Total Page Views

Sunday, May 22, 2011

70. The Gatherin' -- Near Cedar Bluff State Park

May 6-8 was such a beautiful weekend for The Gatherin', located just off the shores of Cedar Bluff State Park.  It wasn't really windy and it definitely wasn't cold.  It was in the 90s.  Who ever imagined there was a place in the middle of Kansas to celebrate a "Festival of Beltane" and enjoy everything celtic.  The celtic music and bagpipes were amazing, it was so fun to visit the various booths, and watch the Highland Games where the warriors compete.  Definitely watch Th' Runnin' O' Th' Fiery Cross and if you have children have them dance the maypole and  other kids activities.  It is not possible to explain Th' Gatherin'.  Just let the pictures explain themselves.

The prize for the champions of the Highland Games--a piece of authentic tartan, and a stone directly from Scotland and the fields the original battles may have been fought
Th' Runnin' O' Th' Fiery Cross
Dancin' Th' May Tree

Pictures around the site and Ye' Olde' Booths
If you love fire, fireworks, and a spectacular finale definitely stay to the end...however, Angel says "If you have a head injury, get easily tired, and/or don't like smoke...go to bed early."

Angel thinks she found her new instrument
The Bodhran

Eric thinks he looks like ye olde' obese lady in his kilt

Our Meadowlark at Cedar Bluff or is it a Chat???   Just found it (06/05/2011) in a guide book to field identification of birds (Golden) should be a Western Kingbird.  It confused us because this was the only bird visible when the Meadowlark sang.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

69. Cedar Bluff State Park

Our adventure the weekend of May 6-8 took us to Cedar Bluff State Park.  The State Park itself is amazing and the lake is wonderful.  We drove around and saw the beauty of the park in spring and tons of families taking advantage of the weekend by bringing their camper out to spend some time enjoying the gorgeous park and lake.  It did not hurt that it was in the 90s.

Besides just visiting the gorgeous park, we decided to camp at one of their "rustic" cabins.  Angel is not a camper and was nervous about what we would find.  She fully expected rustic to mean four walls, a roof, possibly a floor, and beds.  Imagine our surprise at the "rustic" cabin that has heat, air conditioning, electricity, a microwave, and a mini fridge.  That does not even begin to mention the beautiful decorations, the grill, fire pit, and deck area.  The only thing that made the cabin "rustic" was no inside running water.  However, thanks to the recommendation of the park staff on which cabin to rent, we were directly across the street from the bath house.  So, using the bathroom was really no further of a journey than down the hall at your own home.  It was such a pleasant stay even Angel is willing to camp again as long as we can have a cabin this nice.  Even the wheelchair accessibility was great.  If you are in a wheelchair, you might want to  bring your own port-a-potty for middle of the night needs.

View from the deck
The fire pit

A meadowlark at Cedar Bluff State Park

68. Smoky Valley Scenic ByWay

The drive to Cedar Bluff State Park led us through the Smoky Valley Scenic ByWay.  The ByWay received the name Smokey Valley because of the "hazy" appearance at sunrise and sunset.  Well, we did not travel the ByWay at either sunrise or sunset, but it was still beautiful.  When you visit the ByWay try to go at sunrise or sunset so you can see the "haze." What a great start to an adventure to get to see spring in Kansas. 

We heard Meadowlarks all weekend and were lucky enough to get a picture of one currently in song.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

67. Antelope Lake

We found a surprise adventure on our trip.  We drove by a sign that said "Antelope Lake" and decided to check it out.  It is a small lake (we drove all the way around it), but a nice one.  This was our first chance to see fishermen and boaters on our adventures.  I guess spring is really here.

Eric decided he would be afraid to boat in this lake because we could see trees, logs, etc. floating in the water.  We prefer boating on completely calm and tree free lakes.  :)  Or, Angel says, not boating at all.
We looked and looked for antelope, but no antelope at Antelope Lake.  We only got to see turkeys, loons, ducks, meadowlarks, other birds, and cows. 

66. Sheep Dog Trials at Cottonwood Ranch

We were excited to find out about this unique opportunity right in our own backyard--The Sheep Dog Trials at Cottonwood Ranch.  They have to truck the sheep in from somewhere else so the dogs can have sheep to round-up.  We watched for a while and only saw one dog manage to get the sheep in the pen.  We did not see all the dogs, so I do not know what they were like the rest of the day.   What a fun day!  It was a little bit cold and windy, but you cannot count on the weather in Kansas.

Eric did some research on the rules and scoring for Sheep Dog trials, who knew how involved it is.  It even scores the handlers on how they whistle the commands to the dogs...go figure.  Here's what he found from an outside website, it is missing all the scoring information 'cause it's pretty detailed.  However, if you do a search for "scoring sheep dog trials" you can discover for yourself...

  • The number of sheep used, the number of shed sheep or the course pattern may change during the event.  The handler must adjust to these changes as well as other variables such as the weather, sheep temperament and condition, terrain, altitude and time of day.  
  • All dogs are required to perform the same work on the same course under the same scoring rules. The initial work, the outfield work, tests the dog’s natural ability to locate, establish control over and move the sheep calmly and quietly.  The second phase of work, the infield work, tests the dog’s training and the team’s effectiveness.   Elimination, semi-final and final runs have allocated time limits determined by the judge.

Cottonwood Ranch is a beautiful location all by itself.  It has a history as a sheep farm which led to the current sheep trials to help preserve some of its history.  The site became listed with the National Register of Historic Places in 1983.  We were saddened to learn they recently lost their state funding, but the "Friends of the Cottonwood Ranch" have worked hard to make it still available to the public.  The ranch house is now open for tours Thursday-Saturday 9am-noon and 1-5pm May thru September. 
While the sheep trials were going on, inside the ranch house was very busy.  It was furnished and open for tours.  The fire was lit which made it nice and cozy inside.  There were artisans displaying their work, as well as a woman giving demonstrations on a spinning wheel.  Our son enjoyed watching the dogs run the sheep  dog trials.  He kept laughing at the silly sheep.  Our daughter preferred the activity inside the ranch house.  They had it set up that kids could create their own gourd art.  That was her favorite part of the day.

The kiddos thought the dogs looked like our cousin's dogs
Angel laughed any time someone asked her where we were going this week and she could say, "Studley."