Those of you who don’t know, I belong to a very dorky elite group of mysterious bloggers called The Internet Axe Murderers, IAM for short. It’s a tongue-in-cheek title, we don’t actually murder people. As far as you know. You see, I started blogging over 10 years ago on Yahoo 360. Way before blogging was mainstream. And I made friends. Alan, Cam, Linda, Lisa, Paula… were my first friends. Then, we made the migration to Multiply. It was a great site, and we picked up the likes of She, JadedTales, Harmy, The Dude, G, Seamus, Jeanette… the list goes on. Here’s the thing tho… we were a community, but we lived everywhere from Arizona, Japan and California to New York, Canada and South Carolina. People thought we were nuts. “You don’t even KNOW these people… how can they be your friends?” Well, we *did* know each other. We bared our souls, helped each other through tough times and celebrated the good times. We became a family. Even though we’d never met. Yet.

The first IAM I met was when I was in Albuquerque, NM for one of Shasta’s choir trips. Tammy. She met us and we hugged and laughed and hung out for an afternoon, it was a blast! Slowly, we all started meeting each other in real life. Puerto Rico for a wedding, New York for a visit, Japan for the Adventures of Cam and Max. There are many on my list that I haven’t met yet, they’ve met each other… or stuff like…  Spencer was stranded in South Carolina overnight so Mama Bear called Sheila who lives nearby and she kept him overnight. No. I’ve never met her. Yes. She went and got my boy from the airport.

It’s awesome. Plus, if you’re ever in Mexico, you have a place to crash. So that’s handy.

So… all of that back story to say that sometime in January, Linda called and said, “Hey, I’m coming to see you!” Yaaaasssssss!!!  After planning and organizing, Linda and Her Man left freaking New York and drove All. The. Way. to Stefnee Kansas to see me.

We had a blast. It was hilarious watching her FaceBook announcements. Her Big City Friends were all like “Why are you going to KANSAS?!” “Because Stef, that’s why.” “Yeah… but Kansas?”…..  so, I showed her My Kansas. The beauty here is something I’m so proud of. The gentle rolling hills of the Smokey Hill area (the beginning of the Black Hills) and the breathtaking views in the Flint Hills. It’s a different kind of beauty than the beach or the mountains or the redwood forests in California, it’s a subtle beauty. More of a State-Next-Door kind of thing… you get used to Kansas, you see her every day, heading to work, going to dinner with her friends, she’s nice, but she’s Kansas… then one day, you *see* her… she’s not doing anything out of the ordinary, and suddenly you realize, she’s beautiful… and you’re in freaking love. Everyone talks about how flat and boring she is, she’s a fly over state, but you know better. She’s got curves, she has history, she has depth.. and you aren’t even attracted to the Silicon Valley anymore, all you want is Real. Raw. Beautiful. Kansas.

Yep. That’s where I live. And I love it.

On the list of Stuff to See was bison. There are several places where we can see them, I’ve hiked with them running around at the Tallgrass Prairie preserve, but… that can be risky. .. they kinda can kill you, and I didn’t want Linda to die, so we opted for a guided tour on a tram at the Maxwell Prairie Reservation. We loaded up into an open tram (When I told Brian of this plan he said “Wait. Like IN the herd? Is there a fence? Do you KNOW how big those things are?!” Yes, I do. And I get it, we weren’t worried about ourselves or my kids.. but if you’re on a tram with a bunch of people… it only takes one idiot to start a stampede. Seriously.) ….. we loaded up into an open tram and we rode out into the middle of the herd.

Suckers are huge.

Like bigger-than-a-van huge.

And, did you know? They can jump 6 feet into the air from a stand still position.

And they can run 35 MPH. Forever.

And they weigh a ton. Actually. Actual tons.

It was cool. After that, we took the Worst Highway In Kansas (just to show off) and headed to Topeka. We have actual cities here, did you know that? And electricity. And fancy stuff like running water. It’s not all just prairie and bison. Truth. We went to the Harley Davidson museum, had supper and chilled in Brian, Kansas for the rest of the evening.

Sunday, Brian had to work, so Linda, Tracy and I headed home. We gathered some stuffs and headed to Kanopolis Lake for some hiking in Horse Thief Canyon. Also known as the Gateway To Hell. Just in case you forgot about The Adventures of Suki. We tromped through the paths, catching frogs and trying to catch skinks. Suki was less than helpful in that department.. and along the way, I pointed out stuff growing, like sage and sand plums and, oh yeah, poison ivy. There’s that. I’m not allergic to it, so I’ll point it out, but then, I kinda forget about it.

After hiking for a crackamillion (shout out to Dana) miles, we ended up back at the parking lot. Linda and I had a sit down while Tracy decided he needed more hiking, so he left. We lounged about on the picnic tables chatting and laughing and then a huge birch tree dripped a blob of sap on her arm. She got up, milled around for a bit, then picked a leaf off a plant and rubbed it on her arm. Um…  I’m watching her…..  and she bent over and picked another one…. and rubbed it all. over. her. body.

Linda. Honey. Stop. Don’t touch anything.

I pulled up a photo on my phone just to confirm.. and yes. Linda had just picked poison ivy and rubbed it all over her hand and arm… then touched her ear.. and her neck… and .. holy moly…. I just let a City Girl kill herself with poison ivy.  I calmly informed her of her poor life choices.. and she started to cry. Ok, not really, but she did look a little panicked.

“Oh my gosh! What am I going to do?!”

Me “Come to the car… I know what to do.”

I popped open the trunk and gave Linda a blob of dog shampoo. (Gates to Hell, remember? I was prepared this time.) and then while she was lathering up her skin, I looked in my First Aid kit. See, Brian is a paramedic. This means, I will never want for things like …. those weird scissors.. and butterfly bandages.  ..  or ace bandages.. or any sort of bandages, really. And he bought me a first aid kit for my car. (It’s more like a First Aid Suitcase. But I’m prepared.) Guess what was in the First Aid Suitcase?!  POISON IVY WIPES!!! I didn’t even know that was a thing!!  So we broke out half of a dozen of those suckers and Linda had a towel bath at the back of my car.

And… she didn’t break out! Yay!! Country Bumpkin saved City Girl!! Woo!

Betcha Linda never forgets what poison ivy looks like.

Ever.

Then, a couple of days later, she went home. And I miss her. 10+ years of friendship and I finally got to see her beautiful face, hug her neck, snog on her and take her hiking. And no one died. Well, other than the Blue Jay chick that Chtib The Cat brought to us….  but that’s a story for another day.

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