Barber county, KS ... buffalo
May 23, 2004 in the western Kansas counties of Barber, Comanche, and Clark.

Seven riders made the commitment. Jeff Jelinek of Danville - Triumph Tiger, Tim Bontrager of Manhattan - KLR650, Dennis Murray of Conway Springs - KLR650, Dan Roth of Hutchinson - XT350, Randy Snyder of Belle Plaine - KLR650, Jeff Roth of Hutchinson - KTM620, and Roger Baugh of Wichita - KLR650.

Upon arrival at the first rendezvous, we learned that Jeff's Triumph needed a repair that could not be accomplished before departure. He still wanted to go, with his Ford F-150 as a chase vehicle. This was a good thing ... as this ride would be a "double Jeff" type of day.

The entire group made the final rendezvous in Medicine Lodge ... and then we were off into the Gypsum Hills. One of the first things we discovered was that the road beds are "fluffy" this season .... meaning the sand is much deeper than it has been in previous years. This condition took some getting used to, but once everyone was acclimated, we were able to quicken our pace and enjoy the scenery more.

Barely into the ride, but more than twenty miles from the closest town, Jeff Roth's KTM developed carburetion problems, and refused to behave, let alone start again. Gosh .... what good fortune, we just happen to have a pick-up truck with us!

Perhaps the most enjoyable aspect was riding open range and coming across more than 500 buffalo. It was a humbling experience to see these animals at such close proximity. There are many young calves this Spring, so we were very cautious and exercised careful approaches as we rode several miles through a corner of the herd's extensive range.

We later rode further west to Clark county to see the State of Kansas Big Basin Prairie Park. Very interesting geologic formations, a huge spring in the "Little Basin" area of the park, and a small buffalo herd can be found here. The road through the area is little more than rough two-track, and there are no facilities ... in other words, a perfect setting! To download a data sheet on Big Basin, click here.

From Big Basin, the group split for the return trip home. We'd seen much in the Red Hills region of southwestern Kansas ... vibrant colored wildflowers, deer, hawks, a roadrunner, horned toads, and for most of us ... more buffalo in one place than we could have imagined. My tripmeter showed 385 miles when I got home to Wichita.

And, as always, great camaraderie and team "sense". When a rider(s) needed help .... all the rest pitched in.

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