We had a wonderful time at the Tallgrass Prairie near Cottonwood Falls, Kansas on Saturday. But, man oh man! Was it ever hot, hot, hot!!! Even though the wind was blowing heartily, it was hot, and stirred all the grass seed up nicely, too!
We drove out on Friday night, and had a nice quiet night in the motel room, reading until my eyes couldn't stay open. Then Saturday morning we went to Cottonwood Falls, population about 900. There we found several vendors and demonstrations on historical life in the 1800's on the courthouse lawn. We mosied around, and my favorite was the lady spinning wool from her own sheep. She did a nice demo of how it comes "raw" from the sheep; explained how she "washed" it, and then talked about dying it from natural prairie plants.
The sock she was knitting was all dyed from different plants from the Tallgrass Prairie area.
By then, it was pretty hot, and we had already consumed about 4 bottles of water each and it wasn't even noon yet. We started evaluating how long we could last, and whether we would be able to wait until 6PM when the symphony started in the hills. We decided to go to the Tallgrass Prairie site, look around, get lunch and probably leave. When we got there, we took a tour of the 1880's house that is the Ranger Headquarters, and met several "plein air" artists who were painting on the lawn. There was a beautiful 3 story limestone barn where there was a silent auction art sale, as well as a live auction at 1 PM. We decided to sit in the barn, consuming more water and soda (I even had a beer!) and watch the auction. We ended up purchasing a beautiful painting that had been completed as part of the Prairie Arts event held on the grounds. Here's the artist with the painting:
After that, Kevin decided it would be best if he returned to the car, sit in the air conditioning, and take a nap. I went up the ridge on one of the numerous trailers they used, which was about 3 miles ride up the hill. This is where the concert was going to be held, and where they had wagon rides, Kanza Indian displays, tents with historical talks about ranching, geological formations, and a lot of other things I can't remember. It was even hotter up there, if that was possible. I participated in the wildflower walk, and here are two pictures of native wildflowers we discovered:
The local cowboys were escorting the wagon rides, but I just couldn't fathom wanting to sit in a hot covered wagon with about 8 other sweating people. I just wandered around and took in the view from the ridge before I took a ride back down to the entrance again.
If you click on the picture, you will see the white tent in the lower right hand corner. That is the entrance where the cars were parked, and you checked in. You can get sort of a perspective of how high the ridge line where I was standing was in relation to that, as well as how far out the grassland ran further away from the entrance area, too.
Even though there were about 3500 people there, the wind was about all you could hear. It was so easy to imagine the pioneers coming through this area on their trek West. Even though it was magnificent, it was just too hot to stay, so we went back to the hotel room, I took a shower, and then we drove home, to sleep in our own bed (and air conditioning).