Scatter my ashes here...

Scatter my ashes here...
scatter my ashes in the desert...

Friday, March 28, 2014

Fact-Filled Kansas: Hangin' with T Rex and the Boneheaded Dinos

While on my way to run the Prairie Chicken 50, I learned a few things about Kansas.

Kansas is just full of facts. Like some know-it-all school brat, it keeps reminding you how much it knows.
It knows about it's own history, and famous people who came from Kansas. It also knows every freakin' astronaut, President, and Senator who came from Kansas. Not only that, you are made aware of the 8 miles of original interstate highway named after Eisenhower. Plus all the historical facts- and figures. Even Jesus, every few miles, he's on a billboard.
It's not just limited to famous people. There's the giant prairie dog, the 5 or 6 legged steer (not sure because I probably needed reading glasses), WaKeeney "It's Affordable", and Junction City "It IS That Good". Entering Kansas on I-70, one of the first billboards you see tells you, Welcome to I-70, the "Main Street" of Kansas. As if you hadn't figured that out already.
The Brown V. Board of Education case was decided in Topeka. There's also the world's largest ball of twine, the world's largest Czech egg, and the home of the girl who told Abe Lincoln to grow a beard. Gotta wonder what she REALLY meant.
"Smile, your mom chose life."
And...I need a kidney. THAT is sad.

For miles driving toward Topeka, the pastures were burning in prairie fires. Looked like a controlled burn of some sort, but I'm not sure. I briefly wondered if it was the recently deceased Reverend Fred Phelps getting scorched, burning in hell here on earth. 'Cause Topeka looks sort of like I would imagine hell. Smoky, hazy, and burnt, like those rundown, worn-out cities on the east coast, with old buildings falling apart and concrete overpasses with a backdrop of drab sky.
After driving all afternoon Thursday and checking out Gella's Diner & Lb. Brewing Company in downtown Hays, I got some good sleep. The food was decent at Gella's, and I tried three different beers which were all good, the seasonal Kiltlifter, the Brownell Brown Ale, and a hoppy IPA that was excellent. I settled on the Brown Ale because it had less alcohol than the IPA. The service at Gella's was very good. It was a busy place.
I started the morning in Hays. Dale "Sasquatch told me to check out the Sternberg museum. I had time, so I figured I'd check it out.
It's a natural history museum, featuring dinosaurs, rattlesnakes, and fossils. It's pretty impressive, actually. Other than 2 dozen or more species of rattlesnakes, there's more to see.

There's a life size moving, roaring Tyrannosaurus Rex, too. There is also some art in there, local artists created interesting prints on wood slabs with dinosaurs and bison superimposed on modern scenes. I could have spent the whole day looking at those.
But the Boneheaded Dinosaurs, seems like I've encountered those before. I don't believe they are extinct yet. They seem to be thriving. They just have a museum for them in Kansas.
Wait, wasn't Kansas the place where they tried to teach that the earth was flat, about 10 years ago?
The hills, not sure if they are the actual Flint Hills, but whatever the hills were that I drove through in east-central Kansas, were very pretty. The overcast day, haze, and light made the whole scene take on a sepia-like tone.
I had so much fact-filled fun, that I'm not sure what I'll do with all this new information once I get home. I better not turn my head to the side or it might all spill out.
I got into Ottawa, not a very exciting town, but I easily found the race headquarters, starting line, motel, and everything I needed, all within three minutes of each other.
The packet pickup was well-organized and they answered questions easily. I liked the shirt, as well as the quote on the back of it.
I had reservations at the Best Western. Somehow I got put in the back building "the executive suites" that houses the indoor swimming pool. There is a funky, musty smell that permeates everything in this motel. And I've decided it must be the pool. The last time I stayed in a motel that was this nasty was last March in Alabama, at the Bat Guano motel. It, too, had an indoor pool and the smell is giving me flashbacks. Either that or it's Prairie Chickenshit.

I went to the pre-race dinner tonight so I could hear the briefing. I didn't eat much, the food looked marginally okay, but a little Kansas-like for my inner princess. I ate a huge salad in the room when I got into town. Still they seemed to do a good job of feeding everyone, all 250 or so people, and got them in and out on time.

The pre-race briefing was brief, except for a tiny bit of the shenanigans that race directors of some races love to play- when they make everyone stand up if it's their first 100, and then everyone stands up in the 100, and if it's their second, they sit down, their third, etc., and this goes on and on until only two people are left standing and the RD asks them how many 100s they've done and one says 35 and the other says 58 and everyone ooohs and aaahs and I'm like, can we please get on with it?

I guess I've been around too long, the novelty has long since worn off, which is why I avoid pre-race anythings. I only went to this because it's my first time at the race and I wanted to hear the briefing and I dropped off my drop bags. I was probably back there rolling my eyes. I was really trying not to, though...

I can't believe I'm packing drop bags in a 50 mile race either but the weather's been unpredictable and I have no idea what they'll have in the aid stations. I'm hoping I won't need the bags at all.

I did sit with a woman and man from Iowa, she was doing her first 50 miler and he is just being the supportive but tentative husband. Her name was Rachel. We talked a while, I passed along some tips to her on hydration, fueling, bad patches, and making a marriage survive ultras. I'll look for her tomorrow. Sounds like she could do well if she runs smart.

One guy came up to me and asked me if I had run Cornbelt a couple of years ago. I couldn't believe he recognized me. He's here to run the 100. I told him I am going back to Cornbelt in a few weeks.

Other than that, I recognized one guy from Colorado across the room, and a bunch of people looked familiar. David Horton, the speaker, I've met before at many events. But other than that I didn't know anyone. There were a lot of first-timers here. Flat course, non technical, well-supported, sounds like a good first 100. 8 am Central Time I will be off to chase the Prairie Chicken for 50 miles...just looking for a damn good workout. I'll try to stay focused. Keep it between the weeds. Oh yeah, I almost forgot: if you want to follow the race on race day, here is a link.

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