It was time to travel down the yellow brick road, to our 14th state, the home of Dorothy. As if you didn’t know, it was Kansas. We were still determined to find some real swinging saloon doors for Barry to fulfil his dream so we headed to Dodge City, home of Wyatt Earp. We booked into Americas Best Value Inn for the night.

Kansas state welcome sign - 50 states in 6 months

The next day we were up early and made our way to the Boot Hill Museum. It was made up like an old Western Town and had all the old authentic stores and businesses that would have been there. It is called Boot Hill because back in the day, whenever a cowboy was killed he would be buried on the hill still wearing his cowboy boots. There were some of the grave sites still there in the old cemetery and there was of course the old saloon. We’d finally found the swinging saloon doors, but there was a normal door behind it. Almost what Barry wanted to see, but not quite – the search continues…

The highlight of the museum was a gun fight. When we heard the sound of a bell we all had to make our way outside to a seating area opposite the saloon. There were a few cowboys hanging around outside, when all of a sudden two guys fell out of the saloon and started fighting. A few others jumped in and got involved. When it was eventually broken up, everyone was out of the saloon and gathered round. All were brandishing their own guns. An argument broke out between two gangs and before we knew it shots were being fired. GUN FIGHT!!! Everyone got shot and laid on the ground playing dead. It all happened so quickly we didn’t even have time to blink but it was the best gun fight i had ever seen…but probably the only one!

With the sound of the gunshots ringing in our ears, we got back on the road and made our way to our next stop in Kansas – the Monument Rocks.  We didn’t really know what to expect, as we hadn’t seen any pictures, just read about them in our Lonely Planet guide. It was a small detour off our route, just outside Oakley where we were going to be staying for the night. We had to turn off the main road and make our way down a gravel track. Kansas is known as being the state that is extremely flat. You can literally look out in the distance and see nothing for miles, as there are just no hills, mountains or any kind of change in the landscape. As we approached our destination, the rocks were really clear to see as they stood out from the flat ground immediately. We parked up and got out the car. The first thing that hit us was the heat. When you have the luxury of an air-conditioned car, you have no idea what is going on outside.  It was incredibly stuffy even though there was a very strong wind.

Monument Rock National Natural Landscape, Grinnell, Kansas

As we walked around the rocks, we couldn’t help thinking how strange they were. They were just in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by nothing but flat plains. How were they formed and why were they still there when nothing else was? Very bizarre.

Not being able to stand the heat anymore, we jumped back in the car and made our way into Oakley where we checked into the Free Breakfast Inn. Our room came complete with it’s own teddy bear. The owner explained to Barry the theory behind the teddy bear was that if he trusted his guests with his teddy bear then he would trust that the guests wouldn’t steal his sheets. WE didn’t steal the sheets, so I guess you could say it worked!

Free breakfast in, Oakley kansas

After spending the night with the bear, we made our way to the restaurant down the road, where we got the free breakfast our motel offered. After filling up on eggs on toast and unlimited coffee, it was back on the road and back into state number 12, Nebraska. This time we were driving through the South East corner and the capital Lincoln. It was July 4thIndependence Day, so we figured if we booked ourselves into a busy capital city we should be in for a good time. Barry did some research and found Buffalo Wild Wings, a sports bar which unsurprisingly from the title, sells an array of different chicken wings. We booked ourselves a taxi and arrived in town.

As we approached where we thought we would spend the evening, we were shocked to see it was closed. There was a sign on the door to say it closed at 5pm. What a disappointment! As we looked around, the town was pretty dead. Maybe this wasn’t going to be quite the party night we had thought. We walked around looking for somewhere to go. Apart from the odd coffee shop, the only place we could find open was Mckinneys Irish Pub. So much for our all American experience! We grabbed two stools at the bar and settled in for the evening. I grabbed the cocktail list, Barry grabbed the beer one. I went for my traditional Bloody Mary, whilst Barry decided to work his way through the beers lined up on the pumps. The barmaid explained to us that everyone has firework parties at home and that most places do close on July 4th.

Although we didn’t get to celebrate Independence Day in quite the fashion that we wanted to, we still had a great night. We sunk many beers and cocktails along with a traditional Irish dinner of Turkey and Spuds and a Shepherds Pie.