Our pathway was clear. We had a plan. Then I changed the plan. We were headed from Leavenworth and the Frontier Army Museum to St. Joseph and the Pony Express Museum. Then I saw a tiny note that Atchison Kansas, which was only 30 minutes out of the way, was the home of the Amelia Earhart Birthplace Museum. We were following the path of great explorers, Lewis and Clark, and I was excited to throw this pioneer of aviation into the mix.
We headed out through the flat back roads of Kansas. From horizon to horizon all we could see was crops. It was like we were driving through a huge shag carpet. We approached Atchison from the West. We passed the Dairy Queen and the Pizza Hut and then crossed the railroad tracks. We slid down Main Street and right before we turned the Missouri River opened before us. The river and flood plain stretched for nearly four miles.
We turned sharply north and and the road turned into a steep climb. Then at the crest of the hill we turned on Santa Fe Street and drove right to the edge of the hills overlooking the river. It was a breath taking view. Standing on this high hill we could see the water stretched out as far as the eye could see north and south. The hills four miles away testified to the immense water that had flowed past the place for thousands of years.
What a place to grow up. At the corner of Santa Fe and Terrace. The Santa Fe trail had it roots and beginnings right here. The other settler’s trails started just across the river. The wind was pushed up by the hills and as I stood at the top it felt like I could reach out my arms and fly. We toured the home and looked at the artifacts. I stood gazing out of this window and thought of a little girl who believed that her horizons were open. She believed she could. She imagined discovery and exploration. It was inspiring.
We are all shaped by our environment. By the physical realties certainly, but more so by the spiritual, intellectual and emotional landscape of our lives. May we all lift those around us to see hope, possibility and a better future.