March 22, 2010

Zombies of Kansas

This weekend, I went to Kansas with my best friend, Kortney, to celebrate her awesome daughter's 14th birthday. The day of our eastward journey, Denver was slated to receive 5-10 inches of snow. And it worked hard to achieve that goal. The four-hour drive became a seven-hour drive, with Kort and I riding in tense silence most of the way. With our sleeping bags in the back, in case we decided to pull over and sleep in the car, we cautiously made it to WaKeeney, Kansas around two in the morning.

When we woke up the next morning, our cabin was icy. You think giving birth is difficult? Try getting out of a cozy sleeping bag in zero-degree weather with prairie winds blowing under the door! That, my friend, is overcoming adversity.

After choosing not to change into the frozen outfit I had planned to wear that day, I pulled on my sleeping bag coat and we headed toward Hill City to pick up Miss Zoe. Now, let me tell you about Zoe. She is the coolest teenager ever. She is witty, snarky, and very mature (when she chooses to be).

After a (very) brief tour of the small town she lives in, we headed off to Hayes, which is a booming metropolis compared to Hill City and WaKeeney. With a teenager leading the tour, we ended up guessed it!

We spent a couple hours, hitting great sales and browsing racks of bizarre clothing geared towards the young'uns. Then we hit up a local thrift store. And ooh-da-lolly! Let me tell you: small towns may not understand the concept of "retro" and "vintage," in terms of value. Kortney scored quite a lot of sweet items at super low prices, while the employees stared at her as if she were crazy. Which she kind of is. Crazy-smart. That is all I will say about her purchases, since I'm hoping she will be blogging all about it herself. And she did!

Nevertheless, here is a teaser picture and the reason we were oh-so-glad we ended bringing Keene's all-wheel-drive car to Kansas.

After a pukey lunch at Golden Corral (and here, I thought there was no such thing as a bad buffet), we headed back to Hill City to take the exhausted girl home.

Now, let me ask you, if you are in a chilly midwestern town for the night, with only your friend for company, how do you pass the time?

This Kansas-made beer was suuuuuuper tasty. I'm not sure if it can be found in Denver, but I will certainly keep my eyes peeled (ew) for it.

We woke up the next morning--surprisingly, not sick. Since Kortney was joining Zoe at church (and since I was pointedly not joining anyone for church), I took up residence in the town diner, the Peppermill. As I walked into the nearly-deserted restaurant, I felt as if I were in the Old West, sidling into a saloon, with the theme of "The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly" in the background. The five diners at various tables stared until I sat down, then stared a moment longer.

While my waitress seemed a little scared of me (I wasn't wearing makeup, after all), she generously served me coffee cup after coffee cup. In between chapters of Catch-22 (yep, still reading this...thanks, Keene-darling), I glanced up to watch groups of older people walking in, as their respective church services ended. It struck me by the slow way in which they moved that this may have been the inspiration for the first zombie movie. The way in which they held their arms out before them, as they reached for a steadying force or to open the door.

I thought to myself, "I hope I'll be lucky enough to grow old with somebody I love...and together, we too will be mistaken as zombies someday."

After a couple of peaceful hours of eating, reading, drinking coffee, and people-watching, Kortney returned and paid my tab. (Note to readers: chances are good that the small-town diner you find yourself in won't accept credit cards. Be prepared to carry cash. Or, if circumstances allow, a pig with which to barter.)

Then we set off for Zoe's birthday party for homemade ribs and the opening of fantastic gifts:

Finally it was time for goodbyes:
The beautiful daughter and mother:
However, before we could leave Kansas, we had to take a few important pictures.
I have decided I want this house. I will uproot it from its snug little midwestern neighborhood and transplant it to Denver. It will be much happier there...I'm sure of it.
Oh, Kansas. Until we meet again...

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