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Sept 1st 2022

Left Big Lake State Park at around 8am this morning. I was able to get some sunrise pics before we left the area. Got eaten up by some kind of insect while here, especially around my ankles. The drive to here took about 6 hours. Had a high temp alarm on the tpms which we determined was caused by the unit getting too warm on the dash of the truck. Cindy did some of the laundry this evening while Chloe and I hung out at the trailer after taking her for an evening walk. Got water filtering, so will hopefully get caught up on having plenty of drinking water. Also filled up the fresh water tank after getting here. Linda had a challenge getting level, so went over and helped her with that.

Sept 2nd 2022

Today started off with taking Chloe for her morning walk around the park. We took on the park's so-called nature walk trail. Turned out to be a gravel road that went back about a 1/3 of a mile. Not exactly a nature trail by my definition, but did allow Chloe to get some walking in. Went over to Diane's house around 11am, and today is her birthday, so we took her out to HuHot for lunch. This was not anywhere close to the quality that we found at the locations in Colorado Springs. Autumn came over to Diane's place so got a chance to meet her and her boy, Mathias. She also came back around 9 so got to meet her man Breydan, all very nice folks. Also got to finally meet Cindy's niece Deanna and 3 of her daughters. We finally got headed home after 10 and arrived back at the trailer just after 11p and off to bed.

Sept 3rd 2022

Took Chloe for her morning walk and was fortunate enough to be out when the sun was coming up, so got some more great sunrise pictures. Worked a bit on web pages trying to keep quiet as Cindy woke up with a migraine. She got up around 10am and seems to be feeling better now. Didn't realize how many stops we had made that put me behind in keeping up with our travels, not to mention how many slideshows I need to put together.

Cindy got over her headache, so she and Linda went grocery shopping for tomorrow's cookout. While she was gone, I worked on moving all my travel notes over to my HTML editing program. I am hoping this will make it a bit easier to create my webpages as well as the videos. Deanna and her family are coming over tomorrow afternoon, thus the reason that we are doing a cookout. Diane should be over later this afternoon, as well as Brendon and his girlfriend. So this will make for a rather full afternoon and busy tomorrow. We are planning to eat the pulled pork that the park is selling here for supper, thus keeping us from having to cook.

Brendan and his girlfriend Katie as well as Diane showed up for a visit at around 2:30 PM. We had a good visit with everyone, as well as enjoyed some alcoholic beverages and after the day got on into late evening, so we had shade, we had ourselves an enjoyable time sitting outside out of the air conditioning that we seem to always be stuck under. They took off at around 9:15 PM, and we cleaned up inside and were off to bed.

Sept 4th 2022

Today Deanna, Jeremy and their children will be over for dinner and visiting. So because of the things that needed to be done in order to be ready for them, I took Chloe for her morning walk. Followed up with eating breakfast from this park, Cindy had the breakfast burritos and I had the biscuits and gravy. They were actually decent food. Took the trash out for Cindy, put up the flag at the front of the trailer. Got out the grill so that I am ready to make fatty's for dinner, changing out the mesquite pellets for Hickory and Apple. Locked up the bikes to the trailer and I put up our little flag from Grand Design that has our name on it.

Watched a few interesting videos as well as looked up some new recipes for making the fatty. And one of the things that I want to try in the future is making them with sausage. The other cool thing that I found on those videos, is to put the fatty on saran wrap, put the cheese in it and then roll it up rather than folding and tucking it like I have in the past. That method of putting them together seems to allow them to hold together better, as well as spreading out the cheese so that one does not end up with melted cheese everywhere.

So today's fatty didn't turn out as well as normal. Instead of mixing the Yoshidas into the meat as I have done in the past, I flattened the meat and poured the Yoshidas on the surface topped with cheese and rolled it up. It didn't come out as moist and developed a hard crust on the outside of the roll. So I will go back to the other way of doing it in the future. Plus, the Traeger just doesn't do as good of a job as the Masterbuilt smoker did.

Deanna and the four oldest girls came by first, and the girls amused themselves with riding the bicycle after Cindy showed them how, they also played ladder toss and bumped their volleyball around with one another. Jeremy showed up with Madison and Lucy later on. We had dinner plus all the snacks, birthday cake for Diane and then spent the evening visiting and enjoying one another's company. Deanna and Jeremy were full of rving related questions. Lucy is a bundle of fun energy and Madison is very talkative, which Cindy said is a huge change from the last time she saw her.

