Allergies and all, I survived my day in Topeka yesterday. I messed up and threw myself even more of a challenge when I got starry eyed over some medicine deals at Walgreens and completely forgot to look for something non-drowsy. Luckily, I remained functional and didn’t fall asleep at the wheel.
We hit a local joint called Juice Stop for a smoothie breakfast and a stuffed pretzel (because I never get the opportunity to indulge in those) and I tried a shot of wheatgrass. It was grassy. I showed my ignorance by originally asking for it in my smoothie, but the staff was nice and set me straight on the fact that most people do shots and it would make a fruit smoothie taste like the ground. I’m glad they gave me the info.
Sadly, this was the only adventure I was able to catch a pic for on this trip because I forgot to charge my phone overnight (this really isn’t my best weekend, mentally). Not really a big deal, though, since Topeka is a short drive and we’re already planning on going back to the Topeka Zoo, which was our second stop. I’ve heard mixed reviews about this zoo, and they all have merit. It was nice seeing some of the animals we don’t have in MHK, but everything felt a little dirty. Then again, it was raining and hot and muggy, so that might have contributed to it. All the animals were out, lazing around and doing as little as possible. We got the once over from a gorilla named Tiffani, and even though the zoo said we might be lucky enough to see it via a “sign” on their window, we missed out on seeing the mating of the tigers.
The third stop was to buy clothes for Jon. Nothing especially exciting happened there.
Our fourth stop was unplanned and mostly a means to kill time until the movie theater opened, but it was well worth the side trip. We checked out the Kansas Museum of History which included an exhibit on retro and antique furniture, a huge train that triggered my claustrophobia when I tried to walk through it, and all kinds of neat historical stuff. I’d actually like to go back and get pictures from there sometime.
We had lunch at Hooters, another new food experience for me. The food was delicious. I had one of the best grilled chicken sandwiches I’ve ever had. I realize people make Hooters jokes and all, and I guess I thought it would be a little more risque than it was. But it wasn’t uncomfortable and the service was good.
Our last Topeka stop was to the West Ridge 8 second run theater. It has been years since I’ve been to a “cheap seat” theater. Jon and I opted for different movies. He went with the newest Fast and the Furious flick and I went to see The Purge. In my last post, I complained about people talking , but for two dollars, a lot can be overlooked. I was lucky in that there wasn’t a lot of talking in my theater, and what there was seemed fairly appropriate, including the moment when the theater was silent and after a pivotal scene in the movie, another movie goer said “Moron” out loud in reference to one of the characters. It was funny because I’m pretty sure everyone else was thinking the same thing. There was also a scene at the end of the movie where everyone busted out laughing. Humor aside…especially because it wasn’t supposed to be a funny movie…I enjoyed it. I didn’t so much enjoy the theater seats which leaned back way too far, but again, for two bucks, I dealt with it. And we’ll probably go back.
We drove home in more rain, made a Baskin Robbins stop, and came back to the house where we watched “Knocked Up” and part of “Sharknado,” which I’m sure will get its own post. Overall, it was a fun and active day and even though we did a lot of walking, my soreness and stiffness is at a minimum.
After the rousing success of our last road trip to Louisburg, K (my Passion Party co-consultant and friend) and I decided to follow it up with another day trip, this time to Salina. For Labor Day and Memorial Day, our company gives us a four day weekend, so we decided to make the most of our Friday off.
Our first stop was at the Cracker Barrel in Junction City. It’s kind of a cliche, but I really like CB, and it always seems like the best place to eat on a road trip. I think that mentality comes from my Mom’s side of the family, travelers who love a good Cracker Barrel stop. Breakfast was awesome, but I think breakfast is always awesome since it’s sort of a treat (I’m not an everyday breakfast person). They have a “Wholesome Breakfast Platter” with a fruit and yogurt parfait, a muffin (I asked to substitute a piece of toast), eggs and turkey sausage.
After breakfast, we poked around the store a little bit. Not that I actually NEEDED any candy, but Cracker Barrel is one of the best places I know of to get Salt Water Taffy. So I bought a box of that, a box of black licorice, and some candy sticks to suck on when I have a sugar craving.
Our first stop in Salina was Auld Lang Syne, an antique store which was fairly huge as far as antique stores are concerned. We didn’t stay long. The only reason we even went is because the place we really wanted to go wasn’t open for another five minutes. However, we were there long enough for me to play with a ViewFinder.
I loved these things when I was a kid. Today I got to view the epic 3D story of Super Mario Bros. The only thing that stopped me from buying this was the fact that the ViewFinder itself was not for sale. Not for sale? Antique store, why do you mock me?! This meant no more childhood nostalgia for me, but I’m seriously considering checking out eBay to see who might be parting with some ViewFinder treasures.
