In our 1800+ page Lonely Planet guide to the USA, Kansas gets only 5 pages.  And now we know why – if you can’t say something nice, say nothing at all.

1.  Flies
2.  Facsimilies
3.  Tornadoes
4.  Horrible radio stations
5.  The Westboro Baptist Church
6.  AT&T censoring the internet so you can’t visit the Westboro Church website
7.  Creationism taught in public schools
8.  Bad coffee
9.  Uniformly bad smell – what we have taken to calling cow fog or just cfog where the moisture of so many cows turns into fog and blows around.

We thought we might be near the infamous Westboro Church.  Turns out it is in Topeka.  We had never been to the website before and AT&T would not let us visit the site.  Luckily we travel with a fully qualified IT team that quickly found a way around the censorship and we viewed their awful, hate-filled site.  It was like a joke, like the Onion of churches.  Even the url was horrible.  Poor Kansas.

First, there were flies everywhere.  Swarms of flies.  We stopped at a rest stop and they swarmed inside.


Then we were headed to the Laura Ingalls Wilder cabin near Independence (where Mr. Edwards ran into Santa!) but the cabin was a “fascimile” not meant to have “any connection” to the story.

Here is what the website says:
The small Little House on the Prairie cabin at this location is a recreation based on the description found in the book. The foundation of a small house believed to have been the home of the Ingalls’ family, was found at this location in 1977. 

Two original buildings from the same time period have moved next to the reconstructed Little House on the Prairie. The interiors of all three buildings can be toured. There is no direct connection between any of these buildings and Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Many visitors will need only a few minutes to tour the site and may be satisfied with the view from the road during the winter when Little House on the Prairie is closed.


We passed by and headed to Dodge.

Dodge City
Dodge City was terrible.  The original city was bulldozed in the 70’s and they built a facsimile city (which we Alaskans call “fake’), put a fence around it and charge $8 to see it.  Except you can also see it through the fence.  Boot Hill was moved (?) and a school was built on it.  A small fraction of it remains and for the $8 fee, you can gaze upon it.  We went to the Visitor Center where we impressed the staff just by being from ALASKA!  We got the walking tour map and set off.  To see nothing, nothing at all.  All the historical buildings are gone, it has 70’s architecture except for the “facsimile” places which look like Frontier Land but dirtier, empty and closed.  Not one western-themed gift shop – instead, in the Frontier Land buildings, there were closed Chinese restaurants and closed Quinceañera supply stores.  We did see a closed store selling baby Jesus’s for nativity scenes.  They had real eyelashes and pageboy hair cuts.  We got the hell out of Dodge!




Next stop was accidental.  Sylvia needed the bathroom so we stopped in front of this building which was the Mullinville Library.  Libraries sometimes sell books (and we always need more) so while Sylvia went to the camper bathroom, we went into the library where we went inside and met the very nice librarian.  We asked if they had books for sale and she showed us boxes and boxes and a room of books.  We could hardly leave.  Ryan, Jack and Jennah emerged with a stack of obscure books, including Jack’s Best Loved Poems.

Mullinville Library
Ryan, Jack & Jennah searching through books at the Mullinville Library

You may remember Mullenville from the 2007 Supercell Tornado.  Wikipedia says 123 confirmed tornadoes destroyed 95% of the cities of Mullenville and Greensburg.  The librarian said the books were donated after the tornado from all over the US and many were duplicates – or so obscure, only a DeCorso would like them.


Greensburg was our next stop.  95% destroyed in 2007, Greensburg is 100% new – except half the people moved away.  Not only is it new, but Wikipedia says:

After the tornado, the city council passed a resolution stating that all city buildings would be built to LEED – platinum standards, making it the first city in the nation to do so. Greensburg is rebuilding as a “green” town, with the help of Greensburg GreenTown, a non-profit organization created to help the residents learn about and implement the green living initiative.[17]

The city’s power is supplied by ten 1.25 MW wind-turbines. Carbon offsets generated from the turbines are being managed by NativeEnergy, and have been purchased by charter supporters including Ben & Jerry’sClif BarGreen Mountain Coffee Roasters, and Stonyfield Farm.

We camped in Greensburg by a lovely lake.  We had a fire and roasted marshmallows and listened to the election night results.  Due to Kansas having only 2 kinds of radio stations (religious and country), we picked up two AM stations (out of Dallas and Provo).  We ate vegan sesame noodles tossed with fresh vegetables, all was good.  Jack read us poems from his new book Best Loved Poems.

Until some car came and drove around and around and around the loop of the lake over and over and over and eventually it creeped us all out and we moved to a truck stop and spent the night.

Woke up this morning out of coffee!  Bought two cups of Prairie Fire Coffee Roasters coffee which managed to be bland and acidic at the same time.   Leaving for Wichita before breakfast.

Listening to Election Night results around the campfire in Greensburg


6 Responses

  1. Kay DeCorso

    What detailed descriptions! Is there no spot in Kansas “commemorating” the Wizard of Oz? You all look healthy and love the photos, esp. that of delving through old books. I hate, even now, throwing out an old book. They are real treasures to just hold as well as read. Yeah for the great end of a long campaign. Great hearing from Mark late last night! Hugs to all of you.

  2. Wow. That does sound bad. Kansas is one of the few states I haven’t been to, but I guess it won’t be at the top of my list of places to go visit, then. I tried to visit the Westboro Baptist Church website. I got blocked because of “Hate/Discrimination, Adult Themes, Tasteless, and Religiousness.” I don’t really even want to bother trying to unblock the website.
    I love it when people make a huge deal about me being from ALASKA. Like last year when I went to Mexico, I had this whole group of kids believing that I lived in an igloo and rode a pet polar bear to school (and they didn’t speak any English, mind you!)

  3. I used to live in Kansas, and I enjoyed it. I never saw Dodge City or the Little House on the Prairie; but I camped at some beautiful lakes and met some good people. The only complaint I had is the wind being relentless at times. Hope you have fun in the next state you visit!

  4. Every post you guys add is my new favorite! It’s the next best thing to caravan-ing along with you guys!

    Do not despair about missing out on the Westboro Church. If you check the top quick link there is an extensive picketing schedule. I bet you can cross paths with them somewhere and at least catch a bit of their essence.

    Everyone says hello!

  5. I have a close friend who lives in Kansas; he’s an opera fanatic, so I’m wondering how he manages with nothing but “country or religious” radio stations. Maybe he knows of an NPR site that you couldn’t find. You are all quite courageous to have undertaken such a journey (this applies particularly to the parents). Best of luck as you meander southward.

    • On AM radio, we were able to pick up Dallas and Provo, it was the only election results broadcast when we were in Greenburg.

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