Dinner and book signing at Dillon Nature Center 7/10

In connection with HutchRec and Dillon Nature Center, we’re presenting our book talk along with a signing on July 10 in Taylor Cabin. Before the presentation, there will be a dinner at 6:30 — taco salad, rice & black beans, Mexican chocolate cake.

To register for the event (a head count is needed for the food) – follow this link for online registration or download the registration form here to return to HutchRec.

We look forward to seeing you!

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Are you for or against rail trails? Let us know!

The Hutch News has published a couple of articles on the issues of the rail to trail conversion in Reno County (read them here and here). There are holdouts that are preventing expansion of the rail trail projects into the Hutchinson area – basically, it takes the cooperation of the landowners to allow the unused rail lines to be converted into a trail system with a variety of objections from concerns about litter, vandalism, and more. The article outlines how many of these objections haven’t manifested themselves on current rail trail projects, but change can be hard.

On the Prairie Sunset trail

On the Prairie Sunset trail

There are also potential legal issues for railbanking, which came from a 1983 trails act.

It will come as little surprise to find out that we are pro-trails (we did write the book on them!). We spent time on all of the complete rail trails in the state (Prairie Spirit – one of our top 10 trails!, Southwind, Meadowlark, Prairie Sunset, Valkommen and more) as well as the in progress Flint Hills Nature Trail.

Trails like this can boost the economy of small towns along the corridors and it helps with the health of locals.

We’ve also spoken with Clark Coan, a prominent rail trails advocate.

What do you think? Are you for or against more rail trail projects in Kansas, particularly Reno County? Let us know in the comments below!

Where to buy hiking and camping gear in Kansas

Here are some of our favorite places to get new hiking and camping gear.

Hutchinson area
Heartland Outdoor
1 Heartland Drive
South Hutchinson, KS 67505

Kansas City area
Backwoods Overland Park
6825 West 135th Street
Overland Park, KS 66223

10300 Cabela Drive
Kansas City, KS 66111

In fall 2013, there will be an REI in Overland Park.

Sunflower Outdoor & Bike
804 Massachusetts Street
Lawrence, KS 66044

The Pathfinder
304 Poyntz Avenue
Manhattan, KS 66502

Backwoods Wichita
1900 North Rock Rd. Suite 108
Wichita, KS 67206

2427 North Greenwich Road
Wichita, KS 67226

Coleman Factory Outlet
235 N. St. Francis
Wichita, KS 67202

Did we miss your favorite place to get gear? Let us know in the comments.

Strataca – Kansas Underground Salt Museum

The double deckered elevator door shuts and takes you 650 feet below the surface of the earth. On the 90 second journey through the $6 million elevator shaft, you realize it’s a bit more disconcerting than you thought it would be to be descending deep into the earth in near complete darkness, but you’ve just watched a safety video and are wearing a hard hat and an emergency breathing device, so you take a deep breath and know that you’re safe. And as the doors open, you get to see what life is like beneath the surface in the Kansas Underground Salt Museum in Hutchinson. May 1, 2013 will mark the 6th year since the museum opened, and it’s the only salt museum in the United Sates.

275 million years ago, salt deposits formed, and the first part of the museum includes exhibits and information on the formation of the salt during the Permian Era. This includes one of the world’s oldest living creatures – living bacteria trapped in a salt crystal from 250 million years ago. That kind of time and history is mind-stretchingly old and amazing (older than dinosaurs!), and it can’t be seen anywhere else.

From there, you can check out the other use of the underground space – storage. Since it’s a climate controlled space safe from natural and man-made disasters, it’s an ideal storage space for sensitive information and artifacts. Opened during the Cold War, it’s the world’s largest single storage facility for the film industry – original negatives from film and TV along with props.  And some of the famous artifacts are on display, like props from The Wizard of Oz, Star Wars, Batman, and Men In Black.

The Salt Mine Express Tour: The “dark ride” tram tour takes you on a 40 minute tour where you learn about the history of the mine. In 1923, the Carey Salt Company began mining the salt, and the mine is still in operation as the Hutchinson Salt Company.  There’s old, abandoned machinery left beneath the earth; once equipment was brought into the mine, it was there forever. And at one point, they turn off the tram lights, so you can experience absolute and complete darkness (it’s the most intense darkness you’ll ever experience). It ends with a stop where you can gather your own piece of salt from a pile for a souvenir (don’t eat it!).

Visitor information:

3504 East Avenue G at Airport Road, 620.662.1425. Closed Mondays and reservations recommended

All inclusive entrance, which includes admission, guided tram tour, and train ride

  • $19 for adults
  • $17 for seniors
  • $12.50 for children 4-12 (0-3 not admitted)
  • $14 for Reno County residents
  • $12.50 for members