1. Where is the rest of Holcomb, Kansas? I’ve read In Cold Blood a couple times, and seen movies associated with the story, and there was definitely a town. Our theory is that it was just levelled to make room for the new school complex. If it’s still there I’d love to know how we missed it.
2. Where do people get their food? This was a constant refrain from Sandy. We passed so much empty space – much worse than the Northeast Kingdom here in Vermont – and it’s amazing to think of how far some of these folks had to go to get food.
3. What would it cost to buy the entire town of Elmwood, Oklahoma? We passed a lot of desolation, but Elmwood really sticks out. That said, if we had taken time and headed south or north a few miles off of 50 or 142 I suspect we would have encountered real, modern ghost towns.
4. What’s the matter with Kansas? William Allen White first asked the question, and it has been repeated recently in a slightly different context, but why the anger? We passed so many raging anti-abortion signs, and apparently there is only one abortion provider in the entire state far away in Kansas City (and I’m assuming that it is surrounded by anti-abortion activists 24/7). The plains seem to be dying and the anger and mystification has found a target. Having said that, Sandy and I agreed that any Kansas congressman who thought that closing the state’s strip clubs was the key to solving their ills should be charged with treason.
5. Why are the streets of Tulsa deserted? It is a lovely town, and thanks to Sandy’s friends we found some cool spots, but the downtown is almost abdanoned during the day – although, again, we didn’t see any boarded up buildings or anything like that. It just seems like almost everything closed up after 2:00 p.m. It may well be that, to paraphrase the Drive By Truckers, there’s a lot of bad wood underneath the veneer. Sandy’s friends told us about a few spectacular car-jacking, including one that left a Chinese exchange student dead. Then we saw signs on drugstores that made it clear that they stored no oxycontin and labels on parking meters that the coins were taken out daily.
6. How many people visit the Creation Museum every year – and how many of them vote for Sarah Palin? OK, I know I really need to let my fascination with the Creation Museum go, but it may be the best $25 I ever spent.
7. What happened to the Big Lincoln? A forty foot tall replica of Lincoln, which Sandy remembers from his town in Illinois and which is mentioned on various strange sites in Illinois websites, has seemingly disappeared.
8. What is Justine doing tonight? A very nice girl from Emporia State University that Sandy and I talked to for ten minutes one night in Natasha’s Bar, and who in the course of the trip reached epic significance.