It seems as though we have run into more bad weather in the past three weeks than we have in the past three years on the road. While we bring you up to date on our whereabouts, we will present some photographs of one of recent destinations.
After leaving Altoona, IA, we headed to Kansas City, MO, for a couple of days and to Junction City, KS, for three days.
In Kansas City, the tempera-tures were in the 90s, so we spent most of the time reading and planning our next stops.
Now part of my "personal development" the past several months has involved becoming more spontaneous in my time management. When we began our travels, I had reservations in RV parks for the first six months--we left Philadelphia on June 13, 2008, and I knew where we would be camped on, for example, November 12.
While this planning removed the worry of finding campgrounds filled when we called the day before a planned arrival, it did lock us into a routine that did not allow for extending a stay for a day or two due to our discovery of the beauty or history or music of a particular locale. Changing plans in this way would mean changing reservations at one or two or maybe even three of the next stops. (Yes, that many stops because the rates dropped if we planned to stay for a week or a month at the next consecutive stops, so if I cut a day off at the arrival, I would have to add one at the departure date, and this snowballs then--if that makes sense.)
Our stay in Junction City was difficult to plan. We were scheduled for a three-year check-up on the RV at the manufac-turer, and I was told that the items on the list of repairs that I had forwarded to the Service Department would take a little over a day to complete. But not knowing what else might be found, I was unsure how many, if any, extra days to allow for all the work.
Now added to that uncertainty was our objective of scheduling a two-week stay in the Black Hills of South Dakota--around the July 4th holiday. This was not a good time to work on spontaneity of reservation-making.
Long story short: I built in one extra service day in Junction City and made reservations for June 24-July 15 with two campground changes necessary for the two-week stay in the Black Hills because of the absence of open dates for the entire two weeks.
The repairs were minor, and we left Junction City as scheduled, headed due west on I-70 for Oakley, KS, for two nights. Since this stay included the "extra" day for any unexpected repairs, we had done no planning for the now "free" day in this small town.
From the campground owner, we learned that one of the "Eight Wonders of Kansas" was only about 25 miles away. "Just take highway 83 south for about 20 miles, then follow the signs and two gravel roads to the Rocks (photo #2 above). They're on private land, but there's no problem about parking and walking around," were her instructions.
We followed her directions and found the formations shown in the photographs. It was a perfect early summer morning--a moderate tem-perature, brilliant sun, and a clear blue sky. At times the sunlight appeared even more brilliant as it bounced off the alabaster rocks,
and in other locations, the shadows created depth and a quality of "The Unknown."
As we walked around these rock formations, which seemed to rise from the earth, we wondered how they were formed in the middle of what is now prairie.
We later learned that the sedimentary formations of Niobrara Chalk, some as tall as 70 feet, were created 80 million years ago when this area was part of a vast inland sea that stretched from the Gulf of Mexico as far north as Canada.
Shown here is a resident (a swallow, I think) of one of the nests built into spaces along the face of the rocks.
I don't know if there are official names to the various formations, but I have read references to this as Keyhole Rock (left and below).
The United States Department of the Interior has designated Monument Rocks as the first National Natural Landmark.
We would have liked to stay a couple more days in surprising Oakley, KS.