Recently I have invested a lot of money in winter mountaineering equipment. I’ve bought a 4-season tent, crampons, and an ice ax. I had just ordered my tent a few days ago when I found out I’ve been offered a job in southeast Kansas. What better place to make use of my new equipment. Not really. However, the offer is too good to pass up – so Kansas here I come.
In the past few days I’ve already started doing some research about how I can possibly entertain myself this winter in the Midwest. At first glance, a small town in Kansas may seem like a downgrade from even Lubbock (which borders New Mexico and is fairly close to Colorado). But, I beg to differ. I’ve found that your surroundings are what you make of them. Now this post is not being written just to make me feel better, but my point is that a new area is a NEW area, no matter where you end up.
So for those of you who are looking for ways to make the best of your time in a new, flat place – here are a few tips.
Fly-fishing is not just for the mountains. I can speak from experience on this one. While I do agree that there is nothing like trout fishing a stream in the mountains, there are other options too. During my research, I realized that the Midwest actually has rivers, lakes and streams. Bass, crappy or blue-gill fishing can be a very exciting notion. It’s a very different type of fishing that requires patience and accuracy. The town I am moving too (Iola, Kansas, if you’re wondering) has 3 rivers within 5 miles of the town square. I’m sure they are all wrought with all of the fish I could ever want to catch.
I know what you’re thinking – the Midwest actually has a winter. It can be a pretty damn cold one too. I may not be hitting the rivers anytime in December, but there are winter options as well. I’ve been looking at getting into skiing lately, so I decided to look into the often-forgotten sport of cross-country skiing. I was surprised to find that there are numerous flatland skiing clubs throughout the middle of the country. The wooded meadows and rolling hills of Kansas and Nebraska are prime territory for cruising on a pair of skinny skis. One the best aspects is that cross-country skiing is substantially cheaper than anything in an alpine environment – no lines, lift tickets or $10 slices of pizza. I’ll definitely look into making the most out of the sometimes bitterly cold Kansan winters.
Lastly, like I said before, a new area is a NEW area no matter where you are going. I immediately thought I would be moving further and further away from my outdoor hobbies and enthusiasms. Something I forget to mention is that I’m moving 11 hours closer to states I have never been to before. Now the Ozarks of Missouri and Arkansas are a mere 4 hours away. The badlands of South Dakota and its Black Hills are about 8 hours away. Being put into a new environment will open up a whole new region of the country for me.
All of this being said, I’ll miss the southwest. The eclectic flair of New Mexico, coupled with the colorful hues of the sun rays hitting the mountains will not be forgotten in my mind. I’m sure I’ll have plenty of chances to see this place again, but for now my ice ax and crampons will have to wait. Until then I’ll be fishing for bass in the flatlands and possibly trying out a new way to ski. But, as the flatlanders of Lubbock know firsthand – at least I can look forward to the sunsets.