Day 94 • June 3, 2012 • Smith Center to Glen Elder State Park, KS • 44 miles
Today we travelled within a few miles of the geographic center of the United States, near Lebanon, KS. About halfway through the trip in straight line distance, but way over half way in time and miles pedaled when you consider that our meandering ways in the west have straightened up considerably. Though interesting, this attraction seemed a little too arbitrary to travel off route to see. Besides, the world’s largest ball of twine was directly on our route today.
If you’ve travelled through western Kansas on I-70, you know about the ball of twine. Advertisements are, or at least used to be, plastered on billboards along with other cultural oddities like Worlds Angriest Prairie Dog (or something like that). But odds are you haven’t actually seen it because, honestly, who would do more than maybe a gentle swerve to see a ball of twine? Well today you’re in luck because Zoe and I did more than just swerve, we pedaled our unwieldy contraption through the heart of Cawker City to bring you these pictures of the World’s Largest Ball of Twine. Sisal twine, actually, opening up the unsettling possibility that there are small towns vying for tourism revenue with balls of some other type of twine.
Certain aspects of Kansas make me hesitate to disclose that I’m a native. Like Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church or the school board’s recommendation that “Intelligent Design” be taught as science alongside evolution. As I sat facing the World’s Largest Ball of Twine, thinking the deep thoughts that such an attraction inspires, I wondered if this wasn’t another. I decided that twine worship isn’t even remotely in the league of religion-inspired hatred or religion masquerading as science. This is just kitsch, and there’s nothing wrong with that. In fact Cawker City isn’t far from what must be the epicenter of Kansas kitsch– the town of Lucas. As evidence, yesterday Lucas had the Big Flush.