Sometimes, your travels take you far off the beaten path. And sometimes, they just take you far off the path you predicted.
That’s where we currently find ourselves. In Kansas.
Or, to be more precise, in Kansas City, which is near the border of Kansas but technically in the state of Missouri. We won’t actually get to Kansas, where Ben has a temporary work assignment, until tomorrow.
There’s a spot in Kansas marking the exact center of the continental United States of America, making it the epitome of the region known as the Midwest or “the Heartland,” an absolutely massive area of wide open plains in the center of the country that taxed the endurance of early settlers as they spent months crossing it in covered wagons. It’s the place where Dorothy lived in the movie The Wizard of Oz, and the one to which she referred when she murmured, “Toto, I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore!” (We often repeat that when we find ourselves in odd surroundings.) The Heartland is also a metaphorical area held lovingly in the minds of Americans, who imagine it as a holdout of small-town, common-sense family values and an easier, simpler way of life.
Unless, of course, you’re not from the Heartland or the South.
If that’s the case, then you might just refer to it as “Flyover Territory,” a place that adds an extra four hours to your flight as you try to get from east to west. It’s a nebulous, unfamiliar area, about which strange rumors circulate. Sure, we know people from The Heartland, but they escaped when they were young and now are mysteriously vague about it, merely shuddering and rolling their eyes in response to inquiries. Only one thing seems absolutely certain: people from the Midwest are notoriously nice.
If I end up writing more about Kansas or Kansas City in the weeks to come, it will mean I was pleasantly surprised. Currently, my jury is still out. So far I’ve been alternately impressed and repulsed … but that might have more to do with culture shock than with Kansas City. It’s an inevitable byproduct of returning to my country of birth.
In the meantime, this week we’ll be issuing a special midweekly post about a region that arouses far less complicated emotions for me: you guessed it, Europe. There’s a monthly blog “carnival” that pulls together European-themed posts from independent bloggers, and this month we will be its hosts.
We’re excited to share new perspectives with you, and hope you both enjoy the contents and end up “meeting” new bloggers you can turn to for travel inspiration.
Signing off from Kansas – I mean, Missouri –