One of the major reasons we blog is so we can have a record of all the craziness we get into, in addition to allowing our families to have some details of our whereabouts. It’s kind of like a public journal now as we’re getting more and more followers in our online presence. Hi, everyone! We’ve been a little absent as of late because, well, we can. We’ve been enjoying our freedom. We’ve posted a bit on Instagram and Facebook (@methodtoNOMADness) but it has been a while since our last detailed blog. So here it goes. Let’s catch up.
T- 2 weeks until I must work again. It’s one of those evil necessities every now and then that is required for us to continue this fantastic adventure. We had just thoroughly enjoyed the bike trails in Bentonville, Arkansas (see previous blog post), and decided to make a little northwestern convoluted loop before parking in Texas for two weeks of work. Continuing with our fantastic Harvest Hosts visits, we first travelled northward to Fort Scott, Arkansas- home of the HH spot, Viñedo del Alamo (www.vinedodelalamowinery.com).
Bobby and Denise Duncan were fantastic hosts. We parked at their winery located down a dirt road and were pleasantly surprised we had access to water, electricity, and sewer… for FREE. Needless to say, we took advantage of their hospitality and adorable city for a couple of days. Bobby can skillfully describe every detail about the wines, process, and history of the individual grape species. You MUST try the Arandell and the Estrella Negra if you’re ever even close to the winery. Their actual winery outlet is downtown in the historic Beaux Arts Center which is also their eclectic, beautiful home. The Duncan’s are lifelong travelers for work and we clicked with them immediately. They decided to buy this amazing building after discovering it online when they “retired” (I argued that they do not know the meaning of that word because of how incredibly busy they are daily). They’ve remodeled some aspects of the previous business building while maintaining its original integrity, and it was a highlight of our stop. High ceilings, interior brick sections, almost bohemian comfort yet classic beauty. I love that I cannot find the words to “label” this space because there are none as it cannot be put into a box of this or that. From the incredibly tasty wines to the 1920s-style flapper mannequins in the windows, beautiful piano, funky wigs and dress-up closet, vintage movies and records, and Alice in Wonderland paraphernalia displayed everywhere, this couple’s style was… I’ll say it, enviable. Being allowed to tour their house, one could feel the fun and wild-spirit. Their home is multi-use as well. They display and sell local artisans’ goods near the wine bar and entertaining a myriad of guests who drop in at any point. Denise teaches cooking classes in her huge, industrial kitchen complete with every appliance and kitchen accoutrements imaginable. They rent out space for weddings and events, featuring their wines of course. It’s all very impressive. We thoroughly appreciated our time here.
From Fort Scott, we decided to swing by Kansas City, Missouri for some Kansas City BBQ. And, boy, did we ever. Joe’s Kansas City BBQ is ridiculously good and located inside of a gas station. Yep, you read that right. But don’t let that fool you. Anthony Bourdain named it “One of the 13 Places to Eat Before You Die” for a good reason. The constant line out the door and down the sidewalk was completely worth it. The Z-Man sandwich makes my mouth water just thinking of it. They also had burnt ends on special that day, which we highly recommend. This was on Presidents’ Day. If you’ll remember the news headlines the following day, the feds foiled a planned terrorist attack that was to have taken place in KC that day. This news was more than disturbing to me. It proved to me that no matter where you are or what you do, there are evil people in this world who can change or end our individual worlds in an instant and without remorse. It further validates my beliefs to live your life when and however you please. Don’t waste a second of it being whomever is not your true self or succumbing to a life that is not what you want. No matter what you do or how cautious you are, when it is your time to go, it is your time to go. Alright, I’m off my soapbox.
After our lunch stop (seriously, if anyone wants to mail me another Z-Man, we’ll make it happen), we continued to our next Harvest Hosts stop, Wyldewood Cellars Tasting Room in Paxico, Kansas. It was just a halfway point for driving and an overnight boondocking in their parking lot while sampling a bottle of their wine. Side note: There is nothing but windmills driving through this area of the country. Hundreds upon hundreds of giant windmills.
