Life is a Highway

Flyover States (Life is a Highway Vol. 2)

Flyover States

Just a bunch of square cornfields and wheat farms,
Man, it all looks the same,
Miles and miles of back roads and highways,
Connecting little towns with funny names,
Who’d want to live down there

in the middle of nowhere?

 Written by Neil Thrasher and Mike Delaney

Flyover States

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I am blessed to work with people I call friends and provide service to customers I adore.  I fly all over the country to interact with inspiring individuals I would have never met without that employee ID number.

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That said,  I don’t belong in the business world I live in. There’s little appetite for humor, compassion or authenticity other than the canned kind that’s been legally blessed by our corporate lawyers. This industry thrives on the bottom line, awards workaholic behaviors, and shuns non-business critical activity like building rapport and meaningful relationships.

There are only fourteen of us who have my job description, and my accounts make up one of the geographically largest territories in our company.  I work with organizations to help improve patient health outcomes for individuals and families who live in Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Colorado, Wyoming, Tennessee, and Georgia. And snippets of the states that border each of these.

Hays, KS
Hays, KS

Our corporate executive calls my territory flyover states, box states, and a personal favorite, dirt. Last month, it was when she started to harp (again) how it wasn’t worth our time to service these customers that I crawled into an invisible shell.  I often do that at huge cattle call meetings saturated with too much food and extroverted personalities. This time, I chose to stay in my happy corner while I thought about what makes the middle of the country unique.

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I get it. I’m good-natured and can laugh at the stereotypes. As a Kansas girl, I don’t mind being associated with red shoes and tornadoes. Unless you’ve lived here, it’s hard to appreciate the beauty of an endless star-soaked sky and the passion that miles of this dirt conjures when you can only see it blowing and filling your eyes and atmosphere with grainy dust.

That’s the purpose of this post. Not to convince you to move here or to love it like your own, but to help you see the Midwest through my eyes and feel some of it with your heart.

Seven facts you didn’t know about the middle of the country

1)  The Great Ball of Twine in Cawker City, KS measures over 38′ in circumference, weighs more than 16,750 pounds and is still growing. ~~It was the landmark I used for the directions on our wedding invitation–Turn left at the ball of twine, follow the blacktop road to the church.

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My daughter and her boyfriend, Justin, dead-lifting the Great Ball of Twine

2) Omaha, NE has the best cupcakes. Ever. I can drive from my house to Jones Bros. in exactly 3 hours and 6 minutes without stopping. It takes me less than 60 seconds to devour the cake du jour…and have seconds!

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3) Brad Pitt is from Springfield, MO. Kirsty Ally grew up in Wichita, KS and I’ll bet you don’t know where Eminem roamed before landing in Detroit.

4) When Dakota Territory was created in 1861, it was named for the Dakota Indian tribe. Dakota is a Sioux word meaning “friends or allies.” ~~Seriously, some of the nicest people I’ve ever met. They DO talk like this, and I could listen to it all day.

5) The most powerful earthquake to strike the United States occurred in 1811, centered in New Madrid, Missouri. The quake shook more than one million square miles and residents felt the shock waves almost 1,000 miles away. ~~Kansas had a big one, too–5.6!

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6) Colorado contains 75% of the land area of the U.S. with an altitude over 10,000 feet. ~~Insert legal marijuana comment here–I won’t be partaking or providing the butt of the joke.

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7) The Dwight Eisenhower Memorial Tunnel between Clear Creek & Summit counties is the highest auto tunnel in the world. Bored at an elevation of 11,000 feet under the Continental Divide, it is 8,960 feet long, and the average daily traffic exceeds 26,000 vehicles. ~~The kids and I attempted to hold our breath from end to end. Dane holds the current record and Dad is not allowed to play because he’s the one usually making the 10-hour drive. You don’t want to pass out on the mountainside!

There are only eight US states I’ve not been to, and they are all on my bucket list! I’m fascinated by similarities and differences in dialect, slang, family relationships and regional rituals. Sitting in an airport during long layovers doesn’t bother me because I love to people watch and imagine life in other parts of the world.

