Rather than return to Roundrock again yesterday, we turned the truck to the west and drove to Manhattan, Kansas (they call themselves the Little Apple) to see our twin sons in their college environment.
A fine day was had by all, and a goodly sum of money was spent, and then came the time to return home.
As we dashed back east on I-70 we passed through a quite scenic area called the Flint Hills. This is actually a huge area that takes up a great portion of eastern Kansas, and our many trips to see our three sons at Kansas colleges always took us through the Flint Hills.
Winter is ending, and soon much of this land will be put to flame, sometimes intentionally and sometimes naturally. The fires are awe-inspiring. This is part of the tallgrass prairie of the Midwest. Men on horseback could tie the stalks of grass across their saddles. Pioneers often got lost in the stuff. Buffalo and antelope roamed. What saved the prairie from cultivation was the rocky soil just below the surface of the ground. Fortunately, it was not good farmland so the web of roots that make up true prairie was not broken. This is cattle country now, as it has been for more than 150 years.
As a rural mail carrier, Linda is familiar with much of this part of the country. (She’s also a fan of my sons’ university.) William Least Heat-Moon wrote an engaging and exhaustive account of Chase County, Kansas, at the center of the Flint Hills, in his book PrairyErth.
These photos don’t do justice to the hilliness of this region. I suppose the horizon line is what your eye is first drawn to, and so the mistaken belief that all of Kansas is flat is fortified.
Today a great deal is being done to protect the remnant prairie and ecosystem of the Flint Hills. In addition, there are many guests ranches that cater to families that want to go on actual wagon train excursions and companies that want unique meeting centers.
It’s always nice to drive through the Flint Hills, but once the boys graduate, we will have less occasion to do so.