9/15 — Free day at the Flint Hills Discovery Center

From noon to 5pm on Sunday, September 15, 2019, it’s a free day at the Flint Hills Discovery Center in Manhattan. If you’ve never been, now is the time to go.

It’s an amazing space with interactive exhibits for the entire family. From auctioneering contests to the displays of just how deep the roots are of the prairie grasses.

Plus at the community day event, there will be extra bonus activities around to enjoy. And remember, it’s free! Regular price for adults is $9. No excuse to miss it! Enjoy!

Stay safe with safe sunscreen

Happy 4th of July! I’m hoping that you’re staying safe not just with fireworks but by using sunscreen. There are sunscreens and then there are reef-safe sunscreens. Reef-safe sunscreens, or mineral sunscreens, use non-nano zinc oxide or titanium dioxide to protect people from UV rays, and they don’t use chemicals that damage coral reefs and contribute to coral bleaching like oxybenzone and octinoxate.

So admittedly there are zero reefs in Kansas, but sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate have now been banned in various parts of the world. A lot of that is to take steps to help protect coral reefs, but you should consider using non-chemical sunscreens when you’re in Kansas too. Here’s why.

Impacts of chemical sunscreens

UV filters, the chemicals used to block our skin from absorbing UV rays, have been found in water systems around the world; they can’t be filtered out by waste-water treatment plants. The chemicals have also been found in fish and other aquatic animals. There are studies being done to see what the long-term impacts of chemical exposure are on the wildlife, ecosystems, and in turn humans, who may be eating certain seafood.

Image from Raw Elements

For our own health, the FDA is taking a look at ingredients for sunscreens, and it’s currently in the process of figuring out how sunscreen chemicals impact human health. Oxybenzone, for one, is absorbed through the skin and can cause hormone disruption. Methylisothiazolinone, another common ingredient in traditional sunscreens, can cause allergic reactions. Here’s a link to some of the FDA’s recent published work.

Obviously sunscreen serves a purpose – protecting our skin from harmful UV rays. But if traditional sunscreens are also harmful? Go for natural sunscreens that use non-nano zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, the only ingredients the FDA has recognized as generally safe and effective.

Profile and review: Raw Elements, a mineral sunscreen

But do the mineral sunscreens actually work? I had a chance to try products by Raw Elements, a company committed to protecting people from harmful UV rays and also protecting the planet.

Brian Guadagno, who’s an ocean lifeguard, founded Raw Elements. He started by experimenting with different ingredients in his kitchen, and now the line has expanded to include lip balms, a revitalizing skin tonic, and baby+kids products. They use non-nano zinc oxide along with other organic, natural ingredients. A bonus is that many of their products are also in plastic-free packaging. The company was instrumental in spearheading the inaugural World Reef Day, celebrated in Hawaii on June 1, 2019, dedicated to helping people better understand, care about, and protect coral reefs.

Again, I get that as Kansans, we don’t have coral reefs in our backyard. But we do travel! And we have freshwater lakes and rivers and our skin absorbs some of the chemicals in traditional sunscreens.

If you know me, you know I’m very pale, and I was worried that the white cream wouldn’t rub in and it would leave me looking more ghost-like than usual. But it goes on smooth and rubbed in easily. After working outside in the summer, no sunburn. Not even a little hint of red! Plus, even with all the sweating I was doing, it didn’t run – no stinging eyes!

When you’re out celebrating summer here in Kansas or traveling, take a moment for a look at the ingredients in your sunscreen. Look for non-nano zinc and titanium dioxide as the active ingredients. Keep yourself safe from the sun with natural ingredients that work and help keep you and the planet healthy.

Celebrate Rail Trails National Opening Day on April 13

From the Prairie Travelers:

Celebrate National Opening Day for rail trails with Prairie Travelers! It’s a national series of events organized by the Rails-to-Trails Conversancy, and this year is the 7th year!

Meet at the Goddard Park Trailhead of the Prairie Sunset Trail at 9 a.m. for a 12 mile round trip ride to the covered bridge and back. No registration needed.

After the ride, meet at the Goddard Pizza Hut (approx. 10:45 a.m.) for lunch.

PLUS!
Join us 12-4 p.m. for “Pathway to Ride” with Pathways Church in Goddard – a free kids bicycle clinic. Free shirts for registered youth. Register here.

Kansas First Day Hikes 2019

So it may be cold for the start of 2019, but it should be dry and there are several First Day Hikes throughout the state on January 1. Many of them include snacks or hot chocolate before or after, and they are all pet-friendly, so long as that pet is on a leash.

