Both DH and Ruby Slipper were raring to go, but I wasn’t so sure. I think AGE had set in. DH wanted to see Maine one more time before we couldn’t travel anymore and the Black Hills were his second choice. Texas was a third. Looking at the distance to Maine (and the thoughts of leaving the dog in a kennel so long!) made my knees weak. Texas with water was not appealing. He assured the Black Hills were lots closer. We ended up driving 2300 miles!
We had seen Mount Rushmore and some other main sites on a previous trip, but I found a few new stops along the way. We took all secondary roads like William Least Moon in his Blue Highways. Having time for those kinds of roads gives one a whole new feeling about what he is passing through. The real draw of this road trip was meandering through Middle American’s Heartland. Some people go to the ocean or the mountains for restoration. DH likes mountains but he loves seeing good farmland too. For me, the prairies and plains are spiritual in nature, their beauty suggesting a Higher Power and their history holding many stories of America.
The Mine Creek Battlefield is not far from us but it is inconvenient location. This trip gave opportunity to drive by there on our way north before turning to the west. Unfortunately, the visitor’s center was closed on Monday and Tuesday due to Kansas budgeting. But we still drove in and looked over the area. It was here that the Union with 2500 soldiers whipped 8000 Confederates. I still don’t understand that fight, but this was last struggle for the Rebels in Kansas. The battle lasted only one hour and it was largest cavalry battle in Civil War Kansas.
From here we turned west and began to cross the Flint Hills, a place I love. Kansas often is called a Flyover state but is beautiful in its own way if one takes the time to appreciate. I love the rolling land that was once the bottom of a huge inland ocean. The grass is so rich in nutrients here that Texas used to send cattle up to eat during the summer months. This year due to the excessive rain travelers see lush grass and tree growth with varying shades of green. The wildflowers were not full-blown yet, but their emerging Queen Ann’s Lace, cone flowers, and pink vetch was just beginning.
The cattle dots on the green were scenic to see. Wheat, oats, corn, and fescue were splendid in the fields. The day we left some wheat was still yellow while other fields had turned brown and ripe, ready for combining.
The ribbon of highway stretched out straight to the western horizon. By midafternoon we were in Council Grove, Kansas. It was here that a treaty was signed by Americans and the Osage giving people safe passage on the Santa Fe Trail. Seth Hays, great grandson of Daniel Boone, was an early settler who built the first log cabin in 1848. The Hays House still is on the site and is a great place to eat. This was the first of many Kansas towns with history, small but clean. Note the old buildings still in use.