Humidity and Humanities

Elk City State Park KansasOh good grief, August sure was hot! Three years on the road and no A/C has been tolling but we just keep trucking, finding relief where we can. Kansas proved to be one of our hottest stops in 2014 but Elk City State Park offered the respite we needed from the heat.

We went down to Coffeyville, KS to share an Australian Bush Song Workshop through Coffeyville Community College’s Humanities program. We performed our workshop over 16 times, in the local high school, community college and nursing homes over the course of our five days.

This is our third time in six years, participating in this lecture series and every time our program gets more and more refined. This time around our program began by paying respects to the original people group (Aboriginals) of Australia and the telling of a dream time story. Then we touched on the origins of Australia as a penal colony and stories of seafaring and songs that came with that time. Then went into the politics of the early settlement and the divide between the Aristocrats, Squatters and Drifters, finally sharing songs and stories of Australia’s Bush Rangers (outlaws). It was fitting to share the stories of the Wild Colonial Boy, Waltzing Matilda and Ned Kelly as Kansas is one of the states that many of the US outlaws roamed. We were able to make well rounded comparisons with Billy the Kid, Jesse James and the Dalton Gang.

Coffeyville Humanities programCraig was the main speaker in our series. He guided us through the stories, fun little antidotes about growing up in Australia, and he even shared about his experience in the shearing shed as a youth. He followed up by singing a hardy rendition of the classic, “Click Go The Shears.”

The rest of us each played our parts, including our son on rythmn, Graciana on vocals and I joined on vocals and the Mandolin. Having the extra support of our fellow bus riders on board was a nice welcome as well. Sylvia added charisma and fantastic harmonies and Rhys joined in on the bass, vocals and even shared the story of his hometown, Glenrowan and Australia’s most famous Bush Ranger, Ned Kelly.

Elk City State Park KansasWe camped all week at Elk City State Park. Our site included water and 50 amp service. We paid $25 a night for a spot directly across from the lake. At 102 degrees all week-long, we were so thankful to come back to Elk City Lake and jump into the bath water every single night. Our little haven in the middle of the plains was the perfect backdrop to share some of our local camping traditions with Rhys. Being from Australia he was unfamiliar with our version of smores and carmellos. We also made brats, boiled in beer, my grandmothers famous potato salad and watermelon. To top it all off, we went into town for a few meals and found the Chicken fried Steak a hit.

I wouldn’t say that Kansas is at the top of our list for places to stay for a week, however Elk City State Park proved to be a nice change of pace and offered us just what we needed to get through the week. If we make it back for another humanities series, we’ll know exactly where to stay!