Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A Rumor of Kansas


*Author's note: this entry was originally released 9-2-05; updated 7-31-08; and re-released in April '10, in keeping with the travel humor theme of late*

In a recent post I read, a blogger was in the midst of waxing most favorably about his driving visit to Colorado. Like most good things, it -- the visit -- had to come to an end. Faced with a return to Texas, he opted for the eastern route out of Colorado, and faced that dire dearth of splendor to the east, what he referred to as "the visual equivalent of wiping ones' eyes with sandpaper".

Kansas.

Being a native Iowan, I am accustomed to jokes about my particular state of origin (note: Stephen King's Children of the Corn used Nebraska as a backdrop, not Iowa..nyah nyah). Being a transplant in Colorado, I am accustomed to hearing and making jokes about transplanted Texans (about hunting), Califorlornians (about them having screwed up their state, and now seeking to do the same here), Floridians (about their winter driving and ballot-reading inacumen). And of course, who hasn't heard a joke or two about the great waste of the northern plains, North Dakota, rumored to be one of the last places on Earth that the Ice Age revisits yearly, along with my ex-fiancee, but I digress.

For anyone who's driven across Kansas by accident or design, and survived the sheer boredom of it, well..."ack" doesn't begin to describe it. Travelling east, you leave the splendor of Colorado's mountains and foothills, and emerge into a vast...flatness, relieved only by crossing the border into Misery.

Freudian slip...Missouri.

In Colorado, on a clear day you can climb to the top of a mountain, and see for miles in every direction. In Kansas, you can do the same thing using an 8' step ladder.

But the thrill just ain't there.

I once mused that so much of eastern Colorado, from Limon to the border, looked so much like Kansas -- flat and desolate -- that Colorado would eventually declare, fight, and win a border war with Kansas. Then, flush with victory, Colorado would force Kansas to take everything east of Limon.

Misery -- not the state -- loves company.

But I would be most remiss if I didn't acknowledge that there is another side to Kansas, and many a staunch ally who stand up vociferously for that side of Kansas. To them, Kansas is the I-ching. Kansas is an oracle. A temple, a shrine. Indeed, a diety. Kansas is the answer to all things mesocyclonic. Kansas is a paragon of EF* virtue. Kansas isn't Iowa...but it, to this sect of dedicated, devoted, science and meteorologically-oriented, mild-to-madly-insane lunatics, is Heaven.

Storm chasers.

To them, beholding mesocyclonic supercells on the vast plains of Kansas, is akin to a deeply poignant, intensely moving religious experience. To drive through horizontal rain, and suffer the slings and arrows..er..the dings and pits of golf ball/worse size hail, to get that perfect image of the swirling leviathan from the 'bear cage', is akin to a cigarette after perfect sex, or a score in a karaoke bar that doesn't lose it's luster outside of barlighting.

Well, sorta.

For them, the miles tallied in Kansas are a badge of honor. It is the Yellow Brick Road of meteorologic reality. And in the midst of what they seek, it's not unlike the interior of a Walmart the day after Xmas. Or Katrina.

And just so's you know, I do know a person or two who resides in Kansas, and do so by choice. Yeah, they do seem pretty sane, and neither one's a storm chaser. And they proudly love it.

It's one of the many rumors that is Kansas.

* Enhanced Fujita Scale, a system of rating the energy/destructive power of a tornado

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9 Comments:

Blogger FTS said...

I'm laughing here. You somehow found the words to make Kansas almost... um... bearable? Well, maybe on paper. ;-)

Thanks for the linkback, but be forewarned. The encounter with the Kansas trooper, true to the rest of the state, was about as exciting as, well, rubbing sandpaper on your eyes.

Now the Bonus post tomorrow, on the other hand... heh heh

03 September, 2005 04:17  
Blogger Debbie said...

Hubby had to drive our car from Tennessee to California years ago. He said is was really an experience. In some places it was so hot the AC on HIGH wouldn't do anything to cool the car. I think it would be great to really take a vacation and visit every State in our beautiful country. I've been to way over half.

