We have made our way across Kansas and we have come to appreciate Kansas. Often considered a “fly-over” state, this is a really pretty state – we enjoyed it as a “drive-over” state!
We have avoided interstates as much as possible, and have held largely to secondary state and county roads. Most of our roads did not look like this, but driving on these kinds of roads is somehow very therapeutic. Your zen moment for the day – you are welcome.
First up on our schedule was to stop and see some friends and family. My Uncle Lenny is doing 10-20 on charges for gang related activities, and Karen’s old roommate is in for bank fraud. It’s always nice to get together to see old friends. Good times.
Built in the early 1900’s, the United States Penitentiary at Leavenworth is a medium security federal prison (it had been a maximum security prison until 2005). Previous guests at this BnB have been James (Whitey) Bulger, Michael Vick, George “Machine Gun” Kelly, and a long list of bank robbers and other “Most Wanted” folks on the FBI’s list. And of course Uncle Lenny.
Where do you think the geographical center of the 48 contiguous states is located? Funny you should ask. Kansas! It’s kind of close to Lebanon and Bellaire, but it is not really located in a town.
It’s more like Lat 39* 50’ Long 96* 35’, in case you want to make your way there. Don’t expect to load up on groceries here – it is pretty much out there, even though you are smack dab in the middle of the good old United States.
Or you are not good at lat/long, it is at the end of SR 191.
For those who make it to the middle, someone provided a small chapel. I guess if you can have tiny houses, you can have a tiny chapel. Apparently the thinking was, if you’re at the end of your road, you may need some inspiration. We were already duly inspired; to each their own.
I am not a farmer, and I have not played a farmer. Wait, what? That’s a lie! I am not a farmer, but I have played a farmer. But let’s not let that detract from the story.
I mentioned that Kansas is a really pretty state, and it is. It’s a little early in the season for amber waves of grain, but make no mistake – this is an agricultural state, particularly as it relates to wheat.
According to Wikipedia, more land area is utilized to grow wheat than any other crop in the US. Pure wheat volume mostly comes from Kansas and North Dakota, in case you were wondering. So next time you enjoy some fresh pasta or bread, thank Kansas!
And talk about purpose-built equipment to prepare and harvest these crops! There is nothing random about farming. Techniques with equipment and farming practices have all made farming a more precise science, from tilling equipment to seed drills that insert seed-by-seed into the ground for a higher yield.
Some of this equipment would take up four lanes on a highway if extended out – massive!
When you consider critical characteristics to farming such as the weather, fuel costs, crop prices (futures), trade sanctions, and interest rates are completely out of the hands of farmers, you realize what a risk and how precarious their lives and business must be. Imagine if your business only got paid at the end of a season, and consider all the risks associated with not being paid for eleven months.
I think it is easy (for me at least) to forget what it takes to get food to our shelves, meat to the butcher, fuel to the gas stations, and all the myriad things we tend to take for granted in our lives.
Traveling back roads gives you a better appreciation of other people’s lives, the complexity of our supply chain, the fragility of our earth, and how fortunate we all are.