THE SONIC BOOMER
While in the Midwest, Mark and I decided to explore new territory, namely, the capital city of Kansas. This little jaunt was initiated by Mark’s reading online that Topeka was offering $10,000 to anyone who bought a home there. We wondered what the fuss was about, but didn’t actually put the pedal to the metal until we heard they had sweetened the pot by throwing in a year’s worth of submarine sandwiches. (What?)
“Governor, no one is taking us up on our offer of $10,000.”
“I suspected this might happen. I guess we’re going to have to add in the subs after all.”
This is the type of innovative, yet quirky, problem-solving that endears me to the area of my origin. If $10,000 cash won’t do it, maybe free sandwiches will.
Feeling the need to encourage this Midwestern style of governance, we got in the car and headed west.
Being from Wisconsin, I didn’t know much about Kansas, except what I’d learned by watching The Wizard of Oz. The state was hot and dry, but there were a lot more trees than I’d expected. Evidently, that tornado hadn’t sucked up everything.
There was also a river, but it was brown, not blue. My years in Florida have spoiled me with sparkling blue water as far as the eye can see. Then there was the capitol dome itself — black with what looks like a bronze archer on top. A bit of Googling told me that the name of the statue is Ad Astra, who is supposed to a tribal warrior, aiming toward the North Star (which is a symbol of finding one’s way). The state’s motto is “Ad Astra per Aspera,” or “to the stars through difficulties.” And evidently they are currently finding their way to the stars through the use of hoagies, though no hoagies are depicted anywhere on the building. If the incentive works, however, I am sure a bronze sandwich can be strapped to Ad Astra’s belt later on.
Mark and I drove straight to the historic downtown, where we had lunch at an old department store that is now a brewery. The food was great and there were huge, stainless-steel fermenters extending from the basement up through the first floor restaurant. Quite impressive.
We continued our trip with a search for historic homes and charm, but either we were exploring the wrong places or there weren’t any. After a few hours of tooling around, I shrugged and said, “I just don’t see anything that would cause me to move here — or even to buy a vacation home.”
“But the subs…”
Reluctantly, he turned the car around.
And then we saw it — rising from the plains as dramatically as the Emerald City itself — a building so huge, so majestic, so important to the culture of our country that I couldn’t believe we had stumbled upon it — the processing plant for Frito-Lay snacks.
“I could move here,” I said. “I’d work the night shift, cleaning up.”
“I bet you would,” Mark said as he turned the car around. Dream crusher.