We were interviewed for the November/December 2016 issue of the Kansas Wildlife and Parks magazine: The Kansas Guide to Becoming an Intentional Wanderer. Download and read the article here.
The new quarterly print magazine The New Territory wrote a lovely review of the book and tied it in with the value of getting out and exploring Kansas in general. Download and read it here: The New Territory book review.
About the magazine: Founded by a journalist in 2015, The New Territory is a quarterly print magazine of and for the Lower Midwest. Our writers live here, see powerful stories happening every day, and document them through longform journalism, literature, photojournalism and art. The best part is, you can hold the magazine in your hands, share it with your friends, and connect with your neighbors in new ways.
The Manhattan Mercury book review can be read here. (Don’t mind the misspelling of Conard!)
We were honored to be invited to a reception at Cedar Crest Mansion in Topeka for the Kansas Book Festival this past September, and we were able to chat with First Lady Mary Brownback of Kansas. We reached out to her again recently to get her thoughts on what’s so special about the Sunflower State, and here’s what we found out!
Cedar Crest has many trails close by – it’s particularly unique to have public trails so close to a governor’s mansion – what value do you feel public trails and public lands have in Kansas?
These public trails and lands give so many of our residents the opportunity to get out and enjoy nature, to see and experience so many new things.
I think about people living in large, metropolitan areas and, not that there aren’t opportunities for those people to enjoy the great outdoors, but it seems the opportunities are fewer and farther between.
Do you see a lot of trail users at MacLennan Park and Cedar Crest?
Every single day. Regardless of weather, there are plenty of people who will bring their dogs for walks on the trail. When the weather is nice though, the trails are full of walkers, runners, bikers and hikers, alike. There are many who come to fish at the ponds, as well.
What are some of the biggest Kansas misconceptions you think people have?
I think two of the biggest misconceptions about Kansas are that Kansas is flat and that there’s nothing to see or do here.
Out of staters often think of Kansas as “flyover country” – what would you say to change their minds?
If they’re only flying over Kansas, they’re sure missing out on a lot. The Flint Hills are absolutely beautiful, the college and university campuses are wonderful and, in my travels across the state, I’ve seen some of the most unique main streets with artisan shops and local flair.
When you think of Kansas, what’s the image that comes to mind?
Without a doubt, I picture “home.” This is the state where I grew up, where I live among some of the friendliest people in the world. It’s where I’ve put down roots with my own family and raised my children. There’s no place I’d rather be.
For someone who’s never been to Kansas, do you have any recommendations for where to go or what to see?
There are so many great places to take a first-time visitor to our State. A walk around the campus of the University of Kansas (my alma mater!), the Flint Hills, the Kansas Cosmosphere and the salt mines in Hutchinson all immediately come to mind.
For someone who grew up in Kansas and feels like they’ve seen everything there, do you have any recommendations for where to go or what to see?
Many of my answers for this question could overlap with the question above. If you’ve grown up in Kansas, you’ve surely had a tour of the State Capitol. But with the recent renovations, that is definitely a site that you’ll want to plan to visit again; it’s absolutely beautiful.
Finally, most Kansans get a good laugh out of the fact that we’re home to several “world’s largest” sites but if you haven’t seen it before, the world’s largest hand dug well in Greensburg really is quite the sight.
What makes Kansas special for you?
Many of my fondest memories have taken place in Kansas. Having spent the majority of my life here, I can’t imagine living anywhere else. This is home.
From around Valentine’s Day to April Fool’s Day – the cranes come through Quivira National Wildlife Refuge.
Recent sightings at the refuge have included sandhill cranes in the thousands on the west side of Big Salt Marsh.
Kansas is a part of the “central flyway” – a migratory route for a variety of birds between Canada and Central America and the marshes and wetlands of Quivira National Wildlife Refuge provide an ideal resting and refueling spot.
Some crane facts
Sandhill cranes are passing through Kansas on their way north to breed from their southern wintering locales. The birds, which can be 3-4 feet tall, gather in large groups during migration — strength in numbers.
At night, the waters and marshes are an ideal resting spot as any predator coming upon them will disturb the water, notifying the cranes that danger is near.
If you see two flying together, it’s likely a mated pair. If it’s three together, it’s likely to be a family group — juvenile cranes will stick with Mom and Dad for the first 10 months or so.
They can be noisy birds with distinct calls — rattling bugling type sounds that can be heard up to a mile away. Click to listen to them here.
They mate for life, which can be 20 years. Mate selection happens after courtship in the form of dancing — leaping, bobbing their heads, displaying their wings. One example is a male will fling a piece of grass or vegetation into the air as if to say “Look at me, choose me, I can build a good nest.”
They also have distinct “displays” and you can tell from their body language what they’re trying to say. Bowing, stretching their necks, jumping – each display communicates something unique.
Stop by Quivira National Wildlife Refuge — the Big Salt Marsh is one of the best places to see the cranes. It’s open daily from 1.5 hours before sunrise to 1.5 hours after sunset.
When hiking it’s easy to appreciate the scenery, but how often do we stop and think about the trail itself? In his book On Trails, Robert Moor draws from his own experience on the Appalachian Trail to contemplate the nature of trails.
He reflects on the intricacies and origins of all types of paths that serve to connect places. Moor delves deeply into the process of trail creation by organisms ranging from ants to elephants and connects this process to the trail experience of modern hikers.
The book has weighty thoughts on trail origins and it is indeed interesting to consider the natural development process that creates trails and paths.
The foray into the intersection of ecology and trail-building can be somewhat fascinating, but a hiker may gravitate more towards the chapters on modern trails including an insightful glimpse into the development the International Appalachian Trail which spans continents and exists as a ‘trail’ that is not physically connected or continuous.
Moor also tells tales from the trail itself, recounting AT hiking trips and tagging along with the ultimate long-distance hiker, Nimblewill Nomad (whose mind-boggling walks have followed all the major trails and recently included a sweep across Kansas along the route of the old Pony Express Trail).
For trail buffs, this book will be a thorough guide to trails of all kinds and a reflection on how trails are ultimately shaped by travelers.
Kansas was founded on January 29, 1861. It was the 34th state to join the Union, and it joined the Union as a free state. Slave owning was not acceptable in Kansas when it joined the Union. While not disparaging other states, the pride of always having been a state where all men and women are created equal can’t be denied. Kansas joined the Union as a free state, and it fought ferociously to defend that. Including one of the first battles of the Civil War – at Black Jack Battlefield. In trying times, it is reassuring to know that Kansas’s history shows it as a freedom loving state.