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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Kaw Point: Confluence of the Kansas and Missouri Rivers

A few weeks ago I finally brought my car in to get checked out.  There was a slight antifreeze smell that I'd notice every time I got out after driving somewhere.  I'd checked underneath countless times- no drips. I'd also popped the hood on several occasions to check and see if I could see anything from up top, although I never could.  I was getting ready to go when I heard the last words any guy wants to hear when he's bringing a car to the shop: "I'm coming with you".   It was Saturday and my wife and kids were eager to get out.  I was eager to get any car issues resolved, hopefully without any kids running around while it was getting worked on.  She insisted. "We've been here at home all week and really need to get out.  Just drop us off somewhere, Target, the Mall, anywhere, then come get us when it's done."  I relented, and they all piled into the car.  Saturday outings are somewhat more then a tradition at our house.  They're a necessity. I dropped everyone off at Target, then drove the car in to the shop a block or so away.  An hour later, I was good to go.  The car was still under warranty from some work we had done last year, so I walked out without having to pay for the small hose adjustments they made. Some of the hoses were not perfectly aligned/seated, so they'd leak a very small amount of antifreeze each time I drove.  Yay for cheap fixes!  I zipped over and tracked down my family, then it was time for an adventure. 
We stopped by the Wyandotte County Museum but it was closed.  Plan B- Kaw Point.  Lewis and Clark and the Corps of Discovery stopped at Kaw Point on their epic journey westward up the Missouri River.  It sounded like a notable enough location that tracking it down would be fun.  We tried driving on several back roads and side roads, and eventually gave that up.  There's not really an address for Kaw Point, but because of the maze of freeways and highways, ultimately the best way to access Kaw Point is from the freeway.  We found an onramp to I-70 eastbound, then took exit 423B and followed the signs to Kaw Point.  It's only half a mile or so off of the exit and it's pretty straightforward if you follow the signs.  I don't know if we would have gotten there if we hadn't driven on the freeway for a short distance. 
Kaw Point is in what's now an industrial part of town.  When Lewis and Clark came through, it was all prairie and forest.  The reports they sent back were very favorable, which directly led to the establishment of Kansas City.  There's a small park, with some short trails, all of them more or less leading to the confluence.  A silhouette statue of Lewis and Clark is there at the point. It's a fantastic vantage point of Kansas City's skyline.  We climbed down to the water and watched all of the ice floes coming down the Missouri River from the north country. The Kansas (Kaw) River was ice free.  It was fun talking to the kids and asking why there were ice chunks coming down one river and not the other.  As we scrambled around on the rocks, we found  numerous fishing jigs and lost tackle.  The kids had fun finding the rubber worms and grubs and made it a contest to see who could find the best one.  In the winter months, bald eagles come to the confluence for easy fishing.  We didn't see any, but the best way to see them is by from a distance, and by staying quiet.  It was not gonna happen while we were there!
We wandered back up along the trails, read the signs, then went to look at the boat ramp.  While we were at the boat ramp some cops drove by, just keeping an eye on the area.  I'm not sure if they were just out keeping an eye on things or what, but I can't recommend visiting Kaw Point at night.  I do believe that everyone in the Kansas City area should visit Kaw Point at some time or another.  The history is fascinating, and sometimes it's best to start at the beginning.  Although there were some indian settlements in the area prior to Lewis and Clark, they opened the way for the exploration and settlement of the west.  Their favorable report directly led to the settlement of Kansas City.  Also, the point became the dividing marker, separating Kansas from Missouri in a straight line south from the point.  It's worth visiting.

Nearest City: Kansas City, KS
Location: Confluence of the Missouri and Kansas Rivers
Time Needed: 45 min
Difficulty: easy
Kid Friendly: yes
Additional Info: Kaw Point Park Website

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