Friday, June 17, 2011

Kansas Curiosities

You may think Kansas is nothing but miles and miles of flat prairie, an endless line of boring crops but I’m here to tell you there are exciting things in Kansas, if you just stop and look.
For instance, Goodland, Kansas has a giant easel. I know, I know, but calm down, there’s more. That 80 foot tall easel holds a replica of one of Van Gogh’s Sunflower paintings. It’s so big you can see it from I-70 but that’s not good enough for the Tumbleweeds, no. We saw it live and in person, walked underneath it, even.

Painted by Cameron Cross as part of the
Van Gogh Project. I am the little blob beneath it.

Goodland is a sleepy little farming town on the western edge of Kansas. It has less than 5,000 people, and as I was researching this very informative article, ahem, I found that the town of Goodland’s own website doesn’t mention the World’s Biggest Easel at all. Conspiracy? Oversight? It seems like a little town should promote this superlative; there's really no other reason to stop, and it really is big.

Goodland is also known as,
The Golden Buckle on the Wheat Belt.

Lucas, in central Kansas is home to The Garden of Eden and Cabin Home of Perry Dinsmoor, a Civil War veteran who built a lot of weird cement stuff around his home, which is a log cabin made of limestone. Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel and other Biblical sculptures crowd the yard and there is also a 40 foot tall mausoleum where he is laid to rest in a glass-topped concrete coffin. Neat.
In 1924, when Dinsmoor was 81 he married a 20 year old and they had two children. Their son, John Dinsmoor, is the youngest surviving child of a Civil War veteran. Creepy.
Also in Lucas, Kansas is the home base for the World’s Largest Collection of the World’s Smallest Versions of the World’s Largest Things Traveling Roadside Attraction and Museum. If that title doesn’t give you a headache, then try to figure out what the brochure means by “Always open when parked”. It’s a van. If it’s not parked it would be moving and you couldn’t visit it anyway.

Visit their blog and see for yourself. Maybe
they're coming to your town.

Sadly, the Tumbleweeds didn’t get to visit the wonderful town of Lucas. Let’s move on.
We did, however, have dinner in Russell, Kansas which is home to Bob Dole, the presidential candidate and Viagra spokesman. The restaurant was filled with the over 70 crowd, but Mr. Dole was nowhere to be found, although I did get excited when I saw a guy holding his pen stiffly in his right hand, but it was just a farmer getting ready to write a check. Remember those?


  1. I love stopping for random/possibly crappy stuff on a road trip. I've seen the world's largest duck decoy museum, the "thing" (that's three hundred miles of signs through the desert to what may or may not be a mummy cat), and the world famous Peabody ducks! I love random road art and the world's biggest things!

  2. hey, now i have a lot more to come to mind when i think of kansas...than just TOTO and some kind of magic slippers!
    ((you should post some of the odd places you discover on 'Roadside' we check it out every time we take a road i can also come HERE!))

    that first that what the road workers do when they're standing around not working on the road...

    cool always! :]

  3. Melissa, 300 miles of signs in the desert is fairly hypnotizing, you can't NOT stop!

    Laura, I totally forgot about Dorothy! Roadside America is pretty cool, everything we've seen is already there, I need to find something undiscovered.
    I guess if the road workers are just going to stand around, they might as well do something creative!!

    Thanks for riding along.

  4. Wow! I had no idea Van Gogh was from Kansas. And that he was so huge.

    Maybe I need to re-read this again.

  5. Nah, I wouldn't do that Christian. It doesn't get better the second time, plus if you stare long enough into Bob Dole's eyes, you'll start taking in the third person.

  6. Don't worry, Christian will make sure that doesn't happen.

  7. Tumbleweed - I've missed you! All of this just cracks me up - people just have this need to be quirky, I guess. However, on reading the site on the Van Gogh Project, one finds that the intent is very serious - AND creative. It's also interesting to see the process the artist uses to produce these mammoth works of art...(must be a roadside mammoth out there somewhere, too..) My thought on the age of the diners at the restaurant is that they are probably the only ones who remember Bob Dole - or CARE.That van with the teensy-tiny replicas is another phenomenum - what will they think of next? I shudder to think, but then, I "might" be first in line to see it. Thanks for starting my day with a smile!

  8. Aww, thanks Ladybug! Your're right about that being and serious project, I just don't see why the town of Goodland wouldn't promote it more, it's like they're embarrassed or something.

    And I too would visit the the Worlds Largest Collection of the Worlds Smallest Versions of the Worlds Largest Things. I just wouldn't want to answer their phones!

  9. ...that's for sure...imagine having to say that name each time you answered the phone...and'd probably be using the world's smallest version of a phone and it might get stuck in your ear...


Do what?