“Home on the Range” was running through my head as I edited these photos, so I thought I would spread the love and put it into your head, as well! 🙂
I discovered Maxwell Wildlife Refuge (one of the 8 Geographical Wonders of Kansas) at the ripe age of four years old. The proprietor is an old friend of my Grandpas, and possibly one of the most hardworking 80 year old cowboys you will ever meet. No, wait. He IS the most hardworking cowboy you will ever meet, if for any other reason than he is 80 years old and still working around buffalo! Anyway, Cliff was nice enough to oblige Grandpa and I on a personal tour of the refuge. Today, you can go on guided tram tours every Saturday morning to look around the property and encounter a buffalo or two (and perhaps elk if you are lucky enough in the winter), but my first trip was just Cliff, Grandpa and I.
The trip is memorable because I got in trouble for reaching out of Cliff’s truck to “pet” a buffalo. It turns out I was indeed NOT at a petting zoo, as my hand was snatched back by Grandpa. I was quickly informed buffalo can toss a person the length of a football field with only a slight jerk of the head! Hey – I was 4, I wanted to see if its fur was soft, so I decided to pet it – I totally understand my 4 year old train of thought. Ha! Regardless, I am happy to report that never again have I had the urge to pet a buffalo. Lesson learned!
The past few years Erik, my Dad, Grandma and Grandpa made the trip to Maxwell (even though as a former avid elk AND buffalo hunter I know Grandpa would have preferred to be walking with a rifle rather than sit on a tram). Our most recent trip on New Years Eve was, unfortunately, without Grandpa. Growing up, I used to think being out in the quiet, open country air was kind of boring. I would have preferred to have my nose in a book or be out “doing” things. Now, I find something peaceful, almost healing, about being out in an open field with fresh air and nothing but hills in the horizon. Maybe this is a result of getting older, but I prefer to think it’s a piece of my Grandpa that rubbed off on me over the years. This trip, I left Maxwell with a camera full of pictures and a thankful heart.
Photo highlights follow, but it’s worth noting that 1) Mom buffalo rarely take their babies into the herd – they usually loiter on the outskirts because the babies bones aren’t developed, so this was a rare occasion and 2) I can’t get over how much I like how in black and white the buffalos textured fur pops. 3) A buffalo really did stick its tongue out at me. TRUTH!
Enjoy, friends! As listening to ZBB reminded me during my commute this week: At the end of the water/A red sun is risin’/And the stars are all goin’ away/ And if you’re too busy talkin’/You’re not busy listenin’/To hear what the land has to say/Quiet your mind