The Flint Hills . . .

10,000 of my fellow Kansans (including a few Missourians, some Okies, some Texans, and even some Europeans, etc. - we're all Kansans at heart) and I crowded (that is sarcasm) on to the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve on Saturday for what started out a cloudy, grey, misty day and turned into nothing short of a view of hundreds (if not thousands) of square miles of heaven overhead and to our left, right, North and South.

We didn't just show up by coincidence . . . we were there for THE SHOW - The 10th Annual Symphony in the Flint Hills. For those who are unaware the event is exactly what it sounds like a, um, Symphony in the, um, Flint Hills.

I have always heard great things about the event (full disclosure it is not perfect - but the things that are less-than great are outshined by those that are) but I would be a crazy fool if I didn't admit here that the day exceeded my expectations in every way.

I love the symphony. I love Lyle Lovett. I love the people (SLF and her parents) I went with. All that is fine and dandy but NOT why the day was so much better than expected. Nope. The day was better than I could have expected because of the FLINT HILLS.

The Flint Hills, for the unfamiliar, the Flint Hills are 9,936ish square miles that stretch pretty much all the way through eastern Kansas in to Oklahoma. They are named for their exposed flint cliffs. I kid. They are actually limestone but, the dude who first described them over 200 years ago called them "flint" hills and that stuck. And I'm glad it did.

If you've never been in the middle of nearly 10,000 square miles of pristine environment with (just about) nothing as far as the eye can see in every direction from horizon to horizon there are only a few other places you can do it . . . and they are called OCEANS.

I've never done any more than drove through the Flint Hills (stops at the Cattle Pens to pee don't count as doing "more") but I'll tell you the first time I really "beheld" the Flint Hills - Halloween, 2007. It was the day I became a Kansan. I was driving from Connecticut to Wichita and I found myself in these frozen waves if grass and rock with the golden sun dropping to the horizon in front of me. I'd never seen anything more beautiful in my entire life. I am pretty sure I am still waiting for something more beautiful to bless my eyes.