I’m resting on the shore, absorbing the heavy rays of August sun, watching a tall, elegant bird, peering into the water’s edge. There’s a thick, summer stillness and almost imperceptible sound rising from the ripples caused by fish and the insects skirting over the lake. Then lift off as the wings soar. We are in Kansas.
Six days earlier, we’d packed our camper and headed east from Seattle on an epic road trip across the country with this basic itinerary in mind: head southeast and across the middle of the heartland to Virginia, via Kansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, and the Blue Ridge Parkway. Head north for the Adirondacks in upstate New York. Throw in other places as desired. Mammoth Cave, Kentucky. The Great Smoky Mountains. Monticello. Colonial Williamsburg. Hershey. Niagara Falls. And when you’re good and ready, head for home by way of Chicago, and the Badlands of South Dakota.
The past week, we’d traveled the open spaces of the West. We stopped for a look at the Oregon Trail near Baker City (now THAT was a road trip!), gazed at the those beautiful arches at the national park in Utah, and crossed the continental divide at Monarch Pass in Colorado. We didn’t linger long at any of these as we were seeking new sights, not the West we had grown up with and knew so well.
I’ve lived my whole life in the Pacific Northwest and had seen it all. Mt. Rainier. The Olympics and the rain forest. The Mighty Columbia. The wet and the damp and the rainy. On this trip I wanted to see the anti-northwest and that definitely included that flat land, where Dorothy ran home to get away from that dark twister. The very center of the contiguous United States.
Now we were in Kansas camped at Spring Lake RV Resort. It was here we slowed down and heard the cicadas chirping and the fireflies flashing their blips of light in the night sky. This was new territory for us.
During the next couple of days we’d see Apollo 13 and V1 and V2 rockets at the Cosmosphere in Hutchison (who knew?)
We’d walk the streets in the sweltering heat at Old Cowtown Museum in Wichita. And we’d park our camper at Melvern Lake, where we walked among tall prairie grass, and where the ranger assured us, not to worry about the snakes as only four kinds were poisonous. (!)
On our last night in Kansas, we finally did have dark, angry skies and unfortunately it was after we had arrived at the ball park in Kansas City where the Royals were to play our Seattle Mariners. Heavy rains cancelled the game.
We were ready to move to the next leg of the journey.