This is the second episode of the 3-part series about the 2018 Big Kansas Road Trip. (Part 1 may be found below and the Part 3 is pending.) This episode focuses on the experience we had on the trip. Specifically, the people we (Geoff and I) met. As a reminder, the Big Kansas Road Trip (BKRT) is hosted by the Kansas Sampler Foundation – whose mission is to preserve, sustain, and grow rural culture by educating Kansans about Kansas and by networking and supporting rural communities. And the Big Kansas Road Trip (BKRT) is a multi-day event where people are encouraged to explore 3 Kansas counties that have been selected by Kansas Sampler Foundation.
In the background of the BKRT is a vibe. There’s a rhythm of hospitality offering a consistent experience not typically available to travelers. Because these small towns were expecting visitors from all across Kansas, they were ready and willing to engage. People from Kansas are friendly – but this was more than saying hello as you passed each other on the sidewalk. They were there to represent their town and to talk to strangers and engage in conversations usually reserved for your closest friends.
As suburbanites Geoff and I are aware we are inexperienced about the daily workings of ranch life. Luckily Marti —who manages a ranch— was available to answer questions. The price of admission? The chance to have a great conversation. Living in a rural community has its challenges and we had a great conversation about these. She opened a corner of the ranch to BKRT participants and set up a snack bar for hungry travelers, a port-a-potty, and a photo station with the Gypsum Hills as the background. These may sound simple but they were important to road weary travelers in need of stretching legs.
We met Jack —a man from Mullinville in his 80s. He’s a musician and gave Geoff an impromptu lesson. These type of situations are wonderful and rare because too often travelers just blow on through small towns on their way to some destination. Every person participating in the BKRT did so for the experience. That created social spaces —rare folds of space and time— that allowed intentional interactions. Fellow travelers shared road stories. Visitors were given permission to ask questions. And locals were on hand to talk about their town and share stories (Geoff learned of a ghost story whose setting provided him with some inspiration). We had a wonderful experience.
(Here is a link to the Big Kansas Road Trip Facebook Page)
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