Thursday, March 23, 2017

Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve/Prairiewood StoneHouse

The best part about Philip going to conferences for work is when we get to go along!    We have been looking forward to this trip for a while!

We left the house around 9:45 am on Wednesday and drove an hour and a half to the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve.   We visited the visitor's center, watched a cool video about the history of the tallgrass prairies and how there is only about 4% of them left...and most of them are in Kansas!   We bought a cool kid's book about National Parks and Moriah bought herself an adorable bonnet. =)

How cute is this??

We toured the beautiful stone barn and house next, built in 1881.

The barn was huge, and the basement level was the quintessential, "old fashioned barn" that I think they should (if they haven't already) use in movies!!   It might be the prettiest barn I've ever seen

 The house was quite something... obviously these people had money.   For some reason I didn't take a single picture inside, though! =0/

Walkway leading up the beautiful front doors

We had lunch in the van and then set out on a hike to find the bison!    This herd is some of only a few remaining that are 100% bison and have never been cross bred with cattle.

 Setting out... we had no idea how far we might have to walk!

Looking back on the trail (that's Keenan in the distance)

Someone coming back had told us that three of the bison had broken away from the rest of the herd and they told us which way to go... we were delighted that they were still there as they were MUCH closer than the rest of them!

First view of them
I think this is my favorite picture of the day

We were excited to be able to get so close!

Not so sure about us
(Since there was fence, we were able to get much closer to them than if we'd been in the enclosure (they recommend a football field away)

I'm putting both of these since my kids can't all decide at once who's going to have their eyes closed ;)


 Just me, my man and some bison

After seeing the bison, we decided to hike back a different way and checked out the school house that was built on the property in 1884.

 Trying to be artsy with a photo of some thistles with the schoolhouse in the background

Little feet were getting tired by this point

Some pretty wildflowers

The schoolhouse...looking sort of sad and forlorn

The front

I love how the background of this naturally looks sort of black and white against Caleb

 He was saying, "This is the Wild Woods!"  =)

They built 30 miles of these beautiful stone fences!!

By the time we were done, we'd walked about 2.5 miles, with a lot of hills, so we were ready to get in the van and some of us took naps on the way to Manhattan.

Back in June, Philip had bid (at a silent auction) on a one night stay at the Prairiewood StoneHouse in Manhattan, KS.   I had looked at the brochure at the time and was super excited about it but...the real thing was about three times as awesome as what I was expecting!!!   It was built in the 1860's and has soo much charm and character!   It was fully renovated in 2014.

A staff member gave us a tour and explained everything (and gave us a complimentary bottle of wine and a bag of locally roasted coffee) and then we brought our bags in and I went crazy with my camera!

 Tiny pond, seating area and the old stone barn in the background

 The beautiful kitchen
(I loved how the stove and everything was "old timey" to match the decor)

 Keenan's room

 ...and gorgeous attached bathroom

 Living room upstairs

 Moriah's room

 Caleb's room (they LOVED having their own rooms!)

 Their bathroom (notice the double shower heads!)

 Master Suite

 Other view

 Separated from the bedroom by a beautiful sliding barn door made from the wooden floorboards of the original kitchen was our bathroom...

 ...and one of the biggest tubs I'd ever seen!

 The front of the house

 From a bit further back

 Another view of the beautiful barn (with the hot tub in the foreground)

 After this, we decided (only because the kids REALLY wanted to, it was windy and cold out!) to go check out the canoe and kayak she had mentioned at a nearby pond...

 Keenan was the first to kayak...

 While the others canoed

 Then they each took turns

 A selfie while I waited for them to come back around the bend in the river

 Caleb's turn in the kayak!

 Everyone else in the canoe

Heading back to the sandbar

 When we got back to the house almost all of us were dirty (thankfully there was a washer and dryer!) and we had chili and fixings (that we'd brought from home) and then hopped in the hot tub!

 All of us in the hot tub
(It was actually hot enough!  I'm kind of picky about hot tubs and my standard is that if it doesn't hurt at least a little to get in, it's not hot enough.)  This one was! =)

 Just the two of us

 Our three silly monkeys

We stayed in for quite a while and us girls were the last ones out...


When we had finally all had enough, we came back in, changed, got all cozy, did a load of laundry, Moriah had a shower (in the fancy shower with two heads!), and we snuggled up to read books.

Some of us in a comfy chair with blankets upstairs...

 ...and Keenan in his bed on the main floor =)
(He said this was one of his favorite parts of the visit)

 Everything lit up after dark

We all had a great night's sleep and packed up the next morning.   Here are a couple shots I snagged before we left:

 I love this silhouette of Caleb in one of the upstairs windows

 We were all quite impressed with the pulley lamp over the table in the living room!

 The view out our bedroom window

 Looking down on the front yard

I found this cutie perched in one of the pretty windows

 This place was just unbelievably amazing and comfortable.   The sheets were sooo smooth, the blankets incredibly soft and warm, the towels super thick and sweet smelling, aaahh...   There was also Lots of candles around, and I Love candles, so I lit at least nine of them! =)

I bought one of their mugs, made by a local artist

What a fun experience!   Though short, I think we will remember it for a Long time!