Spring Trip To The Flint Hills

When I first met Harland he rhapsodized lovingly about one of his favorite spots, The Flint Hills of Kansas. Being a Missouri girl, I’d never heard of the Flint Hills.

All I could picture was hills…

with rock in them…

Big whoop.

I didn’t get it…until Harland took me to visit the Flint Hills the first year after we met.  And then I got it:  the wide open landscapes dotted with cattle, the carefree wildflowers dancing on the wind, the sound of the birds on a summer afternoon, or coyotes yipping from a valley just over the nearby hill in the evening.

Every spring, we hear the Flint Hills calling to us with their new spring wildflowered green hills, and we can’t resist.  After the cattle are worked and the crops planted, we have a little downtime. So Sunday morning we piled our camera equipment and suitcases into the truck and took off for a couple days of rambling.

As soon as we arrived in the Flint Hills region, we headed down the backroads. We don’t have a plan or route, we just wander.

Here are some images from our wanderings on Sunday:

A sturdy stone cattle loading chute for loading or unloading cattle onto trucks

A sturdy stone loading chute for loading or unloading cattle onto trucks

Young cattle

Young cattle

Cattle in the road. Here they have the right of way.

Cattle have the right of way.

An unusually marked steer. Reminds me of caramel and chocolate syrup.

An unusually marked steer. Reminds me of caramel with chocolate syrup.

Vermillion River

Vermillion creek

We came across a creek that had no bridge and was allowed to run across the road. I just had to get out and dip my toes:

A little dip in a creek

A little dip in a creek

While I cooled my toes, Harland took a break in the shade of the walnut trees:

Harland

After cooling my toes in the creek, I took a few pics:

Pale Poppy Mallow

Pale Poppy Mallow

Violet Wood Sorrel

Violet Wood Sorrel

the remains of a small animal's pelvis

the remains of a small animal’s pelvis

After a half hour or so, we hopped back in the truck for more adventuring. We crossed the creek and were on our way:

crossing the creek

crossing the creek

We didn’t get far before I asked Harland to stop to get a closer look at one of my favorite wildflowers:

Blue Wild Indigo

Blue Wild Indigo

Wild Blue Indigo - close- up

Wild Blue Indigo – close- up

And I wandered about a little bit:

Me

Me

But I didn’t go far and soon we were back on the road:

What a view!

What a view!

Cloud Shadows

Cloud Shadows

A fellow wanderer with a happy dog:

A happy dog

A happy dog

I wonder where it goes?

I wonder where it goes?

Me taking a pic of Harland taking a pic

Me taking a pic of Harland taking a pic

On down the road a little further I asked Harland to stop again so I could get a close look at the Kansas state reptile:

Orante Box Turtle

Ornate Box Turtle

This one is a female because her eye is yellow. The males have red eyes.

After visiting Mrs. Turtle, we took off again.

Abandoned ranch house

Abandoned ranch house

Soon it was late afternoon and our tummies were rumbling.  We stopped in Cottonwood Falls, grabbed a sandwich from a convenience store, and ate it at the park. There’s a little motel in town, The Millstream Motel, right on the banks of the Cottonwood River. It’s always full unless you call a week ahead.

But I said to Harland, “Let’s stop by there anyway – they may have had a cancellation.”

Harland:  “I doubt it.”

Me:  “Well, lets’ stop anyway.”

So we did. And the owners, a very nice couple, were shooting the breeze with some friends out front. We pulled into the driveway and asked if they had a room.

And they said, “Why yes, somebody just cancelled.”

Hmmmm….just like I said.  Women’s intuition wins again!

Happy to have found a room

Happy to have found a room

The Millstream

The Millstream

Cute little place to return your room key

Cute little place to return your room key

So we unloaded our luggage and then headed back out to find a good place to watch the sunset.

We paused at the remains of an old homestead:

A row of trees leads to a now-abandoned stone house

A row of trees leads to a now-abandoned stone house

Remains of stone house

Remains of stone house

Then we were off again to seek out the “sunset spot”.

A Nighthawk nesting at the edge of the road caught our eye:

A Nighthawk sitting on her nest

A Nighthawk sitting on her nest

Finally we stopped at the road’s edge on the top of a high hill overlooking a valley to the west – a perfect spot for the sunset.

Coyne Road

Coyne Creek Road, Chase county

I took some pics while waiting for the sun to drop lower on the horizon.

Old barbed wire fence

Old barbed wire fence

Harland taking pics

Harland taking pics

Roundleaf Groundsel

Roundleaf Groundsel

Missouri Evening Primrose

Missouri Evening Primrose

Missouri Evening Primrose

Missouri Evening Primrose

Harland ready for sunset

Harland ready for sunset

Feeling a little tired, I retreated to the truck to put my feet up on the dash and watch the sunset in comfort.

Harland’s lovely image of the sunset:

Sunset, Coyne Road, Chase county, KS.  By: Harland Schuster

Sunset, Coyne Road, Chase county, KS. By: Harland Schuster

A pretty bird with a long tail stopped to visit me:

Scissortail Flycatcher

Scissortail Flycatcher

Somewhere over a nearby hill a lone coyote howled. He was quickly answered by a chorus of coyote yips and howls until every member of the pack had heard its voice sing out over the hills.

The sun slipped away. Birds sang their last songs of the day. The wind slowed to a breeze.

Hushed quiet………….

Harland packed up his camera gear and returned to the truck,

Harland returning to the truck

Harland returning to the truck

and we drove back through the growing twilight to the Millstream for showers and bed.

 xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo

———-> UP NEXT:  The second day of our spring trip to the Flint Hills brought more wanderings and adventures. Check back soon!