My husband, Keith, has a website, kansastravel.org, where he goes around the state of Kansas and takes pictures and posts about everything from museums to waterfalls to zoos to locally owned restaurants and all sorts of stuff. Basically, his belief is every community, regardless how small, has something. In the 9 years we have been together, we have traveled Kansas together. Often times he has taken me to things I've never seen or heard of as a lifelong Kansan. Sometimes I can fill him in on details he doesn't know because I grew up here.
With the focus on my surgery, we obviously haven't done much exploring Kansas this year. Living on the east side of the state, it is particularly hard to get to the western edge very often. You pretty much need a 3 day weekend or more. Since the 4th was on a Tuesday, he suggested we take Monday off and make it a 4 day weekend and head west. I was reluctant at first because I still wasn't sure about my energy level, but ended up deciding to go ahead as long as he was willing to accept my criteria: don't push me too hard and don't force me to get up too early in the morning. Keith usually does all the driving so I figured I should be able to easily relax in the car. Then of course I knew meals would be a little bit of challenge because the restaurants would be chosen based on what he wanted to try for his website, not what I thought would have the best options for me, but I'm getting pretty good about finding something that works wherever we are.
When Keith figured out where he wanted to have supper Friday night and how far west we wanted to get based on July 4 weekend events, it was decided we should leave work early to hit the road around 4pm on Friday. It was closer to 4:30 before we got gone. I had packed snacks (string cheese, pretzels, nuts and protein bars). I hadn't had my afternoon snack yet, so ate string cheese and pretzels as we left Kansas City. We also stopped to pick up a $1 iced tea at McDonalds. Keith likes me to read to him in the car while we're traveling, but I don't like to read novels, so after finishing my snack, I read to him from “100 Things Kansas Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die” by Ken Davis.
We reached our dinner destination, Three One One in Abilene, just before 6:30pm. Since surgery, I have established a general rule for myself that I try to keep my restaurant meals under $10 unless it is something that I plan on taking home and getting several other meals out of. I knew that for this trip, I would be forced to make exceptions to that rule. One of the things this restaurant is known for is grilled Mahi-Mahi, so I ordered the Mahi-Mahi sandwich. It came with two large filets on a bun and a side of house-made chips. I ate most of one filet, leaving behind the bun. I was also tempted by the slice of very ripe, very good tomato. I've only had a little raw tomato, but the skin peeled off easily and I ate most of it. It was very delicious. I only had a few of the chips. My husband had a hamburger and ate my second Mahi-Mahi filet. Since we're experiencing this for the website, and the restaurant is known for their key lime pie, we had to try a piece. I only ate one or two bites, but it was pretty good.
After dinner, we drove on to WaKeeney where we spent the night. There was a cattle drive as part of July 4 festivities near Goodland at 10am Mountain Time Saturday morning. Keith really wanted to do it, thus the reason for pushing so far Friday night. Before leaving home, I had agreed to being on the road by 9am Central Time Saturday morning. That had me getting up a little earlier than I would prefer, but I was willing to do it for one day of our weekend. The motel had a very basic breakfast, but nothing really appealed to me and the only thing with protein was hard boiled eggs which I don't like. I had brought with me Special K Protein cereal for just an occasion and had my cereal with their milk for breakfast.
On the way to Goodland, I read the first chapter of my mother's 1936 Kansas History textbook, Four Centuries in Kansas. We reached Goodland for the cattle drive in plenty of time. We sat in a field in lawn chairs while a woman in period dress explained about life in the 1800s and what we were getting ready to see. Some of the information she shared seemed to be taken from the book I had been reading such as stories about the millions of buffalo that once roamed the land. About 6 cowboys brought the cattle in to the water hole near where we were sitting. The lead cowboy was in character as he talked about bringing the cattle through on their way to Wyoming and the hardships along the way. After the reenactment, we watched a real cattle drive down the street as they moved the cattle from this field to another one. There was a herd of buffalo in the field next to where they were moving the cattle which we also got to photograph.
