October 17, 2004 ... and a step back into the 1850s history of Morris and Chase counties.

Our first rendezvous point was Cottonwood Falls, where we would join another 100 or so road riders for a "Biker Breakfast" at the Emma Chase Cafe. It was a great morning to ride, the air crisp, the morning bright. Making the first stop was Jeff Jelinek, Danville - Triumph Tiger, Jeff Gilliland, Wichita - KLR650, Wil Locke, Derby - KTM LC4 Adventure, Damon Schimming, Wichita - BMW 1150GS, Don Morgan, Wichita - BMW 1150GS, and Roger Baugh, Wichita - KLR650. Following breakfast, the group split-up. Wil and Jeff G. decided to explore Chase county, while the others rolled northward to Council Grove.

Shortly after arriving in Council Grove, we were joined by Jim Foley, Shawnee - BMW 1100GS. We visited the Custer Elm Park. Although the elm has died, a 250 year-old burr oak still thrives close by. We then visited a section where evidence of the Santa Fe Trail can still be seen. Stops in Council Grove included the Kaw Mission, a short-lived school built for the boys of the Kaw Reservation that once existed near the town. In 1873, the tribe was forcibly moved to resettlement in present day Oklahoma. Also of great interest was the Last Chance Store .... the last place to provision on the Santa Fe Trail before reaching Santa Fe, New Mexico. There would be no other opportunities to do so for nearly 625 miles between these two points.

Leaving town, we rode out to the Al-le-ga-wa-ho Memorial Heritage Park, site of the former reservation and ruins. 138 stone huts were built to house the tribe .... though they were never utilized, as tribal members preferred their traditional round structures. It is a beautiful area, with thick big bluestem grasses growing to over six feet in height. Along the Little John Creek, the trail is nothing more than a foot path through the woods .... very slow and deliberate riding attention was required. At a high point in the park, a stone monument serves both as a memorial to the tribe, and a final resting place for the remains of a Kanza warrior and his horse that were uncovered by heavy rains.

We returned to Council Grove for lunch, then decided to make the return trip home. Jim and Damon turned to the northeast, the rest of us to the southwest. For Don, Jeff, and Roger the return ride included stops at the Lower Fox Creek 1850s school house and the Z-Bar ranch, a national park located north of Strong City.

What a ride ... too bad we won't get many more days like this one in 2004!

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