Tag Archives: Kansas

Note: Since my posts are generally too wordy, I decided to see what happened when I made something a little too photo-y. Enjoy.

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One hot summer’s day, seemingly a lifetime ago, when I was in Kansas, we drove and drove.

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We drove through a part of the country most people only fly over. We drove until there was nothing but sky and grass. It didn’t take us long.

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History is not always kid-friendly. It lacks happy endings, victorious protagonists and punished villains. It’s not really something we have the grounds to complain about. History wasn’t created by a bunch of underpaid writers in the basement of a Hollywood studio. We can’t threaten to boycott Disney until they get the story right. We’re the ones who contributed to the narrative. It’s our history. And sometimes, the facts are just downright dark and, for lack of a better phrase, effed up.

Actually, let’s stick with that phrase. “Effed-up” works really well. It came to mind more than once when I visited the the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Museum in Hutchinson. I’d stare blankly at an exhibit and think, “Man. That’s effed up.” (Only, you know, I actually said the word.)

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It’s with a bit of guilt that I tell you about the Donut Whole in Wichita, Kansas. I just got back from Peru last night, and while I loved the trip, there were times when Rand and I both looked at each other and thanked the heavens that we were born with all the privileges and opportunity and excess that comes from living in America.

We live in a land where pork is put into desserts and cakes and doughnuts, and that is no small thing.

In Wichita, I had no less than three bacon-scented sweets: a bacon caramel chocolate (I deemed it mediocre), a cupcake sprinkled with bacon bits (not bad for breakfast), and a maple-bacon doughnut (YES). This last confection, by far the most superior of the three, was courtesy of the Donut Whole. A small, eclectic shop downtown, they specialize in cake donuts, of which I am a fan because IT MEANS YOU CAN EAT CAKE FOR BREAKFAST. If you are partial to yeast donuts, or a vegetarian, you may want to skip this post altogether. I’ll understand.

The shop itself is shrine to … I don’t know. Something. Really, you tell me:

Let's just go with "America."

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Rand once told me that people are happier when they’re given fewer choices. He’d read an article on it. Something about how we still like to have options, but when we’re faced with too many of them, we get overwhelmed. Our instinctual reaction is try to limit our options to only a few, and failing that, to curl into a ball and suck our thumb until someone makes a decision for us.

By the way, that latter technique? TOTALLY works.

He mentioned this phenomenon to me one afternoon while I was standing in the middle of an IKEA on the verge of one of my patented and adorable nervous breakdowns. If you are unfamiliar with the Swedish furniture mecca that is IKEA, let me tell you now: it could drive the most resolute soul into a mad rage, could reduce the happiest of mortals into sniveling mess. In 1998, Gandhi punched a dude who was trying to snag the last OMSORG shoe tree in stock. True story.

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Open some windows, turn on some bright lights, and get ready for the exciting, claustrophobia-inducing conclusion of my trip to the Kansas Underground Salt Museum! And in case you missed it, here’s Part 1

After roaming around and TOTALLY NOT LICKING THE WALLS of the Kansas Underground Salt Museum, Jason and I decided to partake in some of the tours offered therein. We’d purchased the delightfully-named “Salt Blast Pass” which included the The Train Ride (which travels on the original rails once used to haul salt out of the mine) and The Dark Ride (a guided tram into the recesses of the mine, and its current operations).

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Note: This post was shaping up at over 2,000 words, which is just CRAZY PANTS. I think that’s longer than most of my college English homework assignments. As such, I’ve split it into two posts. So you’ll have to wait until tomorrow to see if we made it out of the mine alive (spoiler: we totally did.)

There are times is your life when you are asked questions to which there is only one correct answer. If someone, say, asks if you would like whipped cream on top, you say “yes”, regardless of what you’ve ordered. Really, there is never a time when “no” would be an appropriate response.

So naturally, when I was in Kansas a few weeks back, and Jason (my friend Christine‘s husband) asked me if I wanted to go to the Kansas Underground Salt Museum, I knew I had but one answer.

“UM, YES,” I said enthusiastically, and it was only after the words left my mouth that I realized I wasn’t entirely sure what an Underground Salt Museum was. I understood the individual elements involved, but was unclear on how they worked together. In this respect, it is not dissimilar to my understanding of the Spanish-American War. Or deep-fried ice cream (how does it not melt?). Anyway, I’m sure you’ll agree: both of those things would be improved with whipped cream.

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I was so grateful I had brought a cardigan.

I chalk it up to my Auntie P. “Bring a cardigan,” she tells me, even if it is 85 degrees, and we are leaving the house for approximately 5 minutes, all of which will be spent in the sunshine. “Bring a cardigan,” she says, even if I am already wearing one. And if I refuse? She will carry an extra one for me. She is unstoppable in her quest to clothe the bare arms and shoulders of America. You’d think she had stock in … I don’t know, some company that exclusively makes cardigans (that’s a thing, right?)

The cardigan is, to my aunt, what the towel was to Ford Prefect in Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. The ultimate travel accessory, it solves all problems, tackles all inconveniences, and somehow, according to her, “prevents you from catching a cold.” And when I left the house that morning, and stepped into the 90-degree Kansas heat, I was thankful that I had it with me.

Within 30 minutes, I had tugged it on. Was I chilly? Nope. I was in the midwest in the MIDDLE OF A HEAT WAVE. But I was more than moderately ashamed of my tank top and shorts. We had just walked through the door of Carriage Crossing – a Mennonite restaurant in Yoder, Kansas, a fifteen minute drive from my friends’ home in Wichita. My friend Christine had to work that day, and her son Jackson was at daycare, so it was just her husband, Jason, dressed in a polo shirt and shorts (he politely removed his hat as we walked indoors), and me. Dressed like a TROLLOP.

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Though I was in Wichita for less than four days, I took more than 900 photos. Yeah. Since whittling that pile down to 10 pictures was pretty much impossible, and would require me leaving out photos of pink (yes, pink) milk, I decided to share my 20 (20!) favorite photos from Kansas. Enjoy.

  1. Road to nowhere.
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    I could have stayed in the middle of the road for as long as I liked. There were literally no other cars to be seen.

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  2. Chocolate and strawberry milk in glass jugs, Dillon’s grocery store.
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    Harbinger of a city gal: I don't know that I've ever seen milk in glass jugs before.

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