After the cattle drive, we went on into Goodland for lunch at the Butterfly Cafe at the local Goodland airport. I got a grilled chicken sandwich with a salad and mashed potatoes. This was my first try at a salad, but I have had a little bit of tomato and lettuce on a sandwich, so decided I was good to give it a try. I only had a few bites, but did OK. Again, I just ate the grilled chicken, not the bread. I can eat bread OK, but just don't want to fill up on it. This was another place known for their pie, so we got a slice of apple pie to share. I had 2 or 3 bites.
After lunch, we went to a local bar to find the owner to talk to him about a gas station he had restored that we had stumbled across on a previous trip. When we asked about him at the bar we were told he was grilling in the kitchen, but “stick your head in” and see if he can talk to you. So Keith stood in the kitchen doorway interviewing Rod as he kept cooking. I waited at the bar and ended up having a very nice chat with a family sitting nearby. One of the women at the table was best friends with Rod's wife and she ended up texting her to come down so we could see the inside of a house Rod had restored. Less than 5 minutes later, the wife was at the bar, relieving her husband in the kitchen, so he could go show us the house. It was an amazing house that had originally been a doctor's home and office. He had done lots of work inside and outside, as well as to the horse barn behind the house. In the process, he had discovered all sorts of the doctor's equipment and other medical supplies, which he has nicely on display within the house. Fully furnished, if he didn't find it in the house, he filled in with other antiques he already owned. It was nicer than many museums, but was a passion of love and is not open to the public except by invitation.
From here we drove to Lake Scott StatePark, photographing anything of interest along the way, including small towns, murals, abandoned buildings, landscapes, animals, whatever. We drove around the lake taking more photographs and then on down to Scott City. We had a few minutes before our dinner reservation so were driving around when we noticed an old car at the gas pumps of another restored gas station we had photographed on a previous trip. There were two men talking and we thought there was a good chance one was the owner. Sure enough, after one left, the other man went inside, so we stopped and Keith was able to get more information about the station.
|Majestic Theater Restaurant, Scott City, Kansas|
We had supper at the Majestic Theater Restaurant, a very elegant restaurant in an old theater. The menu was somewhat limited, but I ordered grilled shrimp (was way over my $10 limit with this meal). It came with a salad and bread. I was enjoying my salad with delicious blue cheese dressing, along with the bread, but decided I needed to stop or I wouldn't be able to have any of the main meal. I don't know if I ate too much or if there was too long of a break before the entree came or what, but by the time my meal came, I wasn't feeling great. I took one bite of the grilled shrimp and was chewing and chewing, but couldn't make myself swallow. I was finally able to swallow that one bite, but knew that was a sign I shouldn't eat anymore. I felt bad not eating any of this nice meal at a nice restaurant. At the end of the meal, I just politely explained to the server that the food was great, but I wasn't feeling well, and asked for a box. I didn't go into any detail about why I couldn't eat more.
After supper, we drove on down to Garden City where we spent the night. Keith let me sleep in Sunday morning. I got up just in time to do the breakfast buffet which was included in the room, but was a full buffet instead of the continental breakfast at many motels. I had a few breakfast potatoes, scrambled eggs, 1 slice of bacon and a few chunks of watermelon. Before we left town, we took various photos in Garden City, including at the cemetery and of the Courthouse. Then it was on to Ingalls Cafe in Ingalls, Kansas (a town of 300) for lunch. I ordered the fried catfish dinner. It again came with salad. I only had a couple of bites this time, but made Keith eat most of it. Since he was only getting a sandwich, his didn't come with salad. I got two huge catfish filets, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn and a roll. I don't think I ate any of the corn and only a bite of the roll. I ate most of one filet, eating out the center and leaving the more crispy edge behind, as well as a little potatoes.
|Liberty Garden 9-11 Memorial, Dodge City, Kansas|
From Ingalls we headed on through Cimarron and ultimately to Dodge City continuing to photograph whatever struck our fancy along the way, including another courthouse, churches, an old hotel and more. In Dodge City, we toured the Mueller-Schmidt House, a stone home built in 1881, and the Liberty Garden, a memorial to 9-11, among other sites. We went from Dodge City up through Ness City and other small towns, eventually returning to WaKenney Along the way, we photographed more courthouses, churches, murals and other buildings.
