Road Trip Day 22 - Lawrence, Kansas: 1968 Pennies


Road Trip

Was woken up by housekeeper at 8:50 (I was not happy)! The hotel breakfast was quite good. Checked out at 10:30 and started driving west on I-70 from Columbia, Missouri. Stopped at a Stuckey's / BP Station for gas and bought some state refrigerator magnets that I needed (Note: It is against the rules to buy the magnet before you get to the state; if you could, then why even go on the trip?).

Crossed the border from Kansas City, Missouri to Kansas City, Kansas.

Road Trip

Debated having some Kansas City Barbecue. The following were recommendations from some friends at Chow.com: I wasn't ready to eat so I continued on I-70, which turns into the Kansas Turnpike. I was also getting anxious to get to one of the three primary destinations for my trip: The world's largest collection of 1968 pennies in Lawrence, Kansas.

Lawrence is only about 50 minutes from the Missouri - Kansas border. I stopped at the Lawrence Visitor's Center (in the restored Union Pacific Depot). There were two very helpful people at the visitor's center, but surprisingly, they were unaware of the famous penny collection about exactly one mile away. They seemed somewhat amused, but a little confused, when I explained my long pilgrimage to visit the pennies.

Lawrence, Kansas is an interesting city. It is very much of a college town being home to the University of Kansas and Haskell Indian Nations University. Downtown Lawrence feels somewhat like how I imagine that Berkeley or San Francisco would have felt in the late 1960's. The good weather had apparently lured many people into the streets. There were many students, people playing guitars on the sidewalk, and colorful people walking around.

I easily found street parking near 'Beyond the Door' at 918 Massachusetts Street. Beyond the Door is a Hippie Shop (not a Head shop). The shop has a lot of interesting vintage clothing, tie-dye and Grateful Dead T-Shirts, inexpensive jewelry, posters, etc. I bought some unique earrings.

Road Trip

Beyond the Door also hosts the public display of the world's largest collection of 1968 pennies. I met Gregor Brune, a lifelong Lawrence resident and curator of the collection. Gregor is friendly, articulate, and apparently 'consumed by all things 1968'. A recent 'American Profile' article gives some history about Gregor Brune and the 1968 penny collection. I had brought some 1968 pennies for the collection, and am now one of the largest contributors.

Road Trip

Road Trip

Gregor and I had a very good lunch (I had Chicken and Crawfish Gumbo) at the Free State Brewing Company. When it opened in 1989, Free State was the first legal brewery in Kansas in over 100 years.

Road Trip

After lunch, I got back on the I-70 Kansas Turnpike and headed west. I was like a moth towards a candle when I was lured by the signs of the 'OZ Museum' 9 miles off I-70 to Wamego, Kansas. Unfortunately, I arrived there a few minutes after the 5 pm closing time (I should have called on my cell phone to save time and gas). I was, however, able to see some Ruby Slippers in the window.

Road Trip

Road Trip

It took about 1.5 hours to drive from Wamego to Salina, Kansas where I spent the night at an inexpensive motel.