A 'conducted' tour of the Heartland States!

Everyone who knows me will tell you - I can’t hold a tune and I’ll never make the heats, never mind the finals, of Strictly Come Dancing! So, I was more than a bit surprised when a colleague approached me at a recent travel show (Holiday World in Dublin, as it happens) to ask (tongue in cheek, I’m sure) if I was training as an orchestral conductor. I’d been observed on a number of occasions ‘waving my arms about’ while talking with visitors to our Kansas / Oklahoma booth. After a minute or so, the penny dropped.

I genuinely do get quite passionate about the two states when I’m speaking with folks about the myriad attractions of Kansas and kaleidoscope of sights in Oklahoma ... and often I’m describing one of the many scenic byways, or historic trails, or old trade routes, or even the Mother Road herself - Route 66 - as she cuts a stylish path through the Sooner State. And that’s one of the big truths about Kansas and Oklahoma - so much of American history passed through, south to north and east to west.

The railroad was pushed out from the east - to Abilene and Dodge City in Kansas - to meet the cattle being driven north up the seemingly endless Chisholm Trail - from Texas clear through Oklahoma. Aspiring settlers turned their covered wagons along the Oregon Trail, cutting a swathe through Kansas, and eager traders carved out the Santa Fe Trail, moving their functional goods west - down into New Mexico - to exchange for entirely more bright and colourful treasures. And of course, the tireless riders of the fledgling Pony Express carried the mails from staging post to staging post, all the way from Kansas City to California. As America grew exponentially, Route 66 blazed its own trail - as the first of the nation’s modern highways.

It’s such an exciting and inspirational tale to tell, and it’s hard to do without a modicum of directional arm-waving … so if I’m fortunate enough to encounter you at one of our many travel shows, I promise I’m not trying to conduct the Symphony In The Flint Hills (Kansas) or lead a band during Rocklahoma (Oklahoma); I’m just giving you a ‘conducted’ tour of my favourite states!

Matt Bates
Kansas / Oklahoma Travel & Tourism


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