For a long time, Kansas had been the thorn in my side. From what I had been told, Kansas was nothing more than a flat-as-a-pancake, farming no-mans-land, where the high winds blow the smell of manure right up your nose and even driving across makes some people go crazy. I was worried about the monotony, the increasing distances between civilization, and also the complete lack of natural shelter from the elements. I received a warm welcome in Kansas from my own dad, who happened to have a business trip in Kansas City around the same time I would be there. Initially, Kansas surprised me in that it was much more hilly than expected
There are very few trees
The people are much more friendly than some folks in Missouri think they are
The towns got smaller and smaller, and the distance between them got farther and farther. The farther west I walked into Kansas, all these things became increasingly more apparent- getting flatter
Trees only growing around where people live
Towns that are barely towns at all, filled with the most trusting and down to earth people anywhere, and huge stretches of absolutely nothing but post-rock barbed-wire fences surrounding colossal pastures
I saw antelope and imagined myself running with the Tarahumara people- the true masters of endurance.
I learned a lot about how important agriculture is not only for the well-being of Kansans, but for the well-being of the entire US population.
The recent lack of moisture causing the drought in that area over the past few years has made an evident and severe impact on the land, so when it rains, it’s a big deal.
Farming is one of the most demanding jobs out there, yet it’s still a rarity to find a farmer who doesn’t have a second job to pay the bills.
I am now more than halfway across the country, and I intend to enjoy the next half as thoroughly as I can. There is a lot to see in the West, but unless I want to go broke on the road, I’ve got to finish sometime. This means longer days (I can do a 20 mile day no problem now, my longest in Kansas was 25) and a more direct route from here on. I’ve done quite well remapping my route as I go, and now my only guideline is to, as they say, “Go West, Young Man!”. I’m excited for everything I have yet to see, and I know I will enjoy every second of it. Even Kansas, the state I was dreading the most, turned out to be a really enjoyable and beautiful walk. Rockies, here I come!
Thanks to JD and his family from Kansas City for coming up clutch and showing me a great time in KC instead of being stuck in a snowstorm!; to my dad for having great timing and sweet connections; to my cousin Luke Allinger for catching up with me over lunch in KC; to Janet the Planet from KC for the best show I’ve seen in a long time; to Sue and her family from Lawrence for reminding me how cool it is to be a kid and how hard but rewarding it is to be a mother; to Michael and his bros from KU for lettin me kick it for a day; to Cole from KU for lettin me kick it for a night; HUGE THANKS again to Deb Ratliff for being there at a moment’s notice; to Gerard and the Bryans in St Mary’s for welcoming a 14th kid for a night; to Alex, Matt, Jeff, Dillon, Sam, Nate, and all the homies I met in Manhattan for giving me a taste of the Little Apple; to the Cromers for just happening to drive by and laxin’ with me for a day in Junction City (see you in Reno!); to Chenani, Matthew, Pat, Jeremy, and Amos for helping me kill time at the Ad Astra Coffee Shop in Salina; to Dick from Salina for keeping me well-informed and out of harms way; to Amy and her kids from Brookville for having time to talk, eat, and play a little guitar too; to Doug and his friends from Wilson for showing me the side of Kansas that not many people see; to Alex from Russell for undoubtedly being the chillest kid in town, if not in the state; to Ben and his family from Victoria for understanding how much of a difference a night on a couch can make; to Jared and his bros from FHSU in Hays for showing me a night on the town and for introducing me to Redd’s; to Arthur’s Pizza and Mexican Food in Ellis for defeating me with their pizza challenge; to Chester from Wakeeney for taking me out of the cold and into good company; to Norman and Shelley from Collyer for being great hosts and showing me a bit of what lies ahead; to the Grainfield Methodist Church for letting me sleep inside during an 8° night; to Lee and his family from Monument for hosting me 2 consecutive nights and teaching me some things about life in the plains; to Scott and his family from Sharon Springs for working hard for what you have and having time to help others on the way; and to Jonathan and his family from Weskan for letting join them for a very relaxing Easter and ensuring me a safe crossing into Colorado Springs.