Road Trip: Driving the Prairie
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Once upon a time, North America had 170 million acres of tallgrass prairie. Today, less than 4 percent of that remains. These prairies, and the often-overlooked Midwest in which they grow, have their own gestalt, literature, history and idiosyncratic small towns.
The flat interior of the United States is sometimes described as the quintessential flyover country. That's why it requires a road trip. This one leads from Red Cloud, Nebraska, and Willa Cather country, down through Kansas and into Oklahoma. But you can't zip through at 70 miles an hour. To appreciate the texture of this part of the country requires that you slow down, breathe and let the place come to you. It will.
Red Cloud, Nebraska -- Day One
Cottonwood Falls, Kansas -- Day Two
Ponca City, Oklahoma -- Day Three
Bartlesville, Oklahoma -- Day Four
The beautiful great plains have a dark side -- this part of the country is also known as Tornado Alley. Storm chasing, to witness the grandeur of nature's power, is actually a tourist activity 'round these parts, but the massive twister that recently ravaged Moore, Oklahoma -- about 100 miles south of Ponca City -- was a disaster of unimaginable scale. Take tornado watches and warnings seriously, and follow National Weather Service safety tips. And if you would like to help Moore rebuild, here are some ways to help.