Day 700

wpid-20151031_183839.jpgToday is day 700 of my daily thankful posts on Facebook so I thought it warranted an entire blog post.

In the past 700 days (give or take a few), I’ve posted daily what I’m thankful for. Sometimes they are small, seemingly insignificant things, sometimes they are deep and person. But I have made a commitment to stop each day and post what I’m thankful for. And I’m amazed that today I hit 700. That’s a huge number.

My journey with this started on Nov. 1, 2013. It started out as a typical November, where several of my friends committed to posting what they are thankful for during the month of Thanksgiving. Fifteen days into that month, my dad was killed in a house fire. In the wake of that, I would have had every reason to stop posting those thankfuls, but I decided not to. I decided I needed to push forward and keep posting. November folded into December that year and I just kept posting.

And here we are at Day 700.

So, on Day 700, I’m grateful for the past 700 days of my life, which have seen ups, downs, a major surgery and many moments in between. I’m grateful for each moment because they each taught me something. And I’m grateful for 700 days — that’s a lot of living.

So, on Day 700, thank you for reading. :0)


St. Aloysius Church Historic Site

Another road-side gem in Kansas is the St. Aloysius Church Historic Site in unincorporated community of Greenbush, Kansas. To get there go to the website below and follow the map. It’s a 20151025_134922fantastic photo opportunity!

According to the Kansas Travel website, a church and church ruins are side by side. “The 1887 St. Aloysius Church was replaced by a larger building in 1907, but the 20151025_135140newer building was struck by lightning and destroyed in 1982 and the congregation returned to the older building. The registered Kansas state historic site is very picturesque,” the website stated.

Here is the entire text of the legend of Greenbush, which was borrowed from the website mentioned above:

THE LEGEND OF GREENBUSHAccording to legend, in 1869, Father Phillip Colleton, was caught at this site by a furious hail and thunder-
storm. The frightened priest took refuge under his
saddle and vowed t20151025_135140hat if his life was spared, he would build a church on this spot. The fervent promise resulted in the establishment of St. Aloysius, Greenbush. The
first Catholic Church erected in Crawford County was
a wooden frame structure completed in 1871. Located on the Historic “Mission Road”. The church was destroyed by a storm in 1877. Parishioners quarried limestone from Hickory Creek and completed the second church in 1881. The first resident pastor, Father F. M. Verdan, arrived in 1882 and served the church for fifty years. A larger church was needed and completed in 1907. The 1881 church was converted into a community building. The third church stood for 75 years as a landmark before it was struck by lightning and burned in 1982. The ruins remain. The 1881 church was 20151025_134749renovated into a place of worship. Thus the second church became the fourth church on March 9, 1986 and served the people until it closed in 1993. Father Colleton’s promise will continue.

Registered state historic site – February 26, 1994.
Erected by the St. Aloysius Historical Society and Kansas Department of Transportation 

Demolition derby for dad

imageNov. 15 was the two-year anniversary of my dad’s death. He was tragically killed in a house fire in Wichita. To be honest, it still hurts a lot to type those words. You never think it’ll happen to your family — until it does. As a member of the media I’ve covered many fires — and since that fire, every single house fire hurts in a way they never did before. But, that’s not really the point of this column.

With that said, one of my favorite memories of my father and I were when we went to a monster truck show together in Wichita. I had somehow (I don’t remember how now) scored two free tickets to the show. Nobody else was available to go, so he offered to go. Little did I know at the time it would be one of my most precious memories of him and I. It was an indoor arena, it was very loud and we did not bring earplugs. We did a lot of yelling and cheering our favorite trucks on and left with a pretty good vehicle exhaust induced headache. But, we had a good time.

This year on Nov. 15, I went to the Blizzard Bash in Topeka in honor of my dad. It seemed a fitting tribute. It wasn’t a monster truck show, but it was something we truly would have enjoyed going to together. And, to top it off, I was right in the front row. (Which later proved to be the row you get pelted with flying mud). If you’re not familiar with the Blizzard Bash, it’s a large, indoor demolition derby held each year in Topeka as part of the Ultimate Derby. The event is exciting, energizing and often filled with plenty of drama in addition to the already-exciting event. With a demolition derby, just about anything can happen. And, at this event, it did. In the first heat alone, two cars flipped and one caught on fire. No drivers were injured, but the fire was very scary as the driver was still inside. You can imagine why this bothered me so much. But, the driver was fine and after a while, my heartbeat finally slowed down.image (1)

In another heat a driver was sprayed with radiator fluid — he ran across the arena, fire suit steaming, stripping off some of the hot clothing once he reached the edge. Again, he was fine. But sometimes demolition derby isn’t for the faint of heart.

