Heads Go West, 5/6/16, Day 7

States: Kansas, Colorado

Soundtrack: Howard Stern, Beer Geeks Podcasts

 Day 7 is the story of two surprises and a sure thing.

Surprise #1 – Wonder in Russell

We woke up this morning in Russell, Kansas. After our rocky night of spiders and bad tacos, we couldn’t wait to just get on the road and write this town off as the obligatory low point. In what’s become our daily routine, Wally and I went out for a long morning walk and fetch before anyone else was up. We went around the back of our weird hotel and decided to explore a little bit.  As we went down the road, we came upon the neighboring RV Park and saw something I never expected – an old run down miniature golf course…with ponies in it! Just hanging out on the faded patches of green next to statues of giraffes and elephants. Ok, we had to keep going.  As we got to the end of the road, we came upon Russell’s local museum: The Oil Dispatch Museum. It was an open field full of old, multicolored oil drills and barrels. Against the backdrop of open plains and blue skies, it was really quite beautiful!  We came back to the hotel and got ready to hit the road. We hit the hotel breakfast buffet on the way out and had some remarkable chats with the locals from our little town. The hotel’s omelet chef, who never actually offered to cook us an omelet but who took an instant shine to Charley and another man who told Carey his life story of losing his wife in his 40’s and making the decision to leave LA to return to his hometown in Kansas of just 200 folks.  Just when we thought Russell was just a chapter to get through, it surprised us by becoming a really lovely one to write about!

Surprise #2 – If you like our dog, we’ll love you

Time to stop for lunch and still in the middle of the big state of Kansas.  This time Goodland, Kansas.  Similar to Russell, this was a tiny, farm town without a whole lot in it. Miraculously, Carey was able to google and find us a supposedly dog friendly restaurant: Shiraz Steakhouse, attached to a small motel (red flag #1). I poked my head in to find a little restaurant with lights completely dimmed at noon (red flag #2).  The hostess informed me that the back patio wasn’t really open yet…but she guessed she could wipe down the seat cushions and open it up for us (uh oh, red flag #3). They led us all back to a little patio, where the owner emerged  – a very tan older lady.  “I’ll close the gate, and you can let the dog off the leash. Let him run around!”  She and the very sweet staff made us all feel so welcome.  And our lunch was quite delicious! Ok, Kansas – you got us again.

And finally, the sure thing – on to Colorado Springs!

When Liz and I were growing up, the highlight of our summer (ok, our year!) was going to Colorado Springs to see our cousins, the Schwabs.  We have so many magical memories of road trips with Mom and blissful summer days with our favorite people on the planet. And it was the same this time as it ever was. We arrived at Aunt Jo’s and cousin Jenny’s and were greeted with festive white balloons on the mailbox and much needed hugs and kisses. Instantly, the stress of the road melted away. And it was complete love at first sight for Charley and the family she was meeting for the first time. She just melted in Aunt Jo and Jenny’s arms – giggles and face grabs and long stares. And it was the same when cousin Dianne and her two beautiful girls, Emily and Olivia, came by.  And just like all the memories of being in Colorado when we were little, it was just a perfect night – a delicious and much needed homemade meal, tons of laughs, great catching up, watching “Game of Thrones” and discussing juicy plot theories, being totally spoiled and feeling so comfortable and rejuvenated.  After so many days of being away from home and road weary, it was such a blessing to land right back in that magical place that was always so wonderful growing up. Man, we have the greatest family! THE GREATEST! Thank you guys for taking such good care of us! And tomorrow we start to make our way to another familiar place – we start the 2 day trek to Vegas!

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