Along the Lewis & Clark Trail…

The only place we’ve stayed more than one night so far is back in Lexington, Virginia, and that’s not ideal – two nights in one place is better than one!  But, we’re getting better at taking the minimum amount of “stuff” into each hotel room (no camping yet!) to make a quick start in the morning.  We’d be taking this early part of the journey much slower, but have a “Boise by May 29” goal, and so are really making tracks across country;  still finding time to meander and pause at unanticipated  roadside treasures…mostly natural food stores, coffee shops, singular restaurants, brew pubs!

From Kansas City, the Corps of Discovery made its arduous way upstream – by poling or pulling (known as cordelling) the 55’ keelboat.  It took them a month to reach a spot near Council Bluffs, Iowa.  We drove to and past Council Bluffs from St. Charles in a day.

Through Iowa

Through Iowa

Council Bluffs was named for the Expedition’s first encounter with Native Americans.  We stopped at a lovely overlook on a bluff above the Missouri, imagining the men struggling against the current, and camping just across the river from where we sat.

We made a quick stop in Sioux City, Iowa, seeking coffee and internet access –two important resources we try to consult every other day or so.  We don’t have advance reservations from here on, and so rely on Yelp, TripAdvisor and Priceline, which led us this day to charming Yankton, South Dakota. After dinner at “El Tapatio,” we headed to another important resource:  Walmart – to provision for camping…and where the magazine selection was most interesting.

Yankton Dinner

Yankton Dinner

Magazines

Before striking out westward to Rapid City, South Dakota, we walked across Yankton’s restored Meridian Bridge to Nebraska.

Meridian Bridge, Yankton, SD

Meridian Bridge, Yankton, SD

 

Hello South Dakota!

Hello South Dakota!

The scenery has been beautiful in ever changing ways, and though we won’t choose to live in the “flatlands,” there is something awesome about the Great Plains, the rolling hills and wide skies – how much of it Woodie Guthrie had seen when he composed This Land is Your Land, I’m not sure, but the landscape we’re passing through has kept me mindful of the power of the land and its meaning – especially as we celebrate, and remember, on Memorial Day.

 

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2,000 Miles, & “Across the Wide Missouri!”

Travelling miles and miles in a car with a companion who enjoys trivia and musical tidbits just as much as I do is great fun – we’re struck every once in a while by something that starts us humming or singing a song that perfectly fits where we are…such as when we crossed the Missouri River, and “Shenandoah” came to mind.  Then there was discovering Daniel Boone’s last home (in a beautiful stretch of land between St. Louis and Jefferson City – he lived within miles of where Lewis & Clark travelled, and there is no record that they ever met), and remembering “he was a man, he was a biiiiig man, with an eye like an eagle and a…..(I’ll bet you can fill in the rest!)  “Kansas City, Kansas City, here I come,” and of course, even though we were in a car:

As I was walking that ribbon of highway,
I saw above me that endless skyway:
I saw below me that golden valley:
This land was made for you and me.

Here’s a link to a wonderful YouTube video of Pete Seeger (at 90!) and Bruce Springsteen at the Lincoln Memorial singing “This Land is Your Land” – if you’ve never heard or seen Pete Seeger, who died earlier this year, please watch!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HE4H0k8TDgw&feature=kp

Our Ribbon of Highway

Our Ribbon of Highway

This map is from the Museum of the Westward Expansion at the St. Louis Arch, and the red line depicting the Lewis & Clark Trail starts in the east in St. Louis, where we really start to parallel the Trail and follow it for a couple of days. We’ll pick it up again later in the trip, after a long detour to Idaho and British Columbia.  The “Voyage of Discovery,” commissioned by President Thomas Jefferson was ambitious and extraordinarily successful – they started out in May 1802.  Lewis & Clark returned after nearly three years of exploration having lost only one member of the Corps of Discovery, and with massive amounts of information about the vastly expanded country.  Having read Undaunted Courage by Stephen Ambrose years ago was great preparation for exploring some of the areas in which the Corps of Discovery passed.

Driving through these regions and realizing just what those men and Sacajawea had to endure is my outdoor classroom – truly “learning it all, over again!” (So fitting! That’s the subtitle of my blog:  Read. Travel. Learn it all, over again!)  We followed the Missouri north and westward, to visit tiny St. Charles, where the journey began.  (Some would argue with reason, that the journey began far to the east, where Meriwether Lewis had the keelboat made in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, but it wasn’t until St. Charles that the two leaders finally joined forces and the expedition began.

The Lewis & Clark Trail

The Lewis & Clark Trail

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Organized!

Organized!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Besides generally following the Lewis & Clark Trail, how else are we managing on this trip?  By perusing our well-worn edition of “RoadFood,” which has traversed the country now at least three times!  It shows just how enduring those classic old-timey restaurants and diners are when our 2005 edition still points us to great spots for a bite to eat.  We’ve written something by the listing for each of the many places we’ve stopped, and I love reading notes from other years…I write in my books – you might want to try it!  Yep, whether a food guide, a cook book, travel guide, poetry, fiction or history, my books are lined with marginalia – books which someone, sometime, will pick up at a used book sale, and puzzle over, perhaps wondering who wrote the sentences, exclamation marks, and sometimes ever-so slightly critical words scribbled in the margins.

