The last real stop on our cross country trip (before we made a beeline for home) was Lawrence, Kansas where we met our Houston daughter and her family and spent two and a half days camping at Jellystone Park.
On the way to Lawrence we stopped at the Cathedral of the Prairie and the Prairie Museum. Both were well worth a visit. I especailly loved the stained glass windows at the Cathedral, which is not really a cathedral, but was named that by William Jennings Bryant on a visit. And it is certainly beautiful.
The Prairie Museum was a fun stop too, but we got there late in the day so it was closing in an hour. It's not very big, but had a great collection of miscellaneous stuff. The lady who started it collected dolls, glass, buttons, china, you name it. She needed to open a museum to house all her stuff. There were a number of buildings as well: 1 1930s farmhouse, a prairie sod house, the biggest barn in Kansas, an old prairie church, and a one-room school house. Outside the schoolhouse was one of those old merry-go-rounds they don't make any more. I'd love to have one for our yard and took a spin on it.
Many pioneer families lived in these little one-room sod houses.
We had planned to stay the night in Topeka and dance with a local square dance group, but the campground we planned to stay at was full. That was the only time on our trip we were turned away. Too bad because we moved on to our planned campground Lawrence, too far to come back and dance. Fortunately, they could accommodate us. We arrived around suppertime Saturday and settled in to wait for family coming in on Sunday.
The next morning we attended 10:30 Mass at the local parish in town, I think St. John's. Well, it wasn't the worst place we've ever been, but it was sooooo noisy. The choir was great -- but, please, take the drums over to the hall. And can you, for the love of Pete, retire the music from the 60s and 70s. It's so hopelessly banal even when it's sung well.
The entire Mass was unrelentingly noisy and since we'd arrived a half hour early we ended up sitting through the very loud choir practice We had planned to pray our rosary, but neither of us could concentrate on the prayers. All my nerves were tingling by the end of Mass. But the noise didn't stop with the recessional. That's when the Church turned into a gym. Kids were even walking up into the sanctuary.
Does no one have any respect for the Real Presence of Jesus in the tabernacle? Do they even believe He's there? If they do, why do they ignore Him to focus on each other?
Ironically, after Alice and family arrived, they decided to go to the 9:30 p.m. Mass on the KU campus. They reported later that their Mass was silence, low lights, candles, and....(blow the trumpet) Gregorian chant. Wow! We should have waited and gone with them. But isn't that news amazing and wonderful? In a liberal college town the campus is celebrating the Eucharist in reverence with Gregorian chant, while the local parish is stuck in the 70s with with the worst music of Dan Schutte and Marty Haugan. It tickles my funny bone!
On Tuesday we all went to the 5:00 p.m. daily Mass on campus and were treated, not only to Gregorian chant, but to the Chaplet of Divine Mercy after Mass recited for the success of the local 40 Days for Life. Wow again! I loved the Stations of the Cross which look like icons. Beautiful and inspiring.
In the vestibule a basket was filled with baby bottles to pick up and fill with change for the crisis pregnancy center in town. Wow again. Everything we saw at the campus center indicated that this was a vibrant and orthodox community. On the website is a photo of an ordination of a 2004 KU graduate. Looks like KU has a lot to offer in terms of educating young adults in their faith. The art and statues all lift the mind and heart to God. I found a painting of the Visitation out in the lobby a tender portrait of the two cousins celebrating new life.
Did I mention we got the full KU tour? Our daughter and her husband met at KU when Alice was getting her Masters and teaching Spanish and Chris enrolled in her class -- temporarily. When he began dating the teacher he switched to another section. And the rest is history. The kids all enjoyed hearing the stories (for the ? time) and we enjoyed hearing them mostly for the first. We visited the KU basketball stadium, had a cold picnic on the hill and saw the carillon, visited the "tower" where Alice lived first year, bowled in the student union, stopped at a little nondenominational chapel, and went to the building where Alice had her office. We checked out the bookstore and several of the places where KU memorabilia is on display including the famous KU Jayhawk on all things imaginable including a flour sack. We learned about the rock, chalk, Jayhawk cheer. (Did I get that right?)
We also visited a used bookstore downtown which is always a treat for this book-loving family. Among our finds was a recorded book of The Sinister Pig, a Tony Hillerman mystery whose hero detective is Jim Chee, a Navajo Indian. After all the Indian sites we saw in the west it was fun listening to a mystery filled with Navajo background.
We also stumbled into a school event when we ate at a local restaurant. The program was part of a Tuesday night partnership with the restaurant and they were doing a program on obesity. (Wonder if anybody switched their order from a jumbo burger with fries to a salad.) It was interesting and the girls were all so busy doing a coloring contest for Dad, they didn't even mind sitting through the talk.
Camping got a unanimous all thumbs up from everybody. The kids loved the jumping pillow. The campground was pretty full over the weekend, but cleared out Sunday and there were only a few campers left which gave us the run of the place. Our son-in-law's brother and family joined the fun and we had a great group for our few days there. Some of the girls slept in with their cousin Cece and our oldest granddaughter joined us. She was happy to escape the cold (and her little sisters) by snuggling into the Ritz Carlton of our group. I say that facetiously, but I do love our little camper which we named "maison des etoiles," house of stars, since we mostly saw it at night. For our granddaughter, choosing between a tent, a canvas and screen pop-up, and our hard-sided pop-up trailer with heat was a no-brainer for a teenager.
On Tuesday night, after their cousin left, Larry and I ended up with another two girls in the camper and had a pajama party. Well, actually, we all just went to bed, but there was a lot of Kings in the Corner card games beforehand.
I enjoyed making a good hot breakfast two mornings with plenty of coffee and hot chocolate. My electric frying pan came in handy, the first time I'd pulled it out on the trip. It's too big for just the two of us. We had French toast and sausage one morning and eggs and sausage and sweet rolls the other.
It was hard to say good-bye on Wednesday morning as we headed east on our last leg of the journey home. We originally planned to spend another week exploring St. Louis, Mammoth Cave in Kentucky and a park in West Virginia, but we were too eager to get home. We loved our trip, but home was calling.