Life

Discovering The Heart Of Slow Travel On Kansas’s Konza Prairie


UPROXX

Konza Prairie. Flint Hills, Kansas. Home to the Konza Prairie Biological Station, run by nearby Kansas State University. I see gently rolling hills — covered in long prairie grass, green melting into yellow into burnt orange. When I pull over and step out of the car, my dog, Reuben, stares at me from the backseat. He’s trying to figure out what I’m doing. I hear the wind — no rush of cars, just wind. This is not part of our rhythm, this middle-of-the-day stop. And yet here we are. I stare out at the trailhead for a moment, and then I turn back, open the door, and grab the dog.

The sound of wind as it whispers and hushes through prairie grass is something I never thought I’d care about. Now I know it’s something I’ll never forget.

1:40 p.m.: Driving through the flat expanses of Kansas is starting to warp my mind. It doesn’t matter that I left I-70 for some of the gentle curves of the local two-lane highways, surrounded by sunflowers and corn. Everything, eventually, starts to flatten and dissolve — the heat of the midday September sun sizzling on asphalt and erasing the line between here and oblivion. The only thing that keeps me in my mind is the occasional whine from the backseat of my 11-year-old dog, who long ago gave up on sitting or lying and is instead surfing every turn and brake, every move making him more anxious.

We’re a little more than half-way through our journey, and as Kansas rushes by the corn and sunflowers start to disappear, giving way to vast fields of grass. With every whine and whimper, I feel like I have to rush to get to my destination as quickly as possible, so I can get Reuben out of the car and into his new life.

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When my boyfriend and I decided to move across the country, we agreed that he would take care of closing up the apartment then fly, and I would race with the car and the dog and some essentials to our new home.

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