By Patty Wilber
So, we decided to drive to Illinois last week so Jim could go to a memorial service for his aunt who had passed away from old age in February.
That part went well and it was very nice to see family.
It is about a 20 hour drive one way, and we took two days for the trip there and two more for the trip back. We spent one day in IL.
During the driving, we read an entire Clive Custler novel and we saw some of the country. We took the southern route through TX, OK, MO and of course IL on the way there, and the middle route of IL, MO, KS, and TX on the way back.
It was interesting to note that no matter where we were or whatever nice scenery we saw, we kept saying, “Well, I am glad we don’t live here!”
On the way there, we stopped at Shaw Nature Reserve and we were able to purchase tickets to enter via my phone on the spur of the moment.
This beautiful bald cypress grove reminded us of some ponds in Delaware (where we lived 30 years ago–oh my–time flies) but the heat and humidity made us say, “Boy, glad we don’t live here!” because of course in NM, it’s a dry heat. Which is true, and it does really make a difference, but it is also cliche! We do live at over 6,500 feet which usually helps us be a little cooler, as well.
Taking pictures of these pretty and very tall thistles in a overgrown lot near a gas station for some reason caused a guy drive up and ask if we were the owners of the area where he was helping with the renovations to make it into a truck stop.
Nope, and glad we look like we might have the money to do that sort of big project, but happy to have the jobs and home we do have!
In Illinois, I got a fun tour of some super SUPER impressive indoor horse arenas (from the road, so pictures would not have been all that revealing). It’d be awfully fine to have such an arena, but nowhere did I see the kind of trails I can ride here, right out the driveway!
On the way home we camped at a lake in KS and when we disembarked from our air conditioned truck we about keeled over from the heat (and humidity). Yes, we drove the truck–and wow does it get amazing miles to the gallon and it also has amazing acceleration when it is not dragging a horse trailer!
At the camping area, were able to swim (twice!) in a very warm lake and the air did cool off to something bearable in the middle of the night. We only got a few mosquito bites. Not many mosquitoes at our house (and no roaches! Too high.) Glad I don’t live there!
We were awakened by rain, so we packed up and headed to the Tall Grass Prairie National Preserve in KS. Only 4% of the tall grass prairie remains, and this preserve has 11,000 acres of it. It was warm and raining when we got there, but stopped so that our 3-ish mile hike was dry –not dry like “it is a dry heat” dry, but dry as in nothing was falling out of the sky!
The preserve is in the Flint Hills region and was (and still is) grazed, but not farmed as the flint soil made (makes) plowing a losing proposition. The headquarters is at an old ranch where the original owner (1880s) had a gazillion dollars and built some impressive and innovative limestone structures. Several buildings were closed due to renovation work or the rain, depending, but the modern visitor center was open with reduced capacity. Since we were the only tourists at the time, we got right in.
The preserve has a little geographical relief, in the form of rolling hills, and there are big trees down by the creeks, but there is a lot of open prairie which is NOT open to equestrians, unless you have the grazing rights.
All that space and nowhere to horse back ride. Glad I don’t live there!!
Once we drove back into the pinon-juniper habitat and saw the Sandias, we breathed a sigh of relief.
Fourteen days of quarantine or not, we are really glad to be home! I even did curbside pick-up with Polk’s Folly Farm Stand to replenish our supply of Kambucha.
As soon as I can get to Hawaii we are going to go visit the 3-year-old birthday girl and her new kitty! But will also be happy to come back home again to dry out, because, AY! The humidity! (Because, you know, here we have that dry heat!)