That’s what I was thinking of! It just had to percolate in mind a bit more with some more clues.
Nebraska was tugging at me. When I was sitting outside at the hotel, sipping coffee, I noticed my iphone was quickly covered in a weird kind of dust. It didn’t remind me of all of the ash I found with states on fire, and it wasn’t normal dust. It had a texture to it that I couldn’t place. Kansas was much the same as Nebraska, with every every railroad crossing surrounded by silos and great machines.
I was driving past farm after farm, slowing down after the harvest and most of the machines silent. Here and there, there was a huge tractor or other implement sitting in the field like a sentry. The great irrigation sprayers were at a standstill and the farm houses –homesteads?– nestled behind a fence of trees.
The dust that covered my phone that I had to wipe off a few times? It was like cornmeal dust. I finally put the pieces together and realized that Nebraska and Kansas (and probably the other heartland states) are like great war machines, battling the elements in the spring, summer and fall to feed the nation. What I was seeing was oddly reminiscent of the trench warfare in WWI, where the soldiers would hunker down in the winter time, waiting for the spring.
Kansas was a bit different after the northern part. I still want to find out about the trees and new plantings. I saw a sign somewhere up north about planting trees to protect against…and then I flew past at 80mph. Getting to my destination was sort of funny. After months of “merge onto this highway” or “bear right or left,” it was “turn right,” “turn left.” Everything was so straight!
But a left turn, right turn, left turn and another right turn, all with dozens of miles between them, brought me to my stop in Kansas: the geographical center of the continental United Sates. It is just north of Lebanon, Kansas, about 550 miles southeast of the center of the nation after the introduction of Alaska and Hawai’i. It was neat. There was a sign, a little chapel, the American flag, and a covered table to have a picnic.
All of the reviews on google said the same thing. “You have to stop by if you are in the area. Nice little place. Etc.” 5 stars. Except one. There is always just the one. One star. I could hear the whine as the person typed the review: “This is NOT the center! What about Hawai’i and Alaska? The real center is…”
There really is always one.
But let’s be honest here. How many people really know that Alaska and Hawai’i are part of the US? I know people that thought they needed a passport to go to Hawai’i and Alaska is like that mystical place far to the north that you cannot even drive to right now.
But I did enjoy stopping there. Someone pointed something out to me on the post I did for Instagram. The top picture here? You can see my reflection in it. How fiting.
Leaving there was a bit confusing. GPS had me on track for Tulsa, Oklahoma, but I was passing signs for cities called Minneapolis, Lincoln, Augusta, Cleveland, Peru and Billings.It had me thinking a few times I was really off track. I did pass a scenic road that I wished I could have taken, the Prairie Road, but I wanted to make it down to Tulsa.
I’m back in Oklahoma now, about 110 miles of Oklahoma City, where I made my turn west coming up from Dallas a couple months ago. The more I travel, the more I am starting to see how close I was to someplace I was at not that long ago. A tiny, weird thing for me is with Kansas, I filled in the left part of the map. All of the states are outlined in my blue marker with my red “current” travels running through them.
Except Hawai’i. But that will, hopefully, be the last place. I am still waiting for them to open. As I wrote to someone, my final post for Travels with Coffee will be me with my feet in the sand, the view of the Pacific Ocean, and a link to the short book I already wrote about Hawai’i. EVERYBODY is telling me I have to check out Kauai, but I’ll be sticking to the Big Island, still one of my favorite places on earth.
Today? I’m just a little bit Southeast of Tulsa. The name brought me here. Broken Arrow. I’ve passed through a lot of Native American Reservations along my travels. Broken Arrow, or Reckackv in the native Creek Indian language, is the name they brought with them along The Trail of Tears from Alabama.