Tuesday, September 27, 2011

American Gods and Roadside Attractions Tour: The Creamy Center

As I've mentioned before, the nature of this trip - and part of the reason for the "American Gods" reference to its title - got its start after a conversation Acr0nym and I were having about Neil Gaiman's book by the same name and the fact that the Geographical Center of the Coterminous United States mentioned in the book wasn't terribly far from us.

So, after the disappointing start to the day at the mini Statue of Liberty, we were anxious to get to our next point of interest...the Geographical Center of the Coterminous United States.

First though, we stopped in at the highly recommended Second Cup Cafe...


in Smith Center, KS for a bite of lunch where Acr0nym had a pork loin sammich on soft pretzel bread. I only mention this because I'm still thinking about (and jealous of) that sammich. OMG good. If you ever find yourself near Smith Center, be sure to stop in at that cafe. Everything was mighty tasty and you'll likely be sitting next to the local sheriff and any number of town folk. (OH! And, before I forget, Main St. in Smith Center plays the local radio station over a PA system so you can hear it as you walk along. And it wasn't country! I even sang along to Alanis Morissette.)

Afterward, we headed east on US 36 for a few more miles until we saw this...

This marker isn't even on the same intersecting highways as The Center!

It wasn't long afterward that we would turn north for the first time in earnest onto US 281 - a road that would eventually take us into Nebraska and its delights.

But first up? That's right...The Creamy, Succulent Center.

Just off US 281 on state road 191, The Center, as it is marked, isn't even the actual center. No. In fact, The Center is in the middle of some farmer's adjacent field and he doesn't take kindly to people trampling his crops as is evident on this sign in front of a farmhouse just behind Hans Gothwökkit that reads something along the lines of "We do NOT have souvenirs here! If you want souvenirs, go back to Lebanon. They have lots!"

Hans Gothwökkit at the Geographical Center of the Coterminous United States

The Center itself is marked with a monument...

The Geographical Center of the Coterminous United States Marker

But there is also an old motel that is now in use as a hunters' lodge (we saw actual hunters there) and a little 6-seater chapel...

Chapel and Lodge in the background

The chapel is accessible, we assume, 24 hours a day. So, being us, we totally went in and had Hans deliver us a hellfire and brimstone sermon from the tiny (but not as tiny as he is) pulpit...

Welcome to you're (intentional Frisky Dingo reference) D00M!
OMG! Can anyone say Heartland Americana Kitsche?!

We then went out for a smoke and sat on a little bench, generously shared with us by a very cool preying mantis...

Preying mantis generously sharing space with us filthy smokers
And...just listened.

The sounds defied description...wind, flagpole clanks, cicada, crops rustling. Acr0nym tried to capture the stillness of the country here by microphone but his attempts were deterred by windsong unfortunately. It was, in a word, peaceful and somewhat mysterious in its lack of industrialization. It was almost as though we could hear the gods approaching. It was why we were here. We had come to look for America. We'd started to find it on that bench outside a 6-seater Christian chapel. Odd that, given how we'd come to decide on our journey based on a book that doesn't even mention Jesus.

Eventually we'd leave that spot. We'd decide we wanted to turn back toward Lebanon, KS where the souvenirs and the nearest gas station were. We'd find the Lebanon water tower...

This picture is awesome!!!
And, what was described as a "mini Wal-Mart" in which we could purchase souvenirs...

Ladow's Market in Lebanon, KS..."mini Wal-Mart" hee hee...hee hee
We did purchase souvenirs. Postcards and coffee mugs and a book about small town America.

It was...oddly spiritual, this stop. A stop in a small town of 200 people. A stop that would...eventually...make me feel smaller than Denver ever could.

Beyond any other we'd make.


The Shiftless Wanderer said...

Oh my! Just discovered this blog! So glad. Love the humor, irreverence, and the reverence. Thank you! Following.

Just Jane said...

YAY! Thank you, Shiftless Wanderer! There's more to come :).

bete-noire said...


now i want a pork lion sandwich. whatever happened to the Icon of Peej you guys were going to take with you? did you baptize the gnome in her name and then give him an external everyday name?

AG does mention jeebus exactly one time. it's definitely not a point of emphasis, though, obviously.

bete-noire said...

i don't think i could eat lion.

Just Jane said...

The soft pretzel bread MADE that sandwich. Serious stuff.

There's a story behind Peej on a Stick. It's an entry unto itself. I'll get there...eventually :).