Page 52: Oh The Places You’ll Go (The Loft at The Volland Store)

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Ryan and I have been deeply in need of a bit of a get-away. My full-time job doesn’t offer a lot of paid vacation time and so we decided to use the four-day weekend that comes along with Thanksgiving as our own mini-vacation.

We weren’t sure where, exactly, we wanted to go. Just that we wanted to go somewhere that we’d never been before and we wanted to be able to relax. So we hopped on Air B&B’s website. I’d never used Air B&B, before, and I didn’t really even believe that there would be much in the way of results for Central Kansas. But I was wrong. We found the listing for The Loft at The Volland Store in Alma, KS and booked it immediately.
We took a lot of photos and I wrote a lot in my journal. So, here’s what came of all of that.

Thursday (Thanksgiving Day):

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Every time it rains in November, it’s noteworthy. I really love the way that it fogs up the glass. And it sounds like classic rain. It sounds like the kind of rain that you get when you select the “rain” feature on a white noise machine. It continued as we packed our bags and as we put those bags in the car and as we drove the two-and-some-change hours to Alma, KS. The rain continued as we tried to get into the room that we rented and then the security alarm went off and I had to call our lovely host (Wrenn) and surely disrupt her Thanksgiving dinner to come and help us. And it continued into the night–stopping a few hours after the temperature dipped below freezing.

Driving on the freeway in the rain can be a challenge. At a certain point, the road is the same color as the sky is the same color as the water splashing all around is, somehow, the same color as nearly every other car on the road. When we were passing through Salina, I heard Ryan say, “Oh no!!” And we started slowing down. He had caught sight of a pickup truck and watched it lose control and collide with a guard rail. We took the next exit to turn around to make sure the driver was safe and hadn’t flipped or fallen down an embankment. But it was a great big pickup, sitting right side up in a ditch. Some other drivers had stopped to help. Everyone was safe, it seemed, so we felt okay moving along though we felt bad that their Thanksgiving plans were likely ruined.

Friday Morning

It continued to rain all night and the weather isn’t expected to get above freezing for the next few days. Our original plan was to go into town and explore a bit. Every time that I told someone that we were going to Alma, KS for our trip, there was one of two reactions:
1. Where’s that?!
2. Alma is so cute!
I was excited that anyone who had ever been there had good things to say and I was anxious to explore every square inch of it. But then we woke up this morning and the whole world is frozen like Narnia. Once the sun is up, we will have to start by exploring the building that we’re in and then the grounds. Maybe after that we’ll go explore the town after all! But there’s 8 miles of hilly, curley-q roads between here and there.

Our AirB&B is delightful. It’s this warm, little cubby hole in the middle of an iced-over patch of prairie. It’s a legitimate retreat. With barely any cellphone reception and a persnickety wifi signal, it was exactly what I was looking for. It’s also gorgeous. Beautiful! It’s rekindling my dream of renovating a loft in downtown McPherson.

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Last night we re-heated leftovers from our Friendsgiving dinner that we’d had earlier in the week. I love that there’s a kitchen here. It was a game changer as far as saving money goes on this trip. We brought food to cook for all but one meal. If we make it into Alma, today, we hope to try out one of the few cafes in town.

Friday Evening

The building where the loft is at, The Volland Store, is so cool. In the early 1900’s it was a general store but now it’s very different. We got all bundled up and set out to explore the grounds of this place. This room sits atop an art gallery. The exhibit is near and dear to my favorite parts of my heart. It’s entitled “Women’s Work” and it’s an exploration in textiles. It’s beautiful and minimal and magnificent. I promise that I didn’t touch anything even though there was no security guard to go “BAHP bahpbahpbahpbahp!” when I got too close.

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This is the view from one of the floor-to-ceiling windows that looks out over the gallery.

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The concept of women’s work is something that has been weighing heavy on my mind lately–since becoming a wife and since making the decision to quit my job and work from home. But in the end, I want to say that this trip has taught me that my husband and I are equal partners in this relationship. At least so far. And I know we’ll both work to keep it that way.
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Since we didn’t fall down while w were out exploring the property, we decided to make the 8-mile journey into town. The road was covered in sleet and snow and it is very curvy without much of a shoulder. But it was beautiful anyhow and we stayed safe.

