Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Great RV Roadtrip 2009: Day Two

We interrupt this post to bring you an important message: Tuesday afternoon the wolf spider in question was apprehended in the basement. It was found sitting on top of the laundry soaking in the washer. We are happy to announce that at the last moment it's captors caved in and spared it's life, freeing it to terrorize others in the great outdoors. Now back to our regularly scheduled programming...

When we last left off, the morning sun greeted us brightly in the Atchison, Kansas Walmart Supercenter parking lot. I was able to take a nice, hot shower, blow dry my hair, and even set it in hot rollers all in the confines of our vehicle. Again, it was a little strange thinking I was doing all of these things in a Walmart parking lot, but it sure was a good way to start off the day. We unlocked the jacks, pushed the button to suck the sides of the RV back in, and drove a mile down to the downtown area. One of the reasons we (I) chose to stick with smaller towns on this trip instead of big cities was because I had no idea how hard it would be to get to places in an RV. Thankfully this town wasn't too hopping the morning we were there, so we were able to find a big, open parking lot downtown with free parking no problem.

We found the most adorable little place to eat breakfast -- the Marigold Bakery -- which was pretty much the highlight of our Atchison experience. They used homemade bread for their toast which they also buttered up for us quite generously, and eating those slices of toast with jelly on them was like heaven on earth. The decor was adorable as well -- vintage tablecloths and baskets on each table with all the silverware, napkins, condiments you would need. They also had aprons and dishtowels hung up all over the walls. If you ever find yourself in exciting Atchison, I highly recommend it.

After breakfast we headed down a few blocks to the antique stores. There weren't near as many of them as I had anticipated from my Internet research, but we had a good time just enjoying the sunny weather and looking around. My husband got his kicks from trying vintage hats on our three-year-old son, you know like the fancy church hats you would have seen ladies wearing back in the day. On our way out of Atchison I was brave enough to drive up and down a couple of blocks in the historic district to look at the grand old Victorian houses. Atchison isn't exactly what you think of when you think of Kansas -- because it is on a river, it is situated up on the bluff and the streets are very hilly and steep. Atchison is also home to the birthplace of Amelia Earhart.

Here are two of the (many) lovely homes in Atchison:

Just before noon we headed back across one of the bridges ( with me holding my breath all the way) and headed east to the Missouri side to St. Joseph, another old river town with more historic homes. St. Joseph is also the origin of the Pony Express, so we stopped at the museum. It was more interesting than I thought it would be, and the three-year-old had a grand time trying out the original water pump and practicing his Morse code skills on the Morse code machine.

Here is a (blurry, sorry) picture looking down below the waterpump to the actual well below. It was about 25 feet deep, and the original well found on the site. It was pretty neat to be able to crank the old pump, have the water come out into the trough, and actually see all the way down to where the water originated.

No, there isn't a Pony Express Motel anymore, but I loved this sign next to the museum.

We had a late lunch at a local Mexican food restaurant -- the food (in my opinion) was terrible. I don't know, but in our experience, as you go farther north in this country, the Mexican food quality deteriorates. Here in Wonderland we have many restaurants with amazing Mexican food, which I will never take for granted again. But the cool thing about the Mexican restaurant was that it was in a humongous old mansion. My husband pointed out the fact that it was really kind of sad that someone's home was now a Mexican restaurant, which is true, but I enjoyed being inside it just the same. There were even pictures on the wall of the family (that built the house) vacationing in Florida with the likes of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford. This family was rollin' in the dough back in the day. St. Joseph, Missouri was also the town where Jesse James (the famous outlaw) was shot and killed. He probably hung out with some of my kinfolk, as my parents both pointed out at various times throughout my childhood that we are apparently offspring of many outlaws and bootleggers. So proud, I tell you. So proud I am. Indians, Outlaws, and some Irishmen. This probably explains a lot, doesn't it...

After St. Joseph, we really had no idea where we were going to stay for the night, other than in the RV, obviously. We knew we needed to head east for an appointment in the morning, but that was pretty much our only thing set in stone. At this point we both got on our laptops and started looking for RV parks/resorts. Walmart was fun and all, but the prospect of yet another new experience for me (i.e. staying in an official RV resort) was just too tempting. On a whim we picked a random one to call, and it ended up being perfect. Apparently we were calling before the "official RV season" started, but they told us to come on out just the same, and that we would get to be their "first guests of the season". We got our spontaneous selves back on the road and headed out. The winds picked up, and I soon discovered that trying to drive the RV on a windy day was like trying to steer a sailboat across a frozen lake -- not exactly a walk in the park. Thankfully the drive over was less than an hour -- any longer and I might have started to regret the fact that I didn't buy the trucker's hat with the built-in beer bottle opener...

The Pony Express RV Park was just what the doctor ordered. 100 acres to enjoy all to ourselves. Our hosts, Glenn and Judy, were the absolute nicest couple, just good ol' country folks who make you feel like they've known you for years. After we parked our RV and got the jacks leveled, they came down to ask us if we wanted to take one of their golf carts out on the property. Heck yeah! (Check, check, check. Can you hear me wildly checking all sorts of hilarity off my non-existent "bucket list"?) The three of us happily piled in and took off to drive that little golf cart all over the property, over hill and dale, up and down all the little trails, and even across a teeny tiny wooden bridge.

My husband was a bit apprehensive about driving the golf cart across the bridge. Seriously -- after his wife drove that humongous honkin' bus all over creation. Go figure.

See? Getting the heck outta Dodge and away from the ratrace was just what this (cute) workaholic needed. A good ol' dose of country for this city boy. (And that big grin is due to the fact that he successfully and safely navigated us across the death-defying bridge.)

There were also animals on the property to pet -- a herd of goats and a shy llama.

Honestly, the simplicity of being out in the country (smack dab in the middle of miles and miles of farmland) couldn't have been more perfect for us. The ratrace of life can certainly take it's toll on a person, and getting out in the fresh air and being reminded of the simple things in life was truly what we needed.

That evening we heated up our little TV dinners (purchased at Walmart, of course), ate dinner, and retired early, enjoying the pitch black evening far away from the streetlamps of any other civilization. I loved falling asleep to the sound of the country -- all the frogs and bugs and other creatures singing us a lullaby. The RV was definitely starting to feel like home...


Happily Ever After said...

It sounds perfect! I'm loving your vacation!

The picture of Doug is too cute!

For really great Mexican, you ought to come visit us! :) We'd love to have you!

Shannon said...

Uhhhh, I so want an RV!! I wonder if you can rent them here in Tulsa?

You know, if you ever need to get out in the country you can always come out to our 80 acres. Baby boy would love to come and pet the Longhorns!

Happily Ever After said...

Okay I (Steve) am loving this series. Keep it coming, I'm getting lots of fun ideas!!!

Jaimie Hall-Bruzenak said...

If you do an extended trip, it is worth bringing along a "toad." or small car. That way you can leave your RV outside a city and then drive in and explore in your smaller vehicle. It gets better gas mileage too!

I gave my husband a professional mixer for his b.d. Now we have fresh gluten-free bread and English muffins! It doesn't have to rise as much/as long so a lot easier to eat. He adds extra protein and flax seed. Yum!

Jaimie Hall Bruzenak
author of Support Your RV Lifestyle! An Insider's Guide to Working on the Road

Happily Ever After said...

Okay I'm ready to hear about day three