But you know how it is when you are with your own. There’s a vibe, a mutual and unspoken pact about remembering our roots. Being with “my people” makes me appreciate the stereotypes and know that clichés can be a compliment.

I’m so grateful to the kind folks I’ve encountered over the years and want to send a few call-outs to strangers and old friends who don’t know I write and won’t ever read this. Do me a favor and give these individuals a handshake and a hug if you happen to cross paths:

  • Dakota/Minnesota nice: The Fargo taxi driver who picked me up at the airport when it was -25. “Ah jeez, is it cold enough for ya? Let me take you through the downtown while you warm up. Here, take my hot cocoa–I’ll just get some more down at Gloria Jeans.”
  • Midwest work ethic:  My three co-workers who each live in Iowa, Minnesota, and Illinois. These amazing women will be covering for me while I’m on medical leave for a month–all while taking care of their kiddos (nine between them) and making it look easy.
  • Nebraska cornfields: For my Nebraska buds who droned incessantly about the Cornhuskers and endured my smack talk until the KSU Wildcats finally beat them in 1998. Years before that, you guys got me through a college semester in Laramie, WY when I was further from home than I’d ever planned to be purposely.
  • Clean Air/Healthy Bodies: For the many Coloradans I’ve met through the years and have adopted me into your families. I love running, hiking and skiing with you. You call to check on me, you have my back and make me laugh. Never will I take you or your mountains for granted.
  • Down to Earth: My favorite customer in Sioux Falls, SD. Even a busy chief medical officer takes the time to show pictures of his grandbabies and comments that he loves it when I wear my Dorothy ruby-red slippers when I come to see him. He tells me to be safe driving home and hugs me when I leave.
  • Show me: To my co-worker who sends me pictures of extra-large snakes, stray dogs (pregnant with puppies) turkeys and sunsets from his farm in Missouri. It’s very cool that we can share tomatoes and swap stories even though “border wars” are forever part of these states’ histories.
For you, David Dain
For you, David Dain
  • The Geographical center of the US: to my fellow Kansans who still provide a haven where we can leave doors unlocked, running tabs at the grocery store and make business deals with handshakes.  I’ve gently had my heart broken by Kansas boys and married the sweet one who didn’t. My daughter is a Kansas State Wildcat, and hubby and I are Fort Hays State alum. When asked where I’d chose to live if I won the lottery, I’d pick the sunflower state and my gravel road every time.

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Boondocks

It’s where I learned about livin’
It’s where I learned about love
It’s where I learned about working hard,
And having a little was just enough
It’s where I learned about Jesus
And knowin’ where I stand
You can take it or leave it
This is me
This is who I am

~~Little Big Town

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Quintessential Harvest Sunset

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As this post winds down and you head into a busy Monday, feel free to come back and take your time. There’s always a cold something in the fridge, snacks in the kitchen and a chair with your name on it.
You have all week to look at the photos, listen to the playlist and see these states differently the next time you visit or fly over them.

(hover the mouse over the photos for captions)

Audience participation time!

What do you love most about where you live/travel? What nifty bit of trivia do you want to share? What stereotypes drive you crazy and which ones are valid?

Please add your sunshine to the comments below.

80 thoughts on “Flyover States (Life is a Highway Vol. 2)

  1. Thanks for the view of a part of the world I’ve never visited.
    Hope they don’t change or limit your position!

    I’m from nyc. Usually it’s enough to say that and just let people ask question.

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    1. I’m completely enchanted with NYC! I stayed down town, got lost somewhere on Broadway, ran around Central Park and dropped a bucket of tears at Ground Zero. So proud to know you Guapola! I love your city 🙂 (and mmmm…the street hotdogs…YUM!)

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  2. I don’t do much traveling because broke. I do go to Michigan often, because I have family up there, and Michigan (outside of Detroit) is a beautiful state. I think I would move there, if I could.

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    1. Hey TD! Detroit fascinates me, too. It’s a city I could spend days in with a camera.
      As far as $$ for travel. I’d barely been out of the state before the Co. started footing the bill 😉
      I hope you have a great week, my friend!

