Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Life After Cows...Part Seven...

Eastward we go!

We were hoping to avoid big interstates as much as we could today, since we had a window of several days to get to our next set destination.  After all, part of the fun of this trip was seeing unexpected sights along the way!  We angled northeast on Route 40, and then farther north to Route 36, which runs pretty much directly east along the northern edge of Kansas. 

A little over an hour into our travels, we came across our first unexpected sight for the day.  McCarty Family Farms, in Rexford KS.  We stopped in and got a personal tour of their facility.  In total, between their three farms, they milk over 7000 cows, and have a direct contract with Dannon.  We were not allowed to take any photos, but I will say, it was a state of the art facilty!

Back in the car we went, and enjoyed the trip along the "super 2", as Stan referred to Rt 36.  We were rolling along, minding our own business, when out of the blue we saw one of the "historical marker" signs that we were keeping our eyes out for...


Hmmm...sounded kind of interesting to us!  We followed the directions for x amount of miles north and x amount of miles west, which is so common in the midwest, and found the small park which is at the geographical center of the lower 48 states!

This is the kind of thing that we enjoyed finding.  It didn't have to be fancy, just interesting, and in this case, something that I would imagine most people would have no idea existed!


Lebanon, Kansas...


By this time, the afternoon was quickly passing, and we began to wonder if we would get to Fairbury  before dark.  There is a park there where you can still see the ruts in the ground from the wagon train as it crossed the prairie heading towards Oregon, and we really didn't want to miss it!

Just before dusk, we got to Rock Creek Station, a park outside of Fairbury Nebraska.  The visitor center was closed, but we walked around for about an hour, by which time it was getting pretty dark.

Rock Creek Station was a stage and Pony Express station, and some of the buildings have been reconstructed so we could see what it may have looked like in the mid 1800's...



This particular section has been relatively undisturbed, and if you look closely, you can see the wagon ruts in the weeds, going up the hill, heading west...


Down at the creek bottom, there was a sign explaining where the wagon trains originally had to ford the creek...


It explains how difficult the crossing was, and the reason for the bridge that was built...


This picture is taken from a distance, and if you look closely, you can see the toll bridge in the distance...


In the summer time, wagon rides are given at the park, so this section of the trail is definitely well defined... 


Of course there were also grave markers...


By the time we were finished exploring, it was dark and time to move on.  We were so glad to have been able to visit the park.  I would say this got crossed off of our bucket list...except there is a place in Wyoming that you can see the ruts worn into the rock from the wagon wheels, and grooves from oxen's feet and from people walking.  When we were at my Aunt's house in Colorado, we had no idea how close we were!  We'll have to catch that the next time!

On to Lincoln Nebraska for the night, and then our trek towards Chicago.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Life After Cows...Part Six...

Last time we left you heading east through Colorado, back towards Kansas, where we planned to spend some time with my brother-in-law's parents.

We kept our eyes on Pikes Peak in our rear view mirrors as long as we could...



Once again focusing east, we saw quite a contrast in landscape from what we had seen the past few days...




I will admit, I'm glad we had filled up our gas tank when we left Colorado Springs, because we saw nothing...nothing...for miles.  I guess it's not fair to say we saw "nothing", but it was definitely barren!

Not long before we entered Kansas on Route 40, we stopped in Cheyenne Wells CO for a pit stop and pictures...


Our first tumbleweed...


We made our way into Sharon Springs, KS, and of course found the grain elevators...


We headed south of town for a few miles, and following my sister's directions, found our final destination for the day...


The Sommerfeld house...


We stayed with my brother-in-law's parents, who live in the very western part of Kansas, only a handful of miles from Colorado.  We have visited with Stan and Jan when they have come to PA to visit family, but this was a first for us, to visit their home in Kansas. Jim had been through Sharon Springs on the wheat harvest over 30 years ago, but of course didn't know them then. They very graciously welcomed us, and Jan had a delicious lunch waiting for us when we arrived!

Stan and Jim...


