Saturday, September 19, 2009

Home on the Range

A couple of years after we moved to Kansas, we attended the formal dedication of the Dole Institute of Politics. As the event began, the local children's choir began singing "Home on the Range" and the assembled masses stood at attention. We were a bit perplexed by this behavior, but quickly discovered that it is the Kansas state song. The pioneer tradition and prairie life are a source of great pride for Kansans, and they are celebrated at the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve. The site is managed by the US Park Service, but is owned by a public-private partnership. We have been planning a trip for several years, but finally made it there this weekend.

We took a less-traveled route on small roads, enjoying the rural scenery. Once we were at the preserve, we hiked and took a bus tour. Several photos and comments follow.

The photo above illustrates the sparse beauty of the tallgrass prairie. The preserve is located in the Flint Hills, and limestone deposits from Kansas' time as a prehistoric sea sit about two feet below ground. The land is not arable for standard agriculture, but is ideal for grasses and wildflowers. The terrain reminded Erik of his travels in Mongolia.

While fall is not ideal for viewing wildflowers, it is the best time to see the tallgrass.

Some flowers were still abundant, especially sunflowers.

Carter was a real trooper, as we hiked quite a bit (Carter also earned his "junior ranger" badge by completing several tasks). He has experience hiking - especially during our trip to Ukraine. In fact, we think that our friends Phil, Jani, and Thomas would love the tallgrass prairie.

In addition to showcasing the flora and fauna of the prairie, the site includes a one-room schoolhouse that was used from the late 19th century until the early-mid 20th century.

The Park Service staff conducted a nice tour, and also showed off pioneer skills like quilting.

We'll leave you with two final prairie images from a great visit.

1 comment:

Kristin said...

Now everybody is a jr ranger -- the manchesterians via denali, carter via tallgrass and mine at sagamore hill, of course!