Sept 5th 2022

Got up this morning and took Chloe for her walk, and put water into the freshwater tank. Not for sure how we went through a tank full of water so fast. Had a bit of breakfast, put away the Traeger grill, and picked up around the yard so that we are ready to go over to Miss Diane's place and do some touristy stuff. We also grabbed a shower for each of us prior to heading out for the day.

So we went to the Keeper Of The Plains located in downtown Wichita. Cindy's niece Autumn and her husband Brayden as well as her nephew Brendan and his lady Katie came along with us. Really a unique area, with the Keeper Of The Plains being based on recognition of the Indian tribes. They have a great set of memorials for the service people of the area, starting with recognition of the revolutionary war all the way through the Iraq freedom campaign.

After doing that tour, we went to Cracker Barrel for lunch, then came out to the rig's and visited here for the rest of the afternoon. It was a great day as we got in good exercise, good companion time with family and lots of really neat pictures. Worked on leftovers from yesterday for supper. There are still plenty of leftovers needing to be cleaned up.

Sept 6th 2022

Got the day started with Chloe and her morning walk. No breakfast this morning, plus wrapped up logs from yesterday. Traveled into Diane's place and came up with a game plan for the day, the museum, lunch and then back to her place. She has scouts tonight, plus needed to take care of the gal that she helps with.

Upon getting back to the trailer, I put up some of the chairs, one of the tables and just basically tidied up our spot. Cindy painted the back of one of her rugs with stuff to stop them from sliding on the floor. Did a bit more research on our stay in New Mexico. Got a chance to visit with our neighbors that are on each side of us. The folks to the East of us are from Canada, and to the west live here in Kansas. The folks from Kansas said that the stop we are doing in Pratt is a gorgeous area, so it was a good choice to stop there.

Kansas Aviation Museum:

The history of the Kansas Aviation Museum Building.

Fun facts

Because the airport was the stop-over for refueling for trips across the country, many celebrities spent layovers waiting in this building. Howard Hughes. Amelia Earhart. Charles Lindbergh. Eleanor Whitney. Gregory Peck. Fred Astaire – well, waiting for a flight, Fred Astaire gave an impromptu tap dance across the atrium floor.

September 25, 1945: the Wichita municipal airport hangar burned down in 1945. The hangar had been used as the airport until the municipal Airport building was finished in 1935. Mary Van Sioc was on duty in the tower that night. She had just sent a plane off, and saw the fire. An engine had caught fire and spread due to the chemicals in material used on the planes at the time. She called the fire department, yet 27 Planes, one fire engine, and the building was lost. Thankfully, there was no loss of life and no injuries were sustained.

Sept 7th 2022

This morning started off with the typical take Chloe for her money morning constitutional. Ended up doing a full loop of the campground here, which gave us just shy of a mile walk this morning. Diane showed up about 11 o'clock for us to head out to Fort Larned. She had to pick up Diana from the airport and drop her off at home prior to coming out here. We made the 125 mile drive out to the fort and arrived there around 1:30 PM. We toured the fort and took some videos. They were being stupid about masks, so I did not go into the visitor center. The visitor center had a video which I wasn't able to watch, but Diane and Linda shared it was a pretty good video. Overall, the fort is actually in pretty good shape and was a very interesting place to go check out. After finishing at the fort we loaded up and went back into Larned Kansas. We went to the local subway and ordered sandwiches and had lunch before heading back to Diane's place in Wichita to pick up Linda's medicine that had been delivered. We arrived back home at around 8 PM, had a few snacks and went to bed. Did get a chance to chat with Ben tonight and got caught up on everything that's going on there.

Information from the Fort Larned brochure:

At Fort Larned, Which lies just steps from the Santa Fe Trail, cultures mixed every day. Soldiers met plains Indians, European American and Hispanic Teamsters, homesteaders, height hunters, scouts, and railroad workers. US Army regulars served with paroled Confederates. The fort housed African-Americans later known as buffalo soldiers, who formed the company of the 10th cavalry.

The post evolved from a rough, temporary camp set up in 1859 to guard the construction of an Adobe mail station. It was a bustling soldier town by 1867 but became a ghost town by 1878. The soldier's primary purpose was to escort mill coaches and military supply wagons on the trail. Their broader mission was to keep the peace on the plains end and take action when required.

The Fort also hosted Indian agents for the Shyam, Arapaho, plains Apache, Kiowa, and Comanche tribes. In 1867, peace commissioners appointed by Congress met at Fort Larned to plan the medicine Lodge treaties.

