Saturday, October 14, 2017

AND then Back Home...

bygone era in Kansas

Upon leaving Cheyenne Bottoms, near Great Bend Kansas, Highway 4 takes a slight northern route toward Lindsborg, KS and then East to Council Grove.  The old Santa Fe Trail came right through Council Grove on it's way from Independence, Missouri to Santa Fe New Mexico. It was a trail more like an early national highway bringing settlers, goods, and equipment into the unsettled west.  Now Council Grove is a stop over on the Flint Hills Scenic Byway,  Hwy 177.  I turned South.  The Flint Hills regions of Kansas has an under laying rock layer making it unsuitable for plowing so ranching and cattle grazing is the main stay of life in this area....back in the days millions of buffalo roamed these hills, with deer and antelope.   

Farmers and Drovers Bank 1898 Council Grove, KS

The Simcock House in Council Grove,  KS

The Flint Hills S-Byway passes mostly through tall grass prairie, and a few small towns, Council Grove, Cotton Wood Falls, Strong City , and Cassoday.  

Cassoday claims to be the "prairie chicken capital of the world" I didn't see nary a one.  

The Cottonwood Falls Chase County Courthouse 1873

Strong City, KS once called Cottonwood Station because the train stopped here, then changed to Strong City  for William B. Strong President of the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe RR
(later merged with Burlington RR now known as BNSF RR) 1871

Near the end of the Flint Hills Scenic Byway is the Tall Grass Prairie National I stopped.

Unfortunately I got there too late to take the ONE Bus Trip into the preserve, (week days they have one trip at 11 am) It takes you on a 3 1/2 mile ride back into the preserve and to the Bison Herd they have there...and you can not go back on your own.....and only a few trails allow dogs.

I feel that they could at least do one ride back every hr or so since it's such a short ride and get some electric carts to use... the thing is people want to preserve what they can see and visit...and the other trails into the preserve are long and out in the open with no shade...soooo

I took a short hike on the Bottom Land Nature Trail...with the girls, Casey waited in the shade with a fan on him...

it was one of the 3 trails they allow dogs on...


lots of prairie flowers...

...and some thistles that drew some goldfinch do you see the goldfinch in this photo?? He is pretty well hidden...

On the grounds are the remnants of the Jones Family's 7,000 acre Spring Hill Stock Farm...from which the preserve is made up is now at 11,000 acres in size. 

Spring Hill Ranch House

The Spring Hill Barn

Tours are available of the house, barn and grounds...I was not really interested in touring the buildings I'm way too I got my passport book stamped, took the Nature Trail hike with the girls, it was HOT and WINDY...

and then headed on...picking up hwy 54 east at the end of 177  and we stopped near Fort Scott, KS just short of the Missouri State Line.  We camped at the Bourbon Lake County Park, it was free!  Nice lake had a heron pay us a visit...can you find the heron?  All sorts of scavenger hunts in this post...

The dogs loved it here they were able to run around off leash...and we had a quiet night..with millions of frogs singing us a lullaby. 

Next day  it was hammer down to get home in 2 days so an early start to Wednesday...we continued on Hwy 54 and intersected I-49 South and then picked up I-40 East at Fort Smith, Arkansas...and drove through the Ozarks...

I-40 East through the Ozark Mountains

And  we took I-55 South near Memphis, TN  and cut over to I-22/78 in Mississippi,  this route can be a bit weird if you try to get on Hwy 78 back in Memphis it can be one long sit after another as the highways intersect in a busy area....I stay on I-55 south and take one of the roads that cuts over to I22/78 a little farther south after that is is traffic free.  

 We stopped in Waterford south of Holly Springs, MS and stayed in Wall Doxie State Park, we arrived just at dusk. losing that hour getting back into central time made it hard, then we lost another one the next day!  

the Visitors Center

Wall Doxie State Park in Mississippi 

The lake there...