The Road Food Book

The Road Food Book

From St. Charles we roughly followed the Missouri and the Corps of Discovery’s route to Jefferson City, where The RoadFood Book directed us to Central Dairy for delicious, and cheap ($2 for an overflowing pint of scoops)ice cream break – the best deal of the trip so far.  Then, as CW so delicately puts it, we “beat cheeks” to Kansas City MO. (This phrase apparently refers to a horse’s flanks – contrary to what you may be thinking…)

Kansa City was a great stop, where I was delighted to find “The Roasterie,” (http://www.theroasterie.com/) an amazing coffee roaster/wholesaler/retailer with an airplane and flight theme (check it out!) whilst CW enjoyed a private tour with the Lead Brewer at “Boulevard,” (www.boulevard.com) a major craft brewer – they were within blocks of each other, and we cheerfully split up for a couple of hours to each enjoy our own “brews.”  That’s another good tip for long term, close quarters travel – make sure to build in time to pursue independent activities!

The Roasterie

The Roasterie

Boulevard Brewery

Boulevard Brewery

So far, no one place has called out to us as a potential landing spot, though some are full of history and a vibrant culture; in fact, crossing Missouri, I had glimpsed a sign for Rosebud, MO, and I longed for a moment, to live in a place called “Rosebud.”

 

 

Detour for Architecture!

The middle part of the country is not-so-kindly referred to as the “flyover” zone – but we’ve enjoyed the drive.  And though it’s not an area that we’ve considered living in, we did take a full day to detour from the direct route to St. Louis, and headed north to Columbus, Indiana, one of the most important cities for architecture in the U.S. – right behind places like Chicago, New York, Boston and Sand Francisco.  The generosity of institutions like The Cummins Engine Foundation and individuals, including J. Irwin Miller, has created a community that enjoys a cornucopia of buildings, sculpture and gardens created by some of the world’s best architects and designers. (http://www.columbus.in.us/)

Columbus Indiana Fire Station

We started at the Columbus Visitor’s Center  and picked up a map to take our own walking tour.  We saw a library by I.M. Pei, and church by Eliel Saarinen, and a Henry Moore sculpture before we’d walked two blocks.  A quick stop at the Zaharakos Ice Cream Parlor was a treat for our taste buds and a feast for the eyes – an amazingly restored shop from 1900 with original marble counters, Tiffany-like glass,  charming syrup dispensers and an old-timey candy store.  And the ice cream was pretty special too! (http://www.zaharakos.com/)

Zaharakos Decoration

Syrup Dispenser

Syrup Dispenser

The afternoon ended with a superb guided tour of The Miller House (http://www.imamuseum.org/visit/miller-house)- a 90 minute visit to a wonderful example of Modernist architecture, and a lived-in family home.  I wanted to leap into the conversation pit and invite friends over for wine and talk!  The house is starkly beautiful and the Alexander Girard interior design filled the house with color, joyful fabrics and folkloric collections.

Miller House Perimeter

For the evening, friends pointed us to the ramshackle Story Inn, (http://www.storyinn.com/) a former general store in a town that almost disappeared, but didn’t.  The winding and rolling back roads were beautiful and we arrived in time for a walk and exploring.  Breakfast was great!  House made raspberry jam and apple butter, smooth Brown County coffee, biscuits and local eggs and best of all, a leisurely hour in conversation before the long drive to St. Louis, Missouri.  Haven’t found a place we’d like to settle yet, but the exploring has been great fun!

The Story Inn

4 Big Rivers, 5 Days, 7 States, and 1000 Miles…

We’ve crossed the Delaware, Susquehanna, Potomac, and Ohio rivers in the past 5 days, and look forward to sunny days and more leisure to enjoy the ones yet to come (The Missouri! The Mississippi! The Columbia!) One highlight of the trip so far was the memorial service in the chapel at the Virginia Military Institute, honoring the ten young cadets who died in the Battle of New Market in May 1864.

Soft, lilting southern accents permeate the air – the wait staff at restaurants, in particular, sound gracious and kind, and even if the service is a bit slow from time to time, it feels simply good to just sit and wait, talking about the day, the drive, the scenery, the breweries!

I’ve already lost count – there was Star Hill in Crozet, Blue Mountain Brewery in the heart of the Blue Ridge mountains, Devil’s Backbone and Blue Lab in Lexington, VA….the Charleston Brewery in West Virginia…and more.

Virginia’s many historic markers included one marking the location of Meriwether Lewis’ birthplace – this gave me a thrill (yes, it did!), because we’re going to be driving in large part along the Lewis & Clark trail once we arrive in St. Louis.

Meriwether Lewis

Meriwether Lewis

Our drives haven’t started early yet, so there’s been room for morning exercise either at the hotels (terrible equipment!) or running.  Rest stops include some serious stretching of legs, hips, shoulders, back – otherwise, yikes!

