Kansas looks like one immense farm stretching for miles from one end of the state to the other. The plains were mainly oatmeal coloured with a few stretches of green where new hay had been baled or cattle grazed. Fields are equipped with the tall sprinklers mounted on towers along their ¼ mile length. The Center Pivot Irrigation Sprinklers are crucial to farming on the plains. As well, each town has a series of grain elevators, silos, conveyors and storage bins; some spanking new and others faded and crumbling with age. Farm Equipment Stores flaunt their spiffy coloured tractors, shredders, harvesters, combines, sprayers and tillage in every third town along the highway. Known as the Sunflower State, it is obvious that Kansas is all about agriculture. As well as the Grain Production itself, Flour and Oat Milling, Manufacturing of Ethanol and Vegetable Oils are staple industries. Each farmstead is different; most have at least one barn or cabin from the past. Many abandoned homes, barns and windmills stand battered, bleached and full of stories from the dust-bowl days. Most towns had some form of siren to send out the Tornado Warnings.
“Largest” Easel in the World? Sunflower road signs
Dorothy’s House (he he)
We camped a week at Prairie Dog State Park, a huge area of rolling hills, manmade lake, and grassland supporting Whitetail and Mule Deer, tons of Rabbits and of course, Prairie Dogs. The old shoreline of the lake is piled with driftwood and draped artistically with white foliage. Flocks of Coots, Gulls, Terns, Canada Geese and White Pelicans lived on the many peninsulas jutting into the water. While relaxing beside the motor home we watched a nesting Flicker, a pair of Cardinals, one whom loved to view her reflection in our mirrors; Meadowlarks, flocks of Cedar Wax Wings and Wild Turkeys with the males in spring-mating mode sporting full tail displays. One evening just after sunset, we watched a Great Horned Owl on the prowl. The Prairie Dogs had their own community of raised burrows and deep sets of tunnels in a two acre field near the park entrance. Within the park, we explored an old Adobe Homestead, a unique windmill and some great farm equipment. Although the home resembles many modern bungalows in its design, it was constructed in the late 1890’s.
Our Prairie Dog
Unusual to see Pelicans on fresh water.
The town of Norton was our source for groceries and sundries (we go through a lot of them) and it had some great buildings to photograph. Two worn grain elevators stood near the tracks. The working movie theatre was restored to its former glory. With the spring weather, the trees were in bloom and daffodils and tulips filled the gardens. A gorgeous brick warehouse had been converted to a whole foods store complete with trendy outdoor seating for café guests. Time moves on even though the bible thumpers still rule that no one can buy booze on Sunday anywhere in Kansas! The best in town were two vintage gas stations that looked brand new.
We had a pleasant drive out of Kansas, sticking to the smaller highways and enjoying the old towns and rustic farm buildings along the way. We passed a historical stop marking the Geographical Center of the USA. I had to take a couple of photos signs in the town of Belleville Kansas as I was born in Belleville Ontario! We had stayed in the northern most regions of the state as the current time of year is ripe for wicked weather. A few Tornados had struck in southern Kansas while we were there. As we safely entered Nebraska, it was a relief to say “Toto, I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore!”.
Highest hill in Kansas?