After lunch, we hopped into their vehicle and got a grand tour of the area.  We checked out one of Stan's center pivot irrigation units...


We saw lots of beautiful landscape, blue sky and cotton ball clouds!  It was fun to see how things were beginning to turn green as we made our way across the county.  Spring was definitely showing it's face...


Stan was acquainted with a neighboring farmer who has around 8,000 cows, and we got a personal tour of the facility.  We got to watch them milk in their double-24 milking parlor, and this picture fascinated me.  It spites me that I can't remember how many calves they have on milk, but it was either 300 or 500 bottle babies!  It was fun to watch, but I certainly had no trouble leaving that job for someone else to do!  :)


When we got back to the house, Jan prepared another wonderful meal feast for us!  Her gift of hospitality sure was being used, and we were so honored to be the recipients.

The next morning, Jim and I got up and took a walk.  We kind of saw the sun came up...


 ...and enjoyed walking around in Stan's fields to check out some of his equipment...



Jim checked out the grain truck...


...and we enjoyed watching the horses...


Our visit wasn't very long,but we really enjoyed our time in Sharon Springs, and appreciated Stan and Jan's warm hospitality!


Of course we were sent off with a huge breakfast...strawberry french toast...homemade cinnamon rolls, and much much more...


And did I mention that we also got to take lots of food along for our trip that day?

Thank you so much, Stan and Jan, for taking the time to host us!

Our next set destination was Evanston IL to visit my sister and family, and we had a couple of days to get there, so we studied our map and considered our options.  We decided to head north towards Nebraska, and then east, with a goal of getting to Fairbury Nebraska by late afternoon/evening.  We were interested in seeing some historical Oregon Trail sights.

Off we went, with a few rabbit trails in between.

That will be saved for next time...

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Life After Cows...Part Five...

Well.  It must be Wednesday, my day off, because I'm finally sitting down at the computer to do another post about our trip!

Work has been good.  Busy, but good.  It's been a pretty big learning curve for me, and after working at home for 25 years, an adjustment.  It's not difficult work, but time management is probably the biggest thing right now.  I think I'm finally "over the hump", and if I can just keep caught up, it should only get easier.

Back to our trip...

After a hearty breakfast, we left my Aunt Alice's house on Sunday morning and headed south on Route 25 towards Colorado Springs.  The weather looked more promising that morning, and we could see the beautiful foothills as we headed towards Garden of the Gods, our destination for the day.  About half way between Denver and Colorado Springs, we saw this big rock to the east, just off the highway.

Castle Rock...



We had no tight schedule to follow, so we took the opportunity to stop and take a look.  We found a trail to the top, and enjoyed the hike and the view...
\

We found this little painted stone along the pathway, and left it for the next person to find...






That felt good!  This is the kind of thing we had hoped to be able to do....see things along the way, and be able to stop and enjoy them with no real set schedule!

On to Garden of the Gods.

I was here once before, when I was about ten years old.  I still can't believe how rude (maybe that's a strong word, but still...) I was when I said to my Mom after being there for just a short time..."what's the big deal?  It's just a bunch of rocks!"  How things change as we get older and appreciate the creation that God has made, and how beautiful it is!

Sorry again, Mom!

The day became more overcast and a little bit cool as it went along, and we were a little disappointed to not see Pike's Peak, but it made for great walking weather!  We walked from one end of the park to the other, exploring, and couldn't get enough of looking at the beautiful scenery!  We definitely got our exercise today!

No descriptions necessary...












We headed back to our motel, which was just a few miles away, found a diner for supper, and called it a day.

On Monday morning when we woke up and headed out to pack up the car for our trip back east into Kansas, we saw beautiful blue sky!

Since we were literally only five minutes from Garden of the Gods, we drove back to the park, found a look out high above, and took a lot of pictures.  I won't bore you with them all, but here are a couple of my favorites...




It was so worth it!

We pointed our car eastward, and headed out.  Pikes Peak remained in our mirror for miles...



Next stop, Sharon Springs Ks