A Day in Salina

Today, I took a day trip to Salina, KS.

Pictures ahead and a longer post than usual.

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.

Viewing it Old School

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.

On The Pot Pottery Store

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.

K looking for something cool to paint.
Finished Goodies from Fellow Pottery Artists

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.

Coffee mug...or blank canvas?

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.

Camera One...
...and Camera Two!

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.

It's like a strange garden...or something...

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.

That gecko is going to help us in the office...seriously...

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.

Martinelli's Italian Eatery
Quiet in the off time...just the way I like it!

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.

Tri Color Cheese Tortellini and a Caesar Salad
Shots of people eating are fun!

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
Another beautiful vineyard
I failed at getting interesting pictures from this 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.

Sugar Overload

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.

All this...under 5 bucks!

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.