We traveled south last week for a visit with family in Kansas.  Our route took us off the interstate and along two lane highways and county roads.  It was relaxing and much more interesting than the speed-view when traveling at 70+ miles per hour.  We stopped at small city parks and explored fields of corn and soybeans.  The temperatures were still summer-like but the days are certainly shorter.  The sunsets were beautiful like this one –  fields of flowers and a ball of fire going down over the horizon but still giving its glow and colors to the clouds above.  The field was full of dragonflies and grasshoppers, all in a feeding frenzy before fall and winter’s arrival.  It was a wonderful trip — not just for the scenery but more importantly for the time spent with family.

Sunset over farmfield_StaatsLast weekend as I was driving home from Iowa to Minnesota I was reminded of the beauty of the Midwest heartland.  No big looming mountains, no expansive oceans, no rugged red rocks.  But there’s a vastness of the land that spreads from horizon to horizon.  Here’s the area responsible for much of the food that’s delivered to our tables, and this land goes through the temperature extremes of freezing, thawing, flooding, and drought.  While I was driving on the interstate I kept one eye to the western sky and the colors that were building up to sunset.  As the pinks were glowing I pulled off onto a county road; the smell of soil and cool winds came wafting through the car’s open window.  This one field was between seasons with some snow still clinging to the cold earth, the soil that was thawing, and the ribbons of water and puddles that were reflecting the last light of a beautiful day and sunset.  So much to be thankful for in this spring season of hope and renewal!

BAK_Santa Fe marker_Staats553 miles, 8 days, heat, cold, sun, rain, wind — we had it all on the Biking Across Kansas ride that just finished last Saturday.  It was a great experience, and an adventure of the best kind.  800+ riders travelled from the Colorado border across southern Kansas to the Missouri border.  We stayed in small towns that rolled out the red carpet for this mass of hungry cyclists.  The wheat in western Kansas was golden and beautiful, and the Flint Hills of central Kansas were lush and green.  Wildflowers were in bloom throughout the state, benefiting from the abundance of rain in the past few months.  And I can attest to the fact that Kansas in NOT flat;  the rolling hills of the east side of the state gave us our toughest workout.  This was a perfect way to see and experience my home state.  Bicycling puts you directly into the landscape, and you meet the locals face-to-face.  Everyone (and I do mean everyone) was friendly, giving me a real taste of mid-western hospitality.  This was the 35th year for the BAK ride (www.bak.org), and I tip my helmet to the BAK committee.  The ride was wonderfully organized, the food was fabulous, and the entire experience was a great adventure!