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      1. So true 😦 I have a good friend who lives outside of Detroit (the pretty part you mentioned) I keep hoping the groundswell hope she tells me about breaks thru soon.

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  3. Love this article!! I would add onto this about the sunsets and storms here in the Midwest are bar none to any other area I’ve witnessed. Purple lightning out in western Kansas as a storm rolls in from a few counties away, is always breath taking for me.
    My grandpa took me to the “geographical center of the u.s.” when i was very young right outside of Lebanon, Ks. That was intriguing to me for some odd reason.
    Keep up these amazing reads mama Mick!

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    1. Hey Brennan,
      So awesome to hear from you–your words are spoken from the heart and so true. In fact, when I see your FB photos, they often remind me of the many things I love about the heartland. You capture them well, too.
      Lebanon, KS!! My aunt and uncle still live there 🙂
      You are the best and thanks for always stopping by.
      Michelle

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  4. I love the flyover states. Since I have been born and raised in the Midwest, I might be biased. I have been around the country and each place has it’s own beauty and cool people. The flyover states are no different and I’m grateful to come from the heartland. Great blog post!

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    1. Hey Kristen! YOU are awesome…always so kind to stop by and comment. AND, we are soul sisters–I just knew it! Fargo is my newest guilty pleasure! My MN/ND friends all concur that the show is accurate to the spirit and I could just sit there and soak up the “Dontchya know” for hours 🙂

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  5. Love. This. Post. So. Much!!! You have officially converted me. I will sheepishly admit that I thought of the middle of the country is much the same way your corporate execs do… something I would have rather skipped over. My sister lives out in CA, and so I have driven cross country 3 times round trip (so 6 total), and each time I felt like I was going crazy in some of those Midwestern states (Oklahoma stands out in my mind as and endless, mind-numbing drive).

    But…

    Now that I think about it, each of those trips were in somewhat of a hurry, and there was no thought to appreciating the state I was in, just hurrying to get out West, so the midwest seemed endless because it stood before me and my end goal.

    Now I desperately want a do-over, so I can appreciate all the beautiful things you showed me in this fantastic post!

    I need a road trip! Thanks for sharing your part of the world with us.

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    1. Hey Josie,
      You are just fantastic and I absolutely the positive spirit you always return to me ten-fold. I’m glad to have “converted” you, but certainly understand the need to get from one place to the next. My monthly 5.5 hour drive to Sioux Falls does get a bit old. Thank goodness for a camera and XM radio!
      As always, I love it when you stop by with your kind heart, beautiful smile and wise words. xo

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  6. Very touching post MamaMick. I enjoyed it a great deal. Is that a REAL SNAKE around your neck?!?! Yikes!

    I trucked regularly through the “fly over” states you mentioned, some years ago. I always found the people very friendly and caring (when I could find people -Ha!) I recall driving late into the night and then pulling off the interstate to sleep beside a motel by a ramp in Wyoming. I had my girlfriend with me and when we woke up in the morning we went into the motel to get some breakfast and chat with the proprietor. We were the only customers and he told us that he and his brother, who ran the gas station across the road, were the only two residents of the “town”. It was bitterly cold that morning and he poured a dollop of whiskey into our morning coffee to “warm us up”. It was heartwarming to find such humanity. Like being a human was the most important factor once again.

    You must spend an enormous amount of time just travelling when servicing your territory Michelle. Great people and a great post – thank you. .

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    1. Hi Paul!
      LOVE your Wyoming story…LOVE it! I appreciate how strangers can carve out little pieces of their life, share it with us and serve it lup ike pie and ice (or whiskey) cream when we need it most. I’d love to capture little stories like yours and save them in a leather bound book and read over and over again. I’m so glad you shared!
      Michelle

      PS: Yep. That was a real snake and he was sooo sweet. Not the same snake that scared me in my garden the other day.

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  7. I need to come back to this later….so good!
    But I just have to say..I KNOW i saw the world’s largest ball of twine in Minnesota once…..
    did it move?

    more later…but I am going to love this travelogue!

