The Beauty of the Byway!

IMG_0936Today was an exceptional day.  Typically, when my day begins at 5:00 a.m., I wouldn’t classify it as “exceptional,” but when greeted by a rainbow, exquisite nature and partners and friends working in concert to promote tourism and the beauty of our state, it definitely requires a word such as exceptional.

A few weeks ago, the fundraising team of the Frontier Military Historic Byway (myself and Amy Garton with the Overland Park Convention & Visitors Bureau) embarked on an idea to host a small walk in Merriam along Turkey Creek Streamway Trail to complement the efforts of Walking With L&C and raise money for our Byway.   The entire trail is just over four miles so it was a bit of a stretch to entice people to walk with us at 7:00 a.m. for four miles.  After trial walks, we decided on a 2-mile trek from Merriam’s Chatlain Park to the recently renovated Hampton Inn and we began promoting “Walking with L&C Along the Frontier Military Historic Byway.”  A ticket for this morning jaunt was just $25 which included a cool shirt, ticket to the gift basket drawing, historic and natural sightings along the trail, breakfast at the Hampton and, of course, great conversation with fellow walkers.

IMG_0926Our group this morning was small but mighty.  To further enhance the promotion of National Tourism WeekKansas Power of Travel, Walking with L&C, and the Frontier Military Historic Byway, our friends from Kansas Tourism drove in from Topeka to walk with us. Further south along the Byway, another friend and his wife joined us from Fort Scott.  Our very own Councilmember Nancy Hupp trekked along with our group, pointing out different historic markers and sights along the way.    The Monticello Historical Society joined us as did friends from Lenexa, Overland Park, City of Merriam and our walk leaders, Jerry Cook and Dave Lindstrom (the L&C of Walking with L&C).

As we started our little journey (which ended with breakfast at Merriam’s Hampton Inn & Suites), it was kind of rainy and dreary.  A few minutes later, we saw a rainbow and I knew the sun would make an appearance, which it did.  The trail is always pretty, but today, in the morning light, just after a light rain, I don’t think I’ve seen it more beautiful.  The flowers were in full bloom, birds were singing and the temperature was perfect.  I wish this was my morning wake-up work-out every single day.

Councilmember Hupp and Parks & Recreation Director, Anna Slocum shared a lot of the trail’s amenities and history, while walkers snapped photos and enjoyed the meandering Turkey Creek (and Merriam’s right-on-time train).   Just when I thought I knew a  lot about Merriam, I always learn something new:  today’s  nugget:  there’s an original piece of limestone foundation from the AM Myers homestead 1898 located just across from the Public Works facility along the creek.

As we finalized the two-mile walk at the 75th Street access point, we were greeted by Merriam’s finest—Corporal James Browning with the Merriam Police Department and we received a personal escort along the West Frontage Road up the hill to the Hampton.  Protecting our visitors is important to our police force and we are so thankful for their support today and everyday in Merriam.

Finally, we hit the delicious and hot buffet at the Hampton Inn & Suites while Jerry and Dave shared the story of how “Walking with L&C” started, stories of their walking travels and a nice photo slide-show of all the towns and communities they visited during their Kansas Byways adventure!

Special thanks to our sponsors of today’s event:  Walking with L&C, the Overland Park Convention & Visitors Bureau, the Monticello Historical Society and the Merriam Visitors Bureau.  Please join us in our next Frontier Military Historic Byway adventure by following our efforts on Facebook.

The next time you consider a trip, I hope you will take the road less traveled to discover the true beauty of the Byways, here in Kansas, and across America.

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