Lead Lemming. It’s the name I dubbed Rick after being drafted into the state art project. I’m a designer by trade and professor by paycheck. I’ve had the distinct honor(?) of knowing Rick first professionally then personally for over twenty years, and to this day, his escapades have continued to amaze.
I think that without a brief history of my 22 year acquaintance with Mr. Vanderpool, my reasons for being involved with this project would remain fuzzy. In fact, every RV encounter has been serendipitous at best. Without exception, after lengthy periods of silence, he has emerged in my life with some new quixotic project that entails an odyssey of epic proportions.
The first such excursion was a cross-country photo-journalistic tour of every Columbus town, or at one time had a post office for the quincentennial. While remarkable in just miles traveled, the last 2,500 of those were with my 65 year old mother, Lola. She was hypnotized by the Vanderpool mystique, therefore immune to the nights spent sleeping in the passenger seat of the panel van and fine dining and bathing at the Flying J’s of the northwest. I guess every Quixote must have their Sancho.
With that excursion under her belt, it was only a matter of time, before Rick came calling for Lola to ride shot-gun once again. This time it was to photograph the lighthouses along the eastern seaboard. Needless to say, mom had her bag packed before Rick every hung up the phone and with me waving bye in the exhaust of the van, they set off from Kansas City on a three week tour.
All these excursions did was fuel mom’s desire for travel, and especially with an interested companion. That’s where the state art project comes in. Rick wryly inserted the “bonding” I could achieve with my teenage daughter; how three generations could come together and really get into this trip. Well the Pied Piper had spoken, and I followed, just as sure as I had been hypnotized. The journey was kicked off by Rick himself, showing up at my doorstep to help me photograph Kansas. You see, I’m not really a “professional photographer”, however, as Rick so cleverly inserted, I had an eye. Yeah, an eye, an, ear, and a gullibility that could only be matched by the incredulity that appeared on my daughter’s face when I suggested she accompany us. With the first foray under my belt, I needed only to suggest to Lola that we embark on a quest to finish out the far western portion of Kansas. She had her bag packed. I suspect she secretly keeps it packed in the event that Rick may show up at her door, and was on my doorstep at 3:00am the next morning.
Looking for Kansas has turned out to be a great way to “stop and smell the roses”. With my trusty side-kick, Lola, taking notes, we have enjoyed the journey, even more than the results. Interestingly, Kansas county seats, are rarely more than 30-40 miles apart and not always along a major highway. Seems we are looking for not only Kansas, but also anything else that strikes us as interesting. The philosophy, that we may never pass this way again, spurs us to explore historic markers, phenomenal junk yards, and bizarre yard art. “Kansas, land of ah-h-h-s…”