Day 3 we started in St. Louis. The night before we found this great restaurant called Annie Gun’s through Yelp, a smart phone app that can find great food and accommodations along your way . Yelp can really knock it out of the park and has so far on this trip, not least is the example of Annie Gun’s. That restaurant got a near perfect score on Yelp and we can see why. I had one of the all time top 5 sandwiches I ever had there. Unfortunately for us, this place is jumping even on a Sunday night, so we had to order to go. That’s ok, because we ended up in a nice conversation at the bar with some locals. Funny enough, the conversation started because the gentleman mentioned Thurmond WV and we said we just came from around that area. Turns out he is going next week down to that area to work communications for the National Boy Scout Jamboree taking place around the New River Gorge area this summer. His coworker was excited to talk about the great things to see and do around St.Louis and other customers chimed in with their own comments on the area and its culture. Moral of the story is this: don’t be afraid to engage people on a long Road Trip. They can be very nice and turns out the world can be a lot smaller than you think.
We continued on our route West towards Kansas City, KS. One of the most interesting things about this trip has been watching the topographic change as we travel. WV has some (what we thought until recently) large mountains and lots of topographic change. Kentucky begins to tame those ups and downs a little, but they’re still there. Missouri tames them even further. We think of Kansas as flat as a pancake, but that’s a little unfair. East Kansas has quit a lot of rolling topography. It still isn’t hills like we would think of in the East, but they’re notable. East Kansas reminded me a lot of Eastern Maryland or Northern Virginia topographically speaking.
We were really excited about Kansas City. Frank was really looking forward to some Kansas City BBQ. Now anyone that has talked BBQ with Frank will tell you there is only one BBQ on the planet – North Carolina BBQ. The rest are perfectly good smoked meats and sauce, just not real BBQ 🙂 He was all prepared to be blown away. Turns out, we picked the wrong day to truck through Kansas – all of their interesting sites and locals appear to be closed on Monday! 🙁 Kansas City is home to what looks like a wonderful American Jazz museum (we drove by it). The River Market area has what looks to be a wonderful Farmer’s Market (we drove by it). The National World War I museum, which Frank was particularly excited to see, is in Kansas but its closed on Mondays (we drove by it). So we decided to grab some BBQ and hit Lawrence KS, where a colleague had suggested we stay for the night. Our smart devices suggested one or two places, both closed on Mondays…. so with heavy hearts, we drove on to Lawrence. The moral of this story is simple – always do you homework! We would have changed the route slightly to see some of the great sites of Kansas City.
Lawrence Kansas is the home of the University of Kansas. It’s like a lot of college towns you’ll see around the US. There is a thriving youth culture everywhere. However, the real gem of Lawrence is its downtown. Downtown Lawrence could become a model for reviving downtowns everywhere! It’s a beautiful 5-6 block stretch with great stores up and down the block. It has a nice mix of chain stores and local shops. We particularly liked the toy store downtown, fittingly called The Toy Store, which was holding a Lego build competition. The results were displayed in the spacious window. Frank asked and adults aren’t allowed to enter 🙁
We also found a local placed called Bigg’s BBQ so Frank could get his fix. We found Bigg’s the old fashioned way, asking three different store owners where they go to eat BBQ. There was some good natured competition between two places, but in the end more people we met mentioned Bigg’s. It was a wonderful meal and we’d go back if we came through there again!
Next stop is a long drive to Colorado….
License plates seen today:
Day 2: TN, VA, MO, ME, KS, PA, CO, MS, WI, IL, NC, KY, MA, GA, IA, NH, AR and OK.
Day 3: KS, MI, IL, VA, TX, TN, GA, MO, KS, WA, LA, FL, NC, AZ, ME, OR, MN, WI, IA, and NM