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No Back Roads Postcard

(c) 1997 Jim Heid, http://www.nobackroads.com/  
Reprinted with permission

Location: Topeka, Kansas
Miles yesterday: 492
Miles to date: 7406

We pulled into the capitol of Kansas last night after a wearying, rain-soaked drive across Illinois and Missouri. The Roadsmobile continues to run like a top; it's as anxious to be home as we are and is on its best behavior. Well, maybe its second-best behavior. The sliding door is developing a problem: it often won't open. The problem is in the power locks, which after ten years and 137,000 miles, aren't as powerful as they used to be. So far we've been able to persuade the door to unlock and open, but it's getting harder and harder to convince it. If we have to pack and unpack that vehicle through the back tailgate door, our backs are in big trouble.

We're in Topeka to meet with the Executive Director of a program called Blue Skyways, which is operated by the Kansas Library Network Board. Blue Skyways is a resource for Kansas libraries and also a central repository of sites for rural Kansas communities. It was through Blue Skyways that we learned about Cawker City, Kansas. Population about 500, it's the home of the world's largest ball of twine. We hope to visit that ball of twine later today. At the risk of stringing you along, I'll have a report on it tomorrow.

<descriptions of Missouri snipped>

St. Louis and Kansas City are havens of jazz history -- and of jazz radio. In the rural midwest, it's hard to find a radio station that isn't preaching something at you, usually in a loud, panicked voice. In St. Louis and Kansas City, the radio stations preach the Gospel According to Coltrane, the First Book of Blues, and the Acts of the Adderlys. It was dusk when we passed through Kansas City, the small skyline silhouetted against a blaze of yellow and red. A slow blues was playing on a local FM station, and it couldn't have been a better soundtrack for this soulful city.

Having a wonderful time; glad you're here.

- Jim

Last updated 04/13/01
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