January 2nd, 2009
Today, Terah and I set out for some geocaching. Jacob’s daycare was back in session (he goes twice a week), but we both had the day off. Jacob enjoys geocaching, but he does make it a lot slower. So we dropped him off at day care today, and headed off. We were also scouting out good places for future tent camping along the way. We didn’t know exactly where we’d manage to go, so I had downloaded over 100 geocaches to my new GPS, prepared for many options!
Not long after we found our second cache (in Canton, KS), Terah asked, “Did you hear that hissing from the tire?” “No….” We were about 5 miles from town. I happened to have an air tank with me (because of a different tire with a slow leak). I shot some air in it, and we made it to Canton Service just fine. They fixed both tires, and my uncle — who was there getting tire work done himself — was quite surprised to see us pull in bright and early at about 9:00!
After our tire was fixed, we headed northeast. We found some more caches, and drove around the two lakes near Herington, KS. We saw hundreds of geese perched on the icy lake and hiked a bit in the area to find a cache. Then it was on to Council Grove for lunch.
I do believe this is the first time we have ever walked into a place that looks like a restaurant and only after we are seated realize that we’re in a museum.
Council Grove has an amazing historic downtown — “the most history per capita of any town in the west!” the travel information AM station proudly proclaims, with 25 historic sites and a population of 2500. Got a chuckle at that one. We drove by the oldest continuously operating restaurant west of the Mississippi (it was closed), so we turned around and stopped at the Trail Days Bakery and Cafe that we had passed a few blocks back. We walked in the side door, into what looked like a meticulously-restored old house. We were seated at a table, given menus, and the waiter explained, “By the way, you’re eating in a cafe that’s also a museum. Please feel free to look around, and don’t miss the basement and upstairs, too!”
So it turned out that the Trail Days Bakery and Cafe is in the historic Terwilliger House. The house was about to be razed, when Shirley and Ken McClintock heard about it and tried to get some people interested in saving it. When nobody else stepped up, they did — they formed a non-profit, and with a lot of hard work from themselves and others, managed to restore it from its state as a run-down gas station to its former beauty. They operate the cafe as a way to raise funds for the preservation of the house and the other historic buildings they have moved to the site to restore. Oh, and Shirley and Ken were our cooks and waiters today!
We showed up there at about 1PM, right at the tail end of the lunch rush. Another couple happened to be there at about the same time. They were traveling across Kansas from west to east, specifically avoiding the interstates so they could see the small towns along the way. We got to talking about geocaching and their home town near Colorado. Then we got to talking to Shirley about the music CDs that they had for sale and the history of the place, and the Ken told us all about the Native American pictograph that they had discovered carved into the wood in the house. By the time we left, we had probably been there almost two hours.
Oh, by the way, Terah had ham and beans (“just like mom used to make”, she said), and I had what can be best described as a sloppy joe made out of bison meat. Both were good, but eating in this beautiful old house was even nicer.
Then we drove down the road a bit to the old apothecary. Yes, it’s still a drugstore in every sense of the word: you can get your prescriptions filled there, and they also still have the original soda fountain (dating back to 1920 if memory serves), serving up all the stuff you used to find in a drugstore. We chose somewhat boring items, I guess: Terah had a chocolate shake (the made-in-front-of-you-fresh kind), and I had a root beer float. So, what would have been a quick lunch in a different town turned into a few hours in Council Grove thanks to a very helpful leaky tire this morning that threw us off schedule!
After that, a few more caches on the way back towards home. We picked up Jacob, and he and I found the last cache of the day — which he, of course, loved. Then home.
We only found 8 caches, but had a lot of fun.