Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A Midwestern Jaunt

I haven't written a blog post in over a year. This is because during school I'm too busy and during the summer I'm too boring. But since I've just returned from a lovely trip to the Midwest, I figured I could write down a few things about my time there. It won't be a blow-by-blow, but rather some general impressions.

As always, I was in awe of the journey to Kansas City in the plane. It took us four hours, which is a great relief after years of the ten-hour car trip. The clouds on our return trip were so puffy that I felt that if I could open my door and jump out, they'd catch me. I hope in heaven, one can ride on a cloud. I'm looking forward to it. On the way there I slept 2 of the 4 hours, but on the way home I found it harder to do so. Instead I watched the scenery. Flying over Kansas City itself is always a treat, as we see things like the Royal Stadium, the shuttlecocks on the Nelson lawn, the Plaza, the building where my Uncle John works, and more. But the plains of Kansas are almost as interesting to see--miles and miles of nothing and then a solitary house pops out of nowhere! But always, the most exciting part is flying over Rockwall and knowing that we're nearly home.

As for Kansas City itself, it is always full of adventure. We spent three days at our lake cabin in the heart of Kansas. It is outside of a farm town of only 800 people called Meriden--the only restaurants are a Subway, a pizza place, and a hamburger joint. But it is only 20 miles to Lawrence one way and 20 miles to Topeka the other. And most importantly, the cabin is only 3 miles from Perry Lake.

We didn't go to the lake though. We hung about the cabin, reading and napping and cleaning. I got 400 pages of the Lord of The Rings trilogy read (all of The Fellowship and half of The Two Towers). The first night we were there, there was an absurdly loud storm--lightning and thunder galore! The cabin has no insulation, so the rattling was quite apparent.

The cabin is both worst and better than I could ever describe. There's no running water and no electricity, but we do have a port-a-potty and a generator to run fans at night. The view is glorious and we have a deck that is shaded by the most beautiful trees where we spend the days. We shower at the Perry Lake Campsite showers--always a fun time with the slimy floors and no shower curtains!

But the cabin will always be dear to me, as many of my fondest childhood memories took place there.

(And I've already decided that any future husband of mine has to survive at least three days there before I'll agree to marry him.)

On the second day at the cabin, we went to Lawrence and ate BBQ with my dad's family. Afterwards, we had absurdly expensive cupcakes at the shop next door, and then I went with my cousins to Platte City, Missouri to spend the night at their house. We stayed up late, watched a weird movie, tried on clothes (hand-me-downs galore!!! I love having older female cousins!), and in general had fun. Sleepovers at Aunt Libby and Uncle John's are looked forward to, believe me.

The next morning, we all went back to the cabin and spent the day together. The boys shot their guns, we ate too much food, and it was a typical Sears-Miller family gathering.

But now I must tell you about the thresher reunion. The thresher reunion was in Meriden all weekend. Friday afternoon we went for 2 hours--we watched the local farmers thresh hay, pull tractors, chop wood, and toured the facilities. There's a blacksmith shop and a cotton mill on the grounds, along with several other buildings. It was so absurd to me--how many people even know where Meriden, Kansas IS, much less spend a significant amount of time there? And who else besides the Sears family would spend an afternoon at a thresher reunion? But then on Saturday, after our family left, we went back to the reunion to listen to music in the local dance barn. My mom and I danced the Cupid Shuffle, and I did the Twist by myself. We got our money's worth out of that reunion. And a nice button to boot.

(This is actually from later in our trip, but it's a good representation of the things we saw at the thresher reunion.)

But once we moved on from the cabin, it was time to go to Iowa! My parents, my grandma, and I drove from her home in Cameron, Missouri to West Branch, Iowa to visit my fifth presidential library, that of Herbert Hoover. It was a lovely drive through the plains and cornfields of Iowa. And in Iowa, we got around to taking pictures!

We stayed in Iowa City and had a wonderful dinner at the Iowa River Power Company, with a gorgeous view of the Iowa River!

(The outside of the IRPC)

(The view from our table)

The next morning, we visited the library--despite being the first presidential library built in the 1950s, it was very well-done. We were all impressed and we learned a lot. Most people think of Hoover as a bad president, but his accomplishments were numerous and diverse. We also visited his boyhood home, his father's blacksmith shop, the Quaker meetinghouse where his family worshipped, and the graves of him and his wife. It was a very beautiful place.

(The birthplace of Herbert Hoover)

The Hoover graves

Afterwards we had lunch at Hamburg Inn No. 2, near the campus of the University of Iowa (for TCU people--I would say it's the Iowa equivalent of Dutch's, in terms of history and decor). I had the most amazing Eggs Benedict of my life there. Also, the university's campus is beautiful as well as very large. Little small school me couldn't deal with it.

Our drive home was uneventful, but we did stop twice. Once near St. Charles, Iowa to take a picture of the Imes Covered Bridge, one of the famed bridges of Madison County. And then once in Lamoni, Iowa for ice cream at an Amish-run restaurant. And while we there, we saw two Amish couples riding by in their horse-and-buggies. But it wasn't entirely 1800s--they did have cans of gas in their trunks.

(The Imes Covered Bridge)

(Cows outside the Amish restaurant in Lamoni)

So basically, this trip proved what a nerd I am. As I said on Facebook, I read Tolkien and went to a presidential library. My life in a nutshell.

Every time I go to Kansas City, I wish I lived there. It'll take a few days for my Texas love to return. But a part of my heart will always belong to the Midwest.

(My grandma and I in front of the Amish restaurant in Lamoni)