So tour guide and ambassador Mike plotted out a nice little back way out of Toronto Lake for us.
I think this bridge has been out a while.
I was half following Mike’s directions and half watching the GPS when I see a curvy little road to the west, (which was the overall direction for the day anyway) and turned left instead of right. A little way down the road I turned right onto the only curvy road I had yet seen on a Kansas map. After about a 1/4 mile the road started getting seriously slippery. Did I mention the massive rain storm the night before? So I put it in 4Lo and went a few more feet until I saw a “Low water crossing” sign. Hmmm, did I mention the massive rain storm the night before? I stopped and went on down the hill and around the bend on foot where I came upon a very swollen, very fast moving river about 40 yards across and at least 5 feet deep in the middle running across the road. So much for a “low” water crossing! On the other side was an immediate tight left uphill turn. Since the road got slicker the closer I got to the river, I judged my chances of getting across as very low and getting up the other side as lower yet. So the only option was to back up. Uphill, and off-camber no less. Needless to say I found both ditches in the process.
More than once the truck and trailer headed for this low spot. The fun part was that just left of that rock was a sheer five foot drop to the river!
After thirty minutes or so of backing up with almost zero traction I finally got to solid ground. I say I because after the first ditch excursion, Pamala decided she wanted out of the big ugly Dodge and by this time was safely walking.
A little muddy but no worse for the wear.
In retrospect I remember Mike mentioning “Rocky Ford”, and “not recommended even when dry”.Ã‚Â After getting to solid ground, I zoomed in the GPS close enough to see the road names. I guess I don’t have to tell you where we were!
As we worked our way northwest, I began to feel anxious to get to areas of the country I had never visited. I looked forward to seeing the sights and topography of Nebraska, Wyoming and South Dakota. I gave little thought to Kansas, other than knowing we would have to pass throughÂ it to get to Nebraska. To my surprise, I found Kansas to be magical. Forget all the stereotypes about Kansas being flat and unattractive. There are vividly green rolling hills, fields of colorful wildflowers and a multitude of lakes and rivers. Yes, there are areas of the state that are flat, but even those areas are beautiful in their own way. There is nothing unattractive about rows and rows of crops found in the flat areas of Kansas. Â I know, I know. I am biased because I love vegetables! I digress…anyway we spent five days in the Land of Oz. Initially we found a lake in Toronto (Kansas, not Canada) where we met Mike, Alisha, Braden and Lakin. Alisha spotted our camper as we crossed the dam and alerted her husband Mike, an emerging overlander. The family came to the campground and introduced themselves. We fast became part of their family, spending time at their cabin and boating with them. Lakin and Braden demonstrated their wake boarding skills, which were pretty honedÃ‚Â for a 5th and 7th grader. Alisha wake-surfed like a professional with no rope! I was impressed. Mike became the official ambassador of Kansas and guided us to some pretty cool sites in the state that we would have otherwise missed. It is unbelievable how much Jim and Mike have in common. Â It was as if they were old friends getting reacquainted. Â They are kindred spirits. Kansas was indeed serendipitous in more ways than one and will hold lasting memories for me.
Lakin and Braden with us on the lake
Braden, Alisha and Mike at our campsite
Field of wheat
Planted lilies won’t grow in my yard but are “wild” along the roadside here
Our lunch stop: Â The historic Trail Days Cafe and Museum in Council Grove, Kansas where historical food is served
Traveling to Wilson Lake in Dorrance, Kansas
Where we camped on the cliff of crystal clear Wilson Lake!
Sunset at Wilson Lake