Manhattan, Kansas

“The best way to see Kansas is in your rear view mirror”…until family moves there and it’s time to get familiar with a new destination on our list of places to go!
 
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This eastern area of Kansas is known as the Flint Hills region.  Prairies, rolling grassland, lowland trees… more diverse than we expected. 
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KSU and Fort Riley are significant influences to this little town, as are the Tuttle Creek State Park, dam and lake just north of town and the Konza Prairie Preserve to the south.
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One unexpected characteristic of Manhattan…the percussion of machine gun fire and bombs that rattle the house and echo in the air all day and evening here in the western edge of the city…. sounds from the artillery range and training area on base.
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Add to that the broadcast voice of football announcers and the roar of a spirited crowd at the weekend home games and you can have a sound-laden environment that is definitely unique. 
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The small local Sunset Zoo is a great place to visit… exotic animals in spacious living quarters and a pleasant design to explore. 
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The Konza Prairie Preserve is the only place you will find listed under local hiking options… and you can enjoy a great six mile loop there with history, views and bison.  But we found lots of other open public space close to town with coyotes calling, flocks of bluebirds and hawks soaring overhead.
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We enjoyed walking around campus… this is an old university.. the first established by land grant in the state of Kansas. Lots of open pedestrian areas,and unique architecture   
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After checking out the traditional tailgating parties before the game we also enjoyed discovering the animal sciences store at Call Hall where 40 flavors of ice cream are scooped and sold along with milk, fresh free range eggs, a variety of cheeses, beef, mutton, pork and sausages.  Great local products and an opportunity to support the agricultural/animal sciences program on campus, as well!

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Another day we ventured a bit farther east where the town of Wamego claims to be the keeper of all things Oz.  A museum takes you an a journey through memorabilia and the local winery sells wines with names from over the rainbow.  Other wineries along the way were fun to find … including one in the little town of Paxico where antique stores abound that you can lost in and marvel at the common items that still seem at home here.
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Geocaching is a popular activity here… lots of creative and challenging caches.  Puzzle caches abound as do power trails and caches leading to isolated views and creative locations on farm roads.  We also found several disc golf courses.. with caches embedded for double the fun.   All fun ways to spend a day.
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All in all…Manhattan … “The Little Apple” is a fun place to explore, although the winters are colder and the summers are hotter than we might prefer… there are several spots available for free or reasonable camping nearby… and a comfortable guest room for us to take advantage of, as well. We will keep coming back! 🙂

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Protected Places

Our world is changing quickly under the weight of a expanding population. Cities are sprawling, land is being put to multiple uses, and even designated open spaces are disappearing beneath a maze of OHV trails.  
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Amid this urbanization you can, thankfully, still find areas that are set aside to try to preserve… or reestablish.. the natural state of ecosystems that are disappearing from our planet. I consider nature preserves and wilderness areas as essential to the physical and mental health of homo sapiens.
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I want my grandchildren’s grandchildren to be able to see and experience the pleasure of rain forests, seashores, tundras and prairies!  
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Today I enjoyed expansive views from the Flint Hills Konza Prairieland…. The hike was a 6 mile loop through grassland and scrub forest… and what a perfect day it was to explore!

 

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