Here’s the “Continued…” part of my road trip along Route 66 to see one of my fave secret business mentors.
Thanks to my gift of gab, this road trip adventure had to be shared as a cliffhanger. Even I needed to get a good night’s sleep and begin again. Cliffhanger’s make life more exciting any way. I bet you grabbed a bunch of your closest BFF’s over the weekend and gathered around making the delicious Strawberry Pie Ice Cream Sundaes I told you about while you all dissected my electricity-filled tellings of the first part of this Road Trip to Ree and then shared what you thought was gonna happen next. Didn’t ya?
All righty, BFF’s, you know the drill. Get your fave beverage, slip into those comfy pants again (I won’t tell if they are the same ones you’ve been wearing for days) and silence your phones.
Here we go…
Now, we are back at the Mercantile again from our visit to the Lodge. If you missed the previous post, start here so that you are not going backwards. That would be awkward.
My trip to The Pioneer Woman’s Mercantile shop was planned as a three-day stay. As an experienced life-liver, I knew that we would never accomplish much in one or two days so I added some padding so we could enjoy the time there and not feel rushed. I made a few trips to the Mercantile each day so I could take it all in. Not because I am a crazy weirdo PW lover-stalker gal, although I do really enjoy her and I am crazy and weird and probably have been known to stalk a time or two in my life, but it’s because she was my first secret mentor when I started my blogging world and this dream world of mine that I am heavy into these days.
A few years ago when our life events were changing, I came up with the crazy idea that my husband and I should actually have a country store like we had always loosely dreamed about. He didn’t say “no”, so you know me…off I went with that one and here I am today still plotting and planning with a binder full of ideas for that someday country gift shoppe store thing that is looming closer. I had always enjoyed Ree’s world because we shared many of the same interests on some level and she was my first “find someone who has what you want and do what they do” person. It was a fun surprise when I first learned that she was planning some kind of country store too and I have been interested in her process to get there. Her world and her journey will obviously be different than mine, as it should, but it is still one of the closest “business models” that I have at this point to ponder and pick through.
Plus, my BFF’s, in all truths, there was some shopping to do too. I love dishes and kitchenware. That’s the main focus of this store so you know I was not coming home empty-handed. I am one of the only people who want kitchen gear and gadgets for Christmas. So, I needed time to survey my options and plan on what I really needed at home so that I made smart shopping decisions. Having my wee ones with me uses up at least one eyeball, and often two, so it was necessary to spend a few trips to the Mercantile to actually look into the nooks and crannies. I am a “nook and cranny” shopper in certain departments.
So, I made my few trips there each day, and I was able to visit during naptimes without my wee ones so I could really look around with two eyeballs. That way, I could look at the Mercantile with my business eyeball too. (That’s in the middle of my head. I also have eyes in the back of my head because I am a mom.) I wanted to ponder how things were set up, what was under the stuff holding it all up, how she displayed it, what the staff world was like, etc. Boring details like that, which I find to be so exciting!
Also, if you scroll way back up to that picture now that I have rambled on about nonsense, there is a picture of an iced coffee. No surprise. But…this one is her signature “Spicy Cowgirl” coffee (or something like that) and she had shared it on a TV episode as her fave and that you just had to try it if you ever stopped in. I really was not sure I could try it, because it did not sound all that appealing. It is made with cayenne for a little heat and I was a doubter. But, being an adventurer to counteract the doubter in me, I went for it and ordered one while on a solo visit. How could I not?
I was hooked.
Do you remember more than ten years ago when the chocolate bars with cayenne pepper and chili powder hit the scene and then it was a big thing for a while? (I have recently noticed that the “heat” is making a comeback in lots of foods now. Isn’t my life exciting?) Well, this coffee had that same effect. There was something about the hint of heat that kept you going back for another bite of that chocolate bar and now, with this coffee, you kept needing another sip. I loved it!
Our trip couldn’t be all about me and Ree. We were lucky to find this gem of a park right near where we were staying and it was perfect since the temps were about 90 degrees each day with lots of sunshine. The wee ones did my stuff, and I did theirs. We are good like that.
And there was no escaping my Domestic duties. A trip to the local laundromat was necessary. Of course, it’s me, so it was not an uneventful trip to the laundromat. I leave my mark wherever I go.
I got a quarter stuck in the washing machine and it froze up with my $2 in quarters. Lucky for me, but not for him, a young lad happened to step out of his office hiding spot after I spent some time jiggling, poking, pondering and stuffing those clothes into my other washing machines.
Turns out, it wasn’t me after all.
After the poor guy had dissembled the money part of the machine, and we had a conversation, initiated by me, about how it would be nice if they made it easier to get to the money spot than having to use tools to dissect the part each time, since it was such a common issue in this line of business and all, he found that a spring had busted inside and that was the cause of the malfunction. Not me.
Nothing like going to the world of someone you admire only to end up in their local paper as big news because of your blunder. It’s not how you want to be noticed.
