Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Respect for the Kaw....

For some unknown reason I was recently part of a charity ride (on road bikes no less) - to raise money for malaria prevention- and happened to take a slightly wrong turn and ended up in the mighty metropolis of Council Grove Kansas. Now, for all you Santa Fe trail buffs, this is a historic little burg on the edge of the Flint Hills with some groovy old native stone buildings, a jail the size of a large refrigerator, and a few other tidbits of import.  Also nestled away near the Neosho River is the Kaw Indian Mission Museum, a wonderful mini-documentary of how we as a nation killed more people than Hitler and Stalin combined. But that is a sordid and pathetic tale of greed, racism and avarice that we all are just so tired of hearing.  That being said, the Kaw Indians gave me (by force) a nice gift in the form of a sandy river that flows slowly toward my current place of residence: Kansas City.  KC was originally known as 'Kaw's Mouth", due to the confluence of the Kaw and  Missouri rivers downtown. Most of Kansas is a sandy high desert and therefore the Kaw drains all this sediment eastward into the clay-based soil which is prevalent in Missouri. There are many dredging operations along the Kaw, which have the dual purpose of keeping the river as deep as possible - for flood control... well as supplying the main ingredient for our many outdoor volleyball courts.

But some of that sand gets backed up, especially in time of drought, and builds up in massive, 2-3 mile-long bars - perfect for many a shindig - but mainly for the purpose of FatBike riding.  We have to take what we can get here in the Midwest - 4 hours to the "mountains" of Arkansas and at least 6 hours to any decent desert dunes. So in times of sorrow, all is made well by the gift of the Mighty Kaw sandbar in western Shawnee, directly south of Bonner Springs, Kansas.  There are many a rogue trail that weave through the surrounding forests and even a race or two have been had on the grassy, pot-plant strewn fields adjacent. But my main concern is the bar, which stretches 1.5 miles along the eastern shoreline...a thing of true beauty and isolation. 

The river is very shallow, albeit swift in a few random channels, but in the heat of summer one can walk across the entire width while still having their head above water. Last night I was joined by Commander Jack Sparrow  -for his maiden voyage on non-frozen sand: a slop-fest of mud, sweat and gears that might have been more fun than a free buffet at a strip club...

-Princess out.

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