NAVIGATION ∧

the photo journal + misc. news of Emma Kisiel

Lucas, KS

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These photos were taken two months ago now! This year so far has been so busy. From Presidents’ Day to after the Fourth of July weekend, the longest it will have been without a trip or a visit is three weeks. I have at least five rounds of photo processing + posting to get through just to catch up to the latest big event, my parents’ 11-day visit. They left on Monday. Dan gets in this Saturday, Michael the following Saturday, and then Dan and my sister arrive for our dunes camping trip a week after Michael heads home. These Lucas photos probably warrant two posts but I’m gonna jam them all into one!

Lucas is incredible. Such a lovely, special place, where even when the light is harsh it’s somehow so magical. Nathaniel and I drove out from Lawrence, my parents from Longmont, and Nat’s parents from the Springs, just so we could all spend one night together in this perfect old house that Nat and I have now stayed in three times. The Wednesday night when we all arrived, we took a little walk around the town, to the World’s Largest Collection of World’s Smallest Versions of World’s Largest Things (or where it used to be, anyway? It’s apparently moved, but their new location on the main drag didn’t look open), to the Miller’s Park sculptures, and back to the house for dinner and gifts (it was my mom’s birthday and Nat’s mom’s and dad’s birthdays!) and a show-and-tell of all the antiques we had bought on the trip.

Thursday morning, we drove out to Wilson Lake and hung out on the water’s edge for a while, then went to Garden of Eden, then walked around some more. We had lunch back at the house and drove out to Kansas Originals, and then Nat and I got on our way to Weston, MO for our last night. Our parents stayed in the house together that night. I heard there was some wild Uno-playing. Next up: the Lawrence pictures I skipped over.

Silver Dollar Farms

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I don’t want to exaggerate, but the night we spent at Silver Dollar Farms was perhaps one of the most magical times of my life. After spending the night in Kansas City, we drove to Lawrence and spent one night in a very charming Airbnb there, which I’ll get to later. We needed to spend one more night in the Lawrence area before driving west to Lucas to meet my parents and Nat’s parents on Wednesday, and after we picked Silver Dollar Farms I was so excited to see it.

SDF is a super sweet place, family owned and operated. It’s recently restored, but it was first established in 1860. We arrived when it was getting dark and we still got a lovely, comprehensive tour (Midwest folks are the best!). The farm offers horse boarding, trail rides, goat yoga, and more. Where we slept was a little cabin on the property with a clawfoot bathtub, two separate lofts, and a private yard (I missed Cody the whole trip but on this particular portion I missed him SO MUCH). We met a three-legged cat and so many goats and a very large horse and the most wonderful and playful puppies and we got fresh eggs for our breakfast. There’s a swimming pond that we… have to go back for one summer?! I seriously wish I could go back and visit this place during every season for years and years to come. Maybe I will!

Also, those purple flower field photos were taken on the way from Baldwin City to Berryton, where the farm is located. Kansas is so! beautiful!

Two Dogs

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The Sunday we left St. Louis, the only thing we had to do was drive to Kansas City (stopping at Brass Armadillo outside KC on the way to our hotel in the River Market). Now, the wedding of my oldest friend was the night before, so I wasn’t feeling *great* that morning. We got a little bit of a late start, waited for our rental car for over an hour, then drove 2 hours and 45 minutes to learn about Jim the Wonder Dog in Marshall, Missouri.

Jim was seriously a magical dog. A Llewellyn Setter owned by Sam Van Arsdale, the dog obeyed commands as if he could actually understand English. He could pick out the lady in the red dress or to go find the car with license plate KU4-521. When Sam started giving informal demonstrations of Jim’s powers, tests were devised to debunk the dog. In order to preclude any secret signaling, a Morse code message was tapped out (Sam didn’t understand Morse code) instructing Jim to walk to a certain person, and Jim did it. Senators and representatives sat dumbfounded as Jim picked out people with various traits. Jim could also predict the future. He could foretell the sex of unborn infants, the victors of World Series and presidential elections, and the winners of seven consecutive Kentucky Derbys. When Jim died in 1937, the Van Arsdales asked that he be buried in Ridge Park Cemetery. He was buried just outside the cemetery fence; the cemetery eventually expanded around Jim. Of course, we went to see his grave, too.

From Marshall, we got back on I-70 for a little bit and an hour later ended up in Warrensburg, Missouri, to see Old Drum. A hound dog, Old Drum was shot dead in 1869 by an irate neighbor who thought Drum had been killing his sheep. Drum’s owner sued the man, and the case eventually went to the Missouri Supreme Court, where the owner won the case. It was in the courtroom in Warrensburg that the dog owner’s lawyer, future senator George Graham Vest, delivered his famous tribute: “The one absolutely unselfish friend that a man can have in this selfish world… is his dog.” A statue of Old Drum stands on the Johnson County Courthouse lawn; the old courthouse, now the historical society, is about half a mile west, and features its own dog statue and historical marker. We went to see both. At the Johnson County Historical Society, we were looking around outside when a man approached us and asked if we’d like to see inside the building. We got a tour and a history lesson and had a lovely time chatting before hitting the road again. In another hour we made it to our hotel – we did not stop at Brass Armadillo and instead took a Minsky’s pizza to our room and promptly fell asleep. I do not miss driving into the sun! I miss the Midwest dearly but visiting certainly makes me appreciate all the more the gloom and the mountains of the PNW.