Over the past two days, we made our way across the breadth of Kansas on the I-70, the interstate that’s also known as the Main Street of Kansas or America’s Main Street. Along the way, almost every little town or city has its claim to fame, some because of interesting landmarks, others for political or historical reasons.
Abilene was the childhood home of Dwight D. Eisenhower and Russell, where we camped last night, was the birthplace of 1996 presidential candidate, Bob Dole. Lawrence was founded as an abolitionist settlement in 1854 and nearby Lecompton is known as “The Birthplace of the Civil War Where Slavery Began to Die”. Though we read about each as we passed by, we didn’t stop at most of them. We did, however, stop to look at the 24 foot by 32 foot reproduction of one of Vincent Van Gogh’s sunflower paintings that sits on an easel almost 80 feet high in Goodland, one of the nation’s top sunflower producers. We also stopped at Oakley and ate our lunch at the foot of a larger than life statue of Buffalo Bill Cody or “Cousin Bill” as we fondly refer to him since Richard is a direct descendant of his aunt! Apparently the Buffalo Bill legend began just a few miles from Oakley when Bill, at that time a buffalo hunter supplying meat to the construction crews working on the Pacific Railroad, won a contest with fellow hunter, William Comstock, to see which of the two Bills could kill the most buffalo in an eight hour period.
In many ways, Kansas reminds us of southern Alberta with it’s wide open fields and big sky. It’s much hotter though and at the moment, at least, much more humid. The thermometer reached 40C (104F) yesterday and a heavy rainstorm last night left today very muggy. In fact, it feels much like a summer day in Japan complete with the whine of cicadas, a sound we haven’t heard since our summer there! I have a much better internet connection sitting outside under the awning but I actually have to go inside the air conditioned trailer once in awhile to cool off! Another indication of the difference in climate between Alberta and Kansas is the fact that we saw combines at work in the fields and it’s only the middle of July!
We’re now comfortably settled in a campground on the outskirts of Kansas City and ready to attend a two day cross cultural orientation event at MidAmerica Nazarene University in preparation for possible short term missions work with the Church of the Nazarene. I think the Lord must have saved this spot just for us! The campground, which is located about 15 minutes from the MNU campus, is very much a city parking lot type but we have the end site at the back of the campground next to the dog run. Instead of looking out on another trailer 6 or 8 feet away, we look out on a lovely little wooded area & are shaded by a grove of big trees. Apparently the campground stays very full & they recommend reserving well in advance but I called yesterday morning and this was one of only two spots that were still available!