10 - 30 August 2016 Kansas & Oklahoma

Wednesday 10th August.

The Raccoons are back in the dumpster!

Departed Lake Jacomo this morning

and headed west into Kansas and the Great Plains. We quickly came to the state line into Kansas

and picked up the I-35 south down to Wichita. About 100 miles down the road we came to the Flint Hills. Here the terrain became grassland prairie with herds of grazing cattle. This is the largest unplowed area of prairie that remains on the Great Plains and originally bison inhabited the land. Early settlers were unable to plow the flint rock soil, therefore, cattle ranches predominated and the tallgrass prairie survived.

We pulled in at the Wellington KOA campground just off the 1-35. Jodie, the owner of the park, booked us in and we settled down into a nice shady pitch. This is a very nice park, large grassy camp sites, excellent restrooms and laundry, swimming pool and fishing lake surrounded by reeds and bulrushes, all really well looked after.

We took a ride into Wellington, a pleasant small mid-west town and found The Dore bar. Had a chat with a couple of locales at the bar. The big industry around here is aircraft building, although there is still a lot of agriculture. The town is on the historic Chisholm Trail, an overland cattle drive from Texas ranches to the railheads in Kansas.

Thursday 11th – 18th August

The first few days were searingly hot with temperatures in the high 30’s but apparently it is not bad for Kansas in August as it can be in the 40’s.

We have spent a relaxing week, dipping in and out of the swimming pool trying to keep cool.

The mail was forwarded from our Escapees mail box and we plowed through that and generally got a few things done around the RV. Before going to Mexico we also took the opportunity to send for a few things from Amazon. Walmart is just a corn field away,

therefore shopping has been easy. Paid a visit to the Regis hair salon in Walmart for highlights and a haircut. Jami was the stylist, she has lived in Wellington since she was two and her parents moved here to work in the local aircraft building industry.

Every night just before dusk we have a loud chorus from the local cicadas.

Friday 19th August

The RV Park was full this morning with a group of Kansas Winnebago owners. Everyone seems very friendly and a few have come over to talk to us.

We were due to move on today but then the RV entrance steps stuck and would not fold in properly. Tony took the gears and motor off and went to a RV dealership in Wichita. The outcome was new steps, motor and gears. They are on order and we will be staying here until Tuesday.

As I write we are experiencing the most horrendous storm. At about 8.20pm we could see a weather front coming towards us from the north. It was like a wall of dark blue cloud and lightening. One of our neighbours came over to say take everything in and pull in the awing this is a ‘Kansas storm wall’ coming our way. No sooner had we battened down the hatches and the lightening, thunder and heavy rain pounded us, buffeting and swaying the RV. It went on for over an hour and has now settled down to continual rain.

Saturday 20th – Monday 22nd August

We have had a good weekend, the weather went back to its normal sunny self on Saturday. The Winnebago owners left on Sunday afternoon and we had the campsite to ourselves.

Tuesday 23rd August

Up early this morning to take the RV into Wichita for the steps to be replaced at Flint Hills RV dealers. Tony drove the RV and I followed on in the car. While the work was being done we went down the road to Dillions shopping market where there was a Starbucks for coffee and muffins.

We are now the owners of a new pair of bright shinny steps and a thousand+ dollars lighter.

Next we made our way across town to Ferrell Gas to have a new valve put on the LPG tank so that we can close it off securely when required. The new valve also allows us to attach a hose from the barbeque and run it from the main tank. It proved to be a difficult job but the guys persevered and eventually got the valve fixed and we filled up with propane.

On the way back through Wichita I noticed what I guessed were large grain silos. They were massive and looked like concrete ocean liners.

Wednesday 24th August

Said goodbye to Jodie this morning. We have had a good two weeks here and feel as if we have been on holiday with the hot weather and the swimming pool.

We left town and headed west along the long straight back roads of Kansas.

Came across a large grain silo built at the side of the rail tracks. No doubt waiting for one of the long freight trains to arrive to transport Kansas grain across the country.

At the small town of Anthony we turned due south towards Oklahoma.

The countryside was fields of corn and crops, eventually giving way to cattle farms. Dotted about the fields we saw pump jacks extracting oil. We also noticed many places had tornado shelters.

Approaching the state line we had a good view of the Oklahoma red soil plains.

Just after the border we passed a herd of cows cooling off in a pond surrounded by what looked like cattle egrets. We read that they are native to Africa and colonized southeastern North America in the 1940’s.

We are staying at Great Salt Plains State Park. The Park is situated along the Salt Fork of the Arkansas River and we have a nice site right next to the river.

The landscape of the Great Salt Plains is made up of salt that was left over from when an ocean covered Oklahoma in prehistoric times. The wide stretch of white salt plain looks like a snowy landscape from afar and is famous for the selenite crystals that form within the salt and sand bed. There is also a large salt water lake that was formed when the river was damned in the forties. The salt plain and lake are home to many species of migratory birds.

We went out for a cycle ride around the park before dusk and spotted some small white tail deer.

Thursday 25th August

Woke up this morning just as the sun came up to a beautiful view over the river through the bedroom window.

There is a lot of bird and reptile life along the river including the Great Blue Heron, Snowy Egret, Great Egret, Double Crested Cormorant and plenty of turtles - not forgetting a long black snake.

We took a drive to the south of the salt plains area into the small town of Jet. The economy here is mainly agriculture and we saw many grain trucks whizzing through the down. Like many towns on the plains, Jet has large grain storage elevators towering over Main Street.