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    1. I’m soooo glad you brought up the Minnesota yarn ball!! The residents from Cawker were upset to know their record was broke by another state. Starting in the late 80s, they added several feet to it (and annually thereafter at a big festival) with the intent to have the record forever. I hate to think what’s in the center of that thing!!

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    2. Hey Michele!
      I think I replied to this once, but (ironically) I was stuck in the boonies with poor signal and don’t know that it went through. Anyways, if it’s a repeat…just disregard. Minnesota did use to have the largest ball of twine. The residents in Cawker got the word and instituted an anual festival where more twine is added so that the record is never taken away again. Sensitive folks, huh? (I’d hate to see what’s in the middle of that thing!) Ironically, I’m going to be driving right by it tomorrow on my way back from my parent’s house. I hope you had a fantastic day…waiting for your song post!! xo

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      1. omg…they add each year to make it bigger! I LOVE that. I wonder if the Minnesotans do too…the great MN /KS ball fight! I’ve been to Omaha (not a happy trip, tho it started out well, and all over MN since my husband was from there. Been to Chicago too…that’s midwest I think? (I am geographically challenged for sure!) It is beautiful there, except..WINTER!
        As California native winter is not my friend.
        I’m dying to know what the 8 states are?

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      2. I need to see more of California as I’ve only been to Los Angeles, San Diego (barely and all inside) and Huntington Beach (yes, please!).
        You’ll see a paired pattern with the states I’ve not been to: Alaska/Hawaii, Maine/Vermont, Rhode Island/Connecticut, Louisiana/Alabama.

        Love Chicago…ranks up with my fav big city next to Denver 🙂

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      3. “Huntington Beach”

        I spent a lot of time on Huntington beach when I was a kid and teen. Lived in CA until the Air Force moved my dad and mom to the South. They divorced shortly thereafter, and my dad moved back to CA and my mom stayed in the South. I still visit as often as I can. Huntington is my favorite beach in CA, bar none. It was the first place I wore a polka dotted bikinis. 😉

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      4. well, next time you com to CA i’ll show you around, or send you around..
        it is an amazingly beautiful state!

        good luck friday….be thinking of you!

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  8. Absolutely loved this piece, Michelle. I’ve actually spent some time in the heartland, where I met some of the finest people I know. This post not only captures that essence, but offers testimony as to why those I met remain in my memory — and why you and your family call it home 😉

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    1. Hi Ned,
      What kind words to enhance what I feel about the heartland. I’ve been in your state a few times, too (my brother lives there!) and find the same kind of warm folks. So, I guess the scenery, the buildings, the highways don’t ever matter as much as the people and I’ve been completely fascinated and and humbled by the stories, comments and kind words I’ve received from everywhere today. It’s a rare speechless moment for me 🙂

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  9. well I am coming back later this week – but I actually some time to soak most of this up this afternoon – and it was such wonderful read. gosh!! first, the personal take on your “world of work” just really spoke to the side of me that loves to study this area (I totally enjoy learning more and more about “work behavior” and why we do what we do – and so a few of your dense sentences on your thoughts and the corporate world drew me right in).

    but those starting words (by T & D) were muy buneo too…

    “Connecting little towns with funny names…”

    and your pics/music – such a nice post.

    Have two final comments. Totally have to challenge you on #2 – with your claim that the best cupcakes are from Omaha – because a couple months ago we were leaving a 50th birthday party and my son grabbed a few cupcakes on the way out – it was late and we did not even think of grabbing any sugar – but in the car – he shared them with all – and one of them was Tira Misu and then the other one was something from some cupcake heaven – and well, would need to have a showdown with these gems before you can make such a claim (jk – ha!).

    and regarding Kansas – a former boyfriend from 1992 – well he came to the US on a D1 sports scholarship and started off in Kansas. He ended up transferring (and even changing to a D2 school) to get to Florida because he believed all the hype about FL, CA, and CO being cooler – well long story short – he liked Kansas a lot better – and learned a lesson!

