The decision to not camp and do an Airbnb instead was an absolutely unforgettable one. The surrounding was a rural Kansas town with a small population of 400 people spread across a large flat space. The downtown was in the middle of a 4 x 4 block radius and was 20 miles off the main interstate. Our host Mary Ann happened to be the caretaker of the home we stayed in, a local tour guide of the historical Garden of Eden home, the city library director, and a member various committees and boards in town. She was a huge advocate of the Grassroots Art Center and it’s movement. Mary Ann also volunteered at the local theatre that only played one showing each Friday, Saturday and Sunday night. Who else would be more perfect of a host and guide to all the local insights of one of the 8 wonders of Kansas Art (yes there are 8 in Kansas).
Shoot over a scenic byway off the I-70 go north and drive towards Lucas, KS. Of course you’ve never heard of it. The entire atmosphere during out time in Kansas was spectacular. Coming from a polluted first tier city in Shanghai into the plains, flat lands, of Kansas, the sky is going to look a lot different. Sure it’s a flat drive with not much to look at but after getting the car back from the mechanic the last thing we wanted to do was put more stress on the car through mountains or winding roads. Don’t get us wrong that was an incredible drive through the Rocky Mountains. This was just different for us being past our 2000 mile (3200 km) tick since we left Oak Harbor to mark our 3rd year anniversary.
To say we hit a stride was an understatement. Wanting to be sure of it’s term and idiomatic expression I checked online and found it to mean- 1. To achieve a steady, effective pace; 2. To attain a maximum level of competence. Marathon runners understand the transition of a slow build-up of a warm up in the first couple miles to hitting a stride that will take them through to the end of the race. Of course that is until certain obstacles come through to hit us.
We were on our 7th week of travel and got in a groove able to move steadily, effectively and feel like we’ve hit a good level of competence in the art of moving through America in pace comfortable not only for myself but for my spouse. Kansas was affirmation of what we’ve achieved in the past month and a half. You should absolutely celebrate milestones, goals and progress. No matter how many days, miles, or other arbitrary number you hit in defining these it’s important to take wins on the road. With relief from our car issues we reflected the humps and bumps on the road. The summer we’ve had and continue to have would be enough for a life time of memories for the “average” couple. We are content with where we are at in our lives, relationship, and general world; to say otherwise would be an insult to the blessings that have been given to us through the generosity received throughout our lives and this trip. Gratitude rant.
Our home for the night was a home built in the 1920s with a quaint rural charm. The decor included a photographic portfolio essay. 3 sheets in framed, first the cover Garden of Eden- Cabin Home, an index of the 9 black and white pictures situated in various walls of the house with captions explaining the history of the Garden of Eden, and a beautiful essay entitled Bughouse Boogie by Steve Paul explaining the history and feel of the cabin home built in 1905-1907. Naturally in a setting like this there are a couple of dead animals and antlers laying around and mounted on the walls. Our neighboring home directly across was the street was the Garden of Eden with the Museum of the World Largest Collection of the World’s Smallest Versions of the World’s Largest Things next to that. Our neighbor and and our parking spot was a hip antique store full of various rustic things painted over to look like novel products.
The next day was a 5 hour drive to Tulsa, Oklahoma. But before the drive we were encouraged to hit up the other sites of the grassroots art town. We went to the Bowl Plaza on Main street. This was a very quirky public restroom using green motives of recycling. It looks like a sunken toilet with a wall full of mosaic art and a glass bottle construction.
And for all you budget travelers the cost came at a cool $40. Join the other 10,000-15,000 other annual visitors at the Garden of Eden for just a few bucks. The Toilet Bowl Plaza was free so go have a peek. Lastly, we couldn’t leave without picking up some homemade sausage and cheese from Brandt’s sausage joint just next to the Toilet Bowl Plaza a cheap local lunch/snack for the road and we were off to Tulsa.