Usually when people hear I’m from Kansas City, they drop the “City” and talk about “Kansas” from then on. If you’re from the area, you know exactly why this is frustrating. Kansas has some antiquated laws and rampant sentiment that I do not agree with or care to be associated with. I guess the addition of “City” implies a certain level of progressive thinking that I prefer to be associated with. However, back in 2014, my hometown fellow adventurer introduced me to a Kansas wonder, a destination I had never heard of before that played a major role in changing my view on the State. When we finally had our excursion to the not-so-far-away glorious fields of sunflowers she had recently learned about, my feelings about the Sunflower State softened.
I had no idea what to expect during our first visit there, all I knew was that we were heading for sunflower fields. We went to Grinter Farms one mid-afternoon on a late summer day, so the sun shone bright on the acres and acres of sunflowers. The scene was not lost on me, however, with the tens of thousands of sunflowers standing in salute to the sun. I was now in awe of Kansas’ beauty.
And this is only a few acres of it…
In 2015, my fellow adventurer and I watched the Grinter Farms Facebook page closely and made our trek out west 😉 once we were confident the flowers were close to blooming / in bloom. I, myself, about to return to Paris, was on a bit of a time crunch. My departure in a few days meant that I had only a small window of time to see the sunflowers in bloom. Sadly, when we arrived where we had frolicked a year before among the yellow beauties, there was nothing but an empty field. We saw no signs to lead us elsewhere, so we just called it a loss and headed home. Not a week later, after I had returned to Europe, my sunflower buddy sent me a photo of the beautiful farm in full bloom. We had been around the corner (in farm distance) from where she eventually found the flowers. Turns out they use different fields from time to time. If only we had known!
This year was different, though. For months, I checked in on the sunflower fields. As the fields have become more and more of an attraction for people all across the Midwest, it seems details of the “bloom report” have become more specific. In July, I noticed they had only just planted the sunflower seeds. This worried me, as I could imagine myself faced with the same issue I had worried about in 2015: a year without an awe-striking sunflower field view.
Well, who knew such enormous plants could grow so much in two months time?! By early September, the report was that the flowers were nearly due to bloom. This year I was not going to miss it!
I made two trips within a few days, once at sunset with my mom and then a few days later at sunrise by myself. Not surprisingly, there were very few people there when I arrived at 6:30 am. For about half an hour, it was just me, by bicycle, and a few people with a drone. Yes, you read that correctly… I took my bike with me! What would make for a more charming photo than an adorable prop amongst the flowers?
I just loved wandering around and through the 40 acres of sunflowers. Beauty like that requires a lot of stopping and staring. How else can you fully comprehend you’re in the presence of such beauty? Eventually, I took my bike around the Farm to shoot it in different settings. The sun came up quickly, so I had to work quickly. And even though the fields seem to go on forever, I did my best to stay where the now-large influx of visitors was not yet. (If you know my photography, you know how infrequently I have people in my shots.)
When I was taking one of my last photos of the morning, I rolled my bike out of the field (no flowers were trampled in the process!), and as I was nearing the edge, I saw a beautiful shot behind me. I parked my bike to get the shot, then realized it was even better with the bike in the foreground. You may have seen this image elsewhere, since a few passers-by thought it was cute enough to shoot as well. As I’m sure you photographers know, it can be very frustrating when a person “steals” your shot (especially right in front of you!), but I didn’t say anything… I was too busy appreciating the view. 🌻🌻🌻
A special thanks to the owners and farmers at Grinter Farms, who generously allow their property to become a literal stomping ground for at least a couple of weeks a year. The donations we leave in the boxes around the property are but a token of my great appreciation for sharing Nature’s beauty with a larger audience.
24154 Stillwell Road
© Falling Off Bicycles
Photos are all copyrighted and may not be used without express written permission.