Sunday, April 21, 2013

An Afternoon in Southeast Harvey County, Kansas

After having been committed to doing other responsibilities, it was nice to have an afternoon to get out and explore again, even though it was close to home and I only traveled 78 miles. There is always something new to see!

The streams seem to have some water flowing again after recent snows and rains this spring, so I have begun stopping and looking at them. I came to a bridge over West Wildcat Creek and walked over to look. I heard a rustling and a blue heron started splashing down the creek. I snapped a quick series of photos and captured this image of it's wings stretched. I apologize for the messy background, but had to shoot fast.

I always enjoy exploring cemeteries, and this afternoon I visited 2 Mennonite cemeteries, Grace Hill and Mission, as well as the Whitewater city cemetery. I noticed this beautiful stone fence at the Whitewater Cemetery.

Also, I notice familiar surnames in Mennonite cemeteries and look for unique stones and markers. This day, I noticed a frugal marking on several stones where someone nailed homemade letters for the names on a concrete stone. Here is one example.

Further, I noticed some child's markers at Mission Cemetery, one of which had this spinning whirligig.

I'm always on the lookout for fascinating rural architecture, and noticed some unique examples again this day. Mennonite farms were some of the first in this area of South Central Kansas and I came across a number of examples of homes and barns. One sad barn I noticed is this one back in the trees. Notice the farm had wagon wheels lining their driveway too. I wonder what stories could be told of what happened in this barn over the years!

It was so great to be out yesterday!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Try a Penny Tour

Karen and I live in Wichita, KS but attend church in Hutchinson, about 1 hour by highway to the northwest. Being avid explorers and photographers at heart, we can't stand to travel by the main highway (K-96), especially when we are ready to leave Hutch and head for home. We like to take time to explore.

We like to travel some dirt roads when heading back to Wichita. In the past 10 - 15 years, I have been on almost every rural road in the area bordered by Hutchinson, Newton, Kingman and Wichita, but still notice things I hadn't seen or noticed the last time I was on a particular road.

On Dec 30, 2012 we decided to try a "Penny Tour" as we left Hutchinson. We would flip a penny and whatever direction Abe Lincoln's head was pointing we would travel for 2 miles, then flip again and do the same. We did have a few restrictions - we would not backtrack on the same road, and as we got closer to Wichita, we preferred not to go north or west again.

This photo shows the track we followed as recorded by my handheld GPS:

If you can see this map clearly, you can see we were in eastern Reno County, southern Harvey County, and then travelled south to Wichita.

The normal trip back from Hutch via K-96 is about 50 miles and takes just about an hour. The route we travelled worked out to 74 miles, and took us 2 1/2 hours.

While in eastern Reno County, we noticed a snowman someone had fabricated from wheels with attached tires. He has a tin can hat with a metal pipe in his mouth and a spark plug as a nose. A fascinating piece of rural art.

We noticed that the farmers in the rural areas of western Harvey County seem to raise a good deal of cotton, especially in the sandy areas south and east of Burrton. We saw traces of cotton still left on the stalks remaining in the fields.

Our penny directed us into the small town of Halstead in Harvey County, which we have visited a number of times. We noticed some yard art and drove through downtown. I've heard good comments about the food and atmosphere at Kaleo's Cafe and Bakery and I stopped to admire the store front, mural and artwork at their facility. We intend to get here soon to try their cuisine.

4/25/13: Update - Kaleo's Cafe is now closed.

After leaving Halstead, we headed east, then south back home to Wichita.

Try something like a Penny Tour sometime, or at the very least, get off the main highways and visit the rural areas and small towns to see what rural Kansas truly has to offer. Take your time to see what's out there.