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Chalk Pyramids

November 21, 2012

Kansas – Sunday, November 18

Tula and I headed out for a walk in Scott City this morning. We walked through the Main Street area and into some long neighborhood streets. It was pretty quiet out – only a little church traffic, and we covered 3 1/2 miles. As I was checking the distance in the van, I noticed a big group of kids setting up tables and stuff in a parking lot right on Main Street, and one of them was putting up a sign that said something about fundraising. I went and got gas, then came back to see what was going on. Turns out it was a “Brown Bag Fundraiser” for the Scott City Shock volleyball team. Someone was grilling hamburgers, and the kids packed them up along with chips, cookies and drinks in a brown bag so people can pull into the parking lot, make a donation and get a meal on the run. Since I hadn’t even eaten breakfast, it sounded good to me! And it was a fun donation-of-the-day – I hadn’t done a school/extra-curricular activity donation for a long time! And, after all the fundraisers I’ve been part of over all the years, this was a new one. It was the first time this group was doing a Brown Bag fundraiser, but they told me churches had been successful with it in the past. I was probably one of their first customers since it wasn’t even noon yet, and they were just finishing up getting the hamburgers ready to go. It was a sunny day, so hopefully it was a successful afternoon for them. And maybe they fed a lot of hungry hunters – seems that pheasant season is in full swing.

From there I headed north. Up until last night, I had planned to visit Lake Scott State Park, and I read up on it a bit last night. The article was describing all the different kinds if birds one could see (as one of the few water locations in the surrounding prairie, there were lots of trees too – lots of good bird habitat). The article then went on to say that reptile lovers should make note of this place for its variety and abundance of reptiles. Welllll….that about did me in! I knew I’d be worried about every step I was taking on the trails – not to mention being worried abut Tula too. So I drove past the turnoff for the park. But since I still couldn’t see the bluffs and canyons they were talking about, curiosity got the better of me, and I figured I could just drive around the park if nothing else. So I made a u-turn (I seem to do quite a lot of those!) and drove into the park. It really was quite amazing. With all the endless miles of flat prairie around, all of a sudden the ground just seems to open up into a big hole, and there’s a large lake (with lots of fishing sites) and bluffs surrounding it. From just a few miles away on the surface, it’s hard to tell that it’s there – the tops of the trees kind if blend into the prairie grasses – must have been quite a surprise to settlers heading west! There was a road around the lake, although part of it was off park land and was in pretty rough shape. I decided I would be more or less safe from all the “reptiles” if I walked on the paved road on the state park property. It was wide enough that I could keep Tula from going too far off into the grass – I worry about her getting bit by a snake. I am happy to say that we walked 3 1/2 miles without seeing any reptiles, and the birds were indeed plentiful, so parts of the walk were very musical. One other interesting thing at the park was the remnants of the northernmost pueblo that’s ever been excavated. The Pueblo Indians were fleeing the Spanish rule in New Mexico, and for a while shared land with their Apache allies.

Then, I headed a little farther north and turned onto a dirt road and made a very dusty 10 mile drive through the middle of nowhere to see the chalk monuments that were on my map. This part of the prairie is apparently still oil country because there were oil wells all over the place. I stopped to look at one more closely right by the road, and there was a faint (not unpleasant) tang of oil in the air, and a slow soft chugging of a generator or whatever it is that keeps these things moving. I still don’t know how they work, but lots of them also had 3-4 small oil tanks nearby. It took a while to drive 9-10 miles on the dirt road, and all of a sudden these amazing “chalk pyramids” appeared. They were so out of place in the surrounding prairie that I can’t imagine what was different about this section of land that beautiful chalk towers could be formed. Tula and I got out and admired them and walked all around. Tula thought she was some kind of mountain goat and had fun trying to climb up some of them. I ran my hand over one of them, and it really was kind of soft and chalky, and a piece broke off. The wind and rain must constantly change their shapes. I can’t imagine why this isn’t a state park or something – it’s really spectacular. Of course, it’s also very remote, and there are no facilities of any kind – not even a sign explaining their formation or anything. No one else was there. I wondered how many square miles of prairie I could see all around me – and kind of felt like I was the only person on the planet!

I made my way back to the road heading north, and was ultimately heading to Hays. I stopped in the little town of Oakley – the town was not named after Annie Oakley, although she did perform there. There’s an Annie Oakley motel and an Annie Oakley park and we did a little walking there. Then we got to Hays and did another couple miles of walking in town before it got dark. Altogether I walked 10 1/2 miles today. I’m trying to get extras in so I can take Thanksgiving “off” to spend with my dad and see an aunt and some cousins in southeast South Dakota.

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One Comment
  1. Jan permalink

    I agree those chalk formations are really interesting, and the lake is a surprise. Your photos are great too. The “brown bag” fundraiser is a new idea, I think I will mention it at work. I was just wondering what you had planned for Thanksgiving so am glad you’ll be with family. Have a good break!

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