    and that is that the “box states” rock too! 🙂

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    1. Oh Yvette…you are so wonderful! I’ve read your comments through several times and continue to soak them in. I’m glad you enjoyed this little piece of my heartland. I’m also intrigued by corporate behavior and have been surprised by reactions when I’m being my country bumpkin self 🙂
      NOW. Spill it! Where are your cupcakes from? Perhaps we need to embark on a mail order eat-a-thon and compare?? Hmmm…. I just love a good cupcake. Wish I had one now!
      How fascinating about your former boyfriend! It truly is a small world and we are all connected in serendipitous ways. Do tell–was your former boyfriend a former KU Jayhawk? If so, I know why you moved along to someone else. This is Wildcat country baby!!

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      1. well I have no idea of who made those cupcakes – but promise to share when/if we find out. also, I “think” Darren was a Wildcat – but not sure – because it he may have went to Witchita – because I think it was smack in the middle of Kansas – not sure!! And with his Australian accent – and athletic talent – he was super popular there – but then when he switched to Rollins college in FL – well he was no longer as unique because so many students at that school were from all over the world – and I guess his junior year roommate was a prince from another country – who was not very nice. I cannot recall all the details – but I will never forget the story!
        – also, dating Darren was very pivotal in my life because it was after dating him when I had a huge wake-up call for my dating life – but that story is for another day – another time – but super nice guy – and I was blessed to have had that season with him.

        anyhow, hope your week is going well – 🙂 cannot believe it is already mid May – wowwwwwwww

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  10. I can honestly say I knew next to nothing about the middle of our country so thank you for making it real to me! I haven’t traveled as much as I’d like to but if I get the chance, I hope to embrace the places I see the way you have and see those little things that make them special. Great post Michelle. 🙂

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    1. Hi Karen,
      Full disclosure: Arizona is one of my favorite states. Sedona, Flagstaff, Phoenix and every place in between…love the climate, the red, the sun and the people. I’m so glad I was able to show a piece of my little world and you are so kind to appreciate and comment. xo

      PS: I would not know how to garden in your state though…I’d have to study and learn 🙂

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      1. i have to jump in about Arizona…I took a road trip to a wedding in Santa Fe in September 2012. 2 glorious weeks, alone, in my car (which is my favorite way to travel). I had never been to Sedona and I was gobsmacked a the intense beauty of that place! I loved Flagstaff too..was panning on moving there but then found out..SNOW! ouch! I stayed in Albequerque, Taos and Santa Fe….loved them all.
        But Sedona….my god that place is beautiful. I drove in thru this del canyon, turned a corner and saw this amazing red rock and had to pull over, I was so moved. That was the beginning of my trip and i changed the way I came back so i could spend a few more days there.

        Karen your state is beautiful! (tho I am a California liberal, so….)

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      2. A woman after my own heart…traveling via car to three of the most beautiful spots in the country: Sedona, Santa Fe and Taos. So much red, rich kinda funky feely stuff going on there!
        I still remember driving through New Mexico during Spring Break (waaaay back in ’86)–Don Henley singing Sunset Grill and Albequerque appearing on the other side of the road we’d been climbing. Just beautiful.

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  11. Fantastic post, Michelle. I’ve always been fascinated with Kansas ever since I watched the Wizard of Oz when I was a youngen. It was because of that movie that I became fascinated with weather and wanted to become a storm chaser before there was such a thing. I’m a weather junkie no thanks to your state. 😉

    “What do you love most about where you live/travel?

    The lush green hardwoods and evergreens during the spring and summer — and the ambers, golds, and yellows of autumn. I am currently living in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Upstate, South Carolina.

    What nifty bit of trivia do you want to share?

    Charleston, SC was hit with a 7.3M earthquake in 1886. t was felt as far away as Boston, to the north, Chicago and Milwaukee to the northwest, as far west as New Orleans, as far south as Cuba, and as far east as Bermuda.