I’m reviewing many of the places we’re eating on www.yelp.com – so you can look up Pronto and The Red Hen in Lexington, and others I’ll share as we go along.  The Red Hen was an extraordinary, tiny restaurant serving meals prepared from daily ingredients sourced locally – truly fine dining, and not something we can afford to repeat every day!

We left Lexington on Friday and drove to Charleston, West Virginia, along miles and miles of absolutely beautiful, winding S-curves, up and down roads across the Blue Ridge, and through West Virginia – I now understand why it’s called the “Mountain State” – it feels like the entire state is series of tiny towns in narrow valleys set between lush green hills.  From Charleston we made it to Lexington, Kentucky, site of one of Mary Todd Lincoln’s childhood homes.

Winsome Sculpture

Winsome Sculpture

This Lexington had no VMI, but does have Henry Clay’s home and law office, a thriving bourbon/craft brewing industry, and a busy Saturday morning farm market which I explored.  I didn’t get a doughnut today – but Cathy of Cedar Ridge Farm had a delicious sour cream cinnamon roll that was superb with the pourover coffee from MagicBeans Coffee (www.magicbeanscoffee.com.)  The growing season has already brought tomatoes, gorgeous peaches, blueberries, strawberries and various greens to the market.  The market is set up under a glass pavilion just outside the old Lexington Courthouse, parking was easy, and dogs were abundant!

Farm Market Peaches

Farm Market Peaches

On to Columbus, Indiana, home of some extraordinary public buildings designed by world-renowned architects…

4 Months, 2 People, 1 Car, a Tent & a Plan…

We left Bethesda, MD yesterday and began a 4-month odyssey across the U.S. and British Columbia, and back to the east coast.  CW will be continuing his “maltrepreneurial” activities, introducing craft brewers across the country to his hand-crafted smoked malts from a small distillery in Virginia; I’m focused on finding farm to table restaurants and diners, local food production including coffee, chocolate, cheese & cider (the 4 “C’s!”), and oh, let’s add Kombucha even though it starts with a K, organic agriculture, unusual museums and experiencing the differences in climate and culture as we travel.

We’re also on a mission to explore communities to which we might someday move – there’s not really a checklist, but we are looking for access to hiking and the outdoors, culture and cultural diversity, a sustainable economy and food system, community, education & health care, among others.  “Climate” is a parameter on which we still have some differences.

Day 1 – we drove not far, from Maryland to Charlottesville, Virginia though the urban density of the greater Washington DC area, and into the gorgeous, verdant, rolling hills of Virginia horse country.  The pace will pick up soon, but these first few days are focused on Virginia breweries and Civil War sesquicentennial activities at the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) for the May 1864 Battle of New Market, in which CW’s great-grandfather, John S. Wise, participated as a VMI Cadet.

Dinner was at The Local, sourcing ingredients from nearby farms and engaging local craftspeople to create a rustic, comfortable restaurant with a balcony looking over the tiny village of Belmont.  http://thelocal-cville.com/  The dinner, from the fried green tomato and burrata salad, to the house-made fettucine and mushroom ragout, to the incredible peanut butter brownie sundae, was a rewarding end to day one.  Figuring out how to exercise on the road and work off the local meals we plan to enjoy is the next challenge!

 

Virginia Horse Country

Virginia Horse Country

Unexpected - Georgia O'Keefe Lived Here

Unexpected – Georgia O’Keefe Lived Here

Let’s Sell the House!

In the aftermath of the wonderful trip to India, CW and I decided to follow through with an idea we’d been toying with for a year or so…selling the house, downsizing, packing the tent and heading west and back, with a goal of exploring possible locations for our next home.  Two days after getting back, and still a bit jet-lagged, we found an agent and began rapid work to prep the house for sale.  We were more exhausted by this than we could have imagined – up and down the stairs hundreds of times, making decisions about belongings – keep, store, donate, trash? Packing a household of thirty years of furniture, artwork, dishes, glasses and goblets, family heirlooms, and books, many many books, on our own, instead of enjoying the luxury of a company move – now that I’ve done it, don’t plan on a repeat.  Fatigue was also psychological, even though this was a much discussed and well-planned move.

Within 8 weeks of getting back from India, we turned the keys to our house over to new owners and experienced an unexpected sense of weightlessness (well, almost) – no more lawn to mow, house repairs to undertake, empty rooms to dust.  Instead, we have a small, urban apartment in Philadelphia which we can leave by simply locking the door, and to which we can return when wanderlust is sated. 

The next journey will be North America – exploring a number of cities that beckon as locations for our next home, even though that may not be for a few years.  What’s important?  Nature, cultural diversity, a sustainable economy, appreciation for local food, a supportive community, education, health care…among other things!  And, I’ll be sharing how we “journeywise” – join us for the drive!  We’re on our way…

Sweet House

Sweet House

Favorite Spot...

Favorite Spot…

4 Months, 1 Car, & Adventure!

4 Months, 1 Car, & Adventure!