Kansas Trip Summer 2003

June 27, 2003
On the Road Again

We’re on the road again! Tomorrow takes us through Yosemite on 120, and after skirting Mono Lake we’re in for a long day’s drive through the desert, passing through Tonopah and Ely on our way to western Utah. We’ll visit Arches National Park on Sunday, and points beyond as the week progresses. Updates and photos as bandwidth allows.
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June 28, 2003

Wild, Wild West

After starting with a relatively serene view of Yosemite’s Half Dome,

half dome

our journey through the desert revealed some elements of the untamed west.

In eastern Nevada we drove past many “dust devils”,

dust devil

and a bit later spied this intense gateway arch that was completely covered with deer antlers, a sight quite unlike any we’ve seen before.

antler arch

It was a very pleasant day for driving, with high scattered clouds and light traffic out on US 6. The desert was much more green than expected; turns out that recent rains accounted for the nice surprise, which makes sense. Desert life responds well to water :-).

(Larger versions and closeups will be posted when I get more bandwidth than the 24K I get from this hotel room.)
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July 01, 200

Natural Wonders in Utah

Sunday we paused on our journey east to spend some time at the Arches National Park. While in the area we also drove up to the Canyon Lands National Park and visited the Utah State Park known as Dead Horse Point.

Arches 1

Arches 2

Dead Horse Point
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Ancient Dwellings

We drove down to Mesa Verde on Monday, first stopping by Hovenweep, a collection of 5 prehistoric, Puebloan-era villages.

Once we reached Mesa Verde we were able to get good views of many of the ancient cliff dwellings found at this remarkable site where ancient cultures thrived from about 600AD to 1300AD.

Contemplating life along the canyons and valleys that comprise the area makes for some interesting thoughts. For example, there is one valley that stretches about 2 miles and that has ruins on both sides of the canyon, up and down the length of the canyon. Imagining their social, personal and business interactions makes one curious to read some real history about the Anasazi inhabitants of Mesa Verde!

Spruce House 1

Spruce House 2

Square House 1

Square House 2
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July 02, 2003

Drive, Drive, Drive

We knew we’d never make it to Lindsborg if we didn’t stop visiting the attractions along the way; we could spend a week in some of the areas we passed through in just a few hours!

So, Tuesday was spent crossing through southern Colorado on our way home to visit family in McPherson, Lindsborg and the surrounding area. However, we’re not quite done sight-seeing yet . We hope to check out some interesting natural rock formations near the Smokey Hill River out near Gove. Depending on how long we spend at each site we should arrive in Lindsborg late Wednesday or early Thursday.
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July 03, 2003

Western Kansas Rocks!

On Wednesday, our journey continued. We spent most of the day in far western Kansas before heading to Lindsborg, where we arrived a bit after 9pm.

Mount Sunflower, located just east of the Colorado border, is the highest point in Kansas, but a mountain it isn’t. Only barely higher than the surrounding prairie, it does serve a purpose for members of the Highpointers Club, whose members strive to visit the highest point in each state.

Mount Sunflower

More rewarding was our visit to the chalk pyramids, officially known as Monument Rocks. Here we spent a couple of hours (baking in the heat!) taking photos, hiking around the rock formations, and searching for fossil and fossil remnants (the rocks are built upon layer after layer of limestone and fossilized sea life).

Monument Rocks 1

Monument Rocks 2

Monument Arch
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July 04, 2003

Small Town 4th

Sitting here on the western edge of McPherson Kansas, the sights and sounds of fireworks have been entertaining us non-stop for almost 3 hours. From the city’s main exhibition to the private neighborhood displays, the fireworks have been going off continually since shortly after sundown! The fireworks will taper off around midnight, as the local curfew kicks in, but till now it’s been pretty exciting (and loud!).

Based on previous visits and comments from my brother and sister, this is fairly typical; I think the 4th really is celebrated wth a bit more gusto and enthusiasm in small town, midwest America.

fireworks
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July 06, 2003

Local Color

Here’s a view of the Smokey Hill River, taken near the Old Mill in Lindsborg, Kansas:

Smokey Hill River, July 2003

Another view of Lindsborg from Coronado Heights:

Lindsborg, Viewed from Coronado Heights

Nice sunset from Coronado Heights:

Coronado Sunset
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July 08, 2003

Kansas Wheat Harvest 2003

The wheat harvest in Kansas is turning out to be the best one in 3 years. The impact on a small town is chronicled in this story which helps underscore how important agriculture is to the overall Kansas economy.

