4th of July festivities came and went at the Fort, though we were plagued with some rain and mist that dulled the fun a bit and made the company streets into gumbo. We successfully fired the cannon twice, and I felt redeemed at my position as loader after the misfire last time. I was in charge of heading up the period-style games played by the 7th cavalry near Ft. Larned in 1867 on the 4th of July, which included sack races, wheelbarrow races, and foot races. A few kids participated and everyone got some laughs, but it wasn't the rip-roaring success I had hoped for.
I've been working on my charcoal grill rib preparation, which is a 4- to 6-hour task. I found a technique online that described putting the coals all on one side with a pan of water over them. While the web recipe I saw said the pan of water helped with humidity, I think it has more of a role to play in regulating the temperature and keeping it close to 220 (steam will depart at 212 and take the heat energy with it). I opened the grill and added a handful of coals and a handful of soaked chips every half hour, never touching the meat. After a raging success the first time, I tried a total of three delicious times and feel good about the technique. As you see in the photo, a narrower pan of water on top would make adding coals and chips easier.
When we got to Kansas in May, I was a bit alarmed at the frequency and intensity of thunderstorms and crazy wind. It's settled down now that the summer weather pattern is established. If you look at a weather map and zero in on Kansas, you can see where the prevailing winds either come from the northwest or the southwest; in the springtime, it alternates frequently, causing the storms. However, we still get a zinger now and then. We saw a spectacular show of lightning just a few nights ago with near-constant lightning coming from a massive cloud that went past without hitting us. I got this photo among others of the storm.
Here's another one for good measure.
The wheat harvest came and went, leaving me with somewhat itchy eyes thanks to the dust in the air. It was kind of fun to see the machinery working in the fields churning all the wheat up and doing their thing. Some farmers now are into a second or third planting, depending on what they have been producing. Now, fields are lighting up with the brilliant yellow of sunflowers. So, in honor of the Sunflower State, I took a picture of one of the state's wild varieties, which grow about six feet tall along the edges of fields and roads.
Last but not least, fasten your seatbelts. A whole new Fort Larned NHS website will be coming to you in early August. We've already got a Facebook group; it helped that I had already written a policy for TR. And since I have nothing more to say, I'll leave you with a cliche sunset picture from the back yard. Except that the sky was totally weird.