But, it wasn’t the drama of the derby that had me fighting tears. It was the Jumbotron. All around the arena, posters asked people to post selfies and other highlights of their experiences on social media under the #blizbash hashtag. I typed up a status on Twitter and my first status read like this: “Blizzard Bash delivering some drama today.” But then I saw a perfect opportunity to honor my dad. So, my next tweet said this: “I’m here in memory of my dad, Charlie Adams. Rest in peace dad. #blizbash”image (2)

Service was spotty in the arena, so I had to wait several minutes for my phone to send the tweets. Then I waited for them to show up on the Jumbotron. I saw the first one scroll across and I hoped they would post my second one. When it finally flashed across the screen I felt a wave of emotion I wasn’t expecting. There, on the Jumbotron was my dad’s name. He would have been so proud. It was the perfect way to honor my dad, who was truly an amazing man. And I’m glad I got to honor him at the derby.

Abandoned Kansas: Camptown Greyhound Park

20151025_132339The dogs no longer run at an abandoned track in Frontenac, Kansas. The track, formerly known as Camptown Greyhound Park, wasn’t open very long. Some reported it closed after just 13 weeks of operation, while other sources reported it closed after six months of operation. It reportedly re-opened in 2000 after its 1995 failure. It again closed after another failed attempt.

Today, the massive building and track sits abandoned and rotting. There were rumblings it would be turned into a casino, according to an article by the Capital-Journal. Howev20151025_132313er, the property still sits abandoned.

Camptown was opened in 1995, at a price tag of $14 million. Its operators filed for bankruptcy in 1996, according to the Joplin Globe. According to Greyhound Network News the track was losing $30,000 a week before it was closed. When the track closed there were 12 kennels with about 60 dogs.

20151025_132318“On Nov. 17 (1996), the racing commission issued “Final Orders,” a five-page document containing 32 provisions which included requirements that the track’s owner provide food, water, bedding, and an overflow kennel for greyhounds designated for adoption. Within weeks, 186 greyhounds had been moved into the adoption holding kennel.”

The rescue operation was successful.

The Capital-Journal reported the following: “Two of the original investors bought it for $3 million in 1998, then sold it in 2000 to developer Phil Ruffin, who owns the Wichita Greyhound Park and several casinos.

“Ruffin walked away from the deal because of a disagreement with the state over the investment required to open it and the percentage of return on that investment.”

Today, no activity at the property is apparent. Another property frozen in time.

Random connections

I’m a Creature of Habit when it comes to many things. I know what I like and I stick to it, especially whe12228126_10153308695652992_1278223934_on it comes to restaurants and my walking route. And most of the time it pays off in the form of random, meaningful connections.

