Kansas Thanksgiving Trip, 2015

I had a goal to get this up before a year had gone by…  Barely squeaking in there, guys.

I think the best representation of the 2015 Thanksgiving trip is to tell you that our experience started with a rare Columbian pour over from my most favorite coffee roaster in the country (a small one out of Portland), prepared at this new coffeeshop in Lawrence. It was, as expected, glorious.


And then our trip ended with this:


Not like there is anything in inherently WRONG with gas-station coffee in a severely dented cup; honestly those cups of gas-station coffee were dearly welcomed into the car and then inhaled somewhat religiously.  Buuuut… Well, you know. It’s no single-origin Heart pour over.  And we’ll just leave it at that.


This Thanksgiving trip to Kansas was rather memorable in that the entire thing pretty much revolved around crappy weather.  Now, when we drive down, it’s never just a “we drive down, hang out for a spell, and then drive back” sort of endeavor, oh hell no.  We drive down, stay in KC/Lawrence for a few days visiting friends and family, then drive some more down to the southeast corner of the state to visit family, then drive 3.5 hours east to hang with more family, which sometimes involves even more driving to visit even more people, and then make the 12-to-13-hour trek back home.  Driving driving driiiiiiiving.  Lots of time in the car.  And usually the weather is rather nice, to be honest. Late autumn in Kansas is a treat of mild temps and sunny skies.  I cherish the fact that it brings back the curls in the boys’ hair and means exchanging our Wisconsin heavy coats for sweaters.

This year, though. This year threw us for a loop.  We planned on leaving Saturday and doing all our driving in one day, make it to KC and spend a day there before heading to the southeast corner.  But we woke up Thursday morning to Winter Weather Warnings, lots of snow on our drive route, so we changed plans (and routes) at the last second and decided to leave mid-day Friday.  I had off work on Friday so that helped, but it was still a flurry of running errands/laundry/cleaning/packing.  I literally tossed things in the car and then picked up both kids early, then home to meet Scott as he got off work at noon.  Then we hit the road immediately.  We ran into some snow on the way but thankfully, we skirted the bulk of the bad weather on the way down, and were thankful for the extra time.

I would like to mention that while looking for a dinner spot in the middle-of-nowhere Missouri, we were pulled over because (and I quote, bad grammar and all) “you know you got a burnt out brake light?” and then interrogated (“you are from Wins-consin, what you doing here?”) hassled (“I need your license and registration/insurance card, and: you, lady, I need to run yours, too”), and held for 15 minutes by additional police cruisers/officers while they seemingly just shot the shit behind our car, then finally allowed to leave with nothing more than a recommendation to “get those brake lights fixed”.  It’s bad when your Kindergartner tells you,”I think that police man did that because he was just bored” and you can only agree with him, because seriously what in the hell just happened, dude. I mean at least the police officer was somewhat polite?  Still. What in the ever-loving hell, small town Missouri.

Anyway. We drove down, hit a little snow, but mostly made it out alive and well and spent some quality time in KC.  We got a hotel for a few nights in the KCK area. Not the fanciest thing, but clean and fit the bill.  Pete was in love with the pool, even if it was way too warm.


My kids love hotels, my goodness.  Always a treat, even if it’s a cheapie room.

Since we now had a little extra time, we decided to spend some quality time in our dear Larryville. We drove in and hit up 1900 Barker, a new-ish (at least then) bakery and coffee shop. This is where I got my most favorite coffee of all time.  Also, I would like to note: this place is down the street from our house, like we’d probably walk there on weekend mornings if we still lived here.  FIGURES WE LEAVE AND OUR HOOD GETS ALL THE GOOD STUFF.

I did not take any pictures inside really because: hipsters intimidate me.  But we got awesome coffee and the boys shared a chocolate croissant.


After that we hit up the AFH.  Because when in Rome…


Then downtown for a spell. Some fries, doughnuts (really good doughnuts!), and beverages from Ladybird did us good.  We also messed around in all the good stores.


Planking.  About 7 years too late, but doin’ it.


God I miss you, LFK.

Then we stayed in KC again that evening.  Some Joe’s for dinner, and a Sylas and Maddie’s nightcap.


I miss my friends, too.

Met up with my bubba Paulo and Stacey for some brunchy brunch brunch at Rye.  It was good!  Not mind-blowing, but solid.  Good chicken, and more good doughnuts (OMGGGGGG I could have eaten all of Linus’ orange doughnuts).


After brunch we hit the road to Pittsburg. The kids were a bit nutty as we hadn’t run them off yet (that is how I refer to them, like animals.  Gotta run it out of them).  So we hit the park first, then off to Muzzy and Poppy’s.


Linus settled in nicely in my and Scott’s bed (brat, always sneaking into our bed like he owns the place). Then the cousins arrived and the party really got started.


