Thursday, January 04, 2007

Pawnee Rock

When I get the chance, I try to discover places that I haven’t yet gotten to know in Kansas. While visiting relatives in Pratt over the holidays, I managed to take a side trip to Pawnee Rock, which was a natural landmark along the Santa Fe Trail because it provided an overlook and gave the travelers an idea of where they were headed. Currently measuring 2,000 feet above sea level, Pawnee Rock was higher at one time, at least before the settlers began quarrying the rock for their houses.

If the sky had been clearer (or if it had been less windy and less cold) during my visit, it would have been possible to see farther. According to Cheryl Unruh, whose website Flyover People first informed me of this place, it is possible to see Great Bend (twelve miles away), Larned (eight miles away), and a few other cities and towns from the structure built on top of Pawnee Rock. I want to return there sometime during the summer. It would be a great spot to picnic and to admire the scenery while basking in the sun.

Eventually, I have hopes of visiting Rock City, outside Minneapolis, the geographic center of the US outside of Lebanon, the Garden of Eden in Lucas, and hiking through the Flint Hills and the red hills of Barber County, in addition to revisiting Monument Rocks and discovering a few other places in western Kansas.

If there had been time enough, particularly if my twelve-year-old weren’t in a hurry to return to his video games, I would have liked stopping to take pictures between Peabody and Strong City on the way back from our holiday visit. What I need to do sometime is take a leisurely trip through the center of the state, beginning at Emporia.

At one time, I have hopes of taking my family on a cruise to Alaska, followed by a train ride across Canada, before we visit my sister in Connecticut. I also want my son to meet his Irish relatives and my wife to experience San Francisco, where I once lived, briefly, when younger. It is important, in the meantime, to know the place where one lives now because the exotic, the picturesque, if it cannot be found nearby, cannot be found anywhere.