    On Valentines Day this year, at 10:23 PM, I was on Skype with my best friend in Denmark, and browsing WordPress when a rare 4.1 earthquake occurred. The epicenter was located near Edgefield S.C. about 90 miles away from where I live. My laptop was on my desk and flopping back and forth, and the house moved like it was on jello. I got a little freaked out, and didn’t know what had happened but suspected it might be an earthquake. Did a quick USGS search, and sure enough.

    What stereotypes drive you crazy… “

    That all people from S.C. (or the South) are rednecks, very religious and uneducated.

    …and which ones are true?

    That there are many people from South Carolina, like Steven Colbert,who are freaking awesome. However, I can’t wait to move. 😀

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    1. My Victoria,
      I always love seeing something from you (I’ve been a very bad WP on your site, I’ll be caughting up soon!)

      “I’ve always been fascinated with Kansas ever since I watched the Wizard of Oz when I was a youngen. It was because of that movie that I became fascinated with weather and wanted to become a storm chaser before there was such a thing. I’m a weather junkie no thanks to your state. ;)”

      I get weather junkie and my friend and I keep thinking we are going to sign up for classes which are held all over the place.
      LOVED reading about your neck of the woods. When I think if SC, I think of green and lush and downtown Charleston. Ahhh….
      AND, I’m learning so much about earthquakes today–they are everywhere! I was on the phone with my SC co-worker the next day when that latest one hit you guys..she was completely freaked out.
      But, you can’t wait to move? Perhaps, that’s in the e-mail I need to go back and reread?
      Here’s a question back to you. If you could move anywhere–where would you go??

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  12. Sounds like you have a fun, busy job traveling the country. Loved all the pictures you took. Those wide open plains and skies look amazing. I love my foothills here in Boise to bike in and the mountains to hike in (and I’m glad it’s not as cold here as the rest of Idaho…at least on a regular basis).

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    1. Hi Char,
      I’ve not been to Boise, but have been in around the areas between Jackson Hole, WY and Idaho Falls. Just beautiful…love the Snake River. Simple things like being able to hike in the mountains, bike in beautiful scenery and get away from the bustle just makes me smiley and warm all over. As always, I love hearing from you and appreciate you stopping by. xo

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      1. Yeah, there are some beautiful sights on that side of the state. My sister lives in IF and loves it (of course, winter is her favorite season. You’d have to really like winter to live there. It’s freezing!)

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  13. A peek into your world! When I think of visiting the US, the Midwest doesn’t immediately spring to mind, but you make it seem so appealing, down to earth, real.

    I’m South African, and people are surprised to learn that we have 11 official languages, stunning coastlines and forests in addition to bushland, and call traffic lights “robots”.

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    1. And there you have it! I did not know you were from South Africa! The whole reason I started this series was to learn more about where my other friends lived. When I think of South Africa, I think of beautiful accents, sunshine and place I would love to visit.
      Next question. Do you speak all of those languages???

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      1. I wish… I am fluent in Afrikaans, my home language, and obviously English. I can speak a tiny bit of two of the other languages, as my mum and grandfather are speakers. Although I now live in Australia, I still speak Afrikaans with my husband and South African expat friends. But I miss being able to use Afrikaans slang in everyday language. It was a challenging habit to overcome!

        And South Africa is a beautiful beautiful place. In every corner, there’s a different kind of beauty and unique culture.

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      2. Sigh….you make me want to see and take pictures of it. One big problem of living in the Midwest is that it’s really difficult to get away from it–especially overseas. Our main airport hubs are still a flight away 🙂
        The whole language piece is fascinating, too. I’m so glad you took the time to stop by and say hey.
        As I mentioned, I’ll be dropping you an e-mail soon (probably at the end of the next week). I need to hear more 🙂

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      3. Ha, I feel ya! Being in Australia means connecting flights are usually the norm. It’s the backside of the world.

