Hello! Today begins the very first weekly post of our fall vacation out west. But before I start, let me just say that I know that I have a variety of readers that follow my blog. Some readers are only interested in my paper crafting or other creative arts, and some are only interested in reading my fashion posts, and that's fine. I realize that everyone has different interests, so I understand if not everyone cares to hear about my vacations. I do travel posts for several reasons: Number One, it is an on-line personal diary for me and my nuclear family to keep pictures and stories of our adventures, and also so my extended family and friends can see what we've been up to. And secondly, I subscribe to several travel blogs myself, and I love to read and see where other people travel and what they do on their travels, so I hope that by sharing my experiences, I'll only encourage others to go out and explore this big, beautiful world too! So I promise I will keep my blog focused on creative arts and fashion, but once a week I will do a travel post, and if your not interested, just scroll on down and read something else that may appeal to you. I completely understand.
Now onto Day One and Two of our Fall Vacation 2014. It all started about a year ago when I received a phone call from my very excited, happy daughter that started with "So, do you want to go to New Mexico?" I replied "Sure!" without even asking why because I'm always interested in visiting a new place…. who needs a reason? Ashley then proceeded to tell me that she landed an understudy role for an opera in Albuquerque and that she would need to be in the city for over a month. At first I planned to jump on a plane and visit her myself. But my loving, protective husband wasn't happy about me flying across the country by myself (even though his daughter does it all the time) and said, "You know, New Mexico is actually about 100 miles closer than New Hampshire (where we drove to two years earlier) would you want me to go with you and we'll drive there?" and from there we started planning our trip.
With the help of Map Quest we discovered that our drive would take about 19 hours and 25 minutes and even though we've driven non-stop to Florida before, we decided to take it easy and enjoy the ride and break the trip up into two days. We would drive through five states to get there: Wisconsin, Minnesota, Missouri, Kansas, and Oklahoma. We got up before dawn and left at 5:30 a.m. The worst part of our drive was in our own backyard, for it was very dark and foggy until the sun came up and we couldn't see a thing. If we weren't very familiar with the roads in our area already, I don't think we would have made it out of Minnesota. We witnessed one accident already because of the fog, and I was beginning to think, maybe this road trip wasn't such a great idea. But eventually the sun came up and the fog cleared, and the rest of our travels were uneventful.
Until we got to Missouri. Missouri is such an interesting state. There are aspects about it that I like: such as the beautiful city of St. Louis, but then, there are other things, like, weird people that talk funny. We stopped in Cameron, Missouri to have lunch at a diner called Nelles. Now the outside of this diner looked horrendous, it looked like the place was falling apart and about to fall in on itself: but having an adventurous spirit, I decided to step inside and check it out. I was very pleasantly surprised when I walked in. It was actually a cute little diner filled with people (that's always a sign that a restaurant is good when it's filled with customers) and it was decorated in a cute vintage style with a black and white checkerboard floor and red Coke a Cola accents. I then proceeded to check out the salad bar, but had to walk past a room filled with locals who stared at me as if I was an alien from outer space. I could almost hear their thoughts as I walked past them "She's a Northerner! She ain't from around here.". Although the salad bar did not look appealing for it did not have much to offer, I decided to stay and order from the menu for I felt my culinary hero Anthony Bourdain would find this a worthy establishment to eat at for he always avoids snooty restaurants and looks for the tucked away diners that all the locals visit.
My husband, who was filling the car with gas while I was checking the place out, came in by now and said 'Heh! This place isn't that bad!', so we found a booth and sat down. Nelles has a very traditional southern, home-cooking menu so we decided to both order the roast beef platter (my father's favorite meal). My husband loved it and said it was absolutely perfect and was just what would be expected for this meal. I ate it, THE WHOLE THING, but I must admit I wasn't as crazy about it as my husband. I don't eat foods like this on a normal basis, so I don't know if I wasn't use to it, or what. It seemed to lack some seasoning, and I wasn't sure about all the thick, brown gravy. I would have preferred more of an au jus beef broth, and more flavor. The potatoes were delicious however, and the meat was very tender. We did have a few chuckles over the other diners in the cafe: we heard a man loudly belch not once, but twice, and we burst out laughing and said 'yep, were in Missouri now!'. And then we had the displeasure of listening to a man talk too loud and rudely to someone in his out-dated flip cell phone (but heh, at least they still had cell phone service here!). But our waitress (who looked like the character 'Flo' from the old 'Alice' television show) and hostess were very friendly so they compensated for the strange diners in our company.THIS POST, with four layers on my top: a tank, a white sweater, a black puffer vest, and a scarf. By the time this picture was taken, it was warm enough already so that I only had two layers on: the tank and sweater. My white sweater was part of my latest Stitch Fix which I haven't posted on yet, but it's coming soon!
The next morning, we didn't get up quite so early for we didn't want to drive in the dark in an area we were unfamiliar with. But we still got to our first stop so early that the attractions weren't even open yet, so we just walked around and stretched our legs and took pictures of the historic buildings and statues of Dodge City. Dodge City is named after nearby Fort Dodge and is famous for it's history of a wild frontier town of the Old West.
Even though a lot of people might have found this part of our journey boring, I found it strangely beautiful. Because there is nothing to block your view, the sky was so beautiful. And the color of the grass, or whatever it was, was so different than anything I've ever seen before. I really enjoyed the serenity and mystery of this foreign land. The only regret I have is that we did not realize that there would not be any place to stop and eat before we hit New Mexico and I thought I would go crazy if we didn't find any food soon. We kept seeing these signs that said 'Table, One Mile Ahead', and then shortly thereafter would be a table, sitting on the side of the road, with a little overhang and a garbage can. We couldn't figure out for the life of us why they had all these tables alongside the road. But eventually we put two and two together and realized that this was the Kansas version of a Rest Stop. No bathroom, no vending machines, just a table. In other words, bring your own lunch if you drive this highway!
We eventually made it out of Kansas and squealed with delight when we saw our first 'Welcome to Oklahoma' sign. Of course we stopped and took a picture. We drove through the pan handle of this state, and it was not pretty. The roads were not as nice as the Kansas roads were, and there seemed to be a lot of poverty. Another thing I'm not use to coming from a wealthier northern state. It was quite eye-opening for us to see how a lot of other Americans live.
Have a great day! Amy