Because we've been on the road for the almost the last two weeks ... after a few days' recovery from the last road trip; Thursday found us on the road again to Lenexa for a distance learning conference that Lauren was presenting at. Following an overnight stay, we headed down to SE Kansas to show Lauren where I grew up and went to college.
Through the weekend, I showed Lauren around Pittsburg and Girard, stopping off for lunch at the Mall Deli and later for dinner, letting her try SE Kansas chicken! For those of you who don't know about it, there are two "dueling" long-time chicken restaurants down in SE Kansas that make chicken unlike any other restaurant I know of: Chicken Annie's and Chicken Mary's.
Before we went down, Lauren was a little skeptical of how good the chicken was, so we ran a taste test of Annie's chicken on Friday evening before doing the county fair, and with family friends Carl and Millie Larcom, headed for Chicken Mary's on Saturday night ... after comparing the two, Lauren decided that Mary's was better (which makes me the lone family holdout for Annie's ... sigh).
Friday evening was spent at the fair;, where Lauren got in her quota of ducky, wabbit, and horse petting ;-), and we also got to experience another tradition: homemade county fair ice cream. I also saw a couple of former high school classmates and caught up on how they were doing.
On Saturday, we journeyed over to Joplin, MO for lunch to see a very nice bistro and Victorian/Italian styled garden shop called Sandstone Gardens:
Interior of the Garden Shop
From there, it was a quick jaunt to Carthage to see Precious Moments ... we wanted to stop off at Marion Days in Carthage itself, but decided not to ... way crowded.
Early Sunday afternoon found Lauren and I taking a short train ride ... the local SEK Railroad Association had brought down a steam locomotive and several (thankfully air conditioned) passenger rail cars, to run a short trip out into the country and back. Lauren's a bit of a train buff, having grown up next to the Rock Island line, and also having ridden the train to and from Chicago, so she really enjoyed the trip (even though the air conditioning cut out half-way through). Not having ridden trains very much, I was a little concerned by the pronounced rocking of the cars, but Lauren assured me that a)this was normal, and b)it wasn't bad compared to other rides she'd been on.
After lunch at Pittsburg's newest Thai restaurant, Typhoon (which we can both recommend), we stopped by the Knoll's (Linda and J.T.), for introductions and catching up, and then headed home, getting back to Maryville just before an oncoming round of thunderstorms delivered some much needed rain.