A huge American flag flew atop a 100-foot pole at the Paris brown center. Many travelers saw the flag as a beacon of strength and security, but for the plains Indians it symbolized lost freedom.

Touring the fort: although fort Larned is one of the best preserved western forts, its appearance today below is that of the late 1860s. The mini wood and Adobe buildings outside the central parade ground (the hospital, laundry, stables, Mill station, bowling alley, Teamsters quarters, and others) Quickly deteriorated and did not survive.

From 1865 to 1868/200 civilians labor to complete tin sandstone buildings, boosting the local economy. Nine of these buildings still stand. Construction in the freighting of supplies among the western forts were welcome sources for civilian contracts.

The Santa Fe Trail: spanning 900 miles of the great plains, the trail offered riches an adventure for some – at the risk of hardship and peril. Many westbound wagons carried military supplies, metal tools, cough, and alcohol. Other goods included hardware like fish hooks, crate items like cut glass beads, Home Goods like cookware, and staples light brown Havana sugar and coffee. Some plains Indians feud travelers on the trail as trespassers. As clashes room or a frequent, the US government expanded the string of forts along the trail to protect American interests and promote peace.

First mail station: US postmaster general Joseph Holt asked the war department to protect the Pawnee Fork Mill Station from Indian raids in 1859. The US army soon arrived and by 1860 began constructing a permanent fort. In 1861 the garrison expanded from 60 to 292 men, but throughout Fort Larned's lifetime its numbers rose and fell. Factors included the US army's need for troops to fight back east in the Civil War, the intermittent nature of Indian hostilities, and evolving US government policy toward the tribes.

Buffalo soldiers: One of the first African-American cavalry units of the post-Civil War US Army, Company A, 10th Cavalry, arrived at Fort Larned in April 1867. In late December 1868 after a fight over a billiards game, the cavalry stables burned. Arson was suspected, but no witnesses came forward. On the night of the fire, commanding officer Major John Yard had ordered Company A to guard a distant wood pile. Soon after, Yard transferred the unit to Fort Zarah rather than deal with the racial tensions.

Indian agency: By 1866 two Indian agents had set up offices at Fort Larned – Edward W Wynkoop for the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes and Jesse Leavenworth for the Kiowa, Plains Apache, and Comanche. In 1868, two days after Lieutenant Colonel George Custer led an attack on a peaceful Cheyenne camp on the Washita river, Edward W Wynkoop resigned.

Crimes: tribes visited the Indian agency to collect annuities-including guns, blankets, tools, clothing, coffee, and flour-promised to them in the Little Arkansas and Medicine Lodge Treaties of 1865 and 1867 in exchange for their lands. Congress intended the annuities to placate the tribes, help them adopt European American ways, and help them adapt to life on the reservations.

After the 1680s, when plains Indians first mounted horses, tribes including the Cheyenne, Arapaho, plains Apache, Lakota, Kiowa, and Comanche moved across the region in pursuit of bison. The animal provided for their material culture-skins for teepees, clothing, and trade, bone for tools-and food for sustenance. By the 1860s, a stream of newcomers and changing US government policies limited the tribes' access to the bison herds and imposed strict boundaries. Commerce, aided by the US Army, became an agent of change. Plains Indian tribes divided into two groups north and south of the Arkansas River. They fought for control of the grasses-to feed the horses-and bison herds until 1840, when they reached a piece. The Santa Fe trail followed the same river that had served as a boundary for the two groups. The river also formed Mexico's northern border until 1848.

Historical Timeline

Sept 8th 2022

Brought my logs up to date after sleeping in this morning plus taking Chloe out for her morning walk. Cindy did laundry. Uploaded all pictures from here to Google and put them in albums. Talked with folks from Lippert regarding axles, but they are straight from Dexter, and it appears tire problem is actually a weight issue as I suspected. They did say that there is a video on their website that shows how to stretch the rubber glazing that is on the windows to make them fit properly. Also on their website they have tape that we can put on the awnings to extend the canvas life where it is starting to break down at the upper edge. Will get back with them this winter to get the parts kit for the axle equalizer that has wet bolts. They did say we can go to heavier axles for more weight, but that also requires larger tires, which would mean new rims plus rubber. They also let us know that there will be an ABS drum brake add on available next year for our 10" drums. And the last thing was the fall Lippert get together to get more knowledge about their components as well as public input on other stuff they can do to help on the rigs. Too late for this year's event, but will keep our eyes open for next year's event.