We didn't hang around  next morning after breakfast we got on I-22 East and picked up I-20 East in Birmingham, AL and took it all the way to within 11 miles of home about 9 pm Thursday night on the 21st  of Sept.  

The Dogs and I were Glad to get  home safe. 

This is the last of my scheduled posts. Since arriving back home
I have been feeling pretty tired.  I'm happy to get the last of these experiences down so the history of my adventures are saved.  

Now taking things a little slower this week.  Last week I burned up the daylight with catching up on outside chores, cutting grass, trimming hedges, taking 2 trailer loads of tree debris to the dump.  This year I killed my leaf blower and my hedge trimmer so new ones are sitting in cardboard boxes in the van.....also got a new chain for my chain's time to start sawing up and splitting some wood for the fireplace. 

Today in the yard along with the last few days of our ruby throated hummers, yellow billed cuckoo, and northern parula.  I'm itching to go check some of the areas south of me for shorebirds, if I wait a couple more weeks I think I'll get a bigger reward.

I ended up according to ebird with a new life list of 412 so added 14 new species overall.  Some of the split ones I thought were counting were that Scrub Jay...apparently.  

I had a great Summer in Colorado!! I really hope I can go back next year and pick up where I left off!!

Every day is a new Adventure.


  1. Thanks for all the posts, it takes up time to post . You've made it really interesting for me, not only with the bird life but also your routes that I can follow. When you live in a relatively small country seeing where you have travelled and the vast distances covered, gives a really good perspective of the size of the US. So as always looking forward to your new adventures in life and also any new projects that you do. Once again, thanks.

    1. Thanks Dave, I appreciate your visits to my blog and your comments. I grew a bit tired near the end of this journey as when I have those LONG days of driving to do it wears me out, mentally and the door to get out and can barely move my legs lol....but I see others doing the same thing so it's not just me. I have been very busy with small projects mostly wood cutting when it wasn't raining!

  2. The end of the trip surely did not disappoint. Love the old abandon house and then the other gorgeous old homes so majestic as they stand tall even today. The scenery was beautiful, the lakes birds I did find the Heron but the goldfinch.
    I bet your really beat now and so it's time to rest. You have been on a great trip and I as always thank you for taking me along through your pictures and writing.

    1. Thank you Jo! It was a wonderful trip I want to learn to take it slower but in these areas there is miles and miles of nothing but eye candy and that I enjoy....If you go back to the Goldfinch photo, imagine a clock in the very center and now look where the 8 oclock hr would be pointing do you see the yellow? That is how hard birding can be

  3. You've had a fantastic trip, i've really enjoyed following it through with you :) I think I see the Goldfinch - a little yellow bird?

    1. Thank you so much for following along and leaving your comments! It takes a lot of time to read blogs so I appreciate the extra time it takes to type out a comment. Yes, a little yellow bird...I tried and tried to pish him out in the open but he just wouldn't come out, So I snapped a photo anyways and he was in there juuuuussst

  4. Wow, somdra, some beautiful Scenery! I especially liked that ver first picture! What?! Scrub Jays don't count? Hmmph! They do in MY book! 412 species. That's pretty impressive. Pretty soon you'll have to chase specialties and leave the country to add more! Enjoyed your travels! XO

    1. Haha..well it counted long ago when I frist saw one, just because they split the species of Western Scrub Jay into Woodhouse and I did not get a new tick for the Woodhouse, but maybe when I check off California I'll get an extra tic!

  5. Great trip! I enjoyed every moment of it; thanks for taking us along. And welcome home -- don't work too hard.... you'll need another vacation very soon if you get too tired with all those chores. Wonderful that you got so many lifers.

    1. Thank you Sallie, I did have a wonderful summer, I really need to convince my son to he should come live here so he can take care of things while I travel!

  6. What a great adventure! We so hope to do more of that sooner than later. The Tallgrass Prairie preserve is a fabulous place to end.

    1. I'd love to return without dogs and in time for the bus tour, many good hikes start there.


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