It had been sunny everyday so when I noticed this stormy looking sky rolling in one early morning while I was journaling, I had to take a pic. There is something about stormy skies that gets me every time. I know, it doesn’t look all that dark and stormy now but it was, okay?
As I was sitting there journaling, a super friendly happy excitable doggie was running around the yard area and porch. He was happily running around, licking and jumping on those who were trying to head out for the day. Eventually I realized it didn’t belong to anyone at our vaca place as they all left but the doggie was still behind.
And then there was one.
I sat quietly hoping he would not notice me so I could keep journaling but no luck. Back up onto the porch he came and we were best buds. It was a super nice doggie but it jumped on me constantly and licked and was so playful that it nipped. It’s kinda hard to write in your journal in the few brief moments of aloneness that you have before your kids wake up when you are holding up one hand to fend off over-affection.
While I was fending off the affections of this male, I heard some rustling in the leaves around and under the porch and figured it was a squirrel, but eventually my country gal brain kicked in and suggested that I find out who it was making all that rustling in case it was a skunk.
Then a family of armadillos appeared and meandered on their way. Fab!
Scoot, doggie, I need to take a pic! I was not expecting that animal encounter.
On our last night in Pawhuska, we decided to give the line to the Mercantile restaurant a try since we might as well try all of the experiences there. I had shopped, been to the Lodge, had a Spicy Cowgirl Coffee and had been to the bakery – wait ’til you see who was there too, so this was really the last experience. We had learned that by late afternoon, the line was much shorter. The wait time was estimated to be around 45 minutes so we figured we could handle that.
It ended up being a two and a half hour wait because a party of 20 was inside and they were not leaving. Can you blame them? The staff had not expected that so they were very apologetic.
My wee ones were so good but boy it was a long wait. I ended up back in the Mercantile store a few times because of bathroom visits. Naturally.
May as well get one more selfie in another one of Ree’s bathrooms.
On one of my trips to the restroom, my youngest noticed a fly on a picture and he was quite worried about it. When I saw the fly and the picture that it was on, my crazy awkward sense of humor was tickled.
On a picture of a cow.
How hilarious! There were other pics on the walls, but the fly was on this one.
I have not stopped chuckling about this.
At the time that this was brought to my attention, I did not have my phone with me to take a pic so I hoped like crazy that it would still be there when I made another bathroom visit. It was.
I have odd prayers answered some days. (I really did not bother God with this one, honestly.)
Eventually, our time was up and we made it inside to eat. This is one of the pretty walls inside.
We were hungry and silly.
And fighting over tortilla chips.
I have lovingly and proudly raised some of my own awkward birds, so I had to share this pic. You see, we collect and save empty toilet paper rolls in our house. They come in handy for making so many moments that matter. When we found some in the bathroom at Ree’s store, the kids asked if they could have them. Ree has fun bathrooms that use regular toilet paper, not commercial toilet paper. After debating whether it was stealing or not to take empty toilet paper rolls, I decided it probably wasn’t and that Ree would probably enjoy knowing that we found them worthy, so I said that they could take them.
Here is more of that pretty wall.
Back to the restroom we went before we left for the night, of course.
In my younger years, I proudly “closed” bars a few times. But, it’s been quite a while since I have participated in any of those shenanigans. Now, I am proud to say to that we were there so long that I “closed” Ree’s store. Here is what it looks like vacant. Ree mentioned in a blog post that she likes to stop into her store on Sunday’s when it is closed and soak it all in.
I can see why. It’s magical.
Okay, so it is time to spill the beans on the super special person I saw at the bakery while I was there picking up some cookies and my Spicy Cowgirl Iced Coffee. I had to ask if I could have my picture taken with him and he is just as adorable as you would think.
It would have been fabulous if I had been able to chat with Ree, but I didn’t expect it because I know that she is busy. We did see her BFF Hyacinth while were standing in line and her daughter, Meg. Then I think one of the cowboys I drove by on the ranch was Cowboy Pete from an episode. But this, this one topped it all. My wee ones were thrilled when I told them who I saw and showed them the picture.
We stopped back at Ree’s store for a quick go thru the next morning before we left and my wee ones had their own surprise. Pa-Pa was there again.
So, I asked for another picture. My four and a half year old was feeling shy. Forced smiles that you have to hold for a long time for pics is awkward for my muffins too. They get that from their mother.
Then, it was time to say “good-bye” to Pawhuska and start the road trip back to our world. We headed home on Route 66 again and planned a stop in St. Louis to see the Gateway Arch.
My 9-year-old was directing the shot so that I could look like I was holding it.
And there’s my adult traveling companion. Mom. And my 9-year-old’s thumb in the bottom corner.
We had lunch outside and as we were leaving our table, one of the little birdies that had been entertaining us took over at our plates. It apparently likes French bread pizza.
And here is the Gateway Arch in St. Louis at night.
The rest of the trip home was full of the usual travel issues. Bad hotel stays which led to sick kids, numerous restroom stops, yada yada yada.
It’s good to be home.