Zoe's volleyball match: She played on the JV team for Newton HS. She is fun to watch as she is the spitting image of Diane in the way that she stands, walks, and moves. Her team played hard but came up short in the match. Nice facility with 2 matches going side by side.

Visited with neighbors at the park over propane ring after getting back to the park. They were from Greensburg, KS. Their whole town was wiped out by a tornado back in 2007. They said that they had rebuilt, as most of the town also was. He retired from the county road department. Nice folks and enjoyed visiting with them.

Sept 9th 2022

Typical morning with taking Chloe out for her morning activities and getting ready for our day out. Diane came out to the park and picked us up, and we headed to our first stop, about 70 miles east of where we were staying.

Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve: from the park brochure

The Last Stand: Tallgrass prairie once covered 140 million acres of North America. Now less than 4% remains, mostly in the Flint Hills of Kansas. On Nov 12, 1996, Congress created the 10,894-acres preserve, protecting a nationally significant example of the once-vast tallgrass prairie ecosystem, while preserving a unique collection of cultural resources from prehistoric times through the ranching era.

Central North Americas, once called the Great American Desert, supports 3 types of grasslands. Tallgrass, mixed grass, and short grass prairies respond to decreasing rainfall amounts, while providing food and habitat for hundreds of prairie animals. For grasses dominate tallgrass prairie-big and little bluestem, switchgrass, and Indian grass. Travelers and traders crossed the vast prairie to find greater opportunities, but development was inevitable as settlers discovered the rich prairie soil.

After John Deere invented the steel moldboard plow-it could cut tough prairie sod-settling and cultivating the Prairie grew by leaps and bounds. In less than a generation the prairie soil was broken, the land settled and forever changed.

American Indians knew well the value of the prairie end of human harmony with nature. Tribes of the Kaw, Osage, Wichita, and Pawnee made this region their home and hunting grounds. Millions of bison roamed the plains, providing food and shelter, and ceremonial life for the tribes. As the United States expanded, Indian removal policies forced the Indians into reservations and changed their cultures. In part to subdue the Indians, the bison were slaughtered almost to extinction. As settlement and agriculture followed, the tallgrass prairie made its last stand.

The Flint Hills of Kansas: over 250 million years ago this area was a vast inland sea that deposited great layers of limestone, shale, and flint. The flint hills were created as softer shales eroded away, leaving behind hardened flint shelves, in a process called differential erosion. The flint hills were too rocky to plow, except in the bottomland of creeks and rivers.

Prairie fires: before humans lived here, lightning ignited fires raced unchecked over the prairie until a large river or stream stopped them. Bison followed the burning Prairie, grazing on tender new plant shoots. Seeing this, American Indians used fire for attracting large grazing animals to hunt. Managing the prairie by using fire and grazing allows for greater prairie diversity. Today, the preserve staff works to mimic these natural processes for the prairies health.

The Prairie Lives Underground:

A significant world exists underground as the tall grass prairie root systems reach down 15 to 25 feet into the soil, surviving fire, drought, and the changing environment. In dry periods, prairie plants go dormant, conserving energy for regrowth when rain penetrates the soil. Thousands of nematodes and other animals help keep the prairie healthy through their normal life functions. They turn and aerate soil by digestion or burrowing. A handful of sod can hold 50-100 nematode species, microscopic worms that eat their way through soil. Burrowing mammals and reptiles evade predators by tunneling.

Over 200 springs and seeps on the preserve begin underground and meander through layers of limestone before they reach the surface. Aquatic life, like the endangered Topeka shiner, thrives in these pools and streams. This seldom seen underground world-nematodes and vast plant root systems mining rich, deep soils-gives life to the creatures above.

Prairie Life Above Ground

Over 400 species of plants,150 kinds of birds, 39 types of reptiles and amphibians, and 31 species of mammals await your discovery here. Examples of most commonly seen animals are rabbits, turkeys, ornate box turtles, snakes, upland sandpipers, collared lizards, and grasshoppers. Far more elusive are foxes, pocket gophers, coyotes, and deer. Bears, antelope, panthers, and bison roamed the North American prairie before it was settled.

Greater prairie chickens prefer areas away from human activity, and their presence indicates that the prairie is biologically diverse. These members of the grouse family need taller, denser grasses for nesting, but they also need open spaces with shorter vegetation-called Leks or booming grounds-for breeding. Where the conditions are diverse, prairie chickens will return to the same leks yearly to mate. The birds are threatened by habitat loss, due to conversion of native prairie to crop land and development.

