Garden City, Kansas
Garden City Regional Airport AKA: Garden City Army AirfieldIn 2004 we took a little ride on our motorcycles that ended up in Colorado Springs, CO. This would become the first of many summer vacations spent with close friends traveling throughout this great nation. With two wheels on the ground and the wind in our faces we have been to some fantastic places. I point out the 2004 trip not only since it was the first but also because it is the one we always say it was a great ride with the exception of Kansas. The trip report on this adventure can be seen on Stan's world-famous eurekaboy website here. I specifically point this out because in the 104 degree heat on US 50 we refueled in Garden City, KS. I remember a lot of the scenery through that part of Kansas as being black and white and being quite akin to what I imagine the Great Depression looking like.
In 2009 I had the chance to return to Garden City for business. I was on the ground in Garden City for 3 days. I had a great time in G.C. and the event I held was very successful. I met some good people. As I write this I am sitting in the Denver International Airport waiting on my flight back to Indiana after spending another two days in Garden City. Once again another fun and successful event in Garden City.
So I guess this a retraction and apology of my prior view of the area. I flew into Garden City this year on Great Lakes Airlines same as last year. When I got on the ground the police officer I spoke with last year recognized me immediately and greeted me by first name. WOW! The Kansas sky was as blue as any I have ever seen and the grass and fields were vividly green. I arrived in and was greeted by the Janice Olson and the staff of Nature's Way Health Foods like a member of the family returning home. We talked about what are respective families were doing and the overall general state of things.
On Saturday, 1 May we held the event at Janice's store. Although the event was supposed to start at 1 pm I went ahead over the the store and got an early start. Janice and her staff had already done most of the prep work I normally do prior to an event because they felt they had all week to get things set up and ready to roll out, whereas they thought that I would be all jet-lagged. What a crew! Storm Dennison showed up at around noon and we got on the radio with K95 for a few hours. I planned on going to the Crazy House to buy a genuine Kansas cowboy hat but as we talked on the radio I found out that Gallagher was in Dodge City that night. After we got off the air Storm gave me a ticket to the show, so I knew that the cowboy hat was out the window. As the event progressed it became apparent that this year's event was going to be better than last year's. One thing that really made an impression on me was the number of people who came into the store because of event we held there. But the largest impression that was made upon me was the number of people that came in and said, "Hi John". They remembered me from last year! These people are amazing!
So after spending the day at the store and closing an hour late, it was off to Dodge City to see Gallagher. While I was hanging around trying to figure out how to steal Storm's cowboy hat I sensed someone right behind me. I glanced over my shoulder out of habit (and old habits do die hard!) to see who was there. No problem, just a short guy in a black and white striped shirt. What! Turn around stupid! That's Gallagher! I managed to get a few minutes to talk with him and even get a picture! The show was spectacular! At 63 years old he is just as hilarious and limber as always. His videos are classics but in person he is PHENOMENAL! A 45 mile drive back to Garden City and a trip to Taco Bell for some long overdue food and it was time to pack up and get some sleep before flying home in the morning.
I arrived at the Garden City Regional Airport to fly to Denver early. I cannot help but notice that the airport is a thriving entity here with Great Lakes flying in and out, a healthy general aviation crowd, and several aviation-related businesses. They even have an on-site Italian restaurant! Hmmmm...Why can't Bedford, Indiana think this far past their noses?? Always a question have I. I think the Gallagher show took hold of me last night, I am questioning everything this morning.
So, as I am waiting for the airport to wake up, I decide to read the local paper. Hmmm again, what's this, the local high school's broadcasting classes took 42 of 73 awards at the state level in competition. The Sheriff of Lane County is retiring after 35 years, the city council is looking at renovating and revitalizing another historic area? What no gossip or speculation? No outright character assassinations?? What kind of newspaper is this? Fair Reporting of the news? Man, what a concept! HMMMMMM... should our local newspaper take a clue?
Okay, so it is almost time to fly. TSA and the local PD have arrived. TSA greets all 8 of us going to Denver with a bright and chipper, "Good Morning folks, we'll start checking everyone through here in a few minutes." as opposed to, "line forms to the right, have your boarding pass and photo ID ready. :(".
Well I am back home now and have time to finish this up. It is amazing how my opinion has changed about Kansas. The people there are solid, respectable folks and I have no doubt that if the lights went out tomorrow and all of the technology that we have came to depend upon fails these are the people that have the ability to survive. These are the folks that are truly the backbone of America and I am glad to have been able to spend some time with them.