Dining With Denise Neil

Simon the Adventure Cat swims, hikes, parties across Kansas and Wichita in tourism film

Simon the Adventure Cat visits Kansas

Internet star Simon the Adventure Cat — who swims, hikes and kayaks — and his person, JJ Yosh, were in Kansas and in Wichita to make a tourism film promoting the state.
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Internet star Simon the Adventure Cat — who swims, hikes and kayaks — and his person, JJ Yosh, were in Kansas and in Wichita to make a tourism film promoting the state.

He swam in Wilson Lake. He sailed at Cheney Reservoir.

He rode the Q-Line in Wichita, and while here, he also played Jenga in a downtown coffee shop and checked out the Wichita Riverfest.

He did not, however, jump out of a plane over a Kansas field with his person, JJ Yosh. His fans on YouTube get incredibly testy if it appears that he could be subjected to any potential cat-astrophes.

He is Simon the Adventure Cat, a feline internet celebrity who recently traveled to Kansas to star in a short but romantically cinematic video, commissioned by TravelKS, to promote the state.

The two-minute, 50-second video, which was filmed in May and released a few weeks ago, aims to show that Kansas is not a flyover state but one where cats, dogs and humans alike can find exciting adventures.

Yosh, who is a Colorado-based travel host and “social media influencer” known for his work on Discovery TLC, has been making travel videos for years and built up a solid social media presence.

Two years ago, a neighbor asked him to adopt a tiny, black, homeless kitten, and at first, Yosh said, he was reluctant. He agreed but immediately regretted it.

“He was only a couple of weeks old, and the first couple of days, he was awful. He would not stop meowing,” Yosh said. “Then he transformed a couple of days later, and he’s been the most affectionate cat. He’s like a human. He’s very nurturing and very nice.”

He’s also very brave, Yosh said, and willing to do things other cats aren’t — like swim and camp and kayak and travel by plane without complaint. Yosh started taking Simon on more of his adventures, and his audience noticed. Soon, Simon was developing his own devoted fan base.

“Once people started seeing him in my posts, they kind of went crazy with it,” Yosh said. “It took on a life of its own, and now Simon is way, way, way more famous than I am. He’s just the star of the show.”

When Yosh received an offer to film a travel video promoting Kansas, he consulted with Simon and both decided they were in. Despite growing up in California and settling in Boulder, Yosh had spent time in Kansas. Much of his family lives on the Kansas side of Kansas City.

Yosh packed up for a road trip with Simon and their friend, Lauren Monitz, and hit the highway. TravelKS had given them an ambitious agenda, and they had from May 28 to June 2 to get it all in.

They started at Wilson State Park, where Yosh captured footage of Simon wearing a yellow life jacket and swimming alongside him in the lake. Simon dog, er, cat paddled alongside Yosh, and both were smiling.

Next, they went to Kanopolis State Park, where Simon took his regular perch atop Yosh’s shoulders for a hike along the scenic trails. Then, they were off to Indian Creek Bison Ranch in Haven, where Simon wasn’t quite sure what to make of the giant brown creatures in the field.

After that, they drove through Hutchinson to take in “some of the world’s most beautiful sunsets,” then boarded a sailboat at Cheney Reservoir. In the video, Yosh notes that he’s surprised by the number of sailboats in Kansas. Simon, back in his yellow life jacket, poses for a selfie with Yosh on the boat’s deck.

On their way to Wichita, the crew stopped in Benton, and Yosh took a ride on a World War II Stearman biplane. Simon watched from a safe distance below.

In Wichita, Simon perched on Yosh’s backpack to board the Q-Line, and they traveled all over downtown, lunching at Public at the Brickyard (where an admirer at a nearby table sketched Simon’s picture) and stopping for iced coffee at Sente Coffee Shop & Board Games. Simon, sadly, lost a game of Jenga when he nosed and then toppled all the blocks. They also took in the sites at the Wichita Riverfest, watching jet skiers and getting to know the horses of the Wichita Police Department mounted unit.

On their final day in town, Yosh and Monitz went skydiving out of a plane — another activity deemed too adventurous even for the most adventurous adventure cat.

“I realized something in those fields that day,” Yosh says at the end of the film. “That Kansas is way more than a flyover state. There really is no place like Kansas.”

To follow along with Simon and his person’s adventure, you can follow Simon in Instagram (backpackingkitty) or Yosh on YouTube.

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