S'long Kansas (Day Thirty Eight)
I met Kim Winn (then Kim Gulley) in 1986 when she was a freshman at Yale University. She was my sister Eileen’s roommate there. I was a “snot-nosed” sophomore attending St. Anthony’s High School on Long Island at the time. I remember I used to make fun of her for being from Kansas – you know, the cow tipping and other clichéd’ small town wise cracks that really aren’t all that funny. Twenty five years later, I find myself looking back on the eight days we spent in Kansas and, wow, am I lucky that Kim Winn put up with me! Kim has since graduated Yale and attended law school at the University of Kansas. She currently works at the League of Kansas Municipalities and when she heard Team Jesse was coming to town, she alerted city officials in the seven cities we planned to visit and as a result, we had the opportunity to get to the know the people and the state of Kansas this past week. We are extremely grateful for the efforts of city officials and the generosity of the people from Garden City, Dodge City, Larned, Hutchinson, Eureka, Iola, and Ottawa. Over the course of our stay in Kansas, we received 4 proclamations and 2 keys to cities. We were greeted and escorted as we rolled into towns by policeman, firemen and Patriot Guard. We visited beautiful memorials and were treated to dinners. Matt and I were sworn in as Deputy Marshals in Dodge City. At our final stop in Ottawa, we had the opportunity to visit the resting place of Lance Corporal Christopher Wasser. Again, I would like to thank the Wasser family for allowing me to do that.
While the mountains of Utah challenged us to our physical capacities and made us stronger, Kansas offered us a chance to connect with more people and further our mission. It has made us stronger as we head east for the second half of The Ride. I know for sure I will never make another Kansas joke, nor will I give Kim a hard time if there is a next time the Jayhawks “fail to reach their full potential” in the NCAA basketball tournament! I went 40 years on this earth without visiting Kansas. I am glad I finally did. I am better for it and more importantly, The Team is better as a result of our visit. If they will have me, I will be back!
One little Mincio rant: If I do come back, I will NOT stay at the same hotel we stayed at in Dodge City. I am withholding the name out of respect for the great people in that city, but the place was not nice to us. To boot, they charged me $114 extra because they claim I stole their comforter. The gall of them! Do they think I rode off with it on my bike? Do they know I am a Deputy Marshal in that town? I hope someone from that hotel is reading this, because I publically deny stealing your comforter. I honestly believe the people loitering around in the parking lot out back are your problem. They may have taken it while I was making coffee in the bathroom. That’s right – IN THE BATHROOM. Who puts a coffee pot in the latrine anyway?!
So now we are in Missouri and we spent our first day resting in a cool (not referring to the temperature) town called Clinton. Matt and I put the laptops and phones away for an afternoon and went to a reservoir to swim. The place was in a town called Tightwad, population 63 (not kidding). They even have a bank called Tightwad Bank (also not kidding). Matt and I found ourselves wondering if this was a joke, but I guess it is not. So the day ended with a great meal at a small Italian restaurant named Anthony's. The executive Chef, Anthony Velazquez was from the South Bronx and we spent much of the meal talking to him about his journey from NY to Missouri that is quiet extra ordinary. I salute you Anthony. Thanks for a great meal and all you do to encourage kids to make the right decisions in their lives.
Finally, on the way home, we passed a statue marked “Standing Tall” which commemorated men of Clinton’s past that protected her. “Standing Tall” is something we have spoken about on our journey, sometimes in a joking manner, but ultimately, it means being in order and ready to go when it's time to move out. Our bike pump (aka Joe Blow) also must “stand tall” on this trip, so we invited him to the picture.
To the limit and lawfully,
Deputy Marshal Mincio, Dodge City, Kansas