Tribune Print Share Text

Fresh looks at familiar territory

Day trips gain ground at Overland Park community

Created date

May 21st, 2014
group standing together

What do orchids, contemporary art, the National Weather Service, and gangsters have in common? 

Only one thing: all four—and more—have been experienced firsthand by Tallgrass Creek residents on monthly outings planned by the community’s trip committee.

Eight curious and eager-to-go Creek residents comprise the committee, and they’re often on the lookout for the next unique day trip to share with their neighbors. Arline Austin and Nadyne Nesbitt started the committee several years ago. Now, Eva Angell chairs the committee. She moved to the Overland Park, Kans., community with husband Ken about three years ago. 

“Many of us have lived in the area all our lives, and we are seeing and learning about things we never knew were here,” says Eva. She lived with her family just around the corner from Tallgrass Creek, in Leawood, for 24 years. “It has been a great educational experience.” 

On-the-go learning

Each month, trips are posted on the community bulletin board in the lobby area of the Audubon Clubhouse. Interested residents register at the front desk and on the designated date, board the comfortable Tallgrass Creek motor coach en route to an intriguing destination. Trips cost a nominal fee, sometimes include lunch, and can last anywhere from three hours to all day depending on destinations. 

One memorable, all-day trip took them to Jamesport, Mo., the largest Amish settlement in the state, located about 95 miles north of Overland Park. A personal guide boarded the motor coach and provided a glimpse into the unique Amish lifestyle, which included a visit to a local home where residents saw how the Amish generate electricity, garden, and farm with horses. 

Residents also viewed a woodworking shop, learned about Amish schools, and enjoyed a homemade fried chicken lunch at a local restaurant. Afterwards, they strolled into the antique shops that dot the town and visited an Amish bakery where many residents sampled and purchased the mouthwatering cinnamon rolls and bread famous in the area. 

Memories of the mob

Another interesting jaunt, the Gangster Tour, included a dramatic overview of Kansas City’s checkered past as residents were driven by mob homes, speakeasies, and gambling halls where Kansas City’s most notorious “good fellows” hung out and made their nefarious livings. 

Tour director “Johnny Holiday”—clad in the stereotypical pinstriped suit and fedora—regaled travelers with descriptions of turf wars such as the Kansas City Massacre of 1933, an infamous local showdown between the mob and law enforcement that took place at Kansas City’s Union Station. 

Don Yerkes was one of the travelers who saw the still-evident bullet holes from the bloody event.

“I knew there was mob activity in the city back in those days but never dreamed there was so much and it was so open,” says Don. “The tour director was excellent and told us things we would never have known.” 

Diverse destinations 

Trip committee members planned another unique outing this year to a most unusual destination—a limestone cave—where local horticulturist David Bird  cultivates and grows thousands of delicate, vividly colored orchids. 

The temperature-controlled cave, one of many underground caves developed for commerce around Kansas City, showcases the exotic blooms, which Bird sells at trade shows and farmers’ markets. 

Residents Judy and Terry Turner were among those touring the growing rooms for the exquisite plants and learning the basics of growing orchids.   

“We had no idea this business was here,” says Judy. “Not only were the orchids spectacular, it was so interesting to see the underground cave where they were. It was an unusual and very interesting trip.” 

Collaborative thinking

In addition to Eva, the trip committee consists of Phyllis Calvert, Phyllis Chamblin, Norm Dalton, Norma Schonwetter, Darlyne Sheppeard, Karin Winn, and newest member Dee Berry, who visited to share information about Kansas City’s World War I Museum and saw how fun the group was. 

The committee discusses and decides its many destinations at their monthly meetings held the first Thursday of each month in the Bluebird classroom. 

Thanks to the committee’s careful planning, trips have also included destinations such as Johnson County Community College’s Culinary Academy, the National Weather Bureau in Pleasant Hill, Mo., the city’s much-acclaimed Nelson Art Gallery, the Symphony’s Holiday Concert, and historic Mahaffie Farm, the last stagecoach stop open to the public on the Santa Fe Trail.   

Tallgrass Creek day trippers can look forward to upcoming trips such as a City of  Fountains Tour (Kansas City, Mo., has more fountains than Rome!), the traveling King Tut exhibit at Union Station, Kansas City’s WWI Museum currently celebrating the Centennial of the Great War, and a tour of the historical churches in the Kansas City area.  

“There is no shortage of good ideas and places to visit,” notes Eva. “We always have plenty to talk about at our meetings. It is a fun group with an interesting mission.”