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The White City (Part 1)

About seven months ago, on a nippy December day post-Christmas and pre-New Year, I sat at my mums house in England and largely ignored her for several hours as I hunched over the same laptop at which I type now, typing tube station names into placenames.com and merrily plotting the shortest route between them. It was fun.

All day Tuesday, in the reality of driving round the whole of the USA, it rained. It rained all the way down through Iowa. Rained and rained and rained … all day, no let-up, and a soggy night on the outskirts of Kansas City has dampened my spirits slightly. Less fun than what I had imagined.

But then something a little wonderful happened to turn it all around. Best day of the trip so far? It’s up there.

For on Wednesday, I made it south of the I-70, and the joke about “Staying south of the 70 for the good weather” turned out to be bizarrely true.

On a rain-less morning, I had a fun breakfast flirting with three Missourian ladies who were hanging off every word of my delicious accent, I filled up with the cheapest gas yet of the trip (always feels good to save money) at just [$2.28] (and my highest gas mileage so far), and I was off to find Red Bridge – a bit of a nothing suburb of Kansas City.

Red BridgeI’m starting to get a feel now for what places are going to be like before I get there. What were once just names on a Google Map, have now turned into reality, and with it – a sense of what they’re going to be like before I get there. Red Bridge was exactly as I thought … a non-descript suburban intersection with a gas station on the corner. Lots of local business named after the suburb : “Red Bridge Nursery, Red Bridge Chiropractor”, and so on … but nothing really to write home (or blog) about.

And so I pushed on … further west, and a little more south of that weather dividing interstate towards White City in Nebraska, and as I did I was slightly overcome with a sense of what I was about to find.

Maybe it was just the sunshine – the glorious sunshine which at a perfect high-70’s temperature was hot enough to be nice enough to have the window down, no need for the AC, and my favourite tunes blasting out at an unfeasibly loud volume (and one that will make Beverly worry about the state of her speakers in her car when she reads this) and I made my way west. And south. And west again.

Kansas Windows

Some of the roads didn’t even have numbers. Oh no … hello to roads “NN“, “PP” and just “M(thoughts of James Bond wandered through my mind at that one) and then I looked left to the rolling countryside and saw a shot that made me think that I was looking at the default Windows wallpaper from 2002. Maybe the dude that makes wallpapers for Microsoft came from Kansas?

That’s right … I’m in Kansas. Heartland of the mid-west. Where not only are town laid out in a neat ‘block’ fashion with roads running nicely north/south and west/east, but seemingly the whole of the state is like that too with its roads outside of the town.

White City got closer, and my high spirited mood increased more so. Life was good. I was by myself, and yet totally happy and on a natural high.

Minimum MaintenanceOff of the interstate and off of the highways, I managed to confuse my poor TomTom when I told it to take the most complicated route it could find to White City so that I could drive down some dusty back roads. After two minutes of number crunching through 100,000 different tiny roads it gave up with a “No route found!”, and so I let it choose a more gracious path.

But even then I didn’t play ball – I knew that I just had to keep turning left to go south and right to go west and eventually I’d get there, so I took every opportunity to go down unmarked, unpaved and tiny little looking roads whenever possible. Do I want to go down a road that hasn’t been properly maintained and I should only drive down at my own risk and with due caution? Hell yeah I do.

Dust kicked up behind me down all the roads. I grappled with the video camera to get a reverse angle shot via the side mirror. I didn’t see another car – and I know that’s a cliché – but I really didn’t see another car for over an hour of driving, going west a bit, and then south, and then west, as my spidey-sense kicked in and goose pimples crawled up my skin in anticipation of White City being that perfect middle-of-nowhere town that I’d been searching for for the last five weeks.

And this is what I found …

3 responses to “The White City (Part 1)”

  1. geofftech says:

    Part 2 tomorrow!

    Day 36 Progress map here.

    [Day 36 btw, is officially halfway through the trip, as my projected schedule sees me on the road for 72 days – not including getting TO Maine, and BACK from California to Charleston…]

  2. Raineth says:

    Aargh!
    Cliff-hanger endings!

    🙂 I really like the parts of Kansas I’ve driven through/stayed at. Nowhere near as dull & flat as I thought it would be.

  3. geofftech says:

    i forgot to point out too that that yellow “minimum maintenance” warning sign, had the scars of where ten shots had been fired at it, heh.

    Kansas was indeed pretty. i think i also thought it was going to be flat and boring, but far far from it. it’s up there amongst my favourite states. (i shall have to make a list at the end .. sorry Indiana but you will be at the bottom so far)

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