Two Months in Central Kansas

by Frank Flocke (NCAR/ACD)

I have to admit, I wasn’t particularly thrilled about spending late spring and early summer in central Kansas. I had been through Salina a couple of times before and experienced the intense summer heat and the often very strong southerly winds that gave the State of Kansas its name. I now have to admit that during the 8 weeks I spent here I have grown to appreciate the landscape, the character of the region, and the friendly people here. I have not grown to appreciate the relentless wind however.

Those of us who visited the Smoky Hill River Festival, which is the major event for Salina in the summer, enjoyed the great music, arts and crafts, and the Midwestern food offerings (if only visually).

Beautiful golden wheat field just outside of Salina, KS.

Many of us first arrived here in early May, when the summer winds were not yet blowing and the temperatures were still cool in the mornings and not too hot during the day. During their free time, people working on the DC3 project went golfing, swimming and boating in nearby reservoirs, or enjoyed bicycling the region, which was also my primary activity outside of project duties. I have ridden most of the paved roads within ~25 miles of Salina, as well as a number of unpaved roads (most of the gridded roads here are gravel). While crop fields and farms mostly dominate the landscape to the S and E of Salina, there is more ranching and grasslands out west and northwest of town. Bicycling through the wheat fields before harvest on a sunny morning was very enjoyable, and so was watching the many birds near the ponds and in the fields as well as raptors circling overhead. In late May and early June wheat harvest began and it was fun to ride through the fields and exchange waves with the farmers working the fields. Corn was soon planted and one could not help but notice it having grown a foot or more when riding by a week or so later. There is not much traffic on the backroads and the few drivers around here are generally very courteous and careful which contribute to making bicycling here even more fun. Some of the small nearby towns that can be visited by bike are Brookville, Kipp, Gypsum, Herington, Abilene, Salemsborg, Lindsborg (my favorite for late morning coffee), Falun, Marquette, and others.

On a windy day I would make it a rule to go out into the wind to make the way back a bit easier. As a result I ended up in Lindsborg quite often (located to the S of Salina), or maybe it was because it’s such a pleasant little town with a good coffee shop. The southerly winds have taken root and have been so strong  at times that it takes more than twice as long to go S than it takes to return the same distance to the N.

For the last two weeks temperatures have reached the high 100s to 110 almost daily here, making me thinking more often about a ride on a cool morning or evening back in Colorado.

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