He was escorted to the county line by a sheriff’s deputy, clambered across creaky old railroad bridges that couldn’t pass an OSHA inspection, and dined with two women who channeled the spirits of Amelia Earhart and Calamity Jane.
Along the way, he spent a night at a rural motel version of the Hot L Baltimore, learned how to use his walking stick to scare off coyotes, visited the home of William Allen White, and learned a little more about his own personal journey that has turned him from a dyed-in-the-wool denizen of the East Coast into a most unlikely Kansan.
It wasn’t exactly akin to the scaling the Matterhorn, but for noted pedestrian Henry Fortunato, the Library’s director of public affairs, his Long and Winding Walk to Wichita last October was quite the amazing – and often amusing – adventure nonetheless. Gear up for National Trails Day (Saturday, June 1) when Fortunato presents an illustrated talk about his 240-mile trek that began at his front door in Overland Park.
Fortunato has been named the 2013-14 Simons Public Humanities Fellow at the Hall Center for the Humanities at the University of Kansas primarily to do research for a forthcoming book about his Kansas walks.