Highway 50 to eastern Kansas: rolling hills and greenery

by cheri block

Full and warm with Joan’s home cooked breakfast of eggs, potatoes, and toasted rhubarb bread with preserves (and each of us now packing a weight gain of about 5 pounds), Hizzoner and I drive to Dodge City, home of Miss Kitty, Matt Dillon, and all the gun slinging and debauchery of the Old West.

Unfortunately, not much of that time is left, other than a fairly touristy reenactment. We did visit the tiny patch of weeds that’s left of Boot Hill and chew the fat with Richard, the piano player in the saloon.

Hizzoner’s eyes scanned the room for Miss Kitty and perhaps a  lace garter or two, but he came up empty, along with his glass at the bar, so we hopped on our hosses and headed down the highway to sample Kansas at her best.

And She didn’t disappoint, nor did her people. Not every vista yielded a harvest below it. Tough times and a drought haven’t been easy for the plains states this year.

The grain elevators guard the entrance to these small towns, granular cathedrals of man’s artistry in tilling the earth and making her fruitful, in spite of little rain.

Midday approached; we searched for a small town cafe, where the locals might be out for lunch. First we entered Kinsley, Kansas, but couldn’t find an open coffee shop. Down the road a bit, came Stafford, where we parked in front of the Curtis Cafe and ambled on in. On its walls were hundreds of puzzles and sure enough, there were local folks having  coffee and grilled cheese sandwiches,  while discussing their health and their secrets to the perfect apple pie. Truly.

Both the owner of the cafe, Ruth, and a seasoned veteran of the lunch time set, Joyce, were silos of knowledge when it came to pie ingredients. It’s all in the vanilla, they both told us.

Ruth told me she has 39 grandchildren and 54 great-grandchildren and even gave me her phone number, should I need emergency pie-making assistance this Thanksgiving. Thanks Ruth and by the way, that Ford truck you and Sherry and Irene drove off in looked mighty good.

The Judge and I, full with Stafford pie, thought about taking a movie in but in order to get to Cottonwood Falls by dark, we had to move on.

By the time we reached the eastern part of Kansas, hills were rolling out of the flat plains, with greenery, no less.

About six miles off of Highway 50, we drove to Chace County, home of the oldest working court house west of the Mississippi. We needed lodging, a pole to tie  our horses to, and The Judge needed a haircut and a sarsaparilla. Fortunately, Richard the Barber was still open!

What better place to secure all four than one of the most charming stops on our trip: The Grand Central Hotel in the Flint Hills area of Kansas.

At last, a bunk and a beer at the Grand Central


About Cheri

Writer, artist, cable television host, grandmother to four!
This entry was posted in My photography, People and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to Highway 50 to eastern Kansas: rolling hills and greenery

  1. Rosemary says:

    Cool stuff…Joan wrote that she lives in the Flint Hills… I’m not sure where that is…
    Her dad was Athletic Director at USC when we were roommates… She has lots of great stories, plays and sings in a band, works part time at a Presbyterian Church, and has horses and animals galore. Kansas seems like paradise when she talks so fondly of it!

    • Cheri says:

      The Flint Hills (not sure if it is plural…) is a gorgeous area. That is where the Grand Central Hotel is located and we bought a small painting from the artist at the Flint Hills Gallery as a memory of this lovely little town. Sounds as if we could have stopped in to see Joan.

  2. Cyberquill says:

    Quaint. No Indian attacks as of yet?

  3. Cheri says:

    Not all was quaint, CQ. We stopped at Holcomb Kansas to pay respects to the memory of the Clutter Family. Couldn’t locate the house but the family is buried in Garden City. We also were struck by the real poverty in a number of the small towns in eastern Colorado. I’ll comment on that at the end of this series. Since Hizzoner was an Indian in is former life (He came to that conclusion after reading Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee), we had nothing to worry about.

  4. Linda says:

    I have to know. How did the haircut turn out? Thanks for sharing. Hope you are feeling better. L

    Sent from Linda’s iPhone

  5. bogard says:

    Some of the photos remind me of the small farm towns going north from Vacaville on I-5: Dunnigan, Arbucle, Williams, Maxwell, Willows, all with magnificant grain storage elevators, small, quaint, old town centers, and the local bars and restaurants with the folks who have lived there most, if not all, of their lives. And that little abandoned white building? Right out of a William Christenberry photograph/painting/sculpture of rural Alabama. Love it.

    • Cheri says:

      You are right, Bogard. I hadn’t thought of the I-5 corridor, which you have driven recently. Hope all is well in the north central valley. Regards to your parents.

  6. I am again reminded of how fortunate I am to live here! BTW, by the map it looks as if you may have passed through La Junta, Co. That is where Matt and Lisha live. dAlso BTW, vanilla works great!

  7. That part of the country was hardest hit in the “first” Depression as well,I believe. Difficult to keep the horses fed at Matt’s place now, with feed so scarce.

    • Cheri says:

      We saw lots of horses in eastern Colorado, so my thought is that there is feed but I bet it is more expensive with the drought and this lousy economy.

  8. wkkortas says:

    This series is like the Alton Brown series (Dining on Asphalt?), only better. The only person I know on the U.S. 50 corridor is one of my old bosses, who lives in Ocean City. You going all the way?

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