Love the Lord your God, listen to His voice and hold fast to Him, for the Lord is your life! Deut. 30:20

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Kansas Adventures, October, Part 3

From Castle Rock, we went south to Highway 4 on 20 miles of well kept dirt road. We could have gone north to 70 which was maybe 5 miles less distance, but we wanted to travel roads we haven't been on before and we've been on 70 plenty of times.

At Highway 83, we turned north until we came to the sign for Monument Rocks. At the sign we turned south then east on dirt road for 7 miles. We encountered about 20 deer who ran at our approaching truck.

Monument Rocks. Erosion has carved these chalk pyramids from what was once the floor of a vast inland sea (the flood). This site is the first natural landmark chosen by the US Dept. of Interior as a National Natural Landmark.

These chalk beds have eroded into unusual spires and shapes, making them spectacular landmarks on the plains of western Kansas!

This looked like a fossil of a petrified tree stump.

Al enjoyed studying the rock layers and as a creationist could see evidences for the flood and if you want to talk to him ever about why evolution is a bad theory, well, he will be willing to talk!

God's creation is magnificent! Lord, You are worthy of our praise!
"This is what the Lord says - Your Redeemer, who formed you in the womb.
I am the Lord,
who has made all things,
who alone stretched out the heavens,
who spread out the earth by myself."
Isaiah 44:24

Friday, October 21, 2011

Kansas Adventures, October, Part 2

Our next leg of the journey took us to the Smokey Valley Scenic Byway. It is named that because of the hazy appearance at sunrise and sunset.

We drove to the Cedar Bluffs. Wow! So impressive!

There was a deer that had met his demise at the bottom of the canyon. Probably was being chased by a mountain lion (yes, they do exist in Kansas!) and didn't realize there was this cliff in front of him.
There is an abundance of yucca and would you believe aspens? Like Colorado and New Mexico combined! And there is wild mint growing too. You can just smell it in the air and the smell lingered on our shoes also.
We drove down to the bottom of the cliff as far as we could go. Al thought we should go on a hike and explore. It looked a little eery to me. Hardly even a trail, but Al said "Come on! It's an adventure!"
Oh my. Now I was just a little freaked out.
After about a 10 minute walk, we came to the lake.
In 1867 here at Cedar Bluff there was an Indian attack on a wagon train that was transporting a threshing machine to Salt Lake City. The remains of the threshing machine could be seen for years after the attack.
After we got back to the car (safely), we continued on west on dirt roads. Great Plains country. You could see for miles! Late in the last century this territory was the domain of the Cheyenne and Kiowa, General Custer and his troops and the likes of Buffalo Bill.

We turned west on the wrong dirt road and sort of got lost. Al says we weren't lost, we were just going west on a road we didn't know the name of. I tried to put "Castle Rock" as our destination into the GPS, but it wouldn't recognize it. We kept driving west and pretty soon we could tell that the terrain ahead was looking somewhat rugged and that maybe that is where we should go. Soon enough we saw a sign for "Castle Rock".

Castle Rock is in someone's pasture but they allow visitors to come. Just have to be respectful and not trash it up. You go across a cattle guard and follow the trail.

Al took the road to the top of the ridge. I thought he was going to drive over the ridge and I screamed! (Today in my devotions I was reading in the Message from Psalm 46 and I had to laugh out loud. "God is a safe place to hide, ready to help when we need Him. We stand fearless at the cliff-edge of doom." Well, I wasn't so fearless.) Al is such a tease sometimes and he had me thinking the car was not going to stop before we went over the edge.

In the distance you can see Castle Rock.

The Badlands

We drove down a narrow and deeply rutted road to the bottom of the cliff. At one point we got stuck. There are a few places that it is so badly rutted that they have made a 2nd path next to the original one. If you go, it would be a good idea to take 4-wheel drive if possible.

We found the badlands area just south of Castle Rock to be very interesting and wish we would have had time to do more exploring there!
The Castle Rock limestone, chalk and shale formation is fragile and may not last many more years. The tallest spire fell during a thunderstorm in 2001.

The shadows were lengthening and we needed to get to our next stop - Monument Rocks before the sun set.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Kansas Adventures, October, Part 1

For our October Kansas Adventure, we hit the road going northwest. We like to take back roads whenever possible - highways we have never been on. We headed out toward Great Bend to pick up highways 156 and 4, part of the wetlands & wildlife scenic byway.

Since we were so close to Great Bend, we decided to stop in to see Al's brother who works at John Deere as a service writer.

He was telling us that it is not uncommon to write up repair bills for $20,000 - $40,000! The combine in background brand new would cost a farmer 1/2 million! These new machinery have GPS and can drive themselves. Pretty soon you'll be able to get rid of the farmer! Ha!

Growing up on a farm, Al had thought he would like to be a farmer one day. We tease that he thought he was going to "farm-acy" school. But Al's Dad did not encourage his boys to follow in his footsteps. It was hard and often Dad had to take on a second job. So he told them to go to college and pursue a different career.

Just northeast of Great Bend is the Cheyenne Bottoms wildlife area, a marsh habitat for waterfowl and shorebirds during migrational periods.

Sandhill cranes, whooping cranes, various duck and lots of other birds can be spotted. Bald eagles winter in the area.

We saw a big flock of white pelicans yesterday. They summer in Alberta, Canada and winter in Florida and Mexico.

We saw a few hunters. Hunting is regulated of course because of many endangered and protected birds.

We left the area and drove west on highway 4. Friendly locals would wave to us. Al said they aren't used to seeing humans around. There truly was so little traffic! We were the only ones on the road it seemed.

There are miles of stone fence posts. Farmers and ranchers quarried the abundance of rock to make fence posts since there were so few trees in the area.
Many barns and homes had seen better days. If only we could "hear" the stories they could tell us.

It was past 1:30 and we began to look for places to eat. We like to try those rural mom and pop restaurants - hole in the wall type places. Unfortunately, although many of these small towns had bars (this town had 3) we could not find a diner. So we had to settle for a bar that advertized that it served food too. I was wishing I'd packed a picnic.
The establishment was clean and not smokey at all due to laws. A little tacky perhaps. Check out the curtains made from bed sheets. And I've never had an ice tea or 7-up served up in Bud Light cups before! We just are not bar type people. Oh well, the hamburger and enchilada were decent enough.

We were refreshed and ready for the next part of the adventure!