It was in the very last leg of our trip– literally the last 15 minutes– that we heard the song that could have been the theme to our last week. It came to us over the airwaves of NPR, no surprise to those of you who know Tyler. In case you’d like to take a listen, here is the song so you can sing along while you read. (Believe me, one needs only to hear the chorus once to join right in.)
Last week Tyler and I crossed the Midwest a couple times over to recruit for our alma mater (Tyler’s job) and visit family (a nephew’s birthday party). I will admit that we probably didn’t truly experience the entirety of the Midwest, but we visited cities I’d never seen, so I feel entitled in saying my Midwest experience has been broadened. We started in Marion and headed west to Kansas City, then down to St Louis, back east to Marion, then further over to Detroit.
Tyler has long since touted the superiority of Kansas City– his birthplace– so I was
eager mildly interested (let’s be real) to see this place. In the end, I was not nearly as enamored. However, I did have The Very Best Ice Cream in their downtown and so I’d say it was a winner overall.
But I’m getting ahead of myself! Let’s start at the beginning….
Early morning rise with these saucer eyes saying
don’t go I will cause havoc your last hour here!
With all but one of our bags by the door, we traveled pretty light for a week on the road. (If I do say so myself…)
And then, off we go, in the dark of the night.
It wasn’t long before the sun began to rise, lighting up a beautiful fall day. These country scenes scream “Midwest” to me. I think I am still fascinated by glimpses of farming because until I moved north for college, I honestly didn’t know that “family farms” still existed in the US. Yes, I was in suburban denial.
We stopped for a bite to eat and managed to find the cutest Mediterranean cafe with an authentic Lebanese chef.
Back on the road again.
Our first night all we wanted was a comfort meal. For the Murphmans, it is pho. This take-out Vietnamese meal came to us unassembled, with the biggest spring rolls I’ve ever seen on the side.
Also, funny story– I put what I thought was a green pepper in my soup only to discover that I was chomping on a jalepeno. My lips literally swelled. I then sat on the couch with an ice cube on my mouth for the next hour. Tyler was the only one laughing, until the next day when I could properly appreciate the humor myself.
While Tyler worked every day, I would be dropped off at a park, shopping center, or parking lot to bide my time. One of the first days I spent two hours in TJMaxx wandering around, surely attracting attention from the security guards, and putting a ton of things in my cart that I really wasn’t planning to buy and later had to return to the shelves. Here is the big regret though– should have snatched up this cat carrier! I dismissed it as overboard until Tyler himself said later that I should have purchased it. Wonder of wonders.
Tyler still had to carry on with his marathon training while we were gone– which proved a little difficult at times– but I’m proud to say that for the most part, he stayed right on track. The first evening, I went along with my rollerblades. As you know, I’ve been biking with him, and for some reason we thought this would be the traveler’s alternative to biking. Were we ever wrong. An entire post to come about that.
We enjoyed another afternoon out walking in a upscale area of Kansas City. It felt like I was in another place entirely. It was so nice to spend time together pretending that this was just a vacation.
I can’t possibly share all the photos from our trip with you, but I do have to show you The Very Best Ice Cream. You may have already seen it in an Instagram post– (which for those of you who don’t have access via a smart phone, we have a running snapshot of our latest photos in the sidebar to the right of our blog)– but I wanted to share it again. I mean, it was The Very Best. Spiced dark chocolate and salted pretzel best.
And then, Tyler’s favorite. Oklahoma Joe’s Z-man sandwich.
And then, after a couple more schools, fairs, and restaurants, we headed off to St. Louis. Looks like they have fields in Missouri too.
Unfortunately, the only glimpse I got of the famous arch was from an interstate bridge as we left the city a day later.
We arrived back home Friday afternoon, changed our bags over from the work vehicle to our own, and then continued on to Detroit for a little family time. Birthday party time!
Tyler especially enjoyed his role as uncle, although he still refuses to hold friends’ babies. He likes them better once they “look like people”.
And then, after over a week of driving, restaurants, cramped-car-quarters, carry-on suitcases, and strange schedules, we went home. Home to our own baby. Reunited and it feels so good!
So that was it! Whew. A tiring week but so fun to see new places, eat great food, and celebrate with family.
We feel blessed to have been able to travel together this time, after multiple years on the road as individuals. And as what was likely the last travel season for a Murphman family member, it was all the sweeter to do it as a team.