Friday night we were grateful we sleep in an RV, not a tent. About 2 a.m. I woke up to see lightening all over the sky, though I couldn’t hear any thunder yet. After watching it for a while, I got up and turned on our NOAA weather radio, then went back to bed. Soon the wind began blowing and the rain started to fall. It kept that up until after 7 in the morning. Not everyone in the Venango Corps Park on Kanopolis Lake in south central Kansas was as fortunate as we are.. These folk had their tent collapse and they must have moved into the 5th wheel parked on the same site. They didn’t have a good night. A number of people had moved from their tents into their cars or trucks to wait out the storm.
This is our second visit to this park. We were here in early May 2006. Our site is lovely, large and very private. The nearest campsite is offset from ours so we don’t look into each other’s units. Friday night there were very few campers. Saturday night a goodly number, but the five loops are nowhere near full. Our site has 50 amp and water, some have just electric—either 50 amp or 30/20 amp. Some have no hookups at all. Venango and other nearby state and COE parks on the lake are used almost exclusively by local Kansans.
This morning we woke up to a humid, foggy morning. These Coloradans aren’t used to seeing 68 degrees be below the dew point. But the dew gave the park a mystical feeling for a couple of hours. Many artistic spiders had been at work overnight and the dew made their webs visible. It also gave a new beauty to dandelion seeds.
Especially during the past two summers, we have experienced many parks where we joined locals in their recreation. Tourists are unusual. We are able to get a feel for the local population and what is important for their leisure time. Here, beyond camping, there is swimming and boating on the lake. Last summer in Canada we stayed in several parks that offered extensive activities for both adults and children, who returned to the same park week after week. We have camped in state parks in Idaho, Mississippi, Utah, Arkansas, Texas, Alaska, Ohio, Iowa, Vermont and New York—maybe some other states I have forgotten—as well as our own Colorado State Parks. Many states provide beautiful camping experiences for their residents and the occasional tourist who happens by.
After we left Independence, MO, we stayed in the Lawrence, KS, KOA for four nights to do a little genealogy research. We had discovered which Kansas church John’s great-great-grandfather had served in the 1860s and 1870s, so we drove to Olathe for a visit. No one at the church knew much history, but the local library did contain a church history. Earlier, at the Mid-Continent Library in Independence and the Kansas History Library in Topeka, we located more information from microfilm of old newspapers about John’s great-grandfather and great-great-grandfather. We also drove to the Eisenhower Veterans Hospital in Leavenworth, KS, where another great-great-grandfather had lived for several years in the Old Soldiers and Sailors Home. The buildings that were then—the turn of the last century—are still there, though most are not in use. How interesting to see a place important to our family over 100 years ago. When we leave Venango, we will continue our research in Kearny County in west