Debbie Hamilton
Right Truth

31 July, 2008 10:12  
Blogger Jack K. said...

Well, son, you finally went from preachin' to meddlin'.

Having made Kansas my home for the last 30+years, I agree that the plains of Western Kansas are just that, plain. But I gotta ask one very important question, do you enjoy eating bread? You know, that stuff made of wheat flour. Guess where much of that wheat is grown.

If you haven't visited the Northeast portion of the state, then you might want to give it a try. We do have rolling hills. It is even rumored, far and wide, that there is a rather famous prison there.

You have no idea of the time, effort and expense we Kansans go to to provide your sect of dedicated, devoted, science and meteorologically-oriented, mild-to-madly-insane lunatics with something to chase.

To digress, is it true that house trailers attract tornadoes? Snerx!!

Next time you drive through Kansas, stop and have a cup of coffee, or some cool libation.

Thanks for the posting. As usual, I did get a chuckle or two from it.

02 August, 2008 05:01  
Anonymous Jingle said...

special interest,
I visited the state a few times,
cool stuff are everywhere.


enjoy your gift!
Happy Wednesday!

21 April, 2010 07:58  
Blogger Serena said...

I try to stay out of those states where Corn Kids are a problem, but I always know when I'm not in Kansas any more.:)

21 April, 2010 18:21  
Blogger JMK said...

"And just so's you know, I do know a person or two who resides in Kansas, and do so by choice." (SF)


Hmmmmm....an interesting observation, although the same could be said for New York....in triplicate.

21 April, 2010 20:14  
Blogger Shrinky said...

The furthest you can drive in one direction over here is 30 miles before meeting the sea, and I need to stop off for a snack and a pitstop if I have to cover even half half of that in one sitting (you think I'm jesting, don't 'cha? I'm not), so the picture of you guys clocking up endless upon endless miles driving through the likes of Kansas is enough to make my blood run cold - shudder..

22 April, 2010 05:54  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been through Kansas a few times. Nothing but friggin toll road! Was greatful for that speedlimit though. After doing 55 through Texas and Oklahoma, it was a huge boost to run 75 without getting pulled over. Strange it was though, the barriers on the toll highway seemed to grow. Made me feel like a rat in a maze. But at 75mph I weren't there long.

But now I have a bone to pick with you, buddy!

What the heck is this??

"...or a score in a karaoke bar that doesn't lose it's luster outside of barlighting."

SRSLY? WTH? You aren't content to pick on states?? You have to pick on karaoke bars too? Good Grief! I'll have you know, Sir, that I am a karaoke bar member in good standing! AND, I do quite well at it! (just ask me, I'll tell ya.)Just because I haven't been discovered yet? No matter. You just wait! One of these days...POW, right to the moon Alice!!!eleventy!! ;-)

Have you been to New York?
This is such a messed up state, you need to, if you haven't. Will give you fodder for years to come!

jw

22 April, 2010 19:12  
Blogger Skunkfeathers said...

Anonymous: yes, I've been to NY (the state) twice; part of one visit has been mocked in this blog (Da Newoik Connection, a couple years or less back). One visit to NYC, coupled with my numerous visits to Califorlornia, could fill the blog to overflowing.

Now, to your protest: IMHO, karaoke bars blow goats ;)

Seriously tho', I've always viewed karaoke bars as the last refuge of the William Hungs of the world. Granted, one reason you'll never catch me dead or alive in a karaoke bar, is that (a) my ears bleed easily (b) as Clint Eastwood once wisely opined, "a man's GOT to know his limitations and (c) I will not, no matter how much libation is used to break my will to resist, prove to the world what I already know: I couldn't carry a tune with a bucket to carry it in.

'Nuff said on karaoke bars ;)

23 April, 2010 02:24  

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