Sunday, September 25, 2011

To North Dakota - Are we out of Missouri Yet?

Kathy lives a life precariously balanced by Mother Nature.  Pretty sure I've written about this before, as it's a familiar pattern. When it's cold, she stays indoors.  When it's really hot, she stays indoors. And, since we have the luxury of running our business from home, this means there are times that Kathy literally doesn't leave the house for days, sometimes weeks. I, on the other hand, have an office over 50 feet from the house, a shipping center over 100 feet away, and the occasional responsibility to run to the grocery store. Meanwhile, Kathy hunkers down during these weather extremes and sits for hours in her office writing, playing with photos and generally getting sick of herself.

This was never more evident than this past Summer, when we experienced rainy day after rainy day, followed immediately by a long period of extreme heat, followed again by more rain.  Which means that Kathy's health (ie, my physical well being) were at a tipping point. So, it was no surprise when Kathy walked out of her office one night recently and proclaimed "Pack your boots, were going to North Dakota."

Gotta admit, I was a little surprised at her choice considering the time of year, however we've needed to head north for a while, and the look in her eye told me "just go with it."  Besides, we love our jobs, especially when it comes to travel. There's the obvious reasons; new adventures in history, ghost towns, scenic byways, you know...America the Beautiful.  But, for me, there's also another twist...choices in dining.  I know, I know, you're probably saying to yourself that I must be a food hound, but, really I'm not.  It's just that after years of living in the city and traveling the world in a corporate job, I became accustomed to having a wide variety of dining choices just about every day.  Though the benefits of relocating our business to WarsawMissouri far outweigh any savory delight, our small town of about 2,000 doesn't have those mouthwatering cheddar bay biscuits that magically appear on my plate at Red Lobster.

mmmm...buttery goodness
Mmmmm... Red Lobster, yep that's what we're doing, we're going to hit a Red Lobster on the way to North Dakota.  Kathy teased me with the idea of stopping in Kansas City on our first day of travel for one nice "splurge," but then after that we would be frugal and keep it down to a minimum. We packed up all kinds of snacks and sandwich stuff to save money, but, I couldn't let the trip go by without at least one of our favorite eateries in the mix. She teased and she teased, reminding me for several days before we left that I was getting closer and closer to my melt in your mouth cheddar bay biscuits.

Kathy and I have a great travel relationship.  She hates driving and I'm a backseat driver.  I hate navigating and like to be told when to turn. It works out pretty well... I'm happy not to have to say "Don't stop in the middle of the road!" and "Holy crap, are you close enough to the edge!!?" And Kathy's happy not to have to ask "Are you sure you know where we are?" and "Really, you think this is a road?"  We've gotten to the point where we no longer question (not much anyway) our given duties. I drive, she navigates. And, if there is any question, the majority rule applies. (ie, she owns 51% of the business).  So, you can probably imagine the look on my face when we weren't even 20 miles out of Warsaw Saturday and suddenly Kathy proclaims "Let's skip Kansas City and keep going north."   "But, but, but, garlic buttery goodness, scallops, salad, they even take your debit card at the table.."

Chillicothe, Mo
As I pass the turn to Kansas City in Sedalia, I resigned myself that this day would be tuna salad from a packet. So, north we continued on Highway 65, through Marshall up to Chillicothe, and Lock Springs, an almost ghost town.

Historic Clear Creek, MO Church
Beyond Lock Springs, we make a stop at the historic Clear Creek Church and Cemetery for a little picnic. As I bite into my Tuna Salad sandwich, I soaked in the beauty of the surrounding rolling corn fields and pondered on the life of the Amish that seem to dominate the region. Living simple lives in a complex world, they reside pretty much the same as they did when first settling the area in the mid to late 1800's -- still driving their horse and buggy carriages, making their goods from scratch, and generally, working much harder than almost any others I know.

We are then headed to Jamesport, the largest Amish community in the State of Missouri. We first stop at an Amish Country store outside of town that is as crowded as a Walmart in Kansas City - no place to park, people everywhere, overload carts blocking isles in the store. Eye-yi-yi, as much as our mouths salivate for some of those fresh-made goodies, we're outa there! When we arrive in Jamesport, we discover our timing has coincided with Heritage Days. Ahhhhh, now we understand the business of the store. We enjoy the sights and festivities at Jamesport before moving on down the road.

Somewhere, MO
Coming out of Jamesport, I could tell that Kathy's wheels were spinning as to which was the best way to go. She hates to backtrack, so she finally decided to let our Tom Tom navigator do the work. This works most of the time, but, I guess in Northwest Missouri, Tom decided some of best routes weren't always paved. I don't really remember the exact names, but for a while I thought we were going to leave dust all the way to Iowa.  Luckily, Tom got us back on pavement soon enough.

Before long, we hit another almost ghost town -- Coffey, Missouri, population a little over 100 folks, then on through another small town called New Hampton, where, there's yet another festival going on. Quite different than Jamesport, as we circle the fairgrounds and what appears to be some kind of greased pig contest. Onwards we go, and by about 3:30 I didn't think we were ever going to get out of Missouri, when finally Kathy announces our stopping point of the day, just a few miles over the line in Iowa in the quaint little town of Clarinda, birth place of Glen Miller.

For now, I'm holding Kathy to her promise that there's a Red Lobster in my near future somewhere along our journey to North Dakota.

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