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My husband is addicted to tagging his location via a smartphone app called Foursquare. On our trip home from Wichita, he “checked in” to Kansas City International airport, on the Missouri side, and unlocked the “I Don’t Think We’re in Kansas Anymore” badge. At the time, it seemed profound.

But, seriously, we were thrilled to be returning home.

The thing is, driving through Kansas is very monotonous. No trees, no buildings, nothing to look at. And all the while, the majority of radio stations play country music or church services. Nothing to sing along with. Plus, there is absolutely nowhere to stop once you’re outside the larger cities. For instance, we first arrived in Kansas at dinner-time, but we had eaten a late lunch, so we decided to wait for a bit.

Outside of Topeka on I-335, we passed the first “services area,” consisting of a few greasy fast food restaurants and a gas station. I said, “I feel like eating something healthy. Let’s wait till we pass a Panera or a Subway.” Oh boy, was I naive.

We should have eaten then and there. At least we would’ve had options. In the remaining two hours, we passed maybe four McDonald’s/gas-station/convenience store services areas. There were no towns, no crossroads, just miles and miles of highway.

I ate Chicken McNuggets for dinner.

I must say, Wichita was an improvement. Kansas’ biggest city, it boasts art museums, zoos, and more than just McDonald’s for dinner. We didn’t have a chance to explore much because our schedule was jam-packed with wedding to-dos, but we met some friendly people, ate at some good restaurants, and easily found our way around town.

Some things to know about Wichita:

Lunch at Larkspur

Dining al fresco in Oldtown.

  • Locals drive painstakingly slow. Expect to go five miles under the speed limit. There’s no going faster: you’ll be unable to pass, because the slow drivers use all lanes.
  • Also, drivers here dislike honking. At a stoplight downtown, I politely tooted my horn at a driver in front of me because she didn’t go when the light turned green, and she gave me the finger. Funny, I thought that’s why cars came with horns …
  • There is a plethora of western-wear shops. My husband, enthralled with these, bought a pair of cowboy boots. In the true spirit of the plains, he even wore them to the wedding.
  • All Midwestern cities experienced miserably hot temperatures during the infamous heatdome of 2011, but Wichita ranked in the top ten hottest cities, according to Newsweek magazine. Thus, we renewed our appreciation for AC.
  • We like dining al fresco, so we stopped for lunch at a restaurant in Oldtown called Larkspur, which had an adorable outdoor seating area. Just be advised, if you request an outdoor table when temperatures are 100-plus-degrees, the wait staff will look at you funny.

My baby sister will likely move to Wichita, so I’m sure I’ll get to know the city better as time goes on. Maybe by then the drivers will share the road with me, and I with them. And maybe next time I’ll catch a direct flight to avoid driving for hours on those open, desolate roads.

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