Last week I shared a glimpse into our Kansas City trip, and I left out some valuable experiences. It’s pretty common that I enjoy the trip to somewhere just as much as I enjoy being there. The road to Nashville is where I found that lovely general store and many other of our fondest memories. This trip to Kansas City was no exception.
We left from Thanksgiving in Texas to make the trip north. I’d never been through Oklahoma or Kansas, so I was looking forward to taking in the scenery. I also had a goal of actually stopping and experiencing something in Oklahoma so that I could mark it on our map. Mission accomplished! I’m actually quite impressed that we get to mark off three new states after just one short weekend trip.
We made the trip via the Indian Nation Turnpike and I loved the scenery! I felt like this route gave us a true vision of the Oklahoma landscape, and I loved seeing the hills/mountains and the trees boasting the beautiful fall colors. As I gazed out into the horizon, I could easily imagine the Native Americans roaming about and buffalo traipsing the landscape. I felt like I was getting a tiny glimpse into American history. As we drove down the turnpike we came upon a sign that said “next exit 25 miles.” We quickly swerved for the exit that we were about to pass for a bathroom break. The Daisy Store in Daisy, Oklahoma was the one and only option at this exit, and it was just as you’d imagine any small town store to be. Locals were gathered around tables as they waited for the chicken tenders to finish frying, just behind the check out counter. There was one bathroom which resembled a tiny little closet in the back that Matthew and I had to share. There was only one water option in the cooler, which was quite different from the array of choices we usually see when we stop. They also had four padlocks on the door to lock the place up. The thing that stood out most to me was the gas wall heater that hung on the wall just outside the bathroom. This heater, and maybe others like it, appeared to be the only source of heat for the quaint little store. While I found it rather cozy, I also couldn’t help but imagine the liability at hand and chuckle because you’d never see something of the sort at a large truck stop these days. You’d think this ten minute experience from our trip wouldn’t make it to the blog, yet I look back on the Daisy Store with a smile. Further up the road, we began looking for a spot for lunch. We try to only eat local restaurants when we travel, so I began searching for options a bit early. This stretch though, was rather rural so I was having trouble finding a winner that wasn’t too far from our path. I did get a kick out of some of the reviews though. “A budget steak dinner” and “the last restaurant with a smoking section” just weren’t things that appealed to me. Finally, we came up on a diner and darted in for a quick bite. There were so many things about Angel’s Diner that I just loved. First, my Daddy’s favorite song by Don Williams was playing as we entered. This song always makes me smile with contentment and I knew right away that we’d come to the right place. The surroundings were decorated in 50s fashion just as you’d expect. The difference here, however, is that the place was immaculately clean and the entire staff was extremely friendly. Our server in particular, was outgoing and welcoming and enabled us to really enjoy our experience there. Matthew had the steak finger special and I had a burger. (They gave me extra pickles, so they’re a winner in my book.) The food was really tasty and although we didn’t have any pie, there was quite a selection of options made there at the restaurant. I loved the vibe of this place, the funny names on the menu, and the old country music that was playing. It really felt like a blast from the past, and it’s certainly a place I’d go back to. I haven’t mentioned yet that it’s been raining the entire trip so far and it’s also freezing cold. Therefore, all of these little pit stops require me to bundle up and try my best to stay dry as we come and go. Most of the time I wasn’t too successful in that feat, and I think heated car seats are the reason I didn’t end up with pneumonia. I think the dreariness of the day is important to mention, though, because we could have easily given up and driven through drive throughs to avoid the nasty weather. However, we’d have missed out on several awesome experiences that way. I think pointing out how gross the weather was is important because it’s a lesson to seize opportunities when you have them and to make the most of every situation, even freezing, rainy days in Oklahoma.
As we continued our trip, we made it to Iola, Kansas, a growing town that Matthew had actually written a report on once. This is where we first began seeing ice in the trees and on the ground, a site that we’d see for the rest of our time there. We stopped for gas and I got a cup of butterfinger coffee, which will go down in history as the first time I’ve ever gotten gas station coffee that I enjoyed. We also saw a sign for the “world’s largest town square” so we made a quick detour to see that. Whether it’s actually the world’s largest or not, I don’t know. However, I loved getting to drive around it and wouldn’t mind stopping to explore it more later.After Iola, we finished the trek to Kansas City and you can read more about that in last week’s post. The trek home wasn’t quite as packed with experiences as the ride up, and that could be because it was STILL raining and we were rather exhausted. We did stop at one gas station that had the largest selection of liquor/alcohol that I’ve ever seen under one roof. (Mind blowing.) We also attempted lunch at a place that seemed to be promising by its online profile. When we arrived, however, we were sorely disappointed and kept going. Their logo was a buzzard if that give you some perspective. Instead, we continued on and made a small detour to have Instant Karma Gourmet Hot Dogs. This place was much more “our style” and had a ton of interesting hotdogs to choose from. I loved that each table had a different set of fun S&P shakers on them. We ate and rested for a bit and then headed back out to finish our rainy drive home.
As usual, I look back on the trek to and from our destination as having some of the best experiences of the trip. It’s often these side excursions as we travel that I enjoy the most. I think that mindset can be applied to life in general, too. It’s often more about the journey than the destination, and in my opinion we can miss out of some of the most rewarding experiences by focusing too heavily on the destination.
“The good life is a process, not a state of being. It’s a direction, not a destination.” – Carl Rogers