Supper was at the Western Kansas Saloon and Grill, housed in a former hardware store, in WaKenney. I had the pork loin special with new potatoes and green beans. There were 3 pork loins, I ate most of one. Keith sampled part of one and had the rest, along with my grilled shrimp from the previous night, for breakfast the next morning. I only ate a little bit of the new potatoes and green beans. For one, the potatoes were very large for new potatoes and not quite as done as I would have preferred.
We stayed at the same motel that we had stayed at Friday night. The continental breakfast was only open till 9am, but Keith brought a bowl of milk to the room so I could add my protein cereal and didn't have to get up that early. Monday is the one day the local historical society museum is not open, but Keith had arranged for someone to meet us there at 10am. He gave me the option of sleeping even later, but I did get up to go. I didn't allow quite enough time to get ready, and we were coming back to the room to check out after our appointment, so I waited to eat breakfast after our visit to the museum. When I took the milk out of the refrigerator, I found the top had frozen over (as had the water bottles in the refrigerator...I think the temperature was turned down a little too low). I tried stirring the milk, but couldn't get rid of the ice crystals, so gave up in frustration. Thought about going across the street to the convenience store to buy milk, but it was nearing the 11am checkout and I didn't want to try to eat a bowl of cereal in the car. I started eating the dry cereal out of the box and discovered it actually didn't taste that bad, so ate that for breakfast in the car.
We headed toward Hays for lunch at Al'sChickenette, stopping along the way in Ellis for photos at Memorial Park, Mount Hope Cemetery, and an old truss bridge. For lunch, Keith ordered a gizzard appetizer and we shared a 2 piece chicken dinner that came with two sides, so we got one for me and one for Keith. It was another place known for pies, so I had a couple of bites of peach pie.
After lunch, we photographed a church in Catharine and the remains of a church near Emmeram. We tried to photograph two multi-arch stone bridges, but couldn't find one, even though we followed exact directions, and gave up on the other when we found the road being grated and couldn't figure out how we would get around the grater.
We made it to Abilene about 5:00 and checked into our Bed & Breakfast. I found it difficult to answer the question about allergies or food restrictions. I went ahead and told my story, received the usual shocked response, and we agreed on smaller portions, protein and not much sweets and agreement that she wouldn't be offended if I didn't eat something or very much. I had prepared myself to be up front about my surgery as breakfast at a B & B is totally different than at a standard motel. I hadn't thought about the fact that also meant getting up earlier as we were given the choice between eating at 8:30 or 9:00. I quickly chose 9 and silently wished it were 9:30 or 10.
We had been in the room for less than 15 minutes when my cell phone rang. It was my oldest daughter, Jesi, “I'm about to ruin your vacation.” Turns out she was in the ER with appendicitis. She had went to her primary care doctor who had run a test, diagnosed appendicitis and sent her to the hospital emergency room. Since she hadn't seen the ER doctor and we were over 2 hours away, we decided to wait till we had more information before deciding to head home. We went to supper in Detroit, Kansas. I had a grilled cheese and bacon sandwich with french fries. I didn't care for the fries, but really enjoyed the sandwich and ate most of it. After supper, we went on to Chapman to do some more photography of a cemetery and church memorial.
|St. Patrick's Mission Church Memorial, Chapman, Kansas|
By this time, Jesi still didn't know whether they were going to do surgery Monday night or Tuesday morning (on the 4th), but I decided I wanted to go ahead and head home. Basically if they did surgery Monday night, we would be there when she got out of surgery. If they did it Tuesday morning, we would be there before surgery. If we waited to head home Tuesday morning, we wouldn't be there either way. So we headed back to the B & B, picked up our stuff, and headed home. We drove straight to the hospital, getting there just before 11:00. We visited for awhile and got home about midnight. The next morning, we headed to the hospital about 9:00, having been told surgery would be between 10:00 and 10:30, it ended up not being until after 11:30, but all went well. Not the ending to the trip we were expecting, but that's how life as a mother goes. Because we started at the far western part of the state and were working our way back east, the parts that we intended to do on Tuesday that we didn't get to do, can easily be done in a normal weekend trip, and we didn't really miss out on that much.