Day 3: Dust In The Wind
Despite getting to bed at 2AM in my luxurious room at America’s Best Value Inn in Independence, Kansas, I awoke around 8AM on Day 3 in a fog. As I’m barely functional until I get a cup of coffee and since the hotel’s idea of coffee is a push-button contraption in the lobby that’s basically powder and hot water, I decided to test my portable coffee setup.
Before I left St. Louis, I visited REI and bought an MSR Pocket Rocket single-burner isobutane/propane-powered camp stove and an ultra-light anodized aluminum teakettle. Having never used a mixed-fuel camp stove, I’m impressed with this little gadget. It sounds like a jet engine and boils water in just a couple of minutes. The Pocket Rocket, coupled with an AeroPress Coffee and Espresso Maker, is The Business, as far as I’m concerned.
Caffeinated and awake, I sought out two places in Kansas City suggested by Roadfood.com: YJ’s Snack Bar and Mama’s 39th Street Diner. As it was a Saturday morning when I arrived, both places were packed, and since I had some serious ground to cover, I skipped breakfast and headed to the Johnson County Museum Of History in Shawnee, Kansas. There were no tours of the 1950’s All-Electric House for some reason, so I wandered through the exhibits for a few minutes, and came across this cream separator, which I thought was cool.
The next stop on my itinerary was the Alma Creamery in Alma, Kansas. From their website:
The Alma Creamery, the home of the famous Alma Cheese, is located in the beautiful Flint Hills of Kansas. Alma Creamery is dedicated to building upon a local tradition that started more than 59 years ago. That tradition consists of creating our traditional, high quality, all natural, handmade cheeses.
I picked up small blocks of pepper jack, extra-sharp cheddar, and my favorite of the bunch, a hickory-smoked Monterey jack that was firm yet creamy, and one of the best cheeses I’ve ever had.
I headed back toward I-70 en route to the Garden Of Eden in Lucas, a haven for folk and outsider art. Unfortunately, my late start on the day had me miss the closing of the facility by 15 minutes, so I shot these from the street:
So instead of getting the scoop on this weird little place that’s relatively in the middle of nowhere, I settled for a photo of the World’s Largest Travel Plate:
Driving on I-70 through Kansas is fairly mind-numbing, so I was more shocked than I normally would be when I came over the crest of a hill and saw these giant windmills looming. These photos don’t convey how massive and alien they looked when I first saw them.
I was starting to get hungry, so I plotted my route to Hays, where I’d find Al’s Chickenette, a joint recommended by Roadfood.com, where the specialty is (obviously) fried chicken. I sat at the counter—I love a restaurant with a counter—and ordered the two-piece chicken dinner (white meat) with mashed potatoes and cream gravy. The chicken was piping hot and moist inside and had a crispy, crunchy exterior, but it was almost devoid of flavor. At least it filled the hollow spot in my belly.
About three hours later, I found myself in the Mountain time zone and my stopping point for the day, Burlington, Colorado, but not before I snapped this photo as the sun set. I love the visible streaks of sunlight poking holes in the clouds, spraying in every direction.
Sunday’s itinerary includes Pike’s Peak, and I’m going to try to find Owl Farm, Hunter Thompson’s house in Woody Creek, to see if the 150-foot monument that was erected and outfitted with a cannon to fire his ashes into the sky after his death still exists. Then I’ll decide whether to stick around Denver and see what happens at the Democratic National Convention, or continue farther west.