Tag Archives: Rocky Road to Kansas

“…So Good It’ll Make You Slap Your Neighbor!”

Colorado was 200 miles of Awesome.  Kansas was miles and miles of Flat and Tidy.  As we traversed the state of Kansas (West to East, mostly on Highway 400), I slowly understood why the first part of the movie “Wizard of Oz” was black and white: the wind sucked out all the colors.

sketch of winmills on prairie with quilt pattern border

“Kansas Landscape”, mixed media copyright 2014 Kerry McFall

Approaching Kansas from an artist’s perspective, the Kansas horizon must be drawn with a ruler, precisely perpendicular to the power poles and windmills of various vintages.  Below the horizon there is grass – in February, it’s dead, drained of color by the vampire wind.  Above, there is silvery bluish sky.  Okay, that was easy.  Next, a little contrast maybe, some shadows, some texture?  Nope, not in the winter.  No trees.  No blackberry vines.  No ivy.  No scraggly jumbles of overgrown anything anywhere.  Not even a sly dandelion lurking just under the surface.  You would never need a weed whacker in Kansas.  The grass is all precisely 1.5” tall, even in the back corners of trashy trailer parks.  Which aren’t very trashy because the trash all blew away.  (Apparently to Missouri or Colorado, where plastic bags make eerie ornaments on trees and barbed wire.)  Even though the simplicity is somehow soothing, if I was an artist living in Kansas, I’m pretty sure I would start doing abstracts.

After hours of flat, straight, dry pavement with absolutely no traffic, and that colorless landscape, an emerald castle on a hill above a misty field of poppies seemed like a really good idea.  Hell, Flying Monkeys were beginning to sound like fun!  Until the speeding ticket.  But I digress. To be fair, it is February, and apart from the wind, we had marvelous weather – a tiny bit of gropple, according to the weather guy, but it just looked like snow to me.  So Kansas is appealing in its own symmetrical way.  I’ve gotta believe that spring on the Kansas prairie would be fabulous.  And it was worth the whole drive just to see signs like “Aunt Toadies Diner,” and discover this field full of “political sculpture” outside of Mullinville, Kansas.  It stretched for acres, and although this photo doesn’t reflect the R-rating, you can see more details at this website http://www.roadsideamerica.com/story/11212

Political Sculpture

Political Sculpture

Now we’re in Missouri, where BBQ joints advertise that their “burnt end sandwich” is so good it’ll make you slap your neighbor.  (Don’t worry, Caroline, the last thing I want to do is slap you since you take such good care of the kitties while we’re out gallivanting all over the country!)  McDonald’s and KFC may be as ubiquitous as ants, but I simply cannot imagine them coming up with marketing phraseology as original as that… and it WAS good barbeque!  And guess what beer was on tap?  Deschutes Brewery.  ‘Nuff said.

Technique Notes:  The border I added to the Kansas landscape above is a pieced quilt pattern called Rocky Road to Kansas, among other names.  Tradition has it that this was popular as emigrants headed west, which according to my map analysis means that the rocky road to Kansas is actually… yep, in Missouri.