Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Flint Hills Adventures

We explored some of the prettiest areas of Kansas this week. We made a quick overnight trip to Manhattan yesterday to see the Flint Hills Discovery Center. It was an amazing place!

The building itself was beautiful - glass and limestone with gorgeous views of the sky.
The inside was a sort of prairie museum, with interesting exhibits and lots of hands-on activities. The vaulted ceiling served as a screen for a video loop of flint hills scenes - waving grass, snow, fire, the moon.
We sat through a most fascinating video on tall grass prairie ecosystems. With the addition of real wind, smoke, and falling "snow", we felt like we were actually on the prairie!
Then we explored the exhibits, with information on everything from fossils to Native Americans, prairie grass root systems to cattle brands.

Kate was horrified by the display describing the importance of buffalo chips!
There was a big children's area, with all sorts of interesting things to do.
Are you taller than a prairie chicken? Taller than big bluestem grass?
There was a tunnel and slide decorated to look as if you were underground, complete with roots dangling from the top of the tunnel, underground critters peeking out from holes, and a giant lizard spying on the viewing bubble.

Steve was intrigued by a sort of giant sized Lite Brite. He started rearranging all the pegs into a rainbow-order pattern and Granny kept teasing him about his OCD tendencies...
...until Rachel came along and finished off a dozen rainbow rows herself!
The Flint Hills Discovery Center was an amazing place - I highly recommend it!
This morning we spent some time in a park. There was a 9 foot tall climbing wall, with plenty of grooves and little ledges, but no specific plastic hand holds. Katherine tried to climb it and quickly declared it "too hard". Rachel dug her toes in and took off.
She was to the top in under a minute!
That's my Rae Girl - frilly and fearless!
We drove home on the minor highways so we could see the intense green of the flint hills in early summer - one of my very favorite landscapes! We stopped at the Z Bar Ranch in Chase County, but the buildings were all under renovation.
We did meet a little lizard friend who posed for us repeatedly.
This trip reminded me again why I love Kansas!

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