Prairie life above and below ground work together, along with the preserve's cultural heritage, to tell the continually unfolding story of this fascinating and special place.

Legacy of the Tallgrass Prairie:

One Prairie, Many People: before this land became Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve, many people had cared for it. Set in the Flint Hills of Kansas, this was the traditional land of the Kaw, Osage, Wichita, and Pawnee before its legacy of owners, which included railroads, settlers, ranchers, and business people.

In 1878 Stephen F. and Louisa Jones came here to build a cattle feeding station for their family's Colorado cattle operation. They bought land from individuals and the railroad, growing the Spring Hill Farm and Stock Ranch to 7000 acres. The Joneses owned the land for only 10 years, but left behind ranch buildings in the Second Empire architectural style. They also left over 30 miles of stone fence that had been needed when the cattle range went from open to closed. The fence remnants remind us of this period of change in the cattle industry.

Barney Lantry, the Joneses' neighbor and business partner, bought the ranch in 1888. He combined it with his own ranch for a total of 13,000 acres. After he died, the ranch went through a series of subdivisions, including 1909 to 1935 when the Benninghoven family owned part of the ranch. After they lost it in the Great Depression, George Davis bought it and other land to reunite the Jones and Lantry ranches. In 1955 Davis died; his 11,000 acre ranch with its grand buildings became the Z Bar Ranch.

The Z Bar Ranch, with all the Joneses' grand structures intact, became Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve in 1996. The Nature Conservancy, which owns most of the land, manages the preserve with the National Park Service. As you experience the park, look for clues to the past, present, and future of this prairie legacy.

Exploring The Park: The Preserve is near Strong City, Kansas, between Wichita and Topeka. Hours and programs are listed on the park website. You can observe ranch activities, and enjoy hiking, fishing, programs, and tours. The visitor center is 2 miles north of the US 50 and KS177 intersection, a half mile west of Strong City.

Park programs include living history demonstrations, ranch building tours, guided prairie tours, and self guiding cell phone tours. Children can participate in the junior ranger program.(None of this was available during our visit due to remodeling being done.)

Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve LOWER FOX CREEK SCHOOL: Built in 1882, this one-room school served students until 1930, when it was abandoned and reverted to the ranch owner. The school is a 1/2-mile walk from the ranch headquarters.

Clements Stone Arch Bridge Clements, Kansas Chase County: From Kansas travel website-Clements Stone Arch Bridge is tucked away in the woods at the edge of a field south of Clements, Kansas. The lovely double arch bridge is a little too tucked away, it's difficult getting a really good side view of the bridge in summer.

Built from locally quarried stone, the Clements Bridge over the Cottonwood River has double 28' arches.

When was the Clements Bridge built? Although many sources list the Clements double arch stone bridge as being built in 1886 (and its centennial was celebrated in 1986), bids to do portions of the work were not accepted until late in 1887, and the bridge was not completed until sometime in 1888. The Clements Bridge has been closed for a number of years. The first photo at the top of this page is taken from the bridge that replaced it. But you can still visit and walk across the Clements Bridge, about 1/2 mile south of Clements, Kansas, south of Highway US 50.

The Clements Stone Arch Bridge was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976, but there is no marker.

Wikipedia: The Clements Stone Arch Bridge is a historic bridge across the Cottonwood River .5 miles (0.80 km) southeast of Clements, Kansas. The bridge was built in 1886 by L. P. Santy and Company of Clements, who contracted with the Chase County commission to build it for $12,000. The 175-foot (53 m) bridge is composed of two stone arches rising 40 feet (12 m) above the river. The stone used for the bridge was quarried in Clements, as Santy and Co. also operated a quarry; the use of local materials allows the bridge to match its natural surroundings. The bridge's nomination to the National Register of Historic Places Described it as "a masterpiece of design and stone construction" and "one of the most handsome bridges in the state".

A&W supper yuck We all looked forward to the root beer and food before watching volleyball games, but were very disappointed. Root beer had no flavor and fries were cold and tasted like fish.

Lila's volleyball match

We were able to catch most of her match, and for only being 9 years old, I was impressed by her sense of space while on the court.

Sept 10th 2022

Loaded truck for travel as we are busy all day today and leave in the morning. Typical morning routine with Chloe walk and such.

Zoe's volleyball tournament. 1st game and championship game: They won the first set that we watched and ended up taking 2nd overall in the tournament. Zoe is a pretty decent player.

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