Journey to the Center of The United States

Pop Quiz: Where is the geographical center of the continental United States?

 

Answer: Aren’t you glad we stopped there on our way back from Colorado! You’d be lost without us, probably literally.

LEBANON, KANSAS
Right smack dab in the middle of the United States (the middle of nowhere to be exact)

The conversation (while on vacation) went something like this:

Me: Du, on our way home let’s take a detour and visit the center of the United States! It’s a place called Lebanon and it’s about two hours north of I-70 right at the border of Nebraska. Wouldn’t that be cool!?!

Du: Yeah, sounds good.

Now, if you’re paying attention you realize that Du’s answer is a little too short for the information I just gave him. Where’s the inquisition on the words “detour”, “two hours” and “Nebraska”? Where’s the mind math that tells him 2 hours+2 hours =at least 5 more hours on the road?

The conversation (while in the truck on the way home) went something like this:

Me: Ok, Jeeves (our navigational system) says we need to go this way, but I want to go this way because it’s labeled as a scenic route (remind me to talk to you, gentle readers, about this later) on the map here.

Du: (glancing at map and at time difference he finally notices on Jeeves) WHAT! Vicki! That’s, like, all the way up by Nebraska! Do you realize how far off the route that is?!?!  

Me: We had a deal. When are we ever going to be thisclose to the center of America again? How many people can say they’ve done this? (Which is my criteria for just about anything I do.) If we head home and don’t go to the center of America we’re going to regret it later in life. Don’t you want to be in the center of it all?!?!

Du: Like the time we were in New England and didn’t drive the 10 miles East to say we’d been in Maine…

Me: Exactly. Now we’ve never been to Maine and we were 10 miles away.

Du: Wow honey, I totally see your point! How could I have ever doubted you? You are the smartest, most clever wife and I will never question your judgments again!

 

Back to reality. He obviously agreed though.

 

We entered the town of Lebanon at about 2:30 p.m. A little late for most people’s lunch, but we were determined to have lunch in the middle of America. This town is so small though that there aren’t any fast food restaurants. There aren’t even any slow food restaurants. Or so we thought. We saw that the post office was open so I ran in to ask directions to the exact center of the US and to ask where in the world center of the US could we eat? She told me the grocery store across the street usually serves lunch, at lunchtime. But she was certain if we went over there Ladow would make us sandwiches. Not wanting to impose, but our stomachs were speaking for us by this time, we head across the street.


This is Ladow’s. It’s a grocery store, and a lunchtime restaurant all in that tiny building.

We had the best ham salad sandwiches ever–because I’ve never had ham salad before…never knew that was an option. It was like chopped up balogna mixed with the stuff you make tuna salad with. Yummy fruit salad for dessert. It was nice to not have to eat fast food again, and it was so cheap. God bless small-town USA!

 

After lunch we head the “one mile north and one mile west” of Lebanon. There stood the monument, erected in 1940, marking the center. Of course, having been marked in 1940 the latest and greatest of geospacial land marking equipment hadn’t been invented, plus a farmer actually owns the spot of land that is the center…so it’s as close as possible (gotta love the ability to own land in America! Seriously).

There used to be a small chapel on site as well. Town gossip elaborates that a local, about two weeks ago, was driving too fast and didn’t stop in time. Therefore, no more chapel. Two weeks too late. Oh well.

    Before

  After

AND coolness of all coolness I found the geocache! We didn’t have the coordinates but I knew there had to be one around there. After a couple minutes of searching I found it. And no, there will be no picture of the find or the cache. You don’t think I’m going to give it away for you for your visit the center of the US do you? ‘Cause I know you’re going to make a trip there now that you know about it aren’t you. You want to be in the center of it all, don’t you?

Bonus Round: In 2006 (in Virginia), Vicki helped out with her church’s VBS and the theme was a travel across America theme. Guess which city she was assigned.

 OH, P.S., when the map says “scenic route” and the map is of the state of Kansas do not believe the map. It will look exactly the same as if you were to drive the faster way.

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5 thoughts on “Journey to the Center of The United States

  1. Du says:

    Great post. It was almost totally true…
    – Vicki forgot to say that the drive from Colorado is 10.5 hrs before going 5 hours out of the way. Let’s see, that makes that a 15.5. hour day with a 1 year old who doesn’t sleep on trips, she screams. Oh, boy. “Wow honey, I totally see your point! How could I have ever doubted you? You are the smartest, most clever wife and I will never question your judgments again!” That’s exactly what I said.
    – There was also the cool motorcyclist who took our picture at the monument. He and I ended up talking politics, religion, parenting (Dr. Dobson), Iraq, airplanes, weather, and camping for half an hour.
    – The girls found 3 toads to chase around the grass. Reagan got a mosquito bite on her forehead – itchy!
    – I was also told that the restaurant is packed during the normal lunch hour. It is the only restaurant and it was good so of course it is 🙂
    – We also stopped at a fried chicken restaurant for dinner in Abilene, KS. I hope Vicki blogs about that tomorrow… She is such a good story teller but I’m sure I’ll have to correct a few “discrepancies” on that story as well 🙂

  2. So I’m sitting here (you know where–sigh–oh, and with a Land Shark, too!) reading this and going, “Lebanon…Lebanon…where do I know this from?”

    And then you mentioned VBS and I was all, “RAMBLIN’ ROAD TRIP!” YES! Thank God…this would’ve driven me crazy all day long.

    Now I can say, “My friend Vicki…well, she has been to the center of the US and she took pictures. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.” ‘Cause you know I do say these kinds of things.

  3. Virginia says:

    Thank you for the comment about what happened to the chapel that was at the center. I have been to the center 3 times now – the most recent visit was on 6/22/08, and I was totally bummed to see the patch of bare ground that used to be home to the most adorable chapel.

    I live in the State of Washington so getting to the center is no small trip. Our first visit was about 4 years ago when we arrived there after completing a life long goal to visit all 50 states. The center was the official end to my collection. We stopped again two years ago just to show it to our 10 year old granddaughter.

    Last month we rode to the center on our motorcycles. The geographical center in Lebanon marks the start of a “state collection on motorcyle”. This collection will end with a stop in Rugby, ND which is the Center of North America! Another Must Do in life!

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