After a week of rainy days in Columbia, I headed west on Interstate 70, on my way back to Colorado. Passing through the soggy landscape of western Missouri and eastern Kansas, I encountered periods of heavy rain until I reached Topeka. Beyond that city, I crossed the waterlogged Flint Hills, some of which poked into the low, gray overcast, and then forded the rain-swollen channels of the Smoky Hill, Solomon and Saline Rivers.
West of Salina, where the topography climbs toward the High Plains, the clouds began to lift and pockets of blue sky appeared above the western horizon. Nevertheless, flooded fields and sloughs dominated the scene all the way to Hays; it was not until I reached WaKeeney, at the eastern edge of the High Plains that bright sunshine bathed a relatively dry landscape.
There I had traveled west of the Gulf of Mexico plume, into the rain shadow of the Rockies and onto higher terrain where the thin air transports less moisture. The semiarid landscape of the High Plains may not support the rich woodlands and lush greenery of the Eastern Plains but the sunshine and dryness were welcome after a week of cool, wet weather.