Hello from the road. We have cut loose from the Kansas mothership, aka Ramsey and Erin’s house in Lawrence. Tonight we are camping in the parking lot of a forlorn wildlife preserve near the border of Kansas and Colorado. As we pulled in we saw a hand-crafted cross decorated with plastic flowers in the headlights. The imagination wanders.

It was difficult to leave our loved ones and a comfortable bed for a 19.4 foot van, but here we are. During the two weeks in Lawrence our grand-baby Fiona made the transition from up-all-night to sleeping a solid 8 hours. Mom and Dad are rounding the newborn corner! Fiona is adorable and happy and it is amazing to be grandparents. We so enjoyed being there, cooking, walking, hanging out and getting to know Erin’s mother, and my co-grandmother, Nancy Cedar. Our visit was a social relief (and a calculated risk) in this Covid time for which we are very grateful.


Morning at Cheyenne Bottoms…………..Drinking coffee in bed, watching birds.

Last night we slept in an equally remote location in Kansas near a bird sanctuary called Cheyenne Bottoms Nature Preserve. James woke up at sunrise and drove the van slowly around the preserve following a harrier hawk as it dipped and dove over the water. I watched from bed in the back in my pajamas sipping coffee. That was nice.

Today the road west followed what was the Santa Fe trail across Kansas. We passed Pawnee Rock, the halfway mark between Missouri and Santa Fe on the road west and sadly didn’t stop, but.. we consulted Wikipedia! Pawnee Rock, according the sources, is the sight of Wild West skirmishes and Native American conclaves. It is completely covered with the names of settlers who journeyed west. What was the Santa Fe trail is now endless agriculture, punctuated by small towns with grain elevators towering above, connected to an endless chain of railroad tracks headed east and west. These are the lands covered by circular patterns you see when you fly over the country, formerly the long grass prairie that stretched from Lake Huron to Texas.


Walmart Parking Lot at Dodge City: cell tower score!  James working in the back of the van

Fortunately we found the Dodge City Walmart parking lot located next to a huge cell tower in time to do our Zoom meetings. I taught my last Zoom Color Class of the semester. My students did an amazing job in their final projects and I was reminded of what we have learned and adapted to during this strange Covid time.

Tomorrow we make our way across the Rockies towards Oregon to see James’ family, to stay in their driveways for the holidays, and on to a socially-distance artists residency in Petaluma, California in January that welcomes me to work in the print studio as long as I stay in the KOA campground down the road. More time in the van. More recipes in the Insta-Pot. More about that later.

Thanks for reading! Stay safe and warm. Julia

Kansas Prairie