Saturday, March 24, 2007

Journey through Middle America

I made my first trip through middle America this week. I had been through Nebraska before by car but it was too quick to remember. This time, I landed in Kansas City and then traveled west across some small towns into the middle of Kansas, up north of Wichita.

I should say first, what a great part of the country. Farm towns, old architecture and rolling farm land. The amazing thing to me was the geology. The flat expanses of limestone turning to flint stone (slate)underneath all that green grass made for grazing cattle.

That area of the country was settled a bit earlier than California. It was interesting to see the vast differences from our big cities but the striking similarities to the small town I grew up in California. A lot of it was like traveling up the central valley of California. Railroads along the highway, small towns with a "community center" based around a small grocery store, gas station or diner.

I saw my first Amish community. I didn't think they came that far west. A horse and buggy on the side of a little highway. Never seen that before.

What is also interesting, a lot of the houses in the mid west have no fences around their yards. You see houses built together in new tracts but no fences separating the yards. Kind of interesting because you would not want to live in California without fences! You wouldn't want your neighbor to see through your backyard. Besides, there is a lot more crime.

The more obvious thing I noticed though was the people. People there are just different. Not in a bad way just different culturally. I was in a bar and I just sat and watched people. Politically they are different than most of America, different even than me with some of the conservative views I have. There was a natural friendliness that is rare. They way they greet you. The natural hospitality of offering you drink or the better seat. I am used to Californians just taking and grabbing and moving so fast. Time seemed to slow down, while at the same time we got where we needed to go without the stress. The perception of traffic on the roads was even much different in that, what they saw was bumper to bumper would be a joy to see mid morning in Southern California. Nobody was in a hurry.

I guess this is why however, we are so different in this country with our views. Different experiences lead you to look at things differently. Amazing if you think about it. No wonder our politicians can't always agree or someone like Stephen Colbert can rip someone, Democrat or Republican from the mid west in his regular "Know your district" segment on his show.

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