Monday, September 22, 2008

Midwestern Adventure, Day Three: Kansas!

I wish I had a witness to the insanity that was Kansas, but this was a solo road trip so whatever I tell you in this post, just assume that it's 100 times MORE bizarre, okay? Because really, Kansas was a T-R-I-P.

First of all, Kansas's landscape couldn't compare to Missouri and Oklahoma. It was pretty dull, but WHOA BESSIE the sky was awesome:

Most of you know that the big attraction for me in Kansas was the World's Largest Ball of Twine, right? When my brother first announced that he was getting married in Iowa I immediately Googled all the road trip worthy things in that neck of the woods and I didn't come up with much, but the Ball-o-Twine somehow became the big ticket item.

My road trip philosophy is this: Pick something random and off-the-beaten-track and go there. Hilarity will ensue. The caveat: Don't stay in craphole motels because they rain on your parade and you might get bed bugs. For reals.

So my whole trip was me aiming for a bunch of random spots, but with 4-star lodging carefully integrated into my travel plan. The trouble with the twine was that it's in the MIDDLE OF NOWHERE:

View Larger Map

This is great for my sense of adventure, but it SUCKS for the "not into craphole motels" side of me. I ended up finding a list of B&Bs in the area and while I'm also not into the whole B&B thing, I figured that was better than the Super 8. One of them, The World's Largest Ball of Twine Bed Without the Breakfast (seriously), touted itself as a one unit cottage adjacent to the ball of twine and at the low, low price of $30 (payable in cash that I was to leave on the table!) and I figured that okay, I'd roll the dice and hope that it was as homey as the woman who owned it said it was.

And, um, I guess it was:

Cute, right?

But here's the inside:

Overall, I'd say it was kinda dismal. And I'm annoyed that I can't find the picture I took, but there was a big sign on the fridge alerting people to the fact that GAME CLEANING IS NOT ALLOWED. Because you know how dirty Monopoly can get and all.

It wasn't even 8PM when I arrived and I had a few hours to kill before I'd be able to fall asleep so I got the bright idea to go across the street to the bar (because the restaurant was closed on Mondays and the town was all of six blocks long so I was hard pressed for other things to do) and have some dinner and a couple of drinks so I had the chance of actually falling asleep.

So I went to the bar, as seen here the next morning without all the pickup trucks out front:

I have a lot of nerve but boy howdy, I really had to talk myself into opening the door because "walking into a rural Kansas bar by myself" is not high on the list of safe things to do. There were about ten men, one KID and two women inside. I pretended they didn't allllllll turn around to stare at me when I walked in and I went right up to the bar, sat down and ordered a sandwich and a Jack & Diet.

That Jack & Diet eventually turned into SEVERAL Jack & Diets (though I suspect that they were heavily watered down) and a few shots of peppermint schnapps with the men at the bar. It was bizarre and surreal and when I told my brother the story of it all the next day he was like "THIS IS HOW WOMEN END UP AS MURDER MYSTERIES ON A&E!" True, but my homies at The Corner Bar & Grill were lovely.


Here's my overall'd friend Leigh:

So this guy Leigh (he spells his name the girl way) spent the first half of the night totallllllllllllly hitting on me and the second half of the night pretending he didn't know me.


Because his girlfriend showed up to lay claim to her man.

Guess why she was there?

Because even though *I* couldn't get a cell signal, the whole rest of the bar had been texting people telling them that there was a pretty new girl at the bar (awl, thanks guys) and word got out that Leigh was hitting on me and she came to make sure I kept my new girl hands off her man. I didn't know any of this until they told me about it later in the night but they all thought it was HILARIOUS that he was 100% trying to romance me one minute and the next he was telling her that he hadn't even spoken to me. I mean, he had a ZERO percent chance, but it was pretty funny, particularly since my bff Toni and the lady bartender Teresa HATED her and I had accidentally caused a Jets vs Sharks standoff that they said the town will be talking about for weeks. Alls I know is that she was old, trashy and REEKED of fabric softener. Like she washed her hair in it or something.

