Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Can you explain Kansas....??

I had an email from a friend in Califonia today. He travels with a rock band and said they always dread having to drive across Kansas in their bus. In replying to him it got me to thinking about what it is that I find special about western Kansas. Here's what I wrote him....


Yeah, Kansas is about 50 years behind the rest of the country. More than that in rural areas. The problem with driving through Kansas is that the highway engineers laid out all the roads across the most desolate and flat areas thinking they would make travel easier. It did, but it also made it deathly boring!!

You asked about Baseball.... With the possible exception of basketball, probably the greatest game in the state. There are bush league teams everywhere. Any city with more than 10k people seems to have at least one team - usually more. Farming and ranching (the state's major industry) is a hard life of sweat and muscle 24/7/365 so baseball furnishes the diversion from work. From early spring through late fall there are league games everywhere. Even during the week. And the local folks follow their teams voraciously and will drive 200 mi one way and back again for a game Those that don't drive back the same day (like for night games) jam the local motels.

Finally, Kansas has never really got the hang of tourism. We are something like 44th out of the 51 states and territories in tourism development. Consequently, only a handful of businesses have realized the financial value of having motels and restaurants along the interstate. Everything in central and western Kansas is based on the local customer so travelers find it difficult to fulfill their needs. They are looking for chain restaurants and motels catering to tourism that they are familiar with and there just aren't many of them! Mom & Pop businesses are still very much the rule here. We don't get many tourists so there's no infrastructure to support them.

I'm sure it all seems extremely rural by the standards of an Orange County resident, but once you get used to it, it is great!! I grew up in upstate New York and spent years living all across the US and Europe so rural Kansas was real culture shock for me when I first arrived some 24 years ago. Within a couple of years I realized the Agri based Mom & Pop local bias and now thoroughly enjoy it! You just have to set your mental clock back into the 1950s before interstates and Bingo! It becomes a great place to live. I know I will miss it when we move to northwest Georgia but I'm sure there will be some charming new life experiences there to replace it. Can you say "Bubba"? ;-)

And now I'm going down to the local diner for a blue plate special, cup of coffee, and a slice of home made pie..... There may be a few farmers there and we can tell lies about how good the wheat looks or how much rain we had in the gauge this morning....


Blogger Bob Meginnes said...

My name is Bob Meginnes. I am contacting you on behalf of my mother, Virginia (Boller) Meginnes who was a good friend and classmate of a Harriet Wyatt, who later married Albert Johnson. My mother has lost contact with her friend and asked if I might possibly locate her. After several failed attempts, I read the biography of Harriet Johnson which she provided for the 50th reunion of the class of 1938 from Roanoke, IL High School, in which was included the name of her son, James, who was a meteorologist stationed in Dodge City, Kansas. Based on this information, I am trying to contact you through your blog, hoping that you might be the person who can provide information that I can pass on to my mother. As one who has never read a blog, much less responded to one, I'm not sure if this is going to work, but it is worth the try. I would appreciate a response, and thank you for your help. Bob Meginnes

9:23 AM  

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