Sunday, February 16, 2014

Journeys and Jaunts: the Flint Hills

It was only a few snows ago when Jack and I took off to drive through the Flint Hills of Kansas and learn more about our surroundings.  Over the years we've been able to visit many of the sites listed in Marci Penner's book The Eight Wonders of Kansas Guidebook.  

We had our reasons for this jaunt:  1) to see the grandeur of the Kansas landscape, 2) to visit Council Grove and Cottonwood Falls, and 3) to touch the land my grandfather, Tobias Weaver might have explored nearly a hundred years ago when he was drilling for oil.  Trips like these resonate deep in our souls.

It was a cool crisp day and I shivered when I took photos of the various sites.  The Madonna of the Trail  in Council Grove was our first stop.  The sight of this pioneer woman reminded me of a time when my little Girl Scout troupe traveled to Ponca City to see the statue of The Pioneer Woman.
I stood in awe of this Madonna now and felt the drive and courage of these women as they crossed the prairie and built their homes from mother earth.  She belongs on that pedestal.  

Nearby, I walked past the statue of The Guardian of the Grove, then slid down the hill and touched the waters of the river called Neosho.  That same river runs through my home town of Miami, Oklahoma.  The touch connected me to home.  Lucy ran freely up and down the river bank, and gladly jumped back in the truck muddy feet and all.

Just across the river to the south of Council Grove is Cottonwood Falls.  No wonder it's courthouse gets so much attention.The Chase County Courthouse was a finalist for the Eight Wonders of Kansas because of its striking French Renaissance style and its red mansard roof (p.46 The 8 Wonders of Kansas Guidebook by Marci Penner ).  Jack, however, was more intrigued with the canon that set on the courthouse lawn.

The Scenic byway opened it's door to us that day.  The eeriness of being one of the few cars on the highway made us feel like we'd entered the Twilight Zone.  Having only my cell phone camera doesn't do justice to the colors, the textures, the waving grasses, and hills.  All the more reasons for you, my reader, to drive through the Flint Hills.  

We drove east then west and north to south that day exploring the hills, their contours, and the vastness of hurries, no cares, no worries.  I will always wonder where my grandfather explored and the lands he touched. My mother loved telling stories
about the drives their family used to take on Sundays to go visit her father's oil wells.  Her love for the Flint Hills and the smell of gasoline from the refineries was passed down to me. When I was little and we'd drive past the refinery at Augusta, I held my nose and said, "Pu eee.  My mother turned to me and said, "Letty, that is the smell of money."  Although my grandfather made a money in oil, he also lost money in oil and in the stock market crash of "29.  

Finding solitude in the landscapes that surround us seems to be something Jack and I share, and maybe a touch of connectedness or a link to an ancestor we never knew.  Our roots run deep and in the end it is the land that connects us all.  

What journeys have you taken lately?

1 comment:

  1. Thank you once again.....really enjoy reading your blogs!