Cimarron National Grassland

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Cimarron National Grassland

Cimarron River

It wasn't very noticeable while living in Hutchinson, but that part of the plains is fairly temperate. Liberal is situated on the High Plains, so it's drier, flatter, and there's even fewer trees. The crops are different: less unirrigated corn or wheat, less irrigated corn, more irrigated wheat, and more cotton. We also have more gamebirds! With the less plentiful water, there are fewer trees (which also means stronger winds) but that encourages pheasant and prairie chickens.

The Cimarron National Grassland preserves a large section of the High Plains about an hour away from where we're currently living. It actually got started because of the Dust Bowl, and is situated squarely in the area marked as "worst affected" on maps. To help prevent a recurrence of the dust storms, the Bureau of Land Management bought the area and let it return to a native state instead of lie bare.

The grassland is named for the Cimarron River, which is actually 2-4ft underground in the region. A branch of the Santa Fe Trail passed through the land. Ruts are supposed to be visible in multiple locations but we only thought we found them in one place.

Windmill

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Coronado Museum and Meade State Park

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Coronado Museum and Meade State Park

Liberal Mystery Machine

We took a short daytrip to the Coronado Museum (the local history museum) and Meade State Park to check out our new area a little. The Coronado museum was located inside a cool old house and featured a few pieces of antique equipment next door including the lead picture above, what I'm calling the Liberal Mystery Machine. It clearly had an old internal combustion engine, was steered from the sideboard, and might have been customized or homebuilt. 

Meade State Park had what we're learning is typical high-plains winds (40-60mph), but featured some surprising variation in the terrain, the panorama below comes from the retaining wall of the dam.

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Apartment Hunting

Theresa and I traveled to Liberal on Feb 28/Mar 1 to hunt for an apartment, participate in a meeting at the Mid-America Air Museum, complete some paperwork, and explore our soon-to-be new home.

Immediately on checking into our hotel, we met a gentleman who chatted with us about Hutchinson's good qualities (he used to live there) and our plans. It turned out he was renting out an old carriage house! In a little bit of a culture shock to us, he simply gave us the keys and address and invited us to check it out. Unfortunately it was too small to fit our books and Theresa's piano, but it is the source of our first photo for this blog!

The next day was filled with the meeting I had come down for, and touring the apartments we had spotted. We got lucky on our last visit of the day and are planning on renting a 2 bedroom, 1 bath apartment near Kansas Ave (Liberal's equivalent of Main St). We also visited the public library, which was in a very nice building:

The final goal of this trip was to complete some of the employment/HR requirements for my new job. As a City of Liberal employee, this included a drug-test. The address I had been given directed us to a random point in the middle of the street. We searched and searched, tried combinations of the address, then finally went to City Hall to ask someone. In another "small town" moment, a department head stopped what they were doing to walk us through how to get to the place—which was hidden in an odd location behind the old mall. In fact, the location was actually a trucking company that doubled as a "services" company doing drug tests for lots of different employers. It was a very unique experience.

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