After barreling down interstate 35 for six hours, much of the time in the dark and rain, we made it to Wichita at about midnight. Did I really live there? It seems another life, another person, another time. And it was 1987. Wichita had some surprises then and it has them now, little pockets of coolness that a come as a pleasant surprise. The Delano district, a five-or-so block stretch of west Douglas, west of the Arkansas river (that’s pronounced aR-Kansas river I quickly learned when I moved to Kansas from connecticut, and don’t you forget it) wasn’t mUch during the late 80s, sort of a poor man’s downtown with nuts and bolts shops, the carpet shop, the auto body shop. There were always a few interesting places that are still there like Hat man jack’s, a great hat store (where I bought a floppy hat for our Peru trip) and the original Nuway, a loose meat sandwich shop. Now there are lots of restaurants,belittle boutiques, bakeries, tattoo parlours. Among our favorites:
Sugar sisters bakery, bike man, Sweet cheeks (for hip-organic chic mommies and babies),la galette cafe and crepes, TJ’s Burger House….you get the idea.
We also stopped briefly at the old town farmers market downtown where a bluegrass string band planned near the cold ales Keen Kutter building, now a hotel. We picked up some succulent plants for a song, at a stand run by a nice transsexual woman,drank some good cherry lime made, entered a raffle for a quilt run by deaf Kansas. On the way back we hope to try a Vietnamese-Cajun restaurant we just read about in the nytimestravel section. Surprise!