My standard speech, which I had given many many times to new friends, details how I am visiting the outer states and ignoring "the crap ones in the middle." In Washington Erin scolded me for such a description and at that point I decided to extend me trip to cover four of the five central states that I was omitting: Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri.
From the Oklahoma/Arkansas border I basically dashed through the remaining states at break-neck speed. All I wanted to do was to dip my toe into each state. Not just drive through, that would not satisfy me, but to actually see a city, however briefly.
My first stop was Tulsa, Oklahoma. It`s a reasonable-sized city towards the east of the state, made famous to me by the Gene Pitney song. I stopped downtown and walked through the 105-degree (41 C) dry heat (ah! dryness, what a relief!) to eat lunch in a park while chatting to a local worker on a cigarette break. Tulsa is OK.
I saw no sunflower fields in Oklahoma.
From there I went north to Wichita, Kansas, made famous to me by the White Stripes song, Seven Nation Army. By this point it was tea time and I was anxious to get to Missouri before dark, so my stop was even more brief. I visited Old Town, but this was crap, and then went straight to the river to snap The Keeper of the Plains, a large statue of a Native American (perhaps a Kiowa-Comanche?), set at the confluence of the Big and Arkansas rivers.
I then went all the way to the Kansas Cities, crossing endless rolling prairie. I expected Kansas to be arid and brown, which is how I pictured it after reading The Wizard of Oz, but it`s actually very green.
I saw no sunflower fields in Kansas, either.
The city (or cities) of Kansas City is strange. Legally there are two distinct cities: Kansas City, Kansas; and Kansas City, Missouri; and I imaged that these would be separated by a river and would face each other as rivals, very much like Buda and Pest, but in fact it`s just one continuous metropolis. You can`t even tell when you cross the state line. Cody in Albuquerque explained that there was a rivalry but I could not detect any in my flying visit.
I stayed with a surfer, Kimberley, in the Missouri side, where I had an entire floor to myself.