Cabela’s in Kansas City, Kansas

Monday, April 30, 2018

We bid farewell to our newfound friends in Missouri last Friday and headed west to Kansas City, Kansas. Our lavish site for the night was the Cabala’s parking lot. Some Cabala’s offer a nice parking area with a dump station and potable water. The Kansas City store isn’t one of them. To be fair, they did have a designated area for eighteen-wheelers and RV’s, but the dump station I was led to believe they had turned out to be a Porta-Potty. Not exactly what I had in mind. Also, this particular Cabala’s had all back-in sites. You cannot back up a motorhome if you are flat-towing a vehicle. Doing so will damage the tow bar. And tow bars aren’t cheap. A comparable replacement for our Blue OX tow bar is around $800. We politely ignored the designated parking area and parallel parked against the curb, with a lovely view of a drainage ditch. I hope the runoff wasn’t coming from the Porta-Potty.

If I’ve learned anything in the last nine days, it is that I wish I’d paid more attention to my geography teacher back in high school. We left Kansas City, Kansas, on Saturday. Less than a mile later, we crossed back into Missouri. Huh! We drove 17 miles and then entered the state of Iowa. A little over 120 miles later, we hit the Nebraska state line. That’s three states in four hours, roughly the amount of time it takes us to drive to Hartsfield Airport in Atlanta, park, and get through security.

We have an electronic management system (EMS) that is hardwired into our motorhome. Its purpose is to detect any grounds, open neutrals, shorts, or reversals in the campground’s power box (aka shore power), thus protecting our electronics from getting damaged. When you connect your power cord to shore power, the EMS checks that all systems are go. If it detects an error, it will not send power to your motorhome. That’s exactly what happened to us on Saturday when Harry tried to connect our power cord to the campground’s shore power at Victorian Acres RV Park in Nebraska City, Nebraska. The park’s manager came out and tested the shore power and our EMS, and determined the EMS was not working properly. Oh, goodie. Strike two for the USSMoho. Harry had to bypass the EMS in order for us to have power that night. It was a crapshoot, but we were both tired and cranky by then, and did not feel like driving 50 miles to the nearest RV parts and accessories store. Granted, we took a risk by bypassing the EMS, but the weather report showed no rain or thunderstorms for the next forty-eight hours, so we took a gamble, which luckily paid off.

This past weekend was Nebraska City’s 147th annual Arbor Day Celebration. J. Sterling Morton, the U.S. secretary of agriculture under President Grover Cleveland, founded Arbor Day in Nebraska City in 1872. In the fall of 1854, Morton and his wife, Caroline Joy French, moved to the Nebraska Territory. The following year, he purchased 160 acres of land in Nebraska City. He built a modest four-room, L-shaped frame structure on the property. The Morton’s were both nature lovers, and once they’d completed their home on their treeless lot, they set about planting trees, shrubs, and an orchard. Morton or a member of his family planted many of the ancient trees on the expansive estate.

The Morton home underwent several renovations, eventually evolving into a 30-room residence known as Arbor Lodge. After Morton’s death, his oldest son, Joy, hired an architect to design and enlarge the family dwelling into an impressive 52-room mansion. The stately home closely resembles the White House in Washington, DC.

Joy Morton founded the Morton Salt Company in 1910. The following year, the company began adding magnesium carbonate, an anti-caking agent, to salt; this allowed it to pour freely. The company coined the phrase, “When it rains, it pours.”

Joy and his family used Arbor Lodge as a summer home for twenty years. In 1923, he donated the grounds and the Morton mansion to the state of Nebraska, to be preserved as a monument to his father.

On Sunday, we visited Arbor Lodge State Historical Park and Arboretum and toured the massive home and the adjacent carriage house. Directly across the street from Arbor Lodge sits Arbor Day Farm Tree Adventure. The nature-themed attraction features a meandering paved walkway and a 50-foot-tall tree house, which reminded me of the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse at Magic Kingdom near Orlando, Florida.

Sunday afternoon, the wind started picking up, and the Weather Channel issued a wind advisory for that evening. They issued a second wind advisory from 12:00 noon on Monday until 7:00 PM that night, with winds gusting from 45 to 50 miles per hour. We’ve heard horror stories of motorhomes and eighteen-wheelers being flipped over by high winds, and we had no desire to drive in those conditions. We were planning to leave Nebraska City Monday around noon to head to Council Bluffs, Iowa, but we decided to cut out early Monday morning instead. Luckily, our 45-mile drive to Council Bluffs was uneventful, but the wind followed us to Iowa. The wind advisory had been extended to parts of Iowa, including Council Bluffs, but luckily we made it to town before the gusty winds hit.

Our purpose in visiting Council Bluffs was to hook up with friends who live just across the river in Nebraska. Around here, saying “the river” is tantamount to saying the Missouri River, which, incidentally, is the longest river in North America. The river rises in the Rocky Mountains of western Montana. It flows for 2,341 miles before joining the Mississippi River on the border between Missouri and Illinois.

Maybe I didn’t ace geography in high school, but if I had to take a test about the Missouri River, I think I would pass it with flying colors.

House 3
The front facade of Arbor Lodge
Some of the many trees on the grounds of Arbor Lodge
Norway Spruce planted by Morton Family in 1871
Walnut Tree
Back Walnut planted by Joy Morton in 1871
Side view of Arbor Lodge near terraced gardens
Carriage House
Taxi purchased by Joy Morton in 1883
Treehouse q
50-foot treehouse at Arbor Day Farm Tree Adventure

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