We woke up this morning in Jefferson City, Missouri. The city’s name at first didn’t really mean much to me. It was just the location of an inexpensive but well-rated hotel at a good stopping point on our journey. My husband had passed this way before in other travels, however, and reminded me that Jefferson City is the state capital of Missouri!
So, when you are in a capital, it is nice to drive by the capitol:
After that short detour, we got back on the road toward Kansas City.
Our destination in Kansas City was the Crown Center, which is the corporate headquarters of Hallmark Cards and a huge shopping and entertainment complex Hallmark has developed. Hallmark Cards has a longstanding relationship with Kansas City and is credited with turning around a very dilapidated section of Kansas City after World War II.
The Crown Center is a highly popular spot for families, housing a Legoland Discovery Center and a unique place called Kaleidoscope. Kaleidoscope is a free service Hallmark Cards offers to children, where children and their parents can sign up for a 40-minute crafting experience, using materials left over from Hallmark’s manufacturing process. I loved the concept! It was a great way to recycle, provide service to the community and built corporate goodwill all in one simple idea.
We had a short time to wait before our assigned time in Kaleidoscope so we visited the Hallmark corporate museum next door. This is a wonderful corporate museum showing many of the treasures of the Hallmark corporation, including correspondence between Hallmark’s founder, Joyce C. Hall, and famous artists like Norman Rockwell.
Each child entering the museum is given a passport to stamp off in each section of the museum.
There were sections of the museum demonstrating Hallmark’s manufacturing process, like how they die-cut and print cards and a wonderful bow-making machine where children can push a button, watch a bow being made and get a free bow to take home!
There is also a wonderful section of Christmas trees. Joyce C. Hall, the founder and chairman, must have been beloved by his employees. Each Christmas, the employees would create an elaborate Christmas tree, constructing both the tree and the ornaments, for their boss. Mr. Hall would display the tree in his office for all to see. Some trees were created by famous artists but the homemade-looking ones were my favorites. Here is one example:
What would make the employees work so hard on these Christmas trees? There were many posters up expressing Hallmark Card’s corporate philosophy. One read: “We believe that our products and services must enrich people’s lives.” But the phrase that impressed me the most was this one: “We believe that the people of Hallmark are our company’s most valuable resource.” For a company that has so much intellectual property, so many licensing deals and original works of art, to still value the employees above all of that is truly heartwarming and impressive.
Hallmark even values people who visit its corporate museum! As we were leaving the museum, an employee made sure to grab my attention in the bustle to say, “As a thank you for visiting the Hallmark museum today, here is a free box of Hallmark cards.” WOW! The cards are lovely and I left completely full of good feelings about Hallmark Cards.
We then went on to our time in Kaleidoscope. My daughters loved this! Hallmark also owns Crayola so between the Crayola markers and the Hallmark scraps, they were in heaven making all sorts of things. Their favorite was the custom puzzle, where you draw your own picture on a piece of stiff cardboard and then run the drawing through a machine that cuts it into a puzzle. My eldest daughter cried when our time in the Kaleidoscope was over. She so wanted to stay longer.
We did some shopping in the Halls department store that is owned by Hallmark. These types of cute department stores have practically disappeared everywhere else in the country but they are alive and well at the Crown Center. The merchandise was wonderful and unique. My daughter found a spiked pink backpack for school that she loves (and has received tons of compliments on).
While we were exploring the Crown Center, my husband made a journey to the World War I museum. The entrance has a beautiful bridge over thousands of red poppies.
We met up for lunch in the Crayola café. I had another wonderful salad with supremely fresh produce.
There was so much more to see in Kansas City but we had to make our way west. We got in the car and found the landscape changing more toward “heartland” and “plains.” Notably by four key signs:
We ate dinner at a small Mexican restaurant in Kansas and then drove a short way to our hotel. A full moon was out over the plains and it was so gorgeous it was beyond description.
We arrived at our hotel in Colby, Kansas and experienced class A midwestern hospitality. We inquired if the pool was still open. “No, but we could open it for you!” the employee helpfully offered. We decided to just tuck in early for the night but appreciated the offer that made us feel like royalty.
Continue reading: Day 4, Kansas and Colorado