Here’s where you can go to ring in the new year out on a Kansas trail:

Clinton State Park

Time of Event: 1:00 P.M.

Trail: North Shores Trail

Meeting Location: Park Office

Details: Warm clothing, good boots, water, trail moderate in difficulty, 2 miles in length


Crawford State Park

Time of Event: 10:00 A.M.

Trail: Spider Leg Bridge Trail

Meeting Location: Beach Shelter

Details: Warm clothing, water resistant boots, water, trail moderate in difficulty, 2 miles in length


Cross Timbers State Park

Time of Event: 2:00 P.M.

Trail: Chautauqua Trail

Meeting Location: Chautauqua Hills Trailhead – Toronto Point

Details: 1.5 miles; Dress warm and bring a camera for wildlife pictures. Refreshments will be provided


El Dorado State Park

Time of Event: 1:00 P.M.

Trail: Walnut River Trail

Meeting Location: Walnut River Cabins

Details: Dress warm and bring a camera for wildlife pictures. Easy to moderate 2 mile hike. Hot Chocolate and coffee will be provided.


Wilson State Park

Time of Event: 1:00 P.M.

Trail: Cedar Trail

Meeting Location: Parking Lot across from Cedar Trail Trailhead – Otoe

Details: Dress warm and bring a camera for wildlife pictures. Hike will be 1 mile and easy in difficulty.


Fall River State Park

Time of Event: 2:00 P.M.

Trail: Post Oak Trail

Meeting Location: Quarry Bay Maintenance Shop

Details: Warm clothing, good boots, water, trail easy in difficulty, 3/4 mile in length, Refreshments provided, What you might see winter waterfowl, eagles, tallgrass ID, and other KS wildlife. The hike will also feature the Cross Timbers ecosystem, with oak savannas that are part of gold growth forests.


Green Property – Pratt, KS

Time of Event: 1:00 – 3:00 p.m.

Trail: Green Recreational Trail

Meeting Location: Barn/Shop, Pratt, KS

Details: Water,snacks,appropriate winter clothing,good walking shoes/boots,binoculars,cameras. Hot Cider and Hot Chocolate after Hike


Kanopolis State Park

Time of Event: 10:00 A.M.

Trail: Split Boulder Trail – 1.6 miles

Meeting Location: State Park Office

Details: Water,snacks,appropriate winter clothing,good walking shoes/boots, binoculars, cameras. Coffee and hot chocolate provided at the park office before and after the hike


Glen Elder State Park

Time of Event: 1:00 p.m.

Trail: Wacanda Trail

Meeting Location: Church

Details: Water, snacks, appropriate winter clothing, good walking shoes/boots, binoculars, cameras.


Perry State Park

Time of Event: 10:00 A.M.

Trail: Nature Trail – 2 1/2 miles

Meeting Location: Lakeview Parking Lot

Details: Dress in layers and dress warmly; warm gloves and head covering; good walking/hiking shoes; walking/hiking poles, if desired; water and snacks provided.


Pomona State Park

Time of Event: 2:00 P.M.

Trail: White Feather, Bunkers Cove & Morningstar Campgrounds – 1.5 to 2 miles

Meeting Location: Pomona State Park Office

Details: Appropriate Clothing, camera and water. May see Eagles on hike. There will be two options for hikes this year led by Pomona State Park Rangers.


Tuttle Creek State Park

Time of Event: 10:30 a.m.

Trail: Western Heritage Trail – 1 to 3.5 miles

Meeting Location: Tuttle Creek State Park Office

Details: Birdwatching hike, bring binoculars, bird ID booklet, spotting scopes, water, hiking shoes, warm clothing.

 

Milford State Park

Time of Event: 1:00 P.M.

Trail: Eagle Ridge Trail

Meeting Location: Group Shelter parking lot

Details: Dress warm with comfortable, warm hiking shoes/boots. Easy to moderate in difficulty. Snacks


Meade State Park

Time of Event: 2:00 P.M.

Trail: Eagle Trail – 1.25 miles

Meeting Location: Park Office

Details: Dress warm with comfortable, warm hiking shoes/boots. Easy in difficulty. Learn park and area history along the hike.

Sand Hills State Park

Time of Event: 10:00 A.M.

Trail: Dune Trail/Prairie Trail 1 mile

Meeting Location: Park Office Cabin

Details: Dress warm with comfortable, warm hiking shoes/boots


Cheney State Park

Time of Event: 2:00 P.M.

