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On the Road to Kansas

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. On the Road to Kansas. Read more at pamelapetrus.comOn the Road to Kansas. Read more at pamelapetrus.comOn the Road to Kansas. Read more at pamelapetrus.comAs 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.On the Road to Kansas. Read more at pamelapetrus.com On the Road to Kansas. Read more at pamelapetrus.comFurther 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.On the Road to Kansas. Read more at pamelapetrus.com On the Road to Kansas. Read more at pamelapetrus.comOn the Road to Kansas. Read more at pamelapetrus.comI 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.On the Road to Kansas. Read more at pamelapetrus.comOn the Road to Kansas. Read more at pamelapetrus.comAfter 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

Kansas City

Trip to Kansas City. Read more at pamelapetrus.com Trip to Kansas City. Read more at pamelapetrus.comOver Thanksgiving weekend, Matthew and I did a bit of traveling. First we headed out to Texas to spend Thanksgiving with his mom and family. Then, on Friday morning, we made the drive up to Kansas City. Many of our friends here don’t realize that Matthew actually graduated from high school at Blue Valley North in Kansas. This was his 10 year reunion so since Matthew hasn’t been back and I’ve never been, we decided to make the trip up together to explore.

Trip to Kansas City. Read more at pamelapetrus.comTrip to Kansas City. Read more at pamelapetrus.com To be honest, I really knew very little about Kansas or Kansas City before the trip. Matthew always has fond things to say of the city, yet I just imagined it as all farmland and plains. And tornadoes, of course. Before heading north, I didn’t even know that half of the city was in Kansas and the other half in Missouri. Silly me! There’s even a road, Stateline Road, where one side of the street is Kansas and the other Missouri. How fun…and confusing at the same time. I must say, despite my initial thoughts, Kansas City seems like a lovely town. We were only there for a short time so we didn’t get to explore near as much as we’d like. Guess we’ll have to go back!

Trip to Kansas City. Read more at pamelapetrus.com Sculptures at the art museum. Read more at pamelapetrus.comOne of my favorite experiences from the trip was a visit to the Nelson-Atkins museum. Matthew and I both love a good art museum, especially one with a good contemporary art section. I was blown away by just the size of this place! We spent a few hours there, exploring each section, without even quite finishing it before heading out for some lunch. One of my favorite parts of the museum was the 4 Seasons (check via pic) exhibit out front. I loved the mixed media used to create the sculptures and found the project fascinating. If you’re in the area, I’d highly recommend a visit. (You might even want to get there before the Thomas Hart Benton exhibit wraps up.)

Food from Joe's. Read more about our time in Kansas City at pamelapetrus.com.Trip to Kansas City. Read more at pamelapetrus.com Trip to Kansas City. Read more at pamelapetrus.com After the museum we headed over to the famous Joe’s Kansas City (formerly Oklahoma Joe’s). We waited in line for well over an hour, a line that wrapped around the entire inside of the restaurant and even extended outside in the freezing, drizzly weather. Nonetheless, we waited. My theory is, if so many people are willing to stand and wait, the food must be good! Besides, we could smell the goodness as soon as we pulled into the parking lot. I can say with 100% certainty that it did not disappoint and was well worth the wait. Honestly, this was probably the best bbq that I’ve ever had. Ever. I enjoyed the famous Z Man and Matthew had the special, which was the burnt ends. Those, by the way, are only offered a few days a week and take a full 24 hours to prepare.

Trip to Kansas City. Read more at pamelapetrus.com Trip to Kansas City. Read more at pamelapetrus.comWhile waiting in line at Joe’s we met some new friends from Texas! Because the line was so lengthy, we had plenty of time to chat and make introductions. We ended up joining them at their table because seating was limited and it was a lot of fun making some new friends! I never meet a stranger, you know. Matthew and I also felt a bit like his Pappaw and Grandmother that we traveled to Alaska with. They’re always coming back from their travels with stories of meeting someone new and usually they stay in touch with them from then on out. Before long, I imagine that we’ll have acquaintances scattered about the country!

Trip to Kansas City. Read more at pamelapetrus.comAnother highlight from our trip was a visit to the Country Club Plaza. Basically, the Plaza is a large, outdoor mall that spans for blocks and blocks. It reminded me of an old downtown area, yet the stores are mostly new and modern. It was cold and rainy (again) so Matthew and I darted back and forth from store to store, trying to stay warm and dry. We were quite exhausted from our time at the museum earlier, so I really appreciated the husband being willing to stay on his feet a bit longer to shop with me. Since it’s the holiday time, the Plaza was all lit up with Christmas lights and the ambiance was just lovely. Had we not been quite so tired, I think we could have spent hours there. Maybe next time.

Other than Joe’s, which was easily our favorite restaurant, we also really liked McCoy’s downtown. The atmosphere there was relaxing and easy going and Matthew and I slipped right in for some late night bites. They’re pretty famous for their mac n cheese so we tried that, and my favorite was the skillet dip. (I’m pretty much a fan of anything you dip a tortilla chip into.) The drinks there were tasty, and I’d love to go back for another peach tea cocktail. If you’re roaming around downtown, I’d suggest popping in for a bit.

Trip to Kansas City. Read more at pamelapetrus.com Another favorite experience of the trip was our many rides with Uber. Seriously, Uber. I love you. I’d used the service a few times back in Mobile and this was our first time to really take advantage of it. Even though we had a car with us, it was soooo much more convenient to request a car and have it pick us up and drop us off right at the door. No hassle of parking. No walking across gigantic parking lots in the freezing cold and no reading maps. Instead, we’d request a car from the app on my phone. Someone would show up within mere minutes and take us to the next destination. You can track the location of the car from the app which was sort of fun. All drivers are background checked, and it’s much quicker/cleaner/less expensive than a cab. My favorite part is that you get a text with your drivers rating and you get the opportunity to rate them after the ride too. I’ll admit…I’m a new Uber fan. All the way.

Trip to Kansas City. Read more at pamelapetrus.comEven though this was a quick (and very rainy) trip, Matthew and I still enjoyed ourselves. At first I thought we might freeze to death because there was ice still left everywhere from a bit of freezing rain the day before. Somehow we stayed relatively dry and warm though. I think we’re definitely going to plan a trip back soon, because there’s still so much of Kansas City to be seen. Do you have any fun suggestions on what to do on the next trip? We’d love to hear your suggestions!