Before my vacation, I had my first in-real-life meeting with blog friends, and one of them just happens to be from Australia! As in, the other side of the world. As in, how cool is that?!
Sharon's blog, Equip Academy, was one of the first blogs I regularly followed, and it was through her that I got to know a couple of other bloggers, Amy and Andrea (and I think it is through Andrea that I've gotten to know a few of you!). Amy and Sharon share the same blog birthday and through blogging have become very good friends. They are both very intelligent, faith-filled women, and I love reading their posts and comments.
I was very excited when Sharon announced that she and her husband were going to be taking a trip to the United States, including a visit to Amy who lives less than four hours away from me. We made plans to meet at the Tall Grass Prairie National Preserve in the Kansas Flint Hills, so I'm going to share some of the highlights of the Blue House Academy/Equip Academy/Veritas at Home field trip.
I have always wanted to explore this area of the world a little better, and it did not disappoint. The hills go on forever, making you feel like small speck on this beautiful planet God has made.
This time of year most of the prairie is just growing back after prescribed burnings. On our drive to the preserve we saw several areas being burned, and you can see in the pictures that some areas had not yet been burned. The Nature Conservancy in Kansas explains why prescribed burnings are necessary:
The prairie needs fire to exist. Along with grazing, fire has always been an essential ecological process for the preservation and sustainability of the prairie ecosystem. Burning removes old growth, controls the establishment and spread of invasive and woody plant species, puts nutrients back into the soil, and promotes the growth and abundance of native prairie grasses and forbs. In turn, wildlife habitat is improved, native prairie plant communities are enhanced, and forage productivity is increased.
The preserve also is the home of a historic home and barn (and several other buildings, including the outhouse that I just know you're glad I included in the pictures!). Down the road (or hiking trail) is a one-room school house that was being used that day by a teacher and students dressed in period clothing.
As lovely as the setting was, the best part of the trip was meeting new friends. We went on a Tuesday, one of Anna's school-at-home days, so she joined us. Anna's main motivation for coming was to hear a real live Australian accent and she had fun impressing her classmates the next day when she told them all about our trip. Ryne and Grace got along very well with Amy's children. In fact, Grace (who still struggles with the concept of time and distance) keeps asking when we can see them again, as if they live down the street. What a fun day! I'm so thankful for getting to meet these lovely ladies in person. In the picture of the three moms (below), Amy is on the left, Sharon in the middle, and yours truly on the right.
Finally, I want to mention what a trooper Amy was on our field trip. She was just days away from her due date and yet she was gracefully hiking through the prairie. I think I was breathing harder than her! But those long days of pregnancy are probably a distant memory now that darling little Lydia Jean has entered the world. Congratulations, Amy!