Archive for Wednesday, October 8, 2003

Shouts and Murmurs: Sights, sounds of Tonganoxie area

October 8, 2003

Just in case anyone thinks there's nothing to do in Tonganoxie, I have news.

Take this past weekend. I barely had time to clean my house, in between the other, and I must admit, almost too many, activities.

Friday evening, the high school homecoming coronation was held, with the football game following. It was a perfect night for football -- crisp and cool -- and those who attended were treated by seeing the THS Chieftains win their fifth consecutive game.

All weekend long, Darlyn and Anna Hansen opened their bed and breakfast, the Amanna elan, to the public during their grand opening celebration. Story telling, buggy rides, tours of the bed and breakfast and a car show made up only part of the historic hotel's weekend activities.

On Saturday night, my family made our first outing to a concert at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater to see country musician Travis Tritt. He put on a heck of a show -- one we enjoyed even more than we had anticipated.

And on Sunday, our son, Harold, and I went to Kansas Speedway to photograph the Winston Cup race for The Mirror.

Some of these events were free, others had an admittance fee, and of course the Speedway infield visit required press credentials. But if you look around and read area newspapers, you'll find there are plenty of low-cost family activities going on all the time.

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But just as good, or perhaps better, is this: Despite its increasingly urban appearance, Tonganoxie is still a rural Kansas town.

There are parks to stroll in, country sunsets to watch, and, just six miles northwest of town, the Leavenworth County State Fishing Lake. Nestled amid the rolling hills, the 165-acre lake is a nearly hidden jewel. There are winding tree-lined roads reminiscent of the Ozarks, campgrounds and, overlooking the lake, two stone shelterhouses for picnics.

It's a great place to go for an evening drive, or even a weekday lunch. And, as our sons tell us, the fishing's pretty good, too. If you haven't been to the lake, you might want to check it out.

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When we drive to Kansas City, it's about a 15-mile trip from our house, located six miles south of Tonganoxie. But, as the crow flies it's probably closer to nine miles. About 11:30 a.m. Saturday, we heard planes overhead.

Knowing they were likely readying for the opening of the Saturday races at Kansas Speedway, we went outside to watch.

The four jets, which Sammie Lukaskiewicz, public relations coordinator for the speedway, later said were T-38s from the Air Force's 25th Flying Training Squadron, circled over southern Leavenworth County about half a dozen times in the half hour before the noon opening at the race.

I walked to the top of the hill east of our house to get a look just in case a larger jet would also make a flyby.

The western area of Kansas City is barely visible from the top of the hill.

At noon, I heard a muffled explosion, and just to the east as far as I could see, a large mushroom cloud of white smoke rose from the horizon. It was the fireworks display at the start of the race.

Until then, I hadn't realized we could see, or hear, Kansas City sounds from our area. The city, whether we like it or not, is coming closer all the time.

Seeing its encroachment through all the new development along State Avenue is one thing.

Hearing it is another.

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