Tuesday, December 3, 2013

From Aurora, CO, to Pratt, KS

I'm still trying to get caught up on my blogging.  This is from way back in September.  I took the back roads from Aurora on my way to Pratt.  Why Pratt?  I was meeting a friend there before heading to Wichita.

This petrified building was once a gas station, built in 1932. It claims to be the oldest building on the planet because it was built entirely of petrified wood over 175 million years old.  In 1962 it became a tire shop, but now looks deserted.

Most people have heard of the Arkansas River.  In Colorado it is popular for rafting, kayaking and canoeing and down in Oklahoma it is a commercial waterway since it runs into the Mississippi River, but here in Kansas, it has almost dried up.  I passed over the river three times in a stretch of about 100 miles and there was little or no water.  I was told later it is because of the water being diverted in Colorado for farming.  

M.T. Liggett, creater of this metal folk art, won the Eight Wonders of Kansas Art Award.  You can see his sculptures outside of Mullinville, KS, on Hwy 400.

More of his artwork.

It stretches for a good 1/4 mile down the highway.

Once I arrived at Pratt, I did some exploring of the area.  Nearby is a fish hatchery with a wildlife museum.  The wildlife museum (no live animals) had some great stuffed animals and information, but the highlight of the day was visiting with members of the Kansas Hawking Club.

This beautiful bird just sat on his post, aware of everything going on around.

This hawk still has his head covering on.  It usually isn't a good idea to put two hawks close together.  They eventually did remove her hood and placed her on a post, but the two hawks got to squawking and she got hooded again.   They were beautiful birds.
Nearby was a pond for the fish hatchery and there was a kids fishing derby going on.  As we were wandering about we were offered a lunch of Elk or Bison burgers.  I took the Elk burger.  Yum.

I also traveled over to the town of Greensburg, KS.  Most people remember it was in the news a few years back when it was almost completely destroyed by a tornado.  But it is also known for its Big Well.

Since I have gone into the well numerous times with my kids, I chose not to this time, but the well is an impressive site.  It was built in 1888 and is considered to be an engineering marvel of its time.  Completely hand dug, it is 109 feet deep and 32 feet in diameter.  There are stairs and you can walk down to the bottom if you choose.

In May of 2007, a tornado destroyed 95% of this town.  As you drive through you notice all the buildings are new, which is very unusual for most Kansas towns.  Downtown there was one older building and on the outskirts of town was a grain elevator which was not destroyed.  Eleven people in the town of Greensburg were killed and over 60 injured.  During this outbreak of tornado's there were a total of 123 in the central Kansas area, but only the tornado which hit Greensburg was confirmed as an EF5, the highest rating listed.

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