Trail: West Side Trail – 1/2 to 3/4 mile

Meeting Location: Park Office

Details: Water, snacks, weather appropriate clothing, hiking boots, binoculars and camera.

Flint Hills Nature Trail State Park

Time of Event: 2:00 p.m.

Trail: Flint Hills Nature Trail

Meeting Location: Meet at the Old Depot in Ottawa

Details: Dress warm with comfortable, warm hiking shoes/boots. Pet friendly on leash. Hot Chocolate served after the hike!


Elk City State Park

Time of Event: 12:00 p.m.

Trail: Table Mound Hiking Trail

Meeting Location: Overlook Trail Head

Details: Dress warm with comfortable, warm hiking shoes/boots. Bring water and snacks, if desired. Pet friendly on leash. Easy to moderate in difficulty


Hillsdale State Park

Time of Event: 10:30 a.m.

Trail: Hidden Springs Nature Trail

Meeting Location: Park Office

Details: Dress warm with comfortable, warm hiking shoes/boots.

 

Prairie Dog State Park

Time of Event: 9:00 A.M.

Trail: The Nature Trail

Meeting Location: Trail Parking Lot

Details: Dress warm with comfortable, warm hiking shoes/boots.

Share your photos! #FirstDayHikes and #MyKSStatePark

Flint Hills Festival 2018 at the Flint Hills Discovery Center

This Saturday May 19 is the annual Flint Hills Festival. From 10am to 5pm at the Flint Hills Discovery Center there will be food and music and fun.

Plus, from the website, “During the festival, ticketholders also receive admission to the Flint Hills Discovery Center’s newest exhibit, Be the Dinosaur. Visitors will use virtual technology to eat, sleep, and live as a dinosaur! ”

Regular admission rates apply:

  • Adult (18-64) | $9.00
  • Youth (2-17) | $4.00
  • *Military, College Students, Educators & Seniors (65+) | $7.00
  • Members & Under 2 | FREE

Big Kansas Road Trip – going on now! Barber, Comanche and Kiowa counties

The Kansas Sampler Festival had its last run in 2017, but to replace it is the Big Kansas Road Trip.

From May 3 to May 6 2018, in three counties: Barber, (Hardtner, Hazelton, Isabel, Kiowa, Medicine Lodge, Sharon and Sun City); Comanche (Coldwater, Protection and Wilmore) and Kiowa (Greensburg, Haviland and Mullinville), the red carpet is rolled out for visitors with events and deals at local restaurants and stores.

From the website with details on the event: WHAT IF…

…people who have never been to your towns and countryside before fall in love with what rural communities offer?

…the charm of the unexpected inspires people to get hooked on exploring all over the state?

…they are a thoughtful audience, spend money, and tell everyone about their experience?

It could all be a really good thing.
All communities have to do is be the best
they can be at being themselves.

New at the 2017 Kansas State Fair

The state fair is in full swing, and this over 100-year-old celebration has some new things. Here are our recommendations.

Pronto Pup t-shirts

Don’t you dare call it a corn dog! The pronto pup is a fair classic and there are at least three spots around the fairgrounds to get one, but only next to the Lair White House and the arena can you get a shirt proclaiming your love of this fair food. $21 a shirt with kids and adult sizes and a few different colors.

Flippin‘ – Acrobat and aerialist show

Where last year ther was a dog show, this year there is an acrobat show. With family members starring, there is a combination of trapeze style work and impressive balance acts with a steampunk theme.

There are no nets or padded mats below the performers and it’s a great great show! Show up 20 minutes or so ahead of time to get a seat.

Free. Shows at Gottschalk Park at 11am, 1:30pm, 6:30pm

Food

There are a handful of new dishes serve up around the fairgrounds. We tried the ‘roni dog’ – a hot dog topped with macaroni and cheese and bacon bits from Carousel Cafe.

One of the best things about the dish is that it’s the right size for one person. If you have a hankering for turkey leg, for example, you had better have some people to share it with since they’re so big. But the roni dog is just right.

Lair White House

Each year there is a different display at the little fair museum, and this year it’s on the special food contests from Pillsbury Pie competitions to the (in)famous SPAM contest.

To toot our own horn a bit, a lot of the SPAM items on display come from the Kansas Trail Guide family.

Free.

Escape Room

For $25, you and up to 7 friends, you get half an hour to get out of a specially designed ‘escape room.’ With hidden clues and the promise of ice cream if you figure it out in the time limit, it’s a fun challenge.

Kids 10 and under free. In front of the Encampment Building. Open 9am to 9pm.