Sunday, July 21, 2013

Thoughts on Leaving Kansas

Just crossed into Mountain Time Zone and across the state line into Colorado.  Only 3 days in Kansas this trip.  A few years ago I took the train. across the southwest and ended up in Kansas City.  I don't remember much about Kansas from that first trip except a lot of grassy fields and lots of straight roads.  Oh, and I did stop to stand on the prairie and gaze out at the wagon ruts of the old Santa Fe Trail.  This trip I learned mostly about the wind.  And when it's 104 outside it's a hot, dry wind.  But just as I was leaving the state I stopped at the Oakley visitor center and found a set of fun facts that were obviously made for kids but I took the set and learned a few more things that I will pass along:

The roads are straight and flat because let's face it, the state is pretty straight and flat.  Very few things out here to go around or over.

I saw a lot of stone post fences which I consider pretty but hadn't given it much thought until I learned that limestone is abundant here on the prairie.  Trees, not so much.

Speaking of fences, most barbed wire fences are 5 strands high, but if you see one that is 7 strands or higher odds are it's to keep the buffalo in.  You see, they are really great jumpers.


Speaking of buffalo, it seems they tend to face into the wind unlike cattle that tend to have their backs to the wind, hence a buffalo will often walk into a storm and out of it on the other side while the cattle don't fare so well. 

The wind has been harnessed in Kansas for as long as man as been around to use it.  I saw several modern wind farms out on the prairies as I headed into Dodge City.  About an hour west of Dodge I saw a "wing" yard filled with railroad cars and each car carrying one of those giant wings (I guess they're really vanes but wings sounds more poetic don't you think).  But even some of  the early settlers crossing the prairie put the wind to use by making a type of sail from the cover on their wagons.  I'm sure there was enough wind to get them across but I think the horses and oxen would have had trouble keeping up. 

Buffalo Bill Cody was not from Kansas nor did he die and get buried here.  But he has a lovely
monument to his hunting skills on Highway 83 in Oakley.  Their claim to fame is that on this spot Bill Cody was given the nickname of Buffalo Bill after a hunting competition.  Who are we to argue the fact?
Well, so long Kansas.  Hello Colorado!

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