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Publisher's column for June 21

Why you shouldn't go to Kansas this summer

(Sunday, June 21) If you haven't planned your summer vacation, let me give you a suggestion of a place NOT to go. Don't go to Kansas even though a so-called national newspaper recently trumpeted it as a good destination this summer.

I know, I know. You've read all these great stories about oceans of wheat fields. You've also heard about the treeless prairies, the buffalo, the Indians, the cowboys, the cows, the cow towns of Abilene, Dodge City and Wichita and the modern metropolis of Kansas City.

Okay, all those things do exist to some degree. But don't let the promise of dim lights and livestock entice you on a trip you may later regret.

I lived in Kansas from age 3 to age 30 so I know from where I speak. You need to know the real facts about the Sunflower State before you spend your hard-earned money and precious time on a visit.

First, the oceans they talk about have no beaches. Just wheat stubble after the middle of June. Walking on it can be pretty painful, even with flip-flops.

And about those treeless prairies where the antelope play. There are no antelope and there have not been for about a hundred years. However, Kansas does have coyote, skunk and opossum aplenty for those who find such things attractive.

The song is correct when claiming the skies are not cloudy all day. But that is because the wind blows about 30-40 miles per hour on an average day which keep those clouds pretty much moving on out. From April through June the wind is a bit more gusty when a tornado sweeps through. That occurs about every 48 hours.

It is true that there are no trees and the land west of Wichita is flat. In fact, if you take a 6-foot stepladder with you to the prairie and climb to the third step you can see about 40 miles in any direction. If you stand on the cab of your pickup truck you can see clear across Nebraska into South Dakota.

One thing I can't downgrade is the fact there are a few million cows and a few thousand buffalo in Kansas. One of the highlights of any visit is to eat a buffalo burger at a local greasy spoon. And the steak at the Golden Ox restaurant located in the Kansas City, Kan., stockyards is beyond compare. But so is the smell of the slaughterhouse just a block or so away.

The biggest and best parts of Kansas City are on the Missouri side of the Missouri River, including the baseball Royals and the football Chiefs. The only problem with the Missouri side of Kansas City is that its residents don't wear shoes and many of them look like Lil' Abner and Daisy Mae.

Wichita has grown into a big small town with gang violence and girly clubs galore. Dodge City, Abilene and Wichita do have historic Old West town replicas. But they are frankly pretty boring. You can see better gunfights on late night television or a few blocks from the Washington monument in D.C.

About the only Indian reservations in Kansas are the kind you make at Motel 6 the night before attending a Chiefs' football game. And the cowboys in Kansas are really just farmers who ride horses. The best rodeo cowboys come from Wyoming, Oklahoma, Texas and Colorado.

So don't believe all the tourist hype about Kansas. What? It wasn't on your list of possible destinations. To be honest, I knew that.

I just thought you might enjoy some Kansas bashing. After all, West Virginians get more than their share of unfair jokes about our great state. I just thought you might like to know there is a place that is a much easier target than the Mountain State.

Terry Horne is the publisher of the Exponent and Telegram. His column appears every Sunday.