Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Long Road Home

Long road trips can really wear you down, such as eleven hours in a car with DH and the Monkeys.  All things considered, it went well, despite ongoing illnesses.  The eleven hour drive up was pleasant, actually.  DH and I traded off driving every half tank of gas or so, which made it less onerous.  Plus, the temps at our destination were some 20 degrees cooler in the afternoon than here at home.

We were going to scatter the remaining ashes of DH's parents, and to have a mini reunion.  This would be held in the old home town, to coincide with the locally owned county fair.

We were there two years ago at fair time, with DH's Mom, on her final trip out there .  The kids had a lot of fun at a friendly and safe fair. The county owns the equipment, and the town folks operate and maintain the stuff, so it's NOT a bunch of creepy traveling carnies.  You can pretty much let your kids run free there, though we did have our 20yr old neice who was willing to ride herd on the "Rampaging Cousins" as they all referred to themselves.

If you don't grow up in the Plains states, this land can seem flat and barren.  I can assure you, however, it is neither.  It is however, beautifully empty--not like space, which to me seems cold and unforgiving, but like the ocean, full of life.  A place of nearly endless horizons.
Endless horizons.

I have long been drawn to such vistas--it first struck me, body and soul, on a trip to England, where I spent a long day sitting out on the breakwater of a tiny port in a tiny village on the west coast.  The ocean and the plains are much alike--waves of water, waves of wind in the grain.  Western North Dakota has such vistas, ones with even more terrain than in Kansas.  It is a stunning place, and I can imagine the Flint Hills looked much like the Dakotas, before time wore them down.  Even now, on this trip, these vast empty places call out to me.  I want to be there, live there, be content in semi-solitude.  But unless one farms or ranches cattle, there is no industry, no way to make a living.  One cannot afford to buy land these days, it must be inherited or married into.  But I can dream.
The land is full of draws, and washes.

Windbreaks of trees mark homesteads.  Grain elevators and water towers mark towns.
  There are little cemeteries  dotting the landscape out here, forgotten by time and most people too.  Old cemeteries, with markers back into the 1890's, or earlier.  There must've been a plague of some kind here in the summer of 1891, chicken pox or influenza possibly, for it claimed at least 3 Hanshaw children, one after another, a month or so apart.  

A fourth child is probably there too, but the stone is long since gone, only the footing remains, untended but for the mowing crew.  Yet there are silk flowers on the Horsethief's grave (in reality a stone set for the local unknown dead).

Founders memorial.

There is a memorial here to the first settlers out here, from several of the little communities around.  Dirt roads still link these tiny towns, and you can see a lone vehicle coming from miles away by the dust plume.

Other stones, a trooper from the 6th Kansas Cavalry, Co. F, lacks even a date of death.  Who knows, how long ago D.W. Bruce served, or what became of him?  He was a private, that much I know.

An undated soldier's grave.

Traffic is light out here, and in truth it would be a pleasant trip I think to ride my bike here for a week or two.  The roads are well kept, and the shoulders often wide enough for a car, or a tractor...

Not much traffic out here.
My husband and my kids took lots of pictures too, but most of these are all mine, and they sadly do not do justice to the Great Plains.  Perhaps in another post, when I get all the pictures downloaded to the desktop.  I wish y'all could see what I saw, and feel the draw I felt to this place, these vast open places, God's Country. 


  1. Despite all your trials of the trip, it sounds and looks like the Plains are as spectacular to see as what I've read!....:)JP

  2. So glad you enjoyed your trip to my part of the country. :)

  3. Sounds like a neat trip. Love the old cemetery pictures.

  4. I think the Plains are beautiful and your photos do them justice. There are those who say the desert isn't beautiful but it is...one needs look closely, the beauty is there.

  5. What a delight you are.
    You remind me of all my historian friends - who take a longer, and loving view at life itself . . .
    and give back some honest perspective.

    (Hope you feel better)


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