Alma, KS is a cute little town. Though I will say that on an iced-over day after Thanksgiving, there isn’t that much to offer. The Alma Cheese Factory was sadly closed–as well as the cafe. However there was an enormous antique store. What is it with Antique stores? They always seem small and normal at first glance and then all of a sudden you realize that the whole thing spans a city block. When we were there, we picked up some holiday ornaments and secretly took some photos of things that I wanted and things that I hated. When we were checking out, the owner pointed us in the direction of the Alma Bakery. We stopped for turnovers and bierocks (delicious–nearly as good as my mom’s) and headed back to the loft.
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We came back to the apartment and warmed up, took naps, watched Friends DVD’s and read books. In a few minutes, I’m going to crack open a beer and put on a pot of Velveeta Shells and Cheese for our last dinner here. I am grateful for this kitchen on this particular trip.

Saturday Morning:

It’s our last morning here and we are being our typical selves. Ryan is making the most of that glorious, down-filled bedding and I’m making coffee, mowing down this bag of chocolate chip cookies from the bakery, and writing.

Since this was a Thanksgiving trip, a list of gratitudes:
-I am grateful for a husband who adores my mind and my body and my heart and who is moved by the things that move me. And may I strive to see his pure heart in everything that he does.
-I am grateful for the opportunities to do things like this. For families who don’t make us feel guilty for choosing to use our vacation time for some R&R rather than big family holidays. And may I make space for others to be themselves the way they need to, as well.
-I am grateful for the freedom that comes from having been born within the borders of this country–which is something that I never really felt until recently. And may I provide others with safety and warmth and freedom wherever I can.

The sun is coming up. They’ll be opening The Volland Store soon and we will need to be on our way.

Thank you, little loft, for holding us warm and safe these past few days.

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How did you spend your Thanksgiving? When was the last time you really got some good rest and relaxation? Could you use a weekend away? If you’re in the area, you should consider staying at The Loft at The Volland Store.

xoxo, Lib

 

Page Thirty-Three: Road Trip [before]

Next week, Ryguy and I are going on a vacation. It’s a short vacation (a four-day-weekend) but it’s still the first one I’ve ever been on. In my whole life. I’m defining a vacation as going to a place simply because you want to go there and not because there’s a specific event or to visit family or friends. When I was little, we went on one “family vacation” when we drove to Kalamazoo, Michigan to attend my cousin’s wedding. I mean, yeah, it was definitely a trip (in a few different ways). But this is a vacation–we’re going to this place just because we want to go to there. And I’m so excited. I feel more relaxed just thinking about it! Needless to say, it’s all we’ve been thinking about for some time.

We’re going to Eureka Springs, Arkansas, which has been described as “quirky” on nearly every single website that I’ve pulled up while researching our trip. It’s five-ish hours away from McPherson, KS which is far enough away that you’re really leaving home but close enough that we won’t be spending half of the time driving. So that is a definite plus. But we will still be spending a substantial amount of time, together, in the car. Which makes this a legit road trip.

I have some serious road trip essentials. I’ll tell you mine if you tell me yours.
Snacks: Twizzlers (first and foremost), followed by something grainy (Kind bars), a bottle of water (Evian or Smartwater–my tummy is oddly particular about the kind of bottled water it likes to consume), and a bottle of Green Machine Naked Juice. Ordinarily, I wouldn’t go anywhere without a cup of coffee but if I’m going to be in the car for several hours… come on now.
Sound: A back-log of favorite podcasts. I like a good mix of something nerdy (Radio Lab) and something funny (Totally Married). And also some really good sing-along music. Sing-along music is pivotal for the times when you get extra-super sleepy and need to actively keep yourself awake. For me this is a good time to bust out Haim or some old old Tegan and Sara albums.
Proper attire: a sports bra (because the car is no place for an underwire), a softie (for me it’s a particular snuggly sweater), and slip-on shoes (because I’m a take-your-shoes-off kind of traveler).
And a well-packed purse within arm’s reach. Featuring a phone charger, lip balm, sunglasses, hand cream, magazines, and a journal.

I have to say that I feel ignorant and judgmental to just now be realizing there are things of worth not far from here. When you think of Arkansas, beautiful mountains and tree-house cottages and quirky museums (there’s that word again) and cave exploration don’t immediately come to mind. At least it didn’t for me. But once I started researching our trip I was feeling so excited. Not just because we’re definitely going to have fun, but also because it really inspired me to look for the great things that really are close by! I mean, our part of the US is often referred to as “fly-over country” but that doesn’t mean that there’s nothing of worth here. And so I’m excited to find out about it.

In that same vein, I happened upon this website/ app that helps you to make the most out of your roadtrip. We just plugged in where we’re going and where we’re leaving from and it gave us a bunch of suggestions of fun places to check out between here and there. It’s like we’re constantly learning in yoga–it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey.

Can you fill me in on your road trip essentials?
And also can you recommend a good audio book? Something that will appeal to me (a lover of character studies) and him (a nerdy guy with a taste for mysteries)??

xoxo, lib