We launched Our Changing Lives on January 10, 2017, so it seemed fitting to look back at our first year on the one year anniversary. It’s hard to fathom the changes that have occurred in the past 365 days, and much of it would not have happened without our faithful readers. Starting a new blog can be a little overwhelming, and scary. It’s like planning a big party, and wondering if anyone will show up. Well, we threw the party, and what a reception we received. Crystal came up with the idea that each year our journeys will radiate a little farther from Kansas City. For Year One, we settled on a 4 to 6 hour radius, for the most part, but we always try to add at least one longer trip.

A map is the start of planning your next adventure.

In the time it takes for our blue marble to circle the sun, we have published 235 articles. That equates to about one article every day and a half. Obviously, that is a little aggressive, so we have scaled back to three articles per week. This allows the creative juices to continue to flow, but at a manageable rate. In Year One we took eight road trips, as well as a few day-trips to spots nearby. With all of the fun places we visited, it was difficult scaling down to just ten. We are listing them in alphabetical order, since we enjoyed each and every one of them so much.

The Branson Hotel offers nine theme decorated rooms.

The Branson Hotel – Branson, Missouri

We had no idea what we were in for when we made our plans to stay at The Branson Hotel. This place is quaint, and offers an adults-only, secluded stay in one of nine theme decorated rooms. The amenities are a fantastic surprise, and the place truly feels like home away from home, except we didn’t have to do the cleaning. Being located downtown meant that we could walk to shopping and dining, and the off-street parking has easy access to the hotel. (Read more about it here>)

The Discovery Center in Springfield, Missouri is educational fun for all ages.

Discovery Center – Springfield, Missouri

We no longer travel with kids, but we can still remember the days of trying to find inexpensive forms of entertainment. Our visit to Springfield, Missouri uncovered the Discovery Center, which turned out to be just as much fun for two Baby Boomers, as it was for the kids we saw. With four floors of exhibits and hands-on displays, you may just want to plan for an entire day here. (Read more about it here >)

Dinosaur skeletons are just one unique display at Museum of World Treasures.

Museum of World Treasures – Wichita, Kansas

Wichita, Kansas was filled with tons of interesting attractions, and it is hard to pick our favorites. Our stop at the Museum of World Treasures gave us a view into the personal collection of artifacts by a local couple. Unlike a regular history museum, (It doesn’t run in chronological order) this place is three stories of items that the couple amassed over years of their lives. The variety is unbelievable, so be prepared to be there for a while. (Read more about it here >)

The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum is a one of a kind museum offering the background of this historic league.

Negro Leagues Baseball Museum – Kansas City, Missouri

These days it’s hard to imagine the difficulties that African American ball players faced prior to being accepted into the Major Leagues. The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum takes visitors on a history lesson of the challenges so many had to endure just to play the game that they enjoyed. The museum will humble visitors, as we realize that the situations we face these days are minuscule in comparison to the hate and segregation that was once so commonplace in this nation. This place is a good life lesson for all ages. (Read more about it here >)

Oklahoma Aquarium has plenty of exhibits for all ages to interact with sea life.

Oklahoma Aquarium – Tulsa, Oklahoma

When we read about the Oklahoma Aquarium being located over 500 miles from the nearest ocean, we wondered just how much it could hold. To say we were pleasantly surprised would be an understatement. This place is filled with hands-on exhibits, as well as lots of learning opportunities. It is also home to the largest collection of bull sharks, which are exciting to watch gliding in and out of the darkness. (Read more about it here >)

The Philadelphia Zoo is the oldest zoological park in the United States.

Philadelphia Zoo – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Our trip to Philadelphia included a lot of firsts for us. It was a treat to see the birthplace of our country’s freedom, but it was also a chance to visit the Philadelphia Zoo. Being zoo people, we couldn’t skip the opportunity to see the first zoological park in the nation, and it did not disappoint. The exhibits are unique, and the whole place has a true park-like setting. (Read more about it here >)   The Pony Express Museum in St. Joseph, Missouri showcases this short lived mode of delivery.

Pony Express Museum – St. Joseph, Missouri

We didn’t have to travel far from home to find some great frontier history. The Pony Express Museum is just a short drive from Kansas City, and offers visitors a peek into the social and economic atmosphere that created this short lived enterprise. For only being around 19 months, it has sealed it’s place in history. Be sure to enjoy some of the other local museums during your visit to St. Joseph. (Read more about it here >)

Tanganyika Wildlife Park offers visitors plenty of hands-on interactive exhibits.

Tanganyika Wildlife Park – Wichita, Kansas

Our stop at Tanganyika Wildlife Park was a deviation from our normal zoo visits. At this privately owned animal reserve, visitors are encouraged to interact with a wide range of wildlife. Here we got to feed a variety of creatures, and in the process learn more about some of the other occupants of our big, blue marble. This is definitely an all ages activity. (Read more about it here >)

Treehouse Cottages is an interesting lodging option in the heart of the Ozark Mountains.

Treehouse Cottages – Eureka Springs, Arkansas

For years we have been visiting Eureka Springs, Arkansas as a romantic get-away. This year was our first time to stay in the Treehouse Cottages, and we were blown away by them. Our tree high roost gave us a wonderful perspective, and the seclusion made us feel like the only people in the world. These would make a great surprise destination for any special occasion. (Read more about it here >)

The Woody Guthrie Center offers a look at the life of an American icon.

Woody Guthrie Center – Tulsa, Oklahoma

Tulsa, Oklahoma was another city that truly surprised us. The place is filled with unique stops like the Woody Guthrie Center. To be honest, we knew little at all about the man, before our visit. Fortunately, this was easily fixed, as we immersed ourselves in learning about the cultural and economic atmosphere of the Dust Bowl days. This place has some nice interactive exhibits, as well as a rotating gallery that highlights other artists from the period. (Read more about it here >)

The authors pose in front of Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Now that we have completed the list, we are second guessing the many stops we left off. I guess it’s harder than it looks to narrow down all of the great options we have within a few hours of our hometown. The selection of our favorite food stops will even be harder, but its a labor of love. That article will be upcoming, but for now we are going to celebrate our first year under our belts. Thanks for following along, and be sure to key us in on any great stops you think we should include in our future journeys. Just drop us a line in the comments section. Travel Safely!

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