Simone grew up on a farm in western Kansas, and her passion is helping small towns in rural areas develop and become places people would LOVE to live (is that close, Simone? :) Last weekend, she put on a festival! So I got to visit Simone, run a 5k, and go to the Wind and Wheels Festival all in one trip!
I started the day off Friday with a run, then put in a few hours at work before leaving early to begin the five and a half hour drive across Kansas.
About two hours into the drive, my car (which has 208 thousand miles on it) started sounding different and started handling different -- it was a struggle to steer to the side of the road and slow down, which I did.
Guys, I was a hot mess. I called my dad, my sister, Simone and AAA and cried on the phone with ALL of them. I was on the side of the big, main highway in Kansas with cars and semis whipping past me. My dad suggested I get out and check under the hood, but after seeing how close some of the semis were getting to my little Honda, I knew I was NOT getting out till the tow truck got there.
Well, he got there, and within a minute he diagnosed my car: I had a flat. That's all.
I'm only kind of sorry to say that I'm not at the level of blogging that when something goes super wrong, I remember to take a picture to prove the event. So just picture me crying my face off and a burly tow truck driver (who may have hit on me?) with a pitying/condescending look as he told me it was just a flat.
So, another half an hour and I was back on the road, a little emotionally drained, pretty embarrassed, but in good shape to actually finally make it out to see Simone still.
|Sorry for the blur. I liked the blurry picture better :)|
Saturday morning, Simone headed out at an ungodly hour to set up for the festival. Compared to her, I slept in till about 8, then got up and got ready and checked in for the AIM for the Track 5k!
It was about 34 degrees or so when the starting gun (really!) went off.
The race course went through the high school campus, out into a neighborhood and included sections on grass and a dirt road! I mostly just followed the girl in front of me, who was wearing a BRIGHT pink jacket. :)
There were probably only about 30 of us, which made it really kind of fun, especially at the finish line. I think I was one of few strangers to the other runners, and they were not shy about cheering their friends on! It was fun to watch everyone finish.
In the end I got a new personal record (PR) for the 5k -- 29:11. My first race under 30 minutes! I was pretty excited. I also got second in my age group and got a medal! There were only two of us, but Simone's parents said I should just tell people I got second. :)
There's been a 5k for a few years in Simone's town, but it never was for a cause. This year, it was! The local high school has a great track team, but a dirt track to practice on. The money raised in the 5k is going to replace the track.
The rest of the day was fun and packed with events: two bands played, there were kids kites and giant professional kites and a helicopter landed that the kiddos got to tour (well, adults too really!). It was a lot of fun!!
Sunday, Simone and I went driving around on dirt roads. We went out to her boyfriend's house and I got to meet their dogs, and we went through devil's dip, a part of a dirt road that is seriously like a roller coaster.
Around here, western Kansas gets kind of a bad rap. People don't seem super interested in small town life, and everyone moans and groans when they have to drive through western Kansas.
But with my visit to Leoti, I saw a whole lot of good.
In Lawrence, and in non-rural life, there are family events all the time. Library events, plays, concerts, musicals, parades. We have access to a lot of entertainment, and because of it, I think we take it for granted. Had the Wind and Wheels Festival happened here -- I 100% guarantee I wouldn't have gone. And I had a blast at the festival! But here, I would have slept in instead.
I was so impressed with all the people who came out for Wind and Wheels -- and for the play. I expected families with little kids, but there were teens and people my age and old people -- I helped one grey-haired lady decorate a kite for herself, and then she went off and flew it. At the play, I sat with Simone's parents, her boyfriend, her boyfriend's parents, and his two grandmothers. It was a real family event.
They were living life with excitement and making small things fun. They don't take things for granted -- not getting out of the house, not spending time with the family. And it was great to see.
So that's my plug for western Kansas. I wish I could put it more eloquently -- I had so much to say when I was there, but it must have flown out the window on the drive back.
Did any of you grow up in a rural community? Did you love it or were you racing to get out?