Fernweh| Fern’ wuh | (noun) German word that translates literally to “far sickness,” the opposite of homesick, and describes an aching for far-off places you’ve not yet visited.
2020 has forced a lot upon us. It’s been a reminder to appreciate what we have and not take things for granted. While I’m thankful for so many things personally, the necessary limit on travel has been challenging, especially since 2020 marked my retirement from the corporate grind, and travel and writing had been on my post-retirement bucket list. Trips to both coasts were canceled early in the year. Plans to spend several months traipsing around Europe during the fall were scrapped.
Undaunted, in an effort to travel responsibly, I embraced a more solitary, close-to-home approach to travel. This included purchasing a self-contained camper, which we enjoyed throughout the summer, and limiting destinations to those closer to home — off the beaten path and uncrowded. Like so many things in 2020, a quieter, more introspective approach has yielded surprising delights that might have otherwise been missed.
We enjoyed several trips out with the camper, but colder weather meant winterizing our cozy Wolf Pup, so I felt like my wings had been clipped once again. I began to feel the familiar restlessness that had been temporarily assuaged by hitting the road with our camper. I knew what it was, and I knew I needed to find some way to safely and responsibly discover something new.
Kansas City is my home base, so I didn’t have to look far to find remote, yet interesting locales within driving distance. Western Kansas seemed a likely candidate for a socially isolated trip. Early December brought one of those surprising midwestern gifts — a week of unseasonably warm, sunny days. A Sunday weather check led to a Monday departure, and a quick AirBnB search yielded contact-free stays at a cottage, a barn and a cabin in, frankly, the middle of nowhere.
The primary theme of the four-day road trip was the geologic wonders of Western Kansas. But I discovered so many more wonders beyond the towering chalk monuments, limestone formations and colorful Badlands. There’s too much to cover in one blog post, so I’ve broken it down into several segments. Stay tuned for more as we discover what lies just beyond the “boring” white lines of I-70 spanning central and western Kansas.