Saturday, May 10, 2014

Willard & Uniontown

We'd seen the Willard exit on I-70 hundreds of times, and even driven through the town several times, but we had never gotten out of the car there before. Unfortunately, there's not much to see in Willard itself: It is comprised mainly of homes and churches (and one home that looks like it used to be a church).

We did see an interesting sign in town for the Herbert Reinhard Green Wildlife Area, so we followed a hilly dirt road until we found it.

The wildlife area is located at the top of a hill across the road from a private cemetery. It turns out that this cemetery is all that remains of Uniontown, a settlement that was the largest in Kansas during the 1850s. It was burnt to the ground... twice. (You can read more about Uniontown's history on the Parks site, and here's another article about it hosted by

We decided to hike through the wildlife area (which the Green family donated to the state and asked to be declared a refuge, with no hunting allowed). We also thought it would be a good opportunity to try our hand at geocaching, since the Uniontown Gold geocache was located in the refuge.*

The first half of our adventure was delightful. We really enjoyed seeing the Green family's old farm implements, and the trail was easy and well maintained. There were even some benches to rest on. As our treasure hunt continued, though, a few problems arose.

 First, our 2-year-old got tired of hiking, so he started crying whenever he wasn't riding on my shoulders. Then, our hunt for the geocache took us off the trail. This was a bit painful since none of us really had appropriate hiking shoes on.

My flipflop-clad feet attracted thorns at an alarming rate, and our 4-year-old accumulated numerous scratches on his legs. It also wasn't the easiest terrain for a momma in flipflops to navigate while wearing a baby in a Mobi wrap.

We were also a little leery of poison ivy. We didn't see much of it, but we did see enough to make me nervous about letting the boys go ahead of me.

After making our way through a couple of painful briar patches, we finally arrived at the treasure chest. The boys enjoyed the fast food kids' meal toys we found in it, and Magen and I enjoyed turning around to go back toward the car. The hike back was a bit more miserable because of our scratches and the boys' insistence on being carried. (They took turns riding on my shoulders.)

At last, we made it back to our climate-controlled, thorn-free van. We'd had a good time, but we were also glad for it to be done. Next time we go geocaching, we will be sure to dress more appropriately for the adventure. (We will also dress to repel ticks, as we found 2 of the little bloodsuckers on our 4-year-old's back at bathtime.)

* We had tried to go geocaching as we were leaving Topeka, but the cache we tried was hidden near a pretty busy golf course.  After dodging a few shots from the fairway, we decided we would rather run away and live to search another day.

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