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.


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!

Over the Rivers and through the Fields

Tuesday, 22 August 2017
Paducah, KY to Jefferson City, MO, ~300 miles

0822 Paducah to Jeff City 300

Map credit: Google Maps 2017, courtesy of AAA

We decided to walk down by the river this morning, so we parked near the new Holiday Inn and walked along Riverfront Park.  The Queen of the Mississippi was in port, so we got a better look at her this morning.  Once we got to the Crounse Corporation, we started walking down the street, and before we knew it, we were just walking up and down blocks and blocks of Paducah’s downtown, snapping photos and having a little stroll down memory lane, trying to remember which storefront was which, back in the day.

We walked over to Lower Town and took pictures of some of the decorated fire hydrants and looked at the houses and studios.  If you don’t know about Paducah’s Artist Relocation program and the Lower Town Arts District, please check it out HERE.  It’s one of the main reasons Paducah is a UNESCO city for creative arts.  We then made the fateful decision to have breakfast at Gold Rush.  No problem with the food – we just got ‘accosted’ by a totally crazy woman who sat down next to us and talked non-stop (to us) the entire time we were there.  And when I say crazy, I mean seriously mentally ill.  It was sad, truly, and it did put a damper on our day, at least for a little while.  As soon as we could escape gracefully, we did, and we stopped by the Visitor’s Bureau to say goodbye to Mary, then we stopped by the River Discovery Center to see if there were any eclipse t-shirts left.  No luck!

We drove back to the hotel and got cleaned up and loaded the car, and we were off, but not until after noon!!  Kim bravely decided that she could drive across the old, narrow, iron grate-bottomed, scary Irvin Cobb Bridge over to Brookport, Illinois, so off we went, with no plan and no paper map of Illinois!  We opted to cross the Mississippi at Chester instead of going all the way to St. Louis, and on the way we went through Metropolis, Vienna, Anna, and Jonesboro.  We went through a bit of a hard rain between Vienna and Anna, but it had almost stopped raining by the time we saw a sign for the site of one of the Lincoln-Douglas debates.  It doesn’t take much for us to stop…

As we drove into Chester, we noted that it was the home of Popeye (the Sailor Man) and his assorted motley crew, so again, we were forced to stop for some photo opportunities.  Kim crossed another old bridge here, and we went from being high on a bluff to in the flatlands of Missouri.  Before long though, we were in some hilly-ish country.  As usual, we opted to stay off of interstates as much as possible, but we did have to hop on for a few miles to get up to Festus.  Shades of Gunsmoke!

From looking at the map, it looked like we could make it to Jefferson City for the evening, and it also looked like our best chance for a meal before then was in St. Clair, a little town on Route 66.  We had eaten at the Lewis Cafe there for breakfast back on our second Route 66 venture back in 2007, and we were pleasantly surprised to see that the restaurant was still open!  Since they butcher their own meat, we opted for burgers and shared a plate of homemade onion rings.  And since they had pie….

Once done with dinner, we made our way to Missouri’s capital city, arriving at our hotel before 8 PM!  Since we had toured the capitol building on our 2010 road trip, we did not need to redo that, even though the capitol is one of my favorites – and it is massive!  We spent our evening looking through photos and blogging, and wondering where the next day would find us!