My Dad and I made one of our yearly photo outings a few weeks ago. Over the past few years we have tried to take at least one photo trip together annually. Most of these trips have focused on the Gyp Hills region of Kansas in Barber County and nearby areas of Comanche and Clark Counties. For this trip we started in Great Bend. We were there to attend a workshop by Boyd Norton (which was great by the way!). We spent a little bit of time photographing at Cheyenne Bottoms – we didn’t have great light while there, but it was fun to visit again.
After leaving Great Bend, Dad and I headed to Medicine Lodge. We didn’t have a lot of time to explore the Gyp Hills, but we wanted to see the area after the large fire went through. I’m used to seeing the vibrant green in the Flint Hills after the controlled burns there, but seeing the green in the burned areas in the Gyp Hills was very striking. The size of the area burned in the out of control fire was shocking, I can’t imagine what it was like while it was burning. It will be interesting to see how the prairie there recovers from the fire.
A couple of times over the past year I’ve talked to people about photo ops in Cowley County. I hadn’t really done any photography in that part of Kansas, so I made plans to swing through there on the way home from Medicine Lodge.
(click on any photo in this post to enlarge)
The first place we stopped to photograph was the Old Mill at Oxford. The mill, built in 1874, is now operated as a restaurant. The really cool thing about this, is that the restaurant is run by an entrepreneur program at the local high school. What a great educational experience… kudos to the school district for making this happen and providing an opportunity like this for the students. After Dad and I explored the area for a while that morning, we made sure to return in time to eat there – the food was fantastic! On the day we were there, the meal was a garden salad, rosemary chicken, garlic potatoes, green beans, dinner roll and cheesecake for dessert. The restaurant is open 11-2 on Sunday, and the menu for the day is posted on the mill’s Facebook page each week. I am very much looking forward to returning to eat there again (especially when smothered pork chops are on the menu again!).
After leaving the mill, we decided to find a few of the stone arch bridges that are in Cowley County. There are several bridges in the county and while we didn’t have time to see them all, it was fun driving around exploring a few of them. The first bridge we visited (County Poor Farm Bridge) was in a beautiful wooded area. I didn’t make any photos of the bridge that really captured a sense of the place, but I made the photo above from the bridge…I thought this photo captured a bit of the peacefulness of the location.
We had a nice view of the next bridge we visited (Badger Creek Bridge I think). Conditions were near perfect for using a polarizing filter to bring out the colors in the sky. We had a beautiful blue sky day with white puffy clouds. I liked the way the tree looked in the photo above. The branches had a wispy appearance to them that reminded me of clouds…a nice pairing with the conditions that afternoon.
On our way to the next set of bridges, we stopped at the Cambridge Cabin. This cabin was built in 1872 and a local doctor (Dr. Wilkins) and his family lived there. The cabin was restored in 2014 and was fun to visit. Another quiet, peaceful location and fun to wander around on a beautiful afternoon.
After the cabin, we were off to find a couple more bridges and then head back on home. On our way to the last set of bridges, we stopped to take in some of the beauty of the Flint Hills in Cowley County. Nice temps, beautiful sky…this was the kind of afternoon that was made for exploring! I definitely want to get back and explore more of the prairie in the eastern part of Cowley County.
The last set of bridges we visited included the Fromm Bridge, Neer Bridge, and Fox Bridge. The photo above is of the Fox Bridge (if I remember right) and was probably my favorite to photograph. If you want to explore the area and see the bridges, this Google map link is very handy.
On our way out of the county, we continued to stop in places and photograph whatever caught our eye. It was just such a beautiful afternoon and the prairie and pastures were a lush, vibrant green from the heavy rains that had been moving across Kansas at the time.
I would have liked to have more time to explore, but I’ll be back to this area I’m sure. I’d like to find all the bridges and maybe photograph a few of them in different seasons. And I’ll take any excuse I have to be back in the area on a Sunday and stop by the Old Oxford Mill for another great lunch.
This was another fun road trip with Dad. Got to learn some good stuff from the workshop with Boyd Norton, catch up with some friends I hadn’t seen in a while, visit Cheyenne Bottoms again, visit the Gyp Hills again, explore some new territory and spend time with Dad. It doesn’t get much better than that.
As always, thanks for stopping by. If you would like to see more of my work similar to what was featured in this post, browse my “Times Past” gallery or my gallery featuring wide open views of the Flint Hills. If you would like to be notified of new blog posts, sale announcements, etc., please sign up for my email list (typically only 1-4 emails per month).
Have a great day!