The following day we arrived at our Kansas surprise oasis: Minooka Park Corps of Engineers Recreation Area. This is an amazing, large well-maintained campground on Wilson Lake in the middle of nowhere Kansas… that we had all to ourselves. As in we were the only humans anywhere around. There weren’t even campground hosts or anyone at the entrance. During the winter months, it works on an honor system fee of $10/day, including water and electricity. The water was shut-off to individual sites, assuming for freeze potential, but we were able to fill up our freshwater tank at the entrance, so we were set. It. Is. Beautiful. The pictures don’t do it justice. We saw more stars in the night sky than I think I’ve ever seen in my life.
The whole reason we chose this area is because the IMBA (International Mountain Bike Association) listed a trail there that is highly rated. The Wilson State Park Hell Creek Area is home to the Switchgrass Epic Mountain Bike Trail which is incredibly well-groomed and a surprisingly strenuous 21.4-mile ride full of climbs, berms, rocky sections, high cliffs, and steep drops. We definitely felt the burn after two days of riding. Ouch.
We ended up staying a bit longer than we expected due to some crazy changes in winds and weather, including a few snow flurries. The weather right now everywhere seems to be bipolar. We’ll have temperatures in the 70s one day and high 20s the next. What gives, Mother Nature? Our smart puppies have figured out that there is a significant temperature difference from the main floor to the lofts. On the cold days, they refuse to come down. I did not pose these cuties. Ridiculously spoiled.
But, as I’ve learned to accept, changes in plans and routes are a good thing. The incredible anesthetist I’m covering for in Texas contacted me to ask if I’d come work a week early because he was being sent to the Middle East urgently to provide desperately needed civilian anesthesia services. Goodness, beginning work early is the least I can do for someone giving of himself so selflessly. So, we headed south. We stopped in Liberal, Kansas on the Oklahoma border at a free Harvest Host stop at the Mid-America Air Museum where we boondocked in their large parking lot by the airfield overnight.
We leisurely got up the next morning and began our drive to our new home for (now) three weeks in Perryton, Texas. Our “pre-flight” checklist was perfect; the house was fine, the truck was fine. All was well, no issues. No issues until we literally reached the very first stop light in Perryton. I noticed the smoke before the truck temperature even registered as overheating. We pulled over. Smoke. Everywhere. Coolant spewing. Oh, geez. Kind stranger #1 pulls over and graciously offers to drive Ross up the road to O’Reilly’s Auto Parts to get more coolant. When he got back and it had cooled, we added more coolant. We couldn’t have made it another 150 yards before having to pull over again. We knew we had to get off the main road and get to a repair shop, but it was a Sunday and we were not confident that anything would be open. After cooling some more, we added more coolant again and attempted to turn left onto a side road at which point the power steering went out. Let’s recap: coolant spewing, engine overheating, power steering out, and, oh yeah, we’re towing the tiny house. Great. The random road we turned on and the random place we came to a “we can’t drive another foot now” stop happened to be directly in front of an auto mechanic shop 1.01 miles away from our destination. Closed. Ross walked to O’Reilly’s from there. They knew someone and called them to come check out our truck. Kind strangers #2 were two Spanish-speaking gentlemen from another shop that showed up in no more than three minutes from that phone call. Crazy fast. They figured out our water pump was shot, and called their boss (who was at church) to see if he could open up their shop and replace it for us that Sunday. Which they did. Is this real life? We unhitched the house, parked lonely on the road. Then, kind strangers #3, the owners of that closed repair shop, appeared within seconds of unhitching. They were there to pick up a truck they had sold to someone in Amarillo and needed to get it there. Yet our giant tiny house was blocking them. Oops. Kind strangers #3 weren’t fazed for a moment. They offered to hitch our tiny house to their truck and drive it to our RV site. My jaw dropped. They didn’t hesitate for a second. Ross stayed with our truck at the shop to drive home when they were done while I rode with the couple, their kiddo, and dog in their truck with the tiny house and our pups pulled behind. Everyone called him “Driver” and never by an actual name, and I see why. He whipped our tiny house into the back in spot in record time. I’m serious, we’ve been driving this thing for months, and there is no way we would have gotten parked that fast and perfectly. I offered money, meals, anything I could think of. No, they didn’t want anything. No way people are this nice, right? Yeah, they really are. I’m here to tell you that small town America is alive and well. And I am so grateful that it is.
Until next time…