When I’m walking I only have a couple of routes. My favorite route is through a neighborhood. I look forward to the people and animals I meet along the way. They make my day better.
My favorite “haunt” is TJ’s Cafe. I visit usually once a week now, but when they first opened, I went probably four days in a row. I discovered they had the best biscuits and gravy and pancakes I had ever tasted. I continue to get that every time I go to the cafe. When I walk into TJ’s they already know what I want to order — order of biscuits and gravy with an extra sausage patty, chopped onions (try it on your gravy, it’s amazing) and pancakes to share, along with a coffee and a water. I don’t even have to order anymore. If I want to change anything, I know I’d better call it out the second I walk in the door.
But, it isn’t always the food that keeps me going to places such as TJ’s. It’s the people you meet, make connections with and get to know. Few things touch me as deeply as the stories of others and those connections you make with people in this life.
Two waitresses at TJ’s, Jules and Crystal, make my day every time I come in. Jules and I have had many talks over pancakes, coffee and biscuits smothered in gravy. She comes over and sits down in-between getting more coffee for me and others in the cafe. She always greets me, talks to me and shares stories about her life. Jules also likes to ask about my job at The Gazette and sometimes we discuss local news. Upon my return from a recent vacation to Eureka Springs, Jules expressed desire to go so we joked we were going to leave the next day.
“I’ll see you at 6:55 a.m. (our agreed time was 7 a.m.) and don’t be late,” she said to me as she began clearing the dishes off of my table.
Then our attention turned to credit cards with chips — on some machines you can’t leave a tip on the card after it’s been run. I happened to fall victim to this the last time I was there. Jules said it was no big deal — meaning she was willing to forego her tip — a sign of her generous personality. I would hear no part of that. She tried to stop me as I made my way to the car to get some cash. She joked and said she was going to lock the door on me. I jokingly said she’d have to remove me from the door as I stood in it to prevent her from locking it. And that would be considered customer abuse, I told her. We both had a good laugh and she got her tip.
On a side note, Jules once told me she’d quit her job if her name ever appeared in the paper. I’m hoping she makes an exception in this case and doesn’t quit, because I’d truly miss seeing her at the cafe.
You can put price on the food you eat, but you can’t put a price on human connection. You can’t put a price on those experiences and the stories you hear from people around you. These connections remind me to listen in life — to not be so closed off and so busy that I miss these connections. It’s important to be open to these connections. I am constantly amazed and deeply touched by the human experience — those connections you make that you don’t see coming.
I love random conversations on a sidewalk while waiting for a light to change such as the one I had on my way back to work following a funeral last week. I learned the man was from California and the he had once received a ticket for going against a yellow light. As he walked away, he told me to have a nice day. Little did he know he lightened my heavy heart a little. A small, but meaningful connection — and to me, that’s what makes life meaningful.

—Brandy Nance is the online and news editor for The Emporia Gazette. Her blog, The Wandering Pigeon, can be found online at the, on Instagram and on Facebook. Brandy can be reached at

Arkansas gem: Castle Rogue’s Manor


Stairs to nowhere. These used to lead up to an outdoor catwalk.

20151024_140852While in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, I had many adventures. Another one of those adventures was the opportunity to explore the grounds of Castle Rogue’s Manor near Beaver, Arkansas.

This fascinating place is a hidden gem, but a warning in advance, it’s only open by appointment or by permission. We obtained permission from the owner to tour the grounds while we were there. We didn’t get access to the buildings but hope to on a future visit.


The stunning view from the grounds.


Several pieces of art are on the property.

Castle Rogue’s Manor site on 20 acres in the stunning Ozarks and overlooks the White River and Tablerock Lake. The castle itself has 15,000 square feet of space. It has a main castle as well as a caretakers castle and several other outbuildings including guard towers. A true hidden gem!

It was built over 20 years by Smith Treuer, who had a love for the renaissance era. Today the castle is home to weddings, tours and other events.

If you want more information or want to go see it: go to You won’t be sorry!


Halloween my way

wpid-img_20151031_155611.jpgHalloween is one of my favorite holidays and since I don’t have children and didn’t have any prior commitments this year, I celebrated the holiday my way.

Since I’ve been on vacation, I had the luxury of sleeping in to my heart’s content.

My dogs helped me carve a pumpkin, which was a very stubborn thing! I love pumpkin carving because of the seeds. I love the wpid-img_20151031_161359.jpgfresh-baked seeds and the wonderful aroma they leave in the house.  Here’s how I do it: gut the pumpkin, set aside the seeds and separate them from the guts. Then rinse off the seeds and pat some of the extra water off of them. I don’t dry them totally because I like to have wpid-img_20151031_164907.jpgthe moisture for the salt to stick to. Then I use a salt grinder, grind the salt over the seeds. Preheat the oven to 350 and bake for 9 minutes. After the 9 minutes, stir the seeds, re-salt and bake another 8-9 minutes. Then enjoy! You can also add any type of seasoning you’d like. My favorite!!

wpid-20151031_183839.jpgLater that night, we went for a drive in the country, away from the in-town bustle and enjoyed the wide-open spaces outdoors. The sunset was amazing last night. A perfect ending to a perfect day!

Our favorite place to run around in during the evening hours is the Flint Hills Wildlife Refuge. Each year they flood large portions of it ahead of huntinwpid-20151031_180942.jpgg season. Last night they were starting to flood the refuge. The water pours in, filling fields and providing habitat for migrating birds.

So, this was Halloween my way! I am blessed in so many ways!