Beginning in 2009, we have traveled for a few days at Spring Break time. WE is me, Melissa, Janis, Ted and Laura. We never do anything very exotic. We started our tradition in Salina, Ks visiting the Eisenhower Presidential Library in Abilene on the way home. We have done the Tall Grass Prairie Preserve, the Lincoln Library, the Oklahoma City Memorial, Nebraska City Arbor Day farms, Squaw Creek Wildlife Refuge, Bentonville and Eureka Springs, AK, Branson, Mo – you get the picture. Small trips here in the Heartland.
Laura graduated from Baker in December and Ted will graduate from Sumner Academy in May but they still wanted to take a trip with their Mom and their Aunts so we planned something quickly – start in Lebanon, Missouri; find Route 66 and follow it to Miami, Oklahoma before heading home. Seems simple enough, right?
Rooms in Lebanon were hard to come by but the Bennett Springs Inn could take five adults for one night so we stayed out on Hgwy 64 by the entrance to Bennett Springs Park. Slight scare when the motel owner said he had us coming one week later, but he had a room and all was well. We got to meet his boy cat named Grace and we checked into our room and dropped off our stuff. We went first down to Bennett Springs Park to see the fisher persons standing in the cold water to get their trout. The area was rustic and pretty and not real busy yet so relaxing.
We went in to Lebanon to find food and coffee for the next morning. We found the old Route 66 signs but the museums were closed – as in empty and closed. We went looking for an old restaurant I used to frequent with women bowlers and we think we found it but their was a dumpster outside which Melissa thought might indicate it was under renovation – so we giggled and ate at Taco Johns. Back to the motel and enjoyed the smell of grilled trout being cooked outside the rooms by our neighbors.
Up the next morning to a grey day but dry even though snow had been predicted. Had a visit with one of our neighbors who told us everything about his life; grew up in Mexico, Mo, retired at the age of 52 when the brick factory owned by Kit Bond’s Dad closed, traveled every since, lost a son to a drunk driver in 2002, and loves to carve with the cedar scraps he finds on his trip. He showed us one of his walking sticks made for the daughter of the owner of the park where he keeps his travel trailer. It was quite the exchange. Another neighbor told us why he kept one of his dogs on a leash but I honestly can’t bring myself to write the reason here. Got air in one of the tires with help from the motel owner and we were off to Miami, Ok.
Traveled through Joplin and found another Route 66 sign. Decided to go ahead and get to Miami rather than wander on the slow-leaking tire. Missed the first exit off the freeway but got back road directions from the toll clerk and found our way into town and into our room. Dropped off our bags and went looking for food. Ate at the Buttered Buns Cafe at the suggestion of the hotel clerk and had great food at a very decent price. Got to giggling about “one booth too far” and “leaky beans” – comments overheard during dinner. We will write a song someday incorporating both of these lines.
Ask about Micky Mantle’s home and the waitress sent us around the corner to Commerce OK. where we found some Route 66 memorabilia in the shape of an old Conoco gas station and another gas station made into an ice cream stand. Neither of them were open. Went back to the room and crashed which really worked well for me as I was a little anxious about my first trip away from my medical support team.
The next morning we followed some instructions from the Internet trying to find a piece of the original Route 66. We went down gravel roads and muddy roads and finally found a monument that we had actually passed on the way into town the day before. We could have found it by staying on paved roads all along but we would not have giggled as much. We took pictures of a Micky Mantle statue in Commerce, OK and found his childhood home so Janis could read us the Historical Marker on the door (a tradition we began in Salina back in 2009).
Drove back home via Hgwy 69 which took us through the remnants of the mining industry down in that part of Oklahoma and Kansas. There were just huge piles of slag left behind when the industry of mining left the area. Who says we don’t need the EPA. Stopped at Fort Scott, Kansas on the way home and arrived back to see GMA and pick up Apple around 4 PM.
Short trips laughing our way through rural areas are exactly what the doctor ordered after cancer and assisted living for Mom and all of us still grieving Dad. It is good to do these things together.