A couple of weeks ago during our Spring Break, myself and my two friends (Wilson and Tom, also photo professors at UCM) ventured back to the Flint Hills but this time we also took along with us 9 photography students. The best part for me was the very first day hiking the backcountry trails at the Tall Grass National Prairie Preserve, near Strong City, Kansas. I think this is one of my favorite places in the U.S. to visit. Being out on the prairie where you can see for miles and hear nothing but wind, birds, swaying grass and your own heartbeat is fabulous! I’m looking forward to going back in early summer when the grass is green and a bit taller. Until then, I have my photos to give me solace. The image below is of Spring Hill Ranch, taken on my return from the backcountry.
The old army fort in eastern Kansas was called Fort Scott and was originally constructed in 1842. There were no walls built around this pioneer army post since three sides consisted of natural, steep bluffs, with the southern side opened to the expanse of the tall grass prairie. This old army post was the last destination for Wilson and I on our short road trip last week through SW Missouri and SE Kansas. Eleven years after its founding, the Army abandoned the fort in 1853 and its buildings became the center of a new frontier town, bearing the old fort’s namesake: Fort Scott, Kansas. This would later become the hometown for renowned African American photographer, Gordon Parks.
This is a great small town photo destination. The main street area, which joins the old fort structure, has great 1800s architecture, which has been nicely restored. Lots of interesting antique stores and boutique shops occupy the storefronts. Also, as with any of my road trips, I found a really cool diner from 1946 that is still in operation, complete with its nifty neon signage…Nu Grille Cafe. My photo compadre enjoyed a really big cheeseburger and I sampled the Frito chili pie, for about five bucks. Cheap but good! After chowing down supper at the greasy spoon, we headed back to UCM, which is maybe a couple of hours drive…I really lose track of time on the road, but it was dark! But lack of light never stops Wilson from creating images! As you can see posted below, he pushes the envelop of image making with any amount of electromagnetic radiation he can find. In this case, minimal ambient light from the dusky sunset and the truck dashlights!