July 27, 2008

Flint Hills Scenic Byway

Springtime in the Flint Hills is an awesome sight to behold. After the prairie has been burned in April, fresh shoots of grass will protrude from the ground, soon to cover the charcoal pastures with a carpet of green. On pastures where cattle are raised, you'll see the addition of baby calves lying on the grass soaking up the warm sun on windy days.

Travel the winding Kansas Flint Hills Scenic Byway, Hwy. 177 between Cassoday and Council Grove to see miles of tallgrass prairie stretched out before you--pastures of Big bluestem, Little bluestem, Indian grass, Side-oats grama grass and Switchgrass, all native to this area.

Oh, and did I mention wildflowers. In April and May wildflowers of all sizes and colors will start to blossom on the prairie--Shooting star, Indian paintbrush, Purple milkweed, Daisy fleabane and Prairie ragwort to name just a few.

Something else you'll be sure to see a lot of is native limestone, found in abundance in Chase County. If you travel this road, be sure to visit the Z-Bar Ranch at the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve and the Chase County Courthouse in Cottonwood Falls, built in 1873.

Meager by most standards, but awesome in its simplicity--prairie, stone, cattle, sky. A way of life that's existed for hundreds of years and has stood the test of time--untouched. This is the essence of life I hope to capture in my four-book contemporary series.


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