I am resting on the shore, absorbing the heavy rays of August sun, watching a tall, elegant bird, peering into the water’s edge. There is a thick, summer stillness and almost imperceptible sound rising from the ripples caused by moving fish and from insects over the lake. Then lift off as the wings soar. We are in Kansas.
Six days earlier, we had packed our camper and headed east from Seattle on our 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, 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, Pennsylvania. 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 had traveled the wide open spaces of the West. We stopped at the Oregon Trail, Arches National Park in Utah, and crossed the continental divide in Colorado at Monarch Pass. We didn’t linger much as we were seeking new sights, not the West we had grown up with and knew so well.
I had lived in the Pacific Northwest my entire life. I 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 would enjoy the surprisingly good Cosmosphere in Hutchison (who knew?) and the Old Cowtown Museum in Wichita. And we would park our camper at Melvern Lake, where we would walk among the tall prairie grass, and where the ranger assured us, when we asked about snakes, not to worry 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 the Mariners. Heavy rains cancelled the game.
We were ready to move to the next leg of the journey.