Last week’s Travel Back Thursday (#tbt) was so fun thinking about, I decided I should continue the details of my trip for this week’s post. After my night in Omaha, NE, I work up very, very early (4:30 am, I believe, for a 3.5 hour trip) and drove to Abilene, KS. It was dark when I left, so I didn’t get to see a lot of the countryside. When I passed Lincoln, the sun was starting to rise, so I could see a light silhouette of the skyline. I wish I could have had a picture of this because I remember it vividly.
I’m sure you’re thinking two things: 1. What did you do in Kansas? and 2. What on earth is Abilene? When brainstorming what to do in Kansas, nothing readily came to mind. I don’t know enough about that area of the country, but then I started my research. When researching a new place, I start in two places: Google and Facebook. I post to my Facebook friends if anyone has any suggestions (no one did for Kansas) then start Googling what the destination is known for and brainstorming what historical events happened.
I love history. I find it fascinating to read biographies of people who have major accomplishments and have impacted the world. English and American history are my favorites. For the last few years, I’ve been reading biographies of each American president in the order of their presidency (currently am at Taft). I can tell more about that later. When researching, if I notice a Presidential Library or birthplace, I go for it! Abilene, KS, is the birthplace of President Dwight D. Eisenhower. He was the 34th president of the United States from 1953-1961 and Supreme General of the army in Europe during WWII. He led a remarkable life, and it all started in the small, humble town of Abilene. His childhood home is now a historic site and the site of his presidential library.
My first impression of Kansas was absolutely not what I expected. In fact, it was one of the few states that was polar opposite of what I thought. Before arriving, all I could associate with Kansas was 1930s dust bowl (sorry Kansans!) I pictured it to be flat, flat with tumbleweed blowing in the wind. I have no reason to have this image; I assume it is something I came up with as a kid and have had no reason to change it. Kansas was beautiful! Contrary to my former thoughts, it was lush green with rolling hills! Who would have known!
I arrived to Abilene around opening time for the museum and jumped on a tour to see the General’s house. What a remarkable way to grow up – in the heart of America and a small town. He was able to play outside and meet friends, but joined the Army to get out and serve his country. Eisenhower was proud of our country and what it stands for. In my opinion, he was a great president who led America during a time of prosperity. Many presidents who do not serve during crisis are forgotten. We know Eisenhower the President of the United States and accomplished general, but this house knows Eisenhower the person. What a neat way to see someone’s background and understand where they came from. You can’t understand a person until you see this.
Abilene itself didn’t have a lot to offer. There weren’t any unique, local restaurants, so after my tour and visiting the library, I headed off for Oklahoma. I know this doesn’t sound like the most exciting trip for a lot of people, but it was for me. I truly enjoyed this stop and visit in Kansas, but that is what rosy wandering is. Appreciating something for what it is and seeing the uniqueness in the opportunity.
Stay tuned for next week’s #tbt! Happy wandering!