From Dala Horses to Buffalo

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Wheat fields, grain silos and thunderstorms. These are all a part of the great Heartland, epitomized by Kansas, and that’s what we drove through this week. We even encountered our share of those thunderstorms (no tornadoes, thanks just the same) and saw some very severe flooding.

In the historic little town of Augusta KS, we had to pull over when we spotted the tallest (and no doubt coolest) playground in the whole state. Move over, kiddies – this place is too much fun to be restricted to just the wee ones among us.

We also made a pit stop in the Kansas town of Lindsborg, sometimes called Little Sweden. It’s not hard to see why: settled in 1869 by Swedish immigrants, it still bears much of the storybook feel of a little old Swedish village in its architecture, names and designs. Particularly conspicuous are the brightly painted little wooden horses all over town. These are called Dala horses, and they’re a tradition that appears to date back at least to 16th Century Sweden. They may have been made originally on a smaller scale as children’s toys. But then in Lindsborg, the locals began posting them in front of their homes with their names and/or addresses painted on them. Today, the horses can be seen posted in front of many businesses and offices, and are decorated with images representing those locations – sometimes incorporating a sense of humor.

These horses weren’t the only interesting animals we encountered. In Afton, OK we stopped for gas at Buffalo Ranch, which has a truck stop and also an actual buffalo ranch. If you want to get even more close and personal with these beasts, there’s a little gift shop next door to it where you can buy things like buffalo jerky. This has been a tourist attraction since it was a major pit stop in Route 66 days when it included llamas, yaks and a teepee. Only a trace of the former glory remains, but at least we were able to park our home where the buffalo roam.

Buffalo Ranch, Afton, OK

On to Arkansas!

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