Hair Today, Lincoln Tomorrow

Wednesday, 23 August 2017
Jefferson City, MO to Lincoln NE, ~ 400 miles

0823 Jeff City to Lincoln route 400

Map credit: Google Maps 2017 courtesy AAA

Kim and I arose to almost chilly temperatures in Jefferson City and drove a couple of miles west to Binder Lake park for a short hike.  Other than lots of bugs in the parking lot there, the walk was a nice one.  It was still very dewy, so we opted to walk along the road next to the perfectly still lake.  Except for one fisherman, the lawn mowers, and the garbage man, we were the only ones around.  We didn’t see much wildlife except for one heron who had staked out a good fishing spot, and the numerous frogs we heard but didn’t see in a lily-pad covered pond.

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Binder Lake State Park

After we showered and dressed, we back-tracked into the city to have breakfast at Oscar’s Classic Diner, which we chose based on its name (in memory of my fabulous father-in-law).  As expected, Oscar did not disappoint!  We had the most delightful server and breakfast was tasty – Kim had a ham and cheese omelet and I had eggs benedict, but over tomato slices and avocado instead of bread and meat.  We both had the grilled hash browns, which were delicious!  The other great things about Oscar’s were the décor – we ate right under Roy Rogers and Dale Evans and Bogart and Bacall – and the hysterical ladies room (Beauty Salon – Miracles Performed Daily!).


Finally on the road after 11 AM (we just cannot seem to get an early start no matter what…) we hopped on US 50 and headed west.  Kim had done some ‘places we might want to stop’ research and our first stop was not too far away – a water tower painted like an 8 ball in Tipton – and we thought it would just be a fun photo op/drive by.  Until we read a note that said the parking lot of the Dutch Bakery was a good place to take the photo….of course we had to go in!  At least 30 minutes later, armed with snacks for the road, we were off.

A little later down the road, we came upon the town of Sedalia and saw a giant structure covered in white sheets.  Wondering if some humongous Civil War monument was under wraps, we veered off to investigate.  We still aren’t sure what it was – our best guess is a water tower being painted – but we loved the quaint little downtown and ended up spending another 30 or 45 minutes walking around.  We learned that Scott Joplin invented ragtime here, and we went in a wonderful old hotel that was where Harry Truman launched his political career.  There was a fabulous old theater that has been turned into an art gallery and several colorful murals painted on buildings, and we saw our second Statue of Liberty (so far).  You may be understanding now why we don’t make particularly good time on these trips…

Back on the road, we were determined not to stop again until we made it to our next planned destination, Leila’s Hair Museum in Independence.  I will tell you that since Kim had made this list, I wasn’t sure what to expect at a hair museum, but what we saw at Leila’s wasn’t it!  In my next lifetime….  It was fascinating, for sure, and very unique, as was Leila, who gave us a private tour.  Leila is 85 years old and she has been collecting hair art since 1956.  She is also a cosmetologist and she teaches hair art lessons now.  She has written three books and is working on a fourth, and she has the largest hair art collection in the world.  Possibly the only one…

So here’s the thing – hair art dates back centuries, but became mostly extinct with the advent of family photography.  Women used to ‘embroider’ with hair from different family members, thus making a unique family tree – imagine what you could learn about your family with all of that DNA!! – and these flowers/vines/nuts/etc. made from hair were put together in a way that made a pretty arrangement and then framed in boxes lined with satin (think inside of a coffin, because that’s often who made the hair art boxes).  Anyway, you’ve probably never seen anything like it!  There was more – gentlemen had watch chains made from the hair of their wives/mothers/lovers – and all sorts of things.  You have to see it all to believe it, and we were not allowed to photograph anything in two of the rooms of the museum.

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By the time we left Leila’s, we knew we would not make it to Topeka in time to tour the capitol building, but we decided to go anyway.  I have done the Kansas state capitol tour, so we thought we’d just photograph the outside and find a place to eat before continuing to Lincoln for the night.  Good call!  We got great shots of the capitol and the sculptures around it (including the Statue of Liberty) and we saw the outside of the First Presbyterian Church which is famous for its Tiffany stained glass windows.  We tried several doors….


The best thing that happened in Topeka was dinner!  We found a little restaurant called the Rowhouse that was just a few blocks from the capitol – what a gem!  It was in an old row house (surprise!) and it served a set prix fixe menu, so we didn’t even have to make decisions!  The dinner was five courses, including three small entrée servings and three desserts (!!) and it was divine!  Since it had been a long time since breakfast (no snacks, either!), it hit the spot!  And Zach, our waiter, was just great.

Sufficiently sated but not stuffed, we turned north and rolled into Lincoln well after dark.  Another day of adventure in the books!

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