Travel Log: Flint Hills

Monday wasn’t just Memorial Day. It was also the last day for the next month that neither Dan nor I will be busy with internships.

That basically meant we had to come up with something exciting to do — and we thought we had the perfect plan: Pack everything up and head out on the lake for the day. The only problem was that, when we woke up, there were sustained winds at 30 mph and gusts up to 50 mph.

We just weren’t in the mood for a capsized boat, so we had to come up with plan B.

First, we pulled out some maps to see if there was anywhere nearby worth visiting. Then, we checked online to see if there were any festivals or events. No real luck on either of those fronts.

Finally, Dan stumbled upon some gold as he found a route to the Flint Hills in south-central Kansas. I’d heard my dad talk about the region for my whole life, but I’d never actually visited. I figured it was time!

Within the hour, Dan and I packed up the car, mapped out our directions and hit the road.

Before we got too far, we decided to play it safe and stop for essentials.

As we edged farther west into Kansas, the towns began decreasing in size — and increasing in peculiarity.

I also found a potential future workplace…

Within two hours, we got to Council Grove, the historic and moderately sized town that marks the start of the Flint Hills. We took the chance to stretch our legs and explore a bit.

First, we discovered an ol’ West jail shack.

Then, we came upon an old cannon.

Last, but not least, we found a Subway.

Consumed: Kid-sized sub on wheat with avocado, cucumbers, tomatoes, spinach and provolone.

After enjoying our lunch by the river, Dan and I got back in the car and headed to the real destination.

I must admit, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect out of the Flint Hills. I mean, hills were a given. But, how beautiful could it really be?

As I soon discovered, the answer is, “really quite beautiful.”

I actually wish the pictures could do more justice to the gently waving tall grasses, the natural roll of the hills and the distant point in the horizon where it’s hard to distinguish land from earth…

Twenty miles into our drive down the scenic byway, Dan and I found a turnoff to a natural preserve and outlook spot.

Amidst the green, there was an out-of-place stone mansion.

Inside, a tour of recreated rooms offered a peek into 19th century life on the Kansas prairie. What struck me as most remarkable was just how anyone could cook in the kitchen…

Seriously! That small space served as washroom and kitchen for a whole family.

After touring the rest of the house — which was more exorbitantly furnished — we hiked over to a nearby one-room schoolhouse.

There, the most interesting thing to me was looking over the old rules for teachers in Kansas.

Apparently, it used to be prohibited for female teachers to “loiter in ice cream shops,” “keep company with men” or “be away from their homes between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m.” I wonder how appealing that would be anymore…

After touring the schoolhouse — which didn’t take very long, considering it was only one room — we continued to hike around the grounds.

We also discovered from unique wildlife.

That little guy was some strange horned toad that we found. Still trying to figure out exactly what it was — but if it’s not yet identified, I’m claiming the naming rights.

After a while, we got back on the road and continued to head south. We pulled off a few more times to check out more scenery.

Eventually, our road came to an end, so we got back on the interstate and re-entered modern society.

Before driving back to Lawrence, we pulled off in Emporia for dinner at some Mexican place that was actually the least sketchy restaurant in town.

Consumed: Bean tacos with lettuce and cheese. Also copious amounts of chips and salsa.

After couple of hours and four, dead armadillos spotted by the side of the road, Dan and I made it back to our safe haven of Lawrence. That night, even though I was back in the “big city,” I couldn’t help but feel all the more appreciative of my adopted state.

Questions: What’s your favorite part of your state? What is something that many people don’t know about your state?

Everyone seems to think that Kansas is flat, but that’s definitely not the case! I dare you to run around Lawrence for a while!


5 responses to “Travel Log: Flint Hills

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