gettin’ our kicks on route 66

— July 07, 2017

I’m a sucker for a road trip and this one came up sort of last minute. I had no plans to head out on the road the day after school ended. I have done that the past few years as we road tripped it to NY to visit family and friends but this year I decided I wanted to enjoy my home for a bit as summer rolled in. But, that’s the problem with plans. They change.

You will need to get prepared for this post. It’s a biggie but it’s a fun one! Take a moment to grab your fave beverage, get into your comfy pants and silence your phone.


Come along with me and my road tripping peeps as we adventured to see Ree Drummond’s, aka The Pioneer Woman’s, new Mercantile shop in Pawhuska, Oklahoma. It just so happened that The Lodge, the building where she films her Food Network show, was open for tours that week, so we made the rounds and got quite comfy in her world for a few days. I love traveling around and seeing how people live in different places.

They sure are nice folks down there in Pawhuska to have all of us tourists traipsing all over their homesteads and such. (That’s country speak. I know ’cause, thank God, I’m a country girl.)

The most direct route happened to be via the old Route 66, which is no longer named Route 66, except for spots where it is now called the “Historic Route 66”. Using the technology that I often complain about, I was able to get some background on the current Route 66, like that it is Route 55 in Illinois and Route 44 in Oklahoma, and find a diner along the way to stop at. Remind me of that the next time I complain about technology. It ain’t all bad.

We started at the Chicago end and were headed to the area between Joplin and Tulsa. Someday we will have to do the last half. (Notice the sign above the door referring to where the restrooms are located? Chuckle.)

It was hard not to have the “Gettin’ our kicks on route 66” song running through your head the whole time.

I found it really interesting that as we crossed over into a new state, the scenery changed. I forgot to take a pic of Illinois, but it was mostly large-scale farmland, as far as the eye could see, mainly corn. Then, this is what Missouri looked like along our route. What a change!

Thanks to the World Wide Web, I saw that the Route 66 Diner was on our horizon so we headed there for a lunch stop. Fab homemade fries!

Then we crossed into Oklahoma and it changed. Ranch land. How does the land know it is a different state so it has to look different?

Ahhhh…finally we reached Pawhuska, Oklahoma. It’s a small country town but it has a McDonald’s. It was what the wee ones needed so that we could just get to our destination and unpack, so we ordered some drive-thru from the golden arches and finished our travels. We had made it to our destination.

We arrived on a Sunday and the Mercantile shop is closed on Sundays but we headed into the downtown area to see what things looked like. Cozy! They welcomed us! We are window peekers.

Yes, I look like I am posing for a DMV pic. It’s awkward. But hey, I just came off of a two day road trip and there is still a slight smile on my face.

On Monday, we set our course for the Mercantile shop. The Deli already had crazy lines outside as people waited to eat so we had no plans to eat there. We had received a tip that a local diner, Buffalo Joe’s, was a tasty place to eat if we did not want to wait in line, so we ate there. Tasty! And it had real cowboys in there too.

See those pretty strawberry dish towels in the glass jar under the bull’s head? I bought some and love them! Nice big size and the fabric is perfect. There is a strawberry design, a raspberry design and a blueberry design. I am obsessed with all things strawberry, blueberry and raspberry right now. I have my own fabric that I designed on Spoonflower with strawberries and blueberries that makes my heart smile. Then, I remembered that last year I made some blueberry jam for my grandma’s 90th birthday party and we ate most of it before the party because it was so good. I am wondering if I have the time to make some more now? Then, I just used my ice cream making attachment for my mixer that I bought myself for Mother’s Day with some Kohl’s cash and one of the recipes is for raspberry sorbet and you can make a blueberry sorbet too. Now I am also wondering if I have time to make those too?

Ok, back to road trip.

Here is a shot from the staircase up to the bakery area. Normally, I do not share pics of other people without their consent because I think you should know when someone is putting you on the world wide web, but I know that the Pioneer Woman has shared lots of pics from her store. I also know I am not Ree and it is not my store but I made an exception so you could see how much love there is.

Here’s another angle…

Lots of room to get around, which I loved. I no longer have to push strollers though the aisles but I still appreciate some elbow room.

After we took some time to look around the store and get our first glimpses of things that we might want to buy, we were ready to drive to the Lodge to tour around and see where she films her Food Network show. The Lodge is a building on their ranch property that they use for family gatherings and other functions, as well as her TV show.

She had mentioned that we might see