Other highlights from The Corner Bar & Grill:

They launched a toothpick and a straw into the ceiling in my honor. I don't know why this is so exciting, but they made several attempts until one stuck and then I had to climb on the barstool and sign the ceiling:

Notice the kid in background of the toothpick-launching picture? He was eleven. It was 11PM and he had repeatedly asked his dad to take him home but his dad (a Gary Busey look-alike) was HAMMMMMMMERED. I was like "OMG IS HE GOING TO DRIVE??" and they were all like "No, duh...his kid is." That would be his ELEVEN-YEAR-OLD-KID.


He was a sweet kid. The dad was sweet too, but maaaaaaan, he was drunk.

Here I am with my Cawker City bff Toni:

There was dancing:

And shenanigans:

And drunken confessions that they thought I was going to be a bitch when I walked in, but that I was welcome back at the Corner Bar & Grill any time. It's unlikely that I'll EVER EVER EVER return, but they gave me a bunch of tsoskes and they were SO MUCH FUN and I apparently gave Toni my phone number because she has texted me several times since I left.

Other fun facts:

1. You can rent a three bedroom apartment in Cawker City, KS for $141.00 a month!

2. Toni's car starts via light switch:

3. My whole tab for the night was $21. V-A-L-U-E.

I don't know what time I finally hit the hay at the Ball of Twine Inn, but it was late enough that I didn't care that it was depressing and when I woke up around 7AM to use the bathroom I decided that I was too sober to sleep in that bed anymore so I washed the bar smell out of my hair and hightailed it out of there.

I was tempted to just skip town without taking any pictures of the twine but HANGOVER BE DAMNED, I had come all this I added the length of twine left for me by the innkeeper, took some pictures, and headed out of town in search of coffee.

I missed the Twine-a-Thon by just a few weeks:

I signed the log:

I tried looking peppy:

This one is a shout out to my dad:

The thing I don't get is why the ball of twine was SUCH an attraction. I mean, I know *I* was there, but I'm weird. And seriously, it was IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE. As in NOWHERE. It's something you have to go way out of your way to see, but the log had entries almost every day and the inn left me some pretty expensive looking marketing collateral and there's a yellow line of "twine" painted all down the main (only) drag and the storefronts are all empty except for twine-related art:

As weird as it was and as happy as I was to leave, I will always have fond memories of Cawker City, KS.

From there I moved on and drove through miles and miles and miles and miles of whatever this is (wheat?):

Amber waves of grain!

So miles and miles and miles of crops later, I arrived here:

If I had cell service I would have called someone and told them to bust out a map and look at the VERY MIDDLE of the lower 48 states because I was standing there RIGHT THAT VERY MOMENT!

There's not much to see out there so I snapped a few pictures, took a few minutes to listen to the cicadas and then headed out of Kansas:


sally said... were right about Leigh...great catch. And he is way worse than the farmer that hit on me in Missouri in his Carharts. The fact that he was groping me while sticking his cigarette in my face was just a bit much.

I can't believe you went in that place. I would have been scared shitless to walk in there! (HELLOOOO the Accused ring any bells missy?)

I think these are the greatest kinds of places to have adventures though.

And remember when in a bar to always turn left at the baby.

Lauren Marie said...

That's it, I'm moving to Kansas. I don't care if there's nothing there ... All I needed to read was the part about getting a three-bedroom apartment for $141 a month.

Anonymous said...

That looks like a riot! I'm envious of your bar antics.

I'd like to state, for the record, that you would never in a million years find a three bedroom apartment for $141 in KC. Of course, for that price I'd move to nowhere and get a few of them.

elemenopea said...

You have so much fun everywhere you go. I want to go on a roadtrip to nowhere with you!

Sarah said...

crying on the inside about renting a three bedroom for $141...sigh. cheap rent AND the biggest ball of twine.

SeriesFInale/Joel said...

Hey, I finally got around to reading this. As a proud Midwesterner I kinda hate Kansas but I'm glad you had a good time--I've drank in many a roadhouse in my time with fellas in John Deere paraphenlia.

Also, I'm 98% sure you're joking here, but you do know they're talking about cleaning dead deer or squirrels or duck here, right?:

"there was a big sign on the fridge alerting people to the fact that GAME CLEANING IS NOT ALLOWED. Because you know how dirty Monopoly can get and all."