Yield: Gravel travel, part 2
Faithful readers, last week I left you toward the middle of the Old Boars’ Tour of Wabaunsee County on Gravel Roads. My ol’ Missouri buddy, Canby Handy, and I were leaving the Mill Creek Lodge at Voland Point.
From there we traveled up Clapboard Ravine to see the seven springs. Alas, the seven springs were basically dried up from the ongoing drought. So that wuz a bust, except for the beautiful scenery. Headed south and east on gravel roads until I recognized a spot I’d actually been to many years ago — Sheep Hollow. In those days gone by, the Gnadt brothers ran a large sheep enterprise. Today, sadly, there are no sheep on the ranch, but it’s still in a beautiful location.
We eventually ended up at lunch time in Eskridge, Kan., a small town made famous several years ago by a lady senior citizen who raised enuf money selling salvaged aluminum cans to finance a city swimming pool. Today, one of the most popular spots in Eskridge, if not the most famous, is Big Bertha’s Diner — where we had a fine Tex-Mex lunch, topped off by a fabulous slice of homemade pie.
The owner/operator is not Big Bertha, but her friendly daughter. It’s a small-town diner that I’d recommend to anyone traveling through the area.
From there, Canby had to head home early, but I continued alone on one of my Wabaunsee County quests. To background on that quest. If you travel the Kansas Turnpike from Topeka to Emporia, you’ll encounter a sign that says “Entering Wabaunsee County.” About a half mile down the road, you leave Wabaunsee County and enter Lyons County. My quest was to find that southeastern-most farm in Wabaunsee County and find out just how far it is from the county seat of Alma — not a mile of which is on really good roads.
I blindly dodged south then east, then south then east, until I ran into a nice young couple out in a small limestone quarry sorting rocks. When I explained my quest, they told me I was five miles from the Osage County line and five miles from the Lyon County line. When I explained to them that I lived in Chase County, they immediately asked if I knew Luke Koch, the increasingly famous stone mason.
I told them that I was good friends with both Luke’s family and his parents. They said that Luke wuz one of their best limestone customers for the new construction and restoration projects he does in the county. We had a good visit before I headed off to finish my quest and I left amazed at how small the world is to find strangers who were good friends of good friends.
I eventually found the southeastern-most farm in Wabaunsee County and it ends on a dead-end road at the Kansas Turnpike. My odometer read 42 miles from Alma the county seat. I’ll bet the farmer-owner doesn’t get to Alma regularly.
My lasting remembrance of Wabaunsee County is that it’s full of beautiful Flint Hills scenery, full of fine cattle, full of history and interesting places, full of friendly folks, and for a county sitting atop a huge limestone rock pile, also full of gravel roads with not much gravel on them. It was well worth the two-day tour.
Since I’d never really investigated northeast Lyon County I headed west on the county line — Road 4000 — meaning Lyon County is 40 miles south to north. Within a few miles I had to drop down to Road 3900 and continued west. To my utter amazement, the ponds in that corner of Lyon County were full and the creeks were running — a stark contrast to our dry conditions in Chase County.
I eventually ran into the eastern Morris County line and headed south through Dunlap to home. I call that sparsely populated area of Lyon, Wabaunsee, and Morris counties the Bermuda Triangle of Kansas. You could get lost there and never be found.
A few days ago, I took my bird dog Mandy for a long run on my utility vehicle. A funny thing happened that proved that Mandy may be friendly, but she’s still a sucker for a ruse.
I’d run her a mile or two and wuz on my way home across a burned pasture when we arrived at a small pond where she could get a drink. She didn’t get a drink, but she did get an extended run and swim. Here’s what happened.
As she came over the dam, she scared a pair of Canada geese with six newly-hatched goslings. Mandy immediately dived in for the chase. Well, the gander got her attention by swimming a few feet in front of her. The hen split off with the goslings and hid them in the cow tracks along the bank, then she joined the gander about the same time as he hit the far bank.
Then the chase wuz on with Mandy at full-throttle. The geese flew about 3 feet off the ground and stayed about 20 feet ahead of Mandy and stayed that way for a half-mile. Then they disappeared from view for a few minutes, and then I saw them headed back with Mandy still in full pursuit. They headed for another pond and lit in the middle. That didn’t stop Mandy. She dived in and pursued the geese to the far bank, and then the trio headed for my pond at Damphewmore Acres a quarter-mile away. They lit in the middle and Mandy swam the full length of my pond and then back to the north end — at which point the geese took full flight and flew over a tree thicket and back to their safely hidden goslings.
Mandy collapsed from near exhaustion and cooled down in the pond. When she finally got out and tiredly clammored into the seat of my UTV, I affectionately told her that she got out-smarted by two bird brains. I know she didn’t learn a thing and would do it again if given the chance.
In that way, she’s a lot like her owner. Have a good ‘un.