Country Christmas

Confession: I don’t totally love life on the Great Plains. This probably doesn’t come as a shock for those of you who know we’ve spent about a quarter of our time here trying to move.
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But, the plains have a beauty that isn’t so obvious. One that I often forget about. The people are top-notch, kind and generous, just as one man wrote about at the end of this baseball season. The open spaces can be serene, especially when you’re just itching for some quiet time. And, sometimes we find a gem of a location or activity, something we just wouldn’t find elsewhere.
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Anyways, that was a long intro to tell you about our day. Yesterday, Aaron asked me if I’d like to go to Tallgrass National Preserve again, perhaps to see the buffalo. Of course, I brought up the failed llama adventures of last weekend and suggested that he was trying to lure me into more hiking with the promise of furry animals.

(In case you’re wondering about when you’ve heard about Tallgrass National Preserve before, that would be our failed trip here and our trip with my mom here.)

Anyways, I hesitantly agreed and hesitantly dragged myself out of bed this morning.

When we pulled up THIS was the first thing I saw.
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Lest you think my husband is great at surprises, he was surprised, too. And when we went into the visitor’s center and the same friendly park ranger we met in March told us that it was “free” and “happening all afternoon”, I was pretty excited. Free wagon rides on the prairie.
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The visitor’s center was also totally redone and is very kid-friendly. I think if we hadn’t been so excited about what was happening outside, we could have enjoyed more exploration in here, too.
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So, back outside.

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“Chase County Country Christmas”… isn’t that a mouthful?
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The wagon ride was just a short trip to the barn, where there were MORE surprises. First, we were directed outside by two “cowboys” who bantered on about whether they had seen a bear up on the hill or if it was Santa.
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Then they took us inside and read “The Night Before Christmas”, also complete with cowboy bantering.
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There were two musicians playing live Christmas music. And, a woman spinning yarn on her loom.
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It was a lot of fun and we talked with the kids about pioneer life and home on the prairie before modern conveniences.

Then, we went for our hike.
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We had some people stop and tell us, “there are buffalo about a mile ahead.” After we passed them, I told Aaron, “this better not be another moose situation”. Referring to the times we’ve been told that there were moose ahead and there were none.

Gus was tired, so Aaron and Reed took turns carrying him. Well, Reed tried.
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And tried.
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Aaron carried Gus most of the way, which does make for some fun photos.
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And, eventually, we saw them. Far off in the distance, with a warning not to get too close, there were the bison.
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The kids sat on the ground, or laid on each other while I took a bunch of bison photos, almost all of which look like the one above.
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I might have been a bit bolder under normal circumstances, but considering I’ve read a lot about the dangers of bear selfies recently, I thought perhaps the warning to stay away from the bison might be legitimate, too.

And then, back to the car. Gus was ready to crash. And, I think we were all a bit tired of hearing about how hard riding on Aaron’s shoulders was. 🙂
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That was our day. A gorgeous day for hiking and a little bit of Christmas magic to start off the season.

One thought on “Country Christmas”

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