Somewhere in middle America

Sarah and I took a trip to Wichita, KS this weekend! Her family was having a 90th birthday party there for a great-aunt, so I tagged along with Sarah and her step-brother, Travis. We stayed with family friends, and the weather was so nice (cool, cloudy and scattered showers) that we slept with the windows open both nights. I’m not sure if I’ve ever done that before! It was seriously heavenly.

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Here’s a closeup of that sticker on the window. It’s “Wushock,” the Wichita State mascot, a “shock” of wheat. The Shockers. I’m still laughing. Although my high school mascot was a (Mighty) gopher, so I really can’t laugh too derisively.

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We did a little driving tour of Sarah-affiliated Wichita landmarks. This is the house Sarah grew up in:

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We drove through Wichita State, where Sarah went to school. This is a Frank Lloyd Wright building, apparently. I would never have known – it doesn’t look very Wright-like to me, but I’m no expert…

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We walked around the music school building. It reminded me of my SMU music days, practice rooms and all! I didn’t notice the stone penis hovering just above her head until Jon saw this picture and started laughing. Sorry, Sarah 🙂

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We stopped by her favorite bookstore, Eighth Day Books, where she worked for a year back in the day. I’ve been hearing about it for years, and it was great. There just aren’t enough good, independent bookstores left (although I just heard about one in Plano, of all places…Legacy Books). Made me miss the old Shakespeare, Beethoven & Co. in the Galleria. I loved that place.

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We visited the downtown area (way cleaner than downtown Dallas) and saw the Native American Keeper of the Plains statue and the suspension bridge spanning the Little Arkansas River and the Big Arkansas River, right before they join together. I should mention that Sarah was very forthright in letting me know that in Kansas, it is pronounced the ArKANsas River. I thought that was silly until she correctly said that it was a very Texan thing to do, pronouncing it that way, and I had to agree.

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Saturday night, we went to a 90-year-old family member’s birthday party. It was a surprise party, and she didn’t have a heart attack, but she did cry at seeing all her family and friends standing in front of her. It was very sweet, the cake was awesome, and we had fun. That’s Sarah’s step brother and sister, Travis and Keri, on the far right, and her step dad, Kerry, is there in the blue shirt in the middle, above the birthday girl, Aunt Margaret.

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We visited Sarah’s grandmother in the hospital and stayed to chat for a while. She’s home now and fine. Also, we stopped by a restaurant they’d heard about in Norman, OK called Bison Witches, and this sandwich was freaking awesome: roast beef, smoked turkey, and smoked gouda with a honey-based, spicy Russian dressing on rye. Wow.

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We also made a trip to Wal-mart on the way out of town. I haven’t shopped at Wal-mart in years because I don’t like their business practices, but I made an exception for a grey “WuShock” t-shirt. I just couldn’t help it. Here we are with a Wushock mural on the way in. Those three fingers I’m holding up are a W for Wichita;) We had a great trip, and it was great to see where Sarah grew up, get to know some of her family and friends, and explore a new city. On to the next adventure!

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