Yes, this is Kansas. Even more amazing, this is in western Kansas where the horizon can be flat and unbroken for miles and miles. As I noted in yesterday’s post, Libby and I (and Queequeg) journeyed to Colby, Kansas over the weekend to see #3 Son Aaron and his lovely wife Amber — at their invitation even!
These are the Monument Rocks in Gove County. If you go to that link you can learn all sorts of interesting things about these formations as well as get a photo that gives you the scale of the window in the rock above.
We had stopped here on our way home from our Colby visit. We left the highway and drove 15 miles on nice, two-lane road to the town of Oakley (of Annie Oakley fame) and then another 15 miles on more two-lane road. Then a sign pointed down a pretty good gravel road for another 7 miles. We were way out there, and there was nothing, absolutely nothing to see for those last 7 miles. No houses. No structures. No passing cars. Lots of yucca plants. An occasional hawk. And then we came around a turn and there about a mile ahead were the Monument Rocks rising from the prairie.
The temperature was in the low 40s, and the wind was blowing across the trackless prairie. We were able to drive up to the to the formations and park. We were the only ones there, and we wondered if we could leave Queequeg off the leash. (He hasn’t been very cooperative with our “come” commands yet.) I assumed that the only predator that would be a threat to a three-and-a-half pound pup was a rattlesnake, and I figured they were all in their winter dens in February. Still, we put Queequeg on his leash and headed into the hoodoos.
These structures are truly weird for this part of the world. Where “flatter than a pancake” is literally true about western Kansas, these rocks rise alarmingly from the surrounding land.
We walked around the formations, which are pitted and warped, with lots of grottoes and slopes, and as I came around one point, I stirred a great horned owl from its nest cavity. It was far above us, and it flew over the top of the formations and out of sight. I was instantly glad that we had chosen to put our three-and-a-half pound puppy on his leash, for if he had run ahead of us, he might have been snatched by this efficient predator.
Our diversion from the highway ended up adding an extra hour to our normaly six-hour trek, and with frequent stops for puppy purposes, we wound up taking eight hours to get home. Still, we’d wanted to see these for years, and we were glad we took the opportunity.
- Spotted salamanders move to breeding ponds this week.