While I'm really getting tired of my 53 mile and 1 hour drive one way each day, I always look forward to driving through the Big Basin.
The Basin is a large sink hole. It's a mile in diameter and about 100 feet deep. The walls are very steep. The State owns 2/3 of the Big Basin and have a prairie preserve on it with a herd of buffalo. The buffalo don't spend a lot of time down in the basin, and it's always a treat to see them. I've seen them in the bowl of the basin twice in the 6 weeks I've been driving. Yesterday, some of the bachelor bulls were in the basin grazing. They are huge!
I like the Basin. It's beautiful. When I was a little girl, I used to imagine seeing the Indians swoop down the hills into the basin to attack a wagon train. Something about that terrain just always make me think of the Indians and horses and buffalo. I also used to imagine building a house on the north east side of the basin. The house would be down on the side of one of the hills facing the basin. I imagined sitting and looking out southwest facing windows watching the sun set, overlooking the basin itself. I'd still like to live there...if the State didn't own it and if I could own it.
Legend has it, that when they built the original highway through the basin, that some of the large equipment fell further down in more sinkholes. I don't know if that's true, but that's the story we all heard as kids. It could be true, as there is a small wetlands area on the west side, and since this is one big sinkhole, it could still sink.
The basin is kind of a weather changing area. By that, I mean the weather on the north side of the basin might be better or worse than it is on the south side. And, during the winter, the road through the basin can be pretty nasty. I don't know why, but the weather from the beginning of that mile across the bottom of the basin can be completely different than the weather at the end of that mile.
Yes, there is a "Little Basin". It's south east of the Big Basin and is the home of St. Jacob's Well, a natural spring that was used by the cowboys during cattle drives. They'd leave the Cimarron River in the morning and drive cattle up to the Well then on up to Dodge the next day. St. Jacob's Well has never gone dry. Never. We went down there one summer several years ago. You drive on the Preserve around the Big Basin and park and walk down to the Well. It's not an easy walk. Personally, I didn't think I'd want to drink the water there...it was covered in cottonwood leaves and cotton pods and was rather nasty looking to my mind. But, I'm sure to cattle and cowboys, it looked wonderful. It's fenced off from the Buffalo now, to keep the water "clean" and to protect those hikers who venture down. Buffalo are tempermental and very dangerous.
Anyway, I digressed a little. The Basin is my favorite part of my drive and probably the only part I'll miss. I'll be driving one more week, then we'll move into our new house and I'll have a much shorter drive, and more importantly, my family will be with me again.
(The attached photo is of the basin It's taken from the highway looking southeast. I borrowed it from http://www.naturalkansas.org/) And, a note. For some reason, my formatting didn't come out right on this. I left blank lines between the paragraphs, I swear I did...Someone doesn't like me today...)