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Kansas 2007
Part One ...

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Kansas Map
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Trip Map
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 Trip Log

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Our second campground at Hillman Ferry, Land Between the Lakes, KY was secluded and quite birdy. This is a place we could come back to, but now, we're in a hurry to get to Kansas.

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Kentucky Lake looked inviting in the nearly 80 degree heat, but we'd just had an open-air shower, thank you very much, so we'll just look at the sky-blue waters with our telescope.

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Tuesday evening, we pulled into the not-quite-complete driveway of Janie's Mother's former next-door neighbors, Joe & Diane McNeil. Little did they know when they invited us to come visit  their not-quite-complete new home that we would actually show up!

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Joe & Diane had just returned from Maryland and had taken a flat tire into town to be fixed, so we set up our 'scope and lawn chairs, cracked open a cold one and enjoyed the view of the Missouri countryside.

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Joe is quite happy with the work he has completed on the house, but Diane is withholding judgement until it becomes livable.

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We were taken aback when we saw an Amish buggy pull into a gas station, but then we noticed the boat it was towing. Yeah, right, that's more normal. We were taken aback a few weeks later when we returned to this same gas station and the price was $3.09/gallon.

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There's something slightly obscene about this sign.

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Our first campsite in Garnett, KANSAS. Not many other places that one can watch scissor-tailed flycatchers catching bugs in the evening sun.

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The Prairie Spirit Rail-Trail is just across the stream from our campsite. We biked ~12 miles of it before settling in for the night.

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Who says Kansas is FLAT? Why, here in the Flint Hills, on the Konza Prairie, just south of Manhattan, it's not even level!

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See the wagon train and cowboy on the hilltop? It's not FLAT.

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Okay, so the top rail of the fence is level with the horizon, but the whole picture is tilted somewhat, and that's NOT just because the wind was about to blow RVan over!

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The grass at Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve was pretty short this early in the season, so the beautiful old ranch house was clearly visible.

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The 11-room Second Empire style mansion at Spring Hill Farm and Stock Ranch was built in 1881 of native limestone,

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as were the summer kitchen, right, and outhouse, left. The latter is a 3-holer, with 2 windows. Tres chic shit! 

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Just to show you how far away the outhouse is from the inhouse. It probably looks a lot farther away during a cold, windy Kansas winter.

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A couple of "curious outbuildings": the sod-covered chicken house and the carriage house.

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The massive 3-story limestone barn behind the mansion now serves as National Preserve Visitor Center and classroom.

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Sunset over Shady Creek in El Dorado State Park. Too bad you can't hear the scissor-tailed flycatchers chattering away as they raced each other between the trees!

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Valkommen to Lindsborg, KS, world-renowned for DALAS. In this Swedish town in Kansas, DALAS doesn't mean "driving around lookin' at sh*t, but we were doing that, so did we stop? Yah, sure, ya betcha. Dalas are the colorful horses as depicted on this banner, on every storefront, sign, and every street corner in town.

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Hemslojd had a lot of sh*t, er, I mean, Swedish Folk Art, to look at, and buy, of course.

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And Hemslojd has Shirley A. Malm, who handpaints hundreds of DALAS, clocks, napkin-holders, chotchkies, etc. every day. Here she shows off her latest creation, a personalized door harp to be sent to the Paradox Ranch in Marysville, OH.

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And here she shows off her latest creation, a personalized door harp to be sent to the McNeils of Missouri.

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Our map showed that just west of the thriving tourist mecca of Lindsborg, is the town of GENESEO, KANSAS. This is what we expected, a rundown abandoned whistle-stop on the defunct railroad tracks, just like GENESEO, NORTH DAKOTA.

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But there's a lot more to Geneseo, KS than the old depot. There's Main Street, where we saw more cow pies than people on a sunny Saturday afternoon. Where is everyone?

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Ah, maybe all the residents were in the Geneseo Public Library, improving their minds ...

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Or perhaps they're in the Geneseo Mini-Mart having a beer breakfast or gas snacks to get ready for the Rendezvous and Slow Races ...

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but we suspect they're gathered in the cool, dark recesses of the It'll Do Saloon. We didn't check it out.

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We did check out Cheyenne Bottoms,  the richest wetland feeding grounds in the central flyway. "All wildlife watchers should make an annual pilgrimage to Cheyenne Bottoms…" say Bob Gress and George Potts, authors of Watching Kansas Wildlife. On our first, probably not annual, pilgrimage there, and were richly rewarded. First there were several snapping turtles crossing the road.

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Then there were the yellow-headed blackbirds ...

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There were also such strong winds that it was best to bird from inside RVan. Bog drove along slowly while Janie watched through the 'scope. We're on safari in a place where ~45% of the North American shorebird population stops during spring migration!

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Here's one of them North American shorebirds now - an upland sandpiper.

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And here are two more - lesser yellowlegs

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A far more colorful North American shorebird, the black-necked stilt, has shocking pink legs.

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The American Avocets have shockingly rusty red faces and a lack of desire to move even with the big white buffalo that is RVan advancing toward them. The shocks of white feathers on black legs are snowy egrets. Too bad you can't see their bright yellow feet.

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This American bittern is not a rare bird, but it's rare to see one out in the open like this. They normally stand inside the vegetation along the shore with their beaks pointed straight up so they blend into the grass and reeds.

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A horned grebe shows off its golden plumes.

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Shovelers and egrets and herons, oh my.

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After a harrowing night during a Flood Warning and Tornado Watch at Meade Lake, we drove to the far Southwestern corner of KS to the Cimarron National Grasslands. The Cimarron Riverbed in this area was dry as a bone, but this little streamlet by our campsite was not.

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Nearly every picnic table was harboring a tumbleweed or two or ten.

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The Cimarron River may have been dry, but after a brief shower overnight, the grassland roads were not. We were a mere 1 mile from a paved highway when RVan's tires became slick with mud. Even the slight dips in this flattest part of Kansas then seemed like giant abysses, so we were forced  to turn around, veeeerrrrrryyy carefully, and head back the way we came before we were forced to wait for a tow truck.

Next Page, please ...