We’re off to explore the “Square States”

BlogHer '07 I'm  SpeakingToday my teenage daughter and I are launching the minivan on our US Midwest Road Trip.

I’m honored to be a Day One panelist speaker at the BlogHer blogging conference in Chicago 27-29 July, so we’re turning that into the travel writer’s mondo assignment and exploring the Midwest going and coming from central Texas.

Yes, Sainted Husband and my young son will meet us in Arkansas on the way back, and they have a full schedule of batting cages and water parks while we’re gone.

The method to my 2000-mile driving madness is improving my pathetic lack of knowledge of the American Midwest, or what one of my colleagues referred to as “those square states.”

OK, they’re not all square, but I just don’t know my Missouri from my Iowa, and it’s time to fix that.

We’re going to follow part of the old Chisholm Trail for the first couple of legs: Austin to Fort Worth and the cattle Stockyards, then north across the Red River (just like the Longhorns of yesteryear) to visit by the Chisholm Trail Museum in Duncan, Oklahoma before stopping overnight in Osage Indian country. We’ll stay at Osage Hills State Park in sturdy little log cabins built during the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps.

The next day, it’s into Kansas, with a visit to the site of the original Laura Ingalls Wilder “Little House on the Prairie.” This year is the 75th publication anniversary of the first book in the beloved series of real-life stories about Wilder’s pioneer family.

After that and a stop at the Kansas Flint Hills Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve, we spend the night in Emporia, Kansas so we can get a copy (at midnight) of the new Harry Potter book at the local Town Crier bookstore.

Then it’s Kansas City and beyond, plus a stop with the Amish in northwest Missouri and a wave to Mark Twain in Hannibal, Missouri before we arrive in Chicago and strap on the Art Institute, Shedd Aquarium, a riverborne architecture tour and more fun in the “city of big shoulders.”

I would link to each place, but I’ve GOT to pack and get some sleep! Blog posts to follow during the journey (depending on Internet connections, of course) plus a few more posts from the Virginia trip.

Cool thing: the terrific public relations person who arranged our recent family press trip to the Colonial Williamsburg area is now so fired up about blogging, she registered for BlogHer today and is coming to hear me speak.

Wish me coherent thoughts as a panelist, and a good hair day.

Technorati tags: travel, blogging, family travel, road trip