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Ghost Rider on the Range
It was a dark and stormy night...
Snoopy, right? Only, this time it is a dark and stormy night when we drive out of the parking lot at the 2010 Symphony in the Flint Hills—rain, lightening, a real Kansas storm. How did the day end this way? It wasn't planned. Here's the story...
The planners of the day provide entertainment after the concert. There is a cowboy band and dancing, star gazing through telescopes and, our choice, a Story Circle. All of which are activities encouraging people to not all leave for the parking lot at once.
Annie Wilson, Jeff Davidson and Geff Dawson are on hand to sing as well as tell stories and poems in the Story Circle. They never light the fire, so it is dark when Geff Dawson tells the perfect campfire story. It seems a bolt of lightening kills a cowboy while he is working cattle on his ranch. He loves the prairie so much that he strikes a deal which allows him to forever remain in his beloved hills. Many see him on his horse during flashes of lightening in the mist of thunderstorms. A ghost rider on the range.
No sooner is the story complete than this announcement, “Due to storms moving in, everyone is urged to go to their vehicle.” Even though “severe” is not mentioned, many perceive the message as an emergency. We all take off in force. The parking lot is a gridlock. Since we drove our pickup pop up camper with the intention of staying in Cottonwood Falls after the concert, getting in the back and killing a little time with food and drink seems like a good idea. Well, maybe we'll just lean back and rest while the lot clears out.
Waking with a start, I check my watch. It is 2:30 am. The huge parking lot is dark and deserted. Every car gone and lights turned off. Worst of all, it is raining, with wind and...lightening! I admit I am a bit scared. Perhaps it is the story. Quickly the top is down. The rain is making the grass slippery, we need the four-wheel drive. The cowboy ghost opens the gate for us, I know it is him.
Eight miles on gravel and then north to the overlook along Hwy 177. By then, the storm has blown itself out. We stop for the rest of the night.
Finally waking around 9:30 am, I throw open the door and there I am, looking eye to eye with yearling heifers in a row with noses touching the fence. They look like they are thinking, “This is a strange truck and why are there no cubes for us.”
After a hearty breakfast, we travel back to Bazaar and take a backroad alternative route to Cottonwood Falls then home.
The Symphony day was perfect in every respect. However, when I think back to highlights, I might most remember the cowboy ghost who holds back the rain until the day is over and then taps our shoulder to get out of his prairie.
All but the parking lot picture were taken between Bazaar and Emporia, Kansas, on Sunday June 13th.