It has never ceased to amaze me how much more you see when pedaling around on a bicycle than from a car. Even familiar places provide intriguing and sometimes beautiful sights. And places we've never been before, when seen from our bicycles, are all the more vibrant than they would be through the windshield of a car, whizzing by at a high rate of speed. Not to mention how much more accessible these sights are. It's so much easier to stop for a closer look -- at a flower bed, a beautiful waterway, a bird building its nest, public art, an interesting house or building -- when riding a bike. Bike parking is usually as simple as leaning your "steed" against the nearest tree.
Yesterday we rode down Santa Fe Trail Drive through old town Lenexa, KS into Olathe. This is where the old Santa Fe Trail went through Kansas in the 1800s. As we turned off the road onto a paved bike path, we were delighted to come across the Santa Fe Trail Heritage Center and Mahaffie Farm Historic Site right beside the trail. What a pretty place and a great photo opportunity!
Immediately beyond the Heritage Center along the trail lies the Mahaffie Stagecoach Stop and Farm historic site, where the Mahaffie family operated an inn and later a stagecoach stop for travelers on the Santa Fe Trail in the 1800s. Quickly we stopped again, and as luck would have it, were even able to get a shot of the stagecoach as it went right by us around the track.
It was fun to be riding our bicycles along an historic trail and imagine people riding horses along the same path (unpaved at that time, of course) many years ago.
Earlier in the month we had ridden north on the Gary L. Haller bike trail to its northern terminus and were pleasantly surprised to run across a pretty park-like area along the Kansas River at the end of the trail. I later did some research and found out that this area is called Nelson Island. There's no parking at this end of the trail, so if you arrive by car, you'll have to park approximately two miles away and walk or cycle to the river.
The trail has many bridges over waterways. This bridge leads to Nelson Island on the far side; we were just coming back from the trail's terminus and starting to head south at this point.
The Haller trail also supports the longest bluebird trail I have ever seen. I have heard the unmistakable twittering of bluebirds while riding along the trail and have occasionally seen one flying out of one of these boxes. The folks who maintain this trail do a great job rigging up predator protection of the nest boxes to keep snakes, raccoons and other predators from destroying the nests or getting the eggs or nestlings. Notice the mesh around the hole and the spikes on the pole!
I found this tidbit online and was amazed to discover that there are over 330 nest boxes in area parks (Note: JCPRD = Johnson County Parks and Recreation Department):
"...the Kansas Legislature designated JCPRD as “the Bluebird capital of Kansas.” With more than 330 monitored nesting boxes in seven parks, more than 1,400 bluebirds are fledged, or developed enough to leave their nests, each year. This includes more than 120 nesting boxes along the Haller trail, making it very likely that visitors can catch a glimpse of these magnificent birds."
Here are some other photos I've snapped on our bike rides recently. The flowers and trees have been so gorgeous, I've tried to capture them when I could -- before April slips away.
In addition to all the beautiful planted flower beds like those pictured above, there are dandelions blooming all over town now. Although we think of them as weeds, en masse they are actually quite pretty in the green grass, I think!
I never fail to see interesting and pretty things as I ride along, and for every photo I take, there are four or five more I don't take because I'm huffing and puffing up a hill, or flying down one, or traffic doesn't allow. The next time you ride your bike (or take a walk), take your camera along -- you might be surprised at what you see along the way that you'd miss in a car.
Emily & Barry
We're a long-married, early-retired couple who are currently traveling as nomads with no fixed home base. After years of living in North Carolina (Emily's home state), we spent 18 months living oceanfront on Ambergris Caye, Belize, a year road-tripping the US in a Honda CR-V, a year in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, and are now roaming North America in our 32' motorhome, Pearl, following warm weather whenever possible.
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