Kansas in Black and White

May 6, 2013

I rode out of Iola, Kansas, on Monday morning with the sky still unsettled from the large storm front that swirled over the Midwest for days. But by mid-afternoon and with 200 miles of road behind me, the skies began to show promise of at least a day of sunshine ahead. That’s what I got when I woke up this morning. A clear blue sky greeted me outside my lakeside tent spot in Medicine Lodge, Kansas. The ducks that entertained me as I set up my tent the previous night were merrily waddling among the dewy grass biting at grass ends and undoubtedly finding a tasty bug or two.

My first 40 miles of road on Route 160 out of Medicine Lodge were through what is known as the Gypsum Hills. The hills are stained red from iron oxide in the soil. The gypsum, used most notably for Dry Wall, is found in layers among the soil in the hills. I stopped frequently to photograph the rolling landscape that eventually flattened into vast expanses of the largest farms and pastureland I had seen since driving through parts of the Midwest with my family as a child. The landscape stretched endlessly between the few small towns that I drove in and out of in minutes.

This panoramic picture taken with my Android phone

Kansas Panorama

Often, I would be the only motorized vehicle on the road for miles on end. At once I was overcome by the most lonesome feeling – just me and the prairie and the open road. Why did it make me so sad? In the distance, sometimes, large silos, but often just an old, rusty windmill, a rickety barn, a small herd of cattle, big sky, and clouds that seemed to want to float down and carry me away.

When I looked at my pictures at the end of the day they all seemed to say, “I’m black and white.”

Gypsum Hills

The Open Road


Lonesome Home

Kansas in Black and White



Dalton Gang Hideout

Grain Elevators

Trains of Grain

Oh yes, and just before I crossed the Oklahoma border I found Dorothy!

Dorothy in Color

The Yellow Brick Road?

Yellow Brick Road?


All content Copyrighted © Stephen Tavella

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