Kansas, Kansas and more Kansas


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June 4th 2009
Published: June 5th 2009
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Another long driving day - about 450 miles - across Colorado into Kansas...and then more Kansas...and then more Kansas. It's true what they say about Kansas - it just keeps going on forever and is so very flat. We're in Abilene tonight, all tucked up in the newest, spiffiest hotel in town, the Holiday Inn Express. Lots of fields of amber waving grain, grain elevators every few miles, oil wells pumping, cows, horses, and just a picture of middle America. Some of the sitings-

-signs alternately saying Jesus Loves You and Abortion Is Murder every few miles
-a large billboard saying Jesus Restores, Pornography Destroys...right next to an adult store
-signs for a local zoo featuring a six legged steer, a five legged cow and other assorted oddities - we're wondering about inbreeding...

Abilene seems to be quintessential middle America - a dry, dusty town, linking its fortune to the Eisenhower presidential library and museum here. The main street is lined with a mix of older large homes, many of which have seen better days, and neatly kept bungalows with front gardens sporting flowers. Dinner tonight at Mr. K's Farmhouse with midwestern home cooking, including an unusual version of vegie shrimp stir fry - well, I did want some vegies - just should have remembered that vegies in middle America are cooked until they're truly "done." The restaurant sits in the middle of a wheat field on a rise just outside of town - I had to keep pinching myself to remind myself I was having dinner in the middle of a wheat field in Kansas! I know you can't characterize people just by passing through but I can't help but feel that I am seeing a part of America that is just that - quintessential America. In some ways its feels good to know that there is still an America such as this but it also highlights the challenges our country faces with its multiplicity of populations. With even the 2,000+ miles we have traveled already I have a new appreciation for the diversity of our nation. Being a bi-coastal American all my life I don't know that I've ever really tried to understand and appreciate how the American heartland shapes our nation. In a town such as Abilene, you can understand why Californians seem like an alien breed.

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5th June 2009

Middle America
AMG, I really appreciate your insights. I've never been to middle America - never even gave it much thought. However, your descriptions remind me that I should give it thought and tht we're all so much a part of so much that we don't really know about. Again, thanks for taking us all along. Liz
5th June 2009

MIdwest veggies
You didn't know that the basic vegetable recipe (they still say "eat your vegetables," not "eat your veggies" in Kansas)? You just put 'em in a pot, cover with water, and boil the piss out of them! Then add butter. I learned this as a toddler in Bellingham, WA, which is actually 10 miles west of Des Moines, Iowa. You describe an appreciation that is a major part of why I have taken a dozen vacations in the past just to fly to some segment of the Midwest and South to tour around a few states at a time. It's good to be in touch -- personally and professionally. Hope you took time after dinner in a wheatfield to take out the clubs and hit 100 balls or so. You had the required space.

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