Our second stop, and the thing that spurred our trip to Salina in the first place, was the local “paint your own pottery” store, On the Pot.
I painted pottery a few years back with my friend Saphy in Texas and really enjoyed it but didn’t have the chance after that to do it again. More recently, my friend SV told me about this place in Salina. K and I decided to check it out (I think SV and I will be taking a trip soon, so there will likely be more paint your own pottery posts).
The place is cute and artsy. You pay a studio fee which covers tools and paint (all you can use…like a paint buffet), and then you purchase the item you want to paint. It’s a little pricey for the more frugal person, and it’s not something I could afford every single weekend. But it’s a nice way to spend a few hours and end up with something nice you helped create.
I had an easy time deciding what I wanted to paint, but that’s only because I already had an idea going into it. I’ve been wanting a mug for work since winter is on its way and I’m already starting to crave coffee. I found an espresso mug that suited my purpose.
One of the owners gave us a quick tutorial on how to paint, the importance of doing more than one coat, and how the whole process works. The only bummer was that we don’t actually get to pick our finished product up for 6 days. In that time, they glaze it and heat it in the kiln and make it user ready.
I had the best intentions, and I was really going to make something edgy and cool, but when it comes down to it, I kind of suck at painting. I ended up with a hot mess. In the pictures, it looks like a hot pastel mess, but the firing makes the colors darker, so it’s got that going for it. Maybe.
I thought I could pass it off as some abstract depiction of travel, but it really just looks silly. That camera two shot? Totally a face on the side of the cup, with the handle representing a nose and the dark lines the rim of a pair of glasses. No, it doesn’t make sense, and up close the whole mouth part actually looks a little obscene. But maybe it’ll look cool and edgy with darker colors.
I also painted the inside, more out of boredom and wanting something to do with the extra paint I’d poured into the tray.
On the other hand, K went to town painting her gecko. I’ll admit it…I’m envious of how well her’s turned out.
I was tempted to do another small project but decided to save it for next time. We finished up, then headed out to do some thrift shopping. Neither of the places we went yielded any great finds. In theory, I love thrift shopping, but I think because so much of my life is digital, I don’t actually need anything. I don’t need books or CDs, I don’t decorate my house….I barely keep it clean, to tell the truth. And while it would be awesome to buy cheap clothes, I’ve yet to find a thrift store that has much to offer large women. I suppose I could buy a couple t-shirts and string them together to make a cool bra or something.
Next stop: lunch. After cruising around to find something different than what we have in Manhattan, we finally settled on a small italian diner in the downtown area.
The food was delicious and well priced. Each menu item is divided into sizes that can feed one to four people. The quarter size usually feeds one while the half will feed two. Even with just choosing quarter sizes there was too much to eat. I finished the pasta, because I love pasta. The salad, however, I had to box and bring home. What I thought was going to be a side salad was pretty much a meal in itself.
With as filling as the meal was, I managed not to overstuff myself and saved some room for wine sampling at the Smoky Hills Winery. After the last experience, I’ve been all about trying some other wineries in Kansas.
Smoky Hill Winery
We tried several varieties. I stuck to semi-sweet at first but then tried a sweet white and a sweet red, both of which I really liked. They were definitely not dessert wines, which I find way too sweet, but they were fruitier than semi-sweet. I opted to buy a bottle of their Czech Red. I was sold on the taste of maraschino cherries. Unfortunately, the woman working said that the current owners are in the process of selling the vineyard and winery. I hope someone buys it who’ll keep it running. I think I said in my last winery post that I think the vineyards are so beautiful, and it seems a shame to get rid of them.
Our last stop of the day was on the way home from Salina and was actually in Abilene. The Russell Stover plant sits just off the highway and has a store where you can purchase new product, and clearance product and “bloopers” at a discount. I didn’t realize it at the time, but the store had just been remodeled, so they were having a grand opening sale.
The picture here is the main area with all the new stuff. What I didn’t get a picture of was the back room where they had all the discounted chocolates. Everything was marked down about fifty percent from the original price, and then the cashier was taking an extra percentage off that.
A couple things to note here: in the past, I would have had to use alot of restraint not to buy out the entire store. This time, it wasn’t that hard (I’m not on a diet, but I’m sure I’ll talk about this in a later post). I still bought more than I probably needed, but it’s not bad to have around for emergency cravings. Another thing is that yes, some of this chocolate is old, but old chocolate is still good chocolate if it’s been properly packaged. Backup plan if it doesn’t taste good as candy? Baking chocolate for the holidays.
The day was successful in many ways. I got to hang out with K, I got to things I don’t get to do everyday, and I got to really push myself with more walking, realizing that a few months ago, I wouldn’t have been able to do this. All in all, this was definitely a day off work well spent.