Roads, Rocks and Lizards
Images of Late Spring in the Kansas Flint Hills (Part 1 of 3)
This is the first time since late last Fall, and a bit
later than usual that I've run the back roads of a
of the eastern edge of the Kansas Flint Hills. While often times following the route of the old Skyline - Mill
Creek Scenic Drive, I prefer the off-road and low maintenance back roads, where one can experience
a real feeling of the depth and width of these blue stem pastures and hills, thus often times my Jeep
is in four-wheel drive.
(Interstate I-70, west of Topeka about 20 miles, exiting at the Paxico turn-off, then south on Snokomo Road)
Very warm and dusty along the roadways, standing at the top of one of these hills, under cloudless blue skies and breathing the wind against your face can be pretty exhilarating. Seeing miles and miles of open
grass land and listening to a Meadowlark sing when you rest, is a great escape to the hustle and
bustle that many of us endure in a our daily lives.
Woody Creek Road can be accessed off of Snokomo Road and running west for a few miles is gravel
surfaced. After that it becomes two tracks, if the grass and weeds aren't high, and there is no way one will
traverse this without a pickup truck or four-wheel drive vehicle; trust me, unless of course you
enjoy "communing" with grasshoppers, a few stray ticks, and some scorpions among the rocks.
A variety of wildflowers adorn the off-road areas and the three seasons of Spring,
Summer and Fall in the Flint Hills are very different. Many of the flowers are so tiny,
that unless you get out and look to the ground you cannot see them from the roadway.
The Sighting of a Lizard
On May 12, 2001, while going south and further along Woody Creek Road, I
spotted my first Collard Lizard of the year sunbathing on an old tree stump.
Within 30 feet of my Jeep and watching me like a hawk, I turned the motor off and attached a C-180
teleconverter lens in order to enhance the optical power and capture a few shots before he jumped.
After the two shots, I exited and went to the front of my Jeep and began shooting more pictures.
Each time I moved a little closer and eventually we got so close we had to remove the C-180 teleconverter
and put the camera in macro mode. We got as close as 18 inches and while he moved his head, he
still didn't jump or move.
I've only had two other times I could approach a lizard this close and that was back on September 5,
1999 (See "Sunflowers in the Flint Hills") and July 4, 1998 (See "Flint Hills Lizard").
Notice how the contrast between the Collard Lizard
and some of the rock formations that are typical of the Kansas Flint Hills, make
this one almost difficult to see.
All photos © 2001 by Don Palmer