        Looking forward to it!

        xxx

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  14. I loved this post! And your photos are gorgeous (as always). I grew up in the “boondocks” of northern New York. A tiny town in the Adirondaks. Got the hell out as soon as I graduated. Lived in Boulder, Colorado for a decade. When I wanted to visit home, I’d drive (couldn’t afford to fly). I was always in a hurry to get there. Nebraska and Kansas (depending on which route I took) went on forever and I used to wonder at the people who chose to live in those wind-swept flat places, devoid of the mountains I was used to. I wish I would have taken more time and photos while I had the opportunity.

    I would never call those states “dirt.” Thank God, for people with perspective like you!

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    1. Hi Mary!
      What a fabulous tidbit to know about you–you definitely have a Colorado Calm about you! Boulder is so great in so many ways. I feel healthier just by being there even if I don’t get the chance to run or hike.
      Come clean moment: even with my perspective, I completely understand the need to get through the space between Eastern Colorado and Western KS…it’s endless and I-70 (or I-80 in NE) does the state no justice 🙂

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  15. Used to have some of the same business territory “dirt”. Wouldn’t have traded it for nuthin’. Some people just don’t get it….but that’s fine – best they stay where they are and not clutter up the place. Cheers for “humor, compassion or authenticity” – that’s what works in business…out in wide open spaces anyway.
    Great pix and commentary. Enjoyed the visit

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  16. Oh lovely post. Place is really important to me. Landscape. At the end of my time studying in Boston I drove to SF with a boyfriend. It was a wonderful road trip. I especially enjoyed the mid west. I saw some of the best sunsets of my life in Kansas – the sky seemed huge. We stopped in a small place called Russell, Kansas – I put it in a poem years later, as an emblem of happiness. There was lots else in that trip, but I remember Kansas as somehow at the heart of it. Your job sounds wonderful 🙂

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    1. Hi Liz!
      Thank you for a wonderful comment. It makes me smile inside to know that someone else appreciates the Kansas sunsets. I know exactly where Russell, KS and have traveled through there so many times.
      As always, I love it when you stop by and add your poignant comments.
      xo

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  17. UGH just lost my whole comment. I was saying how much I love that area. Colorado and Wyoming are my HEART. I was raised in Texas, but my soul didn’t breathe until I saw the mountains. I even eloped to Wyoming. Couldn’t imagine anywhere else in the world to say I do. 🙂

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    1. Squeal!!! Where in Wyoming? I love every bit of that state. I grew up soooo much when I lived there.
      And the mountains….I almost long for them some days 🙂
      Thanks for stopping tb dear Beth xo

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      1. Jackson Hole. 🙂 We were married outside at a glacial lake just under the mountains in the national park. In fact, we’re taking the kids back there for the first time. In August. CAN’T WAIT.

        The first time I went there was in 1996. I was with a friend and her family. It changed my life, literally. I went back home, re-enrolled in college, and chose my major. Environmental Science.

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      2. Love Jackson Hole! I get to work up there once in awhile. What a great August vacay….your kiddos will treasure that time with you guys. I think our road trip is to Denver–for Little League baseball 😉

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  18. LUCKY. I can’t imagine being able to work in JH. That place is pure magic. We feel so blessed to be able to take the kids there. I never travelled as a kid, except to Fla. to see my grandparents. When I saw the mountains, my mind went all BLAM!!!! Can’t wait to see them through my kid’s eyes. We’ve been to Colorado more times than I can count…..but those mountains are teeny compared to the Tetons, amirite? Or, I should say, they look teeny. You’re actually just seeing more of the base of the Tetons because of the lack of foothills. oohhhh, and we’re running them up to Yellowstone too! Of course! You can’t be in JH and not see one of the most amazing geologic areas in the U.S.!

    NERD ALERT. —-backs away slowly from science convo b4 she gets out her element chart—-

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    1. Dude…we agreed on the floral pattern for our china, right?
      My family has not seen the Tetons or that crazy beautiful reflection in Jackson Lake. I’m dying to get them up there.
      Nerd alert? Hello! I’m completely envious of your major. My 14 year old has already decided to pursue geology…Colorado School of the Mines. Yes please!
      Okay…resting now (but I can’t!!)

