ku.edu/visit

Jan 03

Prairie Park Nature Center: Lawrence, Kansas

Little Trekker
Our girls loved the Prairie Park Nature Center in Lawrence, Kansas.  After taking them to the Booth Family Hall of Athletics, KU Hall of Fame, we thought it would be nice to take them to something a little bit more their speed.  Prairie Park Nature Center hit it out of the park for our kids.  Indoor and outdoor attractions.  Live animals as well as taxidermy displays.  Informational areas as well as a kid play room and, to burn off some energy, hiking trails to a nice lake.  Prairie Park Nature Center was a lot of fun for our family.
Prairie Park Nature Center
A person on a budget can’t beat free.  So, when we saw that the Prairie Park Nature Center was free to the public we added it to our list of things to see.  Glad we did.  Going in we did not know really what to expect.  Nature centers come in a variety of size, shapes, and amenities.  We have seen them with a few tanks and books to lavish interactive exhibits.  While the Prairie Park Nature Center is not the best we have seen, we were quite pleased with our time spent there.
Squwaking Macaw
The Prairie Park Nature Center indoor exhibits were quite extensive.  Several local as well as some exotic animals on display.  Including one very loud macaw which seemed to get a kick out of screeching at my wife and girls to see how high they would jump.  Besides the live animals, they had several static displays of natural habitat dioramas.  A kid’s play room with stuff animals, a bunny hutch, coloring materials, reading books, and several other play items.  My 4 and 2-year-old spent a lot of time in that area.  While we did not partake in any, the Prairie Park Nature Center also offers educational programs on site.
Happy Child
One thing that the Prairie Park Nature Center has that many nature centers that we have visited have not is a birds of prey area.  Here they had owls, eagles, hawks, and a crow on display.  Something that we were not expecting and it was a nice addition to our visit.  Unfortunately, their enclosure areas seemed to be a bit on the smaller size, a cage like design.  Hopefully in the future they will be updated and enlarged.  Maybe some enterprising young scout could take up the cause and earn their rank of Eagle Scout
My oldest daughter and I did enjoy talking a walk to the lake that is on the property.  A little daddy daughter adventure.  It was Thanksgiving break during our visit.  Making for a less than stellar visual experience.  But we made the most of it and had fun.  There is also a small play area with a large climbing rock we enjoyed before leaving.  All-in-all Prairie Park Nature Center was a great little stop that if we find ourselves in Lawrence we will enjoy again.

To see our reviews of other Kansas attractions, click here
Prairie Park Nature Center
Located at 2730 Harper St. Lawrence
Hours of Operation Tuesday to Saturday 9 a.m. 5 p.m. Sunday 1 to 4 p.m.
Cost as of this Posting: Free
For more information https://lawrenceks.org/lprd/ppnc/

Dec 30

Closing out 2016

Plainadventure Family
I can’t believe that this is closing out 6 years of blogging.  Plainadventure has been our online travel diary, way to remember, share our lives with our family, friends, and those along the way.

Our little site is still a love hate relationship.  We love looking back at the memories that we have made, the comments we have gotten, the messages from people who said that they went some place that we recommended and enjoyed it.  The work put in and is ongoing makes us hate it, but just and little bit.  We do have some new things planned for the website to help us figure out where to travel to in the future.  Hopefully it will help you out as well.  If that gets done maybe just maybe our site will have a little bit more love and some less hate.
Plainadventure Stats
2016 has been our most successful year at Plainadventure but I am not retiring from my teaching job anytime soon.  Our website is still growing and we feel like we are getting better both in our pictures and content which keeps us excited about the year ahead.  Thank you from the bottom of our hearts to all those that have commented and have liked us on facebook we could not keep it up without your support.

Dec 28

Booth Family Hall of Athletics: Kansas University

Kansas Experience
The legends of sport echo throughout the Booth Family Hall of Athletics.  A rich colorful history from the first team created at KU, the 1879 baseball team to today’s current athletes.  It is all here.  James Naismith, Billy Mills, Gale Sayers, Wilt Chamberlain, Paul Pierce, and all the greats before and after.  The stars are out in force at the Booth Family Hall of Athletics.
Story of Sports
For somebody from Kansas it does not get much better than this when it comes to sports. The Booth Family Hall of Athletics adjoins Allen Field House a pilgrimage site for all those that love college basketball.  It was a blast for me.  Getting to see the jerseys, trophies, medals, rings, equipment, and various other memorabilia was top class.  However, seeing my family having fun with the interactive area made the trip worthwhile.
The Booth Family Hall of Athletics is divided up into six main areas.  The Story of Sport is a decade by decade exhibit that showcases the majority events of the times.  The KANSAS Experience Wall explains the Jayhawk traditions from the band to rivalries.  Championship Corner is where the legendary teams reside the national champions, bowl game trophies, conference titles, and the beautiful rings.  The Basketball Legacy explains the rich basketball history of the university.  Their Hall of Fame with over 300 inductees from Olympic medalists to NBA players.  An Interactive Fun Zone that has some interactive exhibits to make the visit even more enjoyable.
As non-Kansans and not huge sports fans my wife and daughters thoroughly enjoyed the trip as well.  There were lots of interactive things that really caught my girls’ attention such as seeing how high your vertical jump is compared to some Jayhawk basketball greats, or comparing your wingspan to some larger than life basketball stars.  My wife also enjoyed trying her hand as a sports announcer, following a karaoke like screen and announcing some highlights of a real KU basketball game.  I also noticed my girls gazing over the wall of fame with 8×10 photographs of some famous KU athletes and honing in on the talented females.  It was great for them to see those talented women highlight there alongside the men.
The Rings
For a Kansas fan the Booth Family Hall of Athletics is a great visit.  It is free.  Which is a great start and it only gets better from there.  Incredible to see the rich history of the school.  The original center court, the Pay Heed Banner, and other various artifacts makes the pageantry of college sports that much more real.

For our reviews of other Kansas attractions, click here
Booth Family Hall of Athletics
Booth Family Hall of Athletics
Located at 1651 Naismith Drive, Lawrence, KS
Hours of Operation Monday through Saturday 10 to 5 Allen Fieldhouse is closed to the public during practice, gamedays, and on the weekends.
Cost as of this Posting: Free
For more information visit their website at  http://www.kuathletics.com/sports/2013/6/21/GEN_0621133346.aspx

Dec 25

Merry Christmas

Christmas Girls
Karen, the girls and I just wanted to wish everybody a Merry Christmas.  We hope you remember the reason for the season is not the gifts wanted, received, or given because we all have been given the ultimate gift and we celebrated Him today.

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