We had to put in a lot of miles that day and there is nothing to see in Kansas. Seriously. The wind turbines are cool for two kids obsessed with ceiling fans, but that can only last so long. When researching places to see with kids for this trip, whenever I typed in Kansas, the only addresses that came up were Kansas City (Missouri), a few in Lawrence (just outside KC), and Topeka (not on our route) attractions. Many of those were local playgrounds or pools. I love how our GPS just came up completely empty when we typed in area attractions.
So, when we saw signs boasting things like wild Russian boars and rattlesnakes and 6-legged cows and the world’s largest prairie dog, we actually considered making Prairie Dog Town in Hays, Kansas a stop-over. We hadn’t decided whether or not we’d go, but a few minutes before the exit a boy did something in his diaper that necessitated a stop at the nearest opportunity, and after the boys ran around the truck stop pissing off the greasy truckers and entertaining the bored attendants by clanging all the inspirational wind chimes (why do they put them down low if they don’t want them all to be chiming at once?) and misplacing all the car accessories (what’s in God’s good name is a tire thumper and why does anyone need one?), we decided to go ahead and go next door to the parched Prairie Dog Town. First we coated the boys and ourselves in sunblock and hats and headed into the horrible dump of a building—at least it looked horrible while looking through the swirling heat waves in front of my eyes.
We tried to play it up for the boys and not be too sad for the animals, but the truth is, that place is a parched wasteland with no shade and no animals should have to live that way. The owners have them in small pens and the water was all gone. There was some sort of big pig trying to cool itself in mud, but the mud was cracked and dry. The only animals that showed any sort of life was a baby pig and a friendly miniature donkey. We couldn’t see the extra legs on the 5 and 6 legged cows—they must have been tiny limbs. We didn’t care though. Everything was cooking in the sun, including the penned doves and pigeons. The world’s largest prairie dog was a plastic statue by a pen with a buffalo in it. There were no workers out tending to the animals.
We lasted maybe ten minutes before we were back inside the store. I read something afterward online that the way the owners have avoided trouble with the law is that the animals they keep are ones no one would want anyway, so they would be euthanized if Prairie Dog Town did not take them in. It seems to me that a lot of the animals would be better off dead than living there. We paid $35 to walk through all this and now I’m sad all over again for writing about it.
Moral of the review: Don’t go there. And try to avoid Kansas in general. Though I'd love to hear of any cool places that might exist, because I really want something awesome to be in Kansas.
Read my other road trip reviews here.