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  19. When I briefly lived in Boston and told people I was from Ohio, they would get all glassy-eyed and ask, “Is that next to Iowa? Kansas? Oh, it’s somewhere flat, right?” All I could think of when I lived there was how much I missed Ohio clouds. This is a beautiful essay. It is lovingly middle-of-the-country in all the true ways.

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    1. Love Ohio! There’s so much more I want to see of that state as I’ve only been to Columbus and Nelsonville.
      Thanks for popping over here, Meg. A bit different reading than what I offered yesterday, right 😉

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      1. I’m so glad to have discovered your blog! And fwiw, I grew up in Columbus and spent a lot of time passing through and visiting Nelsonville on my way to Ohio U. in Athens. You’ve seen the most beautiful part of the state, though there are more!

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      2. I love how WP makes this big ole world seem so small. So glad our paths crossed!!
        I’m glad I discovered your space, too. Please don’t think I’m schizophrenic (I keep three blogs!), but they each serve their own purpose and this is the one I’m most comfortable in. Please stop by any time! xo

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      3. Will do! I totally understand why someone would keep three blogs…I’ve thought of it myself. Definitely will be back. Thanks for the warm welcome, fellow Midwesterner!

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  20. Your pictures remind me of some road trips my daughter and I have taken over the years. She also went to school in Laramie, WY so we traveled from Seattle to Laramie a few times too.
    You have a great eye for all kinds of beauty, and I love your humor!
    *Ahem…side note about the biggest earthquake in the U.S.: it was actually in Alaska in 1964 recorded at 9.2, and the second biggest in the world. 😉

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    1. Hey friend!
      So great to hear from you!!
      The trip from Seattle to Laramie was likely waaay longer than mine (and probably filled with a bit more scenery!).
      Thank you for your kind words and for stopping by.
      AND thank you for the correction on the Earthquake! When I read the MO fact, I thought, “Really?”…thus the need to barb a little fun at my show-me neighbors 🙂
      I hope that you and your family are doing well!!
      Michelle

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      1. 😉 Likely they mean “the lower 48” states when they brag about the biggest quake. It’s kinda like Texas trying to say they’re the biggest state. uh.uh. 2nd biggest! LOL
        (Alaskans are a little protective of their rankings! haha)

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      2. Ha! Ha! That’s awesome! Did you know that North Dakota just passed Alaska in oil production?! I still can’t believe that’s true.
        Would love to see Alaska some day…I don’t know that it’ll ever happen 😦

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      3. I didn’t know that about the oil production, but I’m not surprised actually. I’m a bit out of the Alaska loop these days, to be honest 🙂

        Don’t give up on visiting up North. It’s worth the trip (just don’t go in May or June unless you want to be eaten alive by mosquitoes -the unofficial state bird LOL)

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  21. I grew up in New England: mostly Mass., some in Maine, and college in Vermont. I love that there are distinctly different accents all around this small area of the country. The accents I can pick out in a second are Boston, coastal Maine, and upstate Vermont. These days I call Washington state home, and love that I am a half hour drive to the ocean, and look out my windows to woods and small mountains. If I were to let my grass grow and not cut it, it can reach 8-10 feet tall!

    Absolutely love traveling along with you on this post. You make me yearn for the Midwest, which I have only driven across a few times, stopping briefly.

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    1. Maine and Vermont are two of the states I’ve not been to, but I long to visit. I love your comment about accents and have an awesome co-worker from Boston…I could listen to her for hours.
      You live in a beautiful state and two of my favorite books are set in the Pacific NW. Thank you so much for dropping by and sharing your awesome corner of the world. I love hearing from you 🙂

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  22. I share your love of geography, the Midwest, and people watching at airports thinking up backstories for the people I see. I’m from Flint, Michigan. You hear and see terrible terrible things about it; but what you don’t hear is the throngs of residents banding together to make it a good place to live again. No corporate help, just grassroots groups doing everything they can to change things. It’s beautiful!

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    1. Ahhhh….a dear friend of mine grew up in Flint and now lives in the little town that I mentioned in the post. And…when I think of Michigan, I think of the awesome people you just mentioned. Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting.

      Like

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