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Old 10-23-2013, 09:18 PM
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Phil_F_NM Phil_F_NM is offline
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Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: Philadelphia, PA
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Day 5 (recap)

Day 5 was our day to take our time in Kansas.
We got up, packed up the tent and car then were in a search for coffee.

Just down US-400 from the State Park was the town of Piedmont. Well, former town of Piedmont. Once a decent size Kansas town with a big farm community, Piedmont slowly has been dying since the US Interstate system pulled traffic away from the old Federal Highways and then corporate farms took over much of the arable land.

We had breakfast at a tiny cafe in Piedmont where Brad and I heard the owner, server and cook (one woman) say to her friend who was eating as well, "I hate my life." The lady appeared to be in her late 60's and was chain-smoking the whole time we were there. I wish, wish, wish that I had my camera on me and asked to take her photo. Her cafe looked to be one of the few remaining buildings in Piedmont that was habitable and not tornado damaged.

The rest of the town was all but a ghost town.















After walking around Piedmont, we got back on the road again towards Wichita.

Driving down through Wichita, we managed to find a neighborhood with a good size Vietnamese population and a few decent Vietnamese restaurants. I almost panick stopped and turned very sharply into the parking lot of a place called Banh Mi.

The sandwiches were great! Better than the cold cuts I had eaten for a day and the PB&J I was supplementing them with. Cheap too. I bought one sandwich for lunch and one for dinner to-go.

At this point, we were on US-54, the last leg of the trip before we reached New Mexico.

Aiming the car west, that day we wanted to make it all the way to Liberal, Kansas in the very southwestern part of the state, just a few miles north of Oklahoma.

We passed through Towanda, a town south of Wichita where a friend of mine from the Navy grew up and after she was discharged, moved back to. I didn't get to see my friend, having not given enough notice but we did get to stop for a good cup of strong coffee and a nice chat about what to see in Kansas at a local book store. The owner told us to check out Greensburg which was completely destroyed by a massive EF-5 tornado in May, 2007.


Water tower in Greensburg.


What remains of a building after the 2007 tornado.

In Greensburg, all the trees which were still standing and old enough to have survived the 2007 storm were raggedly broken about 12ft above the ground. There simply was nothing left there above a few feet.

After Greensburg, we continued west and stopped in Bloom for some photos of another former town that was slowly strangled by both the Interstates and big farming.

It has been damaged by tornadoes as well and the wreckage simply left where it stands.

This was the Bloom School.






West of Bloom was Liberal, home of International Pancake Day and the town that has claimed to be the home of Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz.


Dorothy's house.



That night we camped at a campground just east of Liberal, on the Cimmaron River.

Our campsite had to be shared with its more permanent residents.


Phil Forrest
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