Here are some photos of the wheat harvest north of Lindsborg, taken over the past few days:

Field of wheat being harvested:

wheat harvest

Combine, used to harvest the wheat:

combine

Once harvest is complete, the fields of stubble are burned off. This is done primarily when crop rotation is not practiced as it reduces the effects of disease caused by planting the same crop in the same field 2 or more years in a row. The primary downfall of burning stubble is the loss of the valuable organic matter, which is better utilized by being worked back into the soil. Given these 2 viewpoints, the burning of wheat stubble is not without controversy.

burning stubble
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July 12, 2003

Smokey Hill River Bridges

One of the things I love about this area is the Smokey Hill River. It used to be that many of the bridges in the area were of the old iron design depicted in these photos. Sadly, most of them have been replaced by more modern designs. While safer, the new bridges certainly lack the character exhibited by the ones they replaced. Here’s some photos of one of the few remaining iron bridges, taken near Marquette, Kansas.

Smokey Hill River Bridge

Smokey Hill River Bridge

Smokey Hill River Bridge
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July 13, 2003

Faris Caves

The Faris Caves are man-made caves hand-carved into a sandstone cliff near the Smokey Hill River in North Central Kansas near Kanopolis Lake. We visited there after a day of geocaching, though we didn’t pursue the cache located at the site. Other caches found that day included Potato Hill and Soldier’s Cap.

Faris Cave, July 2003

Faris Cave, July 2003

Faris Cave, July 2003
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July 16, 2003

Home, We’re on Our Way Home!

We started home about 3:30pm Monday, leaving due west on US 56 out of McPherson. We had an uneventful drive, arriving in Lamar Colorado, around 8pm; well in time for the sunset:

Colorado Sunset, July 2003

The next day, on Colorado highway 10, we spied a most marvelous site; mile after mile of sunflowers, visible on both sides of the road as far as the eye could see. This went on for close to 20 miles:

Colorado Sunflowers, July 2003

Later in the day we stopped at the misnamed Aztec ruins near Aztec, NM.

Aztec Ruins, July 2003

As we drove from Aztec through Farmington we encountered a quite severe sandstorm. The storm cleared as we entered Arizona, but resumed with an even greater intensity as we entered Kayenta, almost 80 miles south of the Four Corners area.

Speaking of the Four Corners, according to my GPS unit and confirmed via some web searches, the actual Four Corners location is actually almost 300 yards to the northwest of the specified location:

Four Corners, July 2003

Surprisingly, 20 miles from Kayenta, up at Monument Valley, the winds and dust were almost non-existent:

Monument Valley, July 2003

Today found us spending a little time shopping at the Native American roadside stands that dot the area, along with a relatively quick trip through the always magnificent Grand Canyon:

Grand Canyon, July 2003

We also spotted a nice buck very close to the road:

buck, July 2003
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July 17, 2003

Great Kansas Photo Site

One of the nice surprises related to my recent geocaching activities was the discovery of an excellent Kansas photo site. Created by Glen Soldan, Our Kansas!, is a great resource for anyone looking for some beautiful spots to visit in Kansas.

There are numerous links to both places to visit as well as other interesting topics; in addition to the photos of each area Glen has also provided useful comments. Highly recommended!
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July 20, 2003

Endings and Beginnings

Three weeks, 5000 miles and 1200 photos later, we’re back from our visit to Kansas, where we had a great time! As reflected in this journal, we took our time both coming and going, exploring the vast and rugged Southwest United States.

Our time in Kansas was very satisfying as we got to spend a lot of time with my dad; a rare treat over the years, and very much enjoyed this trip. Of course, having my brother and his son in the house added to the fun 🙂 To balance things, we did not get to see as many people as we had planned … both family and friends. Sad, but on the whole, the time spent with dad was very special and irreplaceable.

As the prior entries indicate, we did have a nice trip home, but unfortunately, we were unable to return in time to see what I’m sure was a great Neil Young concert. Getting a puppy was worth the loss, though.

To finish off the trip here’s a photo of the sunset on our last day in Kansas:

Kansas Sunset, July 2003
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We Got Our Yorkie!

I mentioned in a previous post that we were too late returning from our Kansas trip to attend what was no doubt a most excellent Neil Young concert; but we did have our reasons.

As it turned out, detouring to visit our Yorkie breeder south of Sacramento proved to be worth missing Neil; we finally got a new dog! We had been looking since April, when we attended a Yorkie show in Sacramento.

We found our breeder via someone we met at that show, and have been working with her for the past month or so. As luck would have it, the first puppy was ready for us the weekend we left for Kansas. She said there would soon be another one, so we decided to be patient.

We were returning from our visit to Kansas, heading west on 120, when we decided to call our breeder. She was usually unavailable on weekends, and we called mainly because we were in the area; we didn’t really expect an answer. Fortune was smiling on us because the breeder was both home and ready to show us two puppies; the original one and the one that had come of age during our absence.

It didn’t take long for one of the puppies to make its choice, and we left shortly thereafter with a very tiny, very precious Yorkshire Terrier puppy. I guess we waited long enough after the loss of Kona; I fell in love with the puppy during the drive home.

Our New Yorkie, July 2003
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