First Thanksgiving:  Butter turkey.  Snapchat.  Kitties. You know, all the usual stuff.


A nice, chill visit.  Linus finally warmed up to his loving cousin Jojo, the Peters stuck to the kitchen, and we got in lots of Momo love.  Momo passed away a few months ago and when he did he left a kitty-shaped hole in all our hearts, that’s for sure.  It’s bittersweet looking at those pictures.


It’s not a trip to Pitt until we get some Mall Deli, mothereffers!  Also the Pittsburg mall Christmas decorations are awesome.


Scary Mickey wins at life.

After a few days it was time to move along.  Trips are always way too short.  I miss all my people, too.


Linus was not happy about being back in the car, dudes.

Off to Halstead!


When we hit town we got to see all the fun stuff at the fire station, and started Thanksgiving prep back at Kris and Alfie’s.

Also we had to stop at one point to let some turkeys cross the road.  halst-002


It was so warm that evening, that when we left for dinner the boys didn’t even need coats.  Which is crazy considering what happened the following day…


Second Thanksgiving time!  It was cold and rainy.  And sleety. And there were ice storm watches popping up for the following day…  Needless to say we spent our time indoors this past Thanksgiving, which is totally fine because we were in good company.



(Pete is crying in the picture above, because he was forced to dry/put away silverware, and it was then that I realized that my children are spoiled and need some chores.  Uh, yeah. We fixed that.)


That weaaaaaather, you guys…

This random cold front came through. And the ground temperature wasn’t the problem (above freezing), the problem was the wind. The wind was relentless and bitterly cold and it was causing everything to freeze. So we were watching the weather like crazy people at that point, and trying to figure out what the heck to do.

Stay, and we could potentially be stuck until Sunday or Monday.  Go now, before the ice really amps up, and hopefully skip treacherous roads and a super-long drive.


Sad crying Linus spoke for all of us because we decided it was best to just get the heck outta Kansas.  And pray that we can make it out of the ice-storm line before the roads are completely iced over.

This was terrible because we literally spent maaaaaaaaybe 36 hours with Scott’s family, and that’s not right.  And it’s awful because I never got to see my bestie Nikki (we usually do Black Friday shopping together).  I was going to get zero Black Friday fun at all, actually, which also bummed me out.  And thanks to the dumb weather, we’d be white-knuckling it for several hours on the highway.  So!  Long long story short, I am still bitter and angry about how this trip ended. That’s probably a big part of why it took me this long to blog it, I didn’t even want to think about it. Guh.  GUH.

So anyway: we tossed everything in our bags as quickly as possible, dumped it all in the car, and fled.  And made the long, loooooong drive up the state.  We saw lots of iced over things, cars and semis in the ditches, and had a lot of fun keeping the windshield from freezing over.  And it took twice as long as it should have to make it to KC.


Kansas City was at the weather line and so when we got there, it was just cold and rainy.  Yay!  We planned to stop at Lukas Liquor and pick up some Kansas brews before making the trek up to Des Moines, and when we got to Lukas we found this:


CAN THE DAY GET ANY WORSE.  Actually, it was okay, because it turns out they just moved down the way.  So we located the new store, Scott stocked up while I took the boys to a nearby store to use the bathrooms, and we were back on the road in no time. We made it to Des Moines by dark, and stopped for a super late lunch/ early dinner at Tacopocalypse.

As a side note: I used to hate Des Moines.  We were never impressed with the restaurants we’d stop at, and ended up just going to the mall for food (for real, guys).  But I sat down one day and decided to actually research a bit, and Des Moines has a cool little scene going on, it’s just not super showy.  Zombie Burger was awesome, Gusto pizza, Confluence brewing, the Pappajohn sculpture park, all very solid too.  I have a list on my phone of spots to try, and Tacopocalypse was on there.  It’s Asian/Mexican fusion, and there are so many awesome flavors going on.  We got pork belly quesadillas, bulgogi masa fries, and Scott got the burrito of the day. Oh, and it’s BYOB, so we brought in a Boulevard beer from Scott’s purchases and enjoyed that.  I think here is where we finally settled and de-stressed; we spent a long time just sitting and enjoying our food and letting the knots in our shoulders loosen a bit.


We also decided that we should just soldier on and head back to Wisconsin that evening.  Rather than blow money on a hotel, if we were good on time and didn’t hit any more bad weather, we’d be back by 1am.

So we hit the road, and stopped in Nowhere, IA around 11p to top off the tank and get some cheap crappy coffee.  That still hit the spot because we were tired and needed something hot and caffeinated.  The end.

No really the end.  That’s it. We do this all again in a month and let’s all say a prayer that the weather is a bit better this time…



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