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.

Dec 22

Humphreys Peak: Arizona Trekking

False Summit View
Arizona is a state filled with some incredible hikes.  Humphreys Peak is the penultimate high altitude hike.  Climbing to 12,633 feet over its 4.7-mile trail.  That is a whole bunch of up.  But once conquered we could say that we hiked the tallest mountain in Arizona.  Not that I plan to or have the heart to climb the tallest peak in each state.  However, reaching the top does give off a feeling of accomplishment.  I have now been to the top of two states South Dakota and now Arizona.  Though South Dakota was a baby hill compared to Humphreys Peak.
Excited to Start
I had been to the Flagstaff area before and talked it over with my wife about hiking Humphreys Peak which she quickly talked me out of.  She is much smarter than I am.   When we ended up going back as part of a high school cross country trip I put the highest mountain in Arizona on our must do list. We had several activities planned.  Lots of running to do.  So, I kept Humphreys Peak for the end of our trip.  Good idea too.  If you plan on taking on the hiking challenge, make sure you have plenty of time to acclimate to the elevation. The trail starts at 9,333 feet and rises 3,300 feet to top off at 12,633.  It is a climb and one of the toughest hikes that I have ever done.  The reward is worth it…
Rock Slide
Getting to the trail is easy.  On the Northside of Flagstaff is their popular winter ski area called the Arizona Snowbowl.  Home to Humphreys Peak.  The road to the trailhead is paved and there are signs to follow.  That is the end of the easy part.  If you are already feeling a little apprehensive about the endeavor there will be some park rangers there letting you know about the dangers of the trail.  Oh, the machismo of youth.  I should have known better.  However, having wanted to do the hike for some years now combined with the overconfidence of my cross-country boys we decided to brave the +45 mph wind gusts and severe windshield temps at the top.
Trail of Humphreys Peak
From the parking lot to the saddle the trail is a basically a series of switchbacks through the top of the tree line.  Once through the tree line the trail become even more strenuous.  Here it is important not to push beyond your limits and the limits of the weather.  Things can change quickly and the weather can turn ugly from high winds to lighting and snow.  Nothing like the hair on the back of my neck standing on end after a strong gust of wind pushing me around.
View Out
We had dressed in layers, but I will tell you it was not enough.  I had 6 popsicle cross country guys when it was all said and done.  The beginning and end of the hike through the woods was nice (weather wise).  However, being exposed to the harsh conditions after the saddle took a toll on us.  To make matters worse there are three false summits before reaching the true summit.  I could easily see a person becoming discouraged if they did not know.  Like any strenuous exercise more than half the battle is one in the mind.
Heading Up
The expansive views and the wind, tired legs, and coldness it took to get there will always be remembered.  But the company I shared on the trail is what made this hike for me.  This was my third year with this cross team and all of them play soccer for me in the spring.  So, throughout the year I spend countless number of hours with them.  A few of them I had also had the privilege to teach/coach at the middle school level.  So, a few them I have known for over 8 years.  This little trip was not only for team building, conditioning, but a proper sendoff to group of guys that have become like a second family to me.  It was great to see each of them help and motivate each other up the mountain.  One of the best parts of the trip was to see one of the seniors help another through their fear of heights by walking lockstep together whenever there was a ledge.  Teamwork at its best.  Of course, if I had known he had an abject fear of heights I would not have asked him to go on the hike.
View from Above
Humphreys Peak is a great hike.  The best hike I have ever been on?  That’s pushing it.  I have done many different trails some to outstanding views others to gorgeous waterfalls or other payoffs.  However, hiking Humphreys Peak did give a sense of accomplishments that most of my other hikes have lacked.  Getting a chance to conquer something difficult with a bunch of high school students that not only have I gotten to see grow as athletes but grow into young men will always make this hike special for me.

To see our reviews of other Arizona attractions, click here

Humphreys Peak
9.4 miles round trip.
Strenuous Level Hike
About 5 to 8 hours depending on ability
Trailhead is located at the Snowbowl Lower Parking Lot.
For more information about the hike visit http://www.flagstaff.com/humphreys-peaks

Dec 21

Baldwin Loop Trail: Sedona

Baldwin Loop Trail
The Baldwin Loop Trail is a classic Sedona hike with views of one of the more famous rock formations in the area.  For those into hiking it is a must do trail.  Highly ranked in most of the guide books.  Baldwin Loop Trail is an easy 3.3-mile hike that is mostly exposed to the sun.  Make sure you take proper precautions whenever you venture out for a hike
Baldwin Trail
The trail has wonderful views of Cathedral Rock.  A great reason to take the trail.  Fortunately, it is not the only one.  When taking, the trail look out for a trail sign that says Crescent Moon Trail.  Take it.  This path will lead to Oak Creek.  On a hot summer day, you will thank me after taking a refreshing dip in the nice swimming hole.
Baldwin Trail Rock Formations
The Baldwin Loop Trail as its name implies circles the Cathedral Rock formation.  Making it nice to see the less famous “other side” of the rock formation. Besides hooking up with the Crescent Moon Trail it also has access to the Templeton Trail.  Making the Baldwin Loop Trail a great place to start your day’s adventure.
Cathedral Rocks
Like many trails in the Sedona area a Red Rock Pass maybe needed to access the trail.  The pass basically serves as a parking permit to access the trails.  Since most of the trails are on federal land a National Parks Park Pass can also serve.  Sedona is a popular destination so if you want a semblance of solitude go early and during the off season.  Does not matter either way the scenery is spectacular. Though a parking spot is nice.

To see our reviews of other Arizona attractions, click here

Baldwin Loop Trail
3.3 Mile Roundtrip
Easy Level Hike
About an hour and half
Trailhead starts just south of the parking area on Verde Valley Rd.

Dec 19

Do you want to build a Snowman?


M is really enjoying her dance classes, in fact we signed up to perform in the Christmas Recital and just finished that performance yesterday.  It was so much fun.  Momma and Daddy’s hearts were bursting with pride seeing our little sweetheart up there on the big stage.  It was a lot of work, extra practice every Saturday and practice at home, but well worth it.
2016-12-17-14-54-52In addition to her Christmas recital we also celebrated with a Christmas party during her regular Friday dance class.  I signed up to bring a party favor for all the girls so I immediately started scouring Pinterest looking for a cute idea.  There were a billion!  That Pinterest, it gets me everytime.  Luckily I was able to hone in on one idea and it turned out pretty cute if I do say so myself.


It’s a build your own Play Doh snowman kit.  A perfect little tub of white Play Doh, some google eyes, a carrot nose, a ribbon “scarf”, two stick arms and some buttons for down the front.  I think the thing that really makes this set cute is the printable topper for the gift bags.  It can be purchased off Etsy HERE.


It was pretty difficult to find twelve tubs of white Play Doh.  They don’t sell single packs of white in stores or online, so I went on a hunt.  I ended up at about four different stores, Dollar Trees and Targets and bought some foursie packs that included one white.  So, I am now the proud owner of THIRTY SIX extra tubs of colorful Play Doh.  That’s ok, one can never have too much of that stuff with little kiddos around right?


I was able to buy the rest of my supplies quickly, easily, and relatively inexpensively at Hobby Lobby.  I bought some regular google eyes as well as some girly ones with eyelashes.  I happened across some orange long cone shaped beads that worked out well for the carrot nose.  Some cute ribbon for the scarf and little buttons for down the snowmans front.  The Pinterest directions suggested finding sticks in your yard for the snowman arms but I opted for little pipe cleaners made into snowman arms.

All in all it was easy and fun making these little kits for a bunch of sweet little girls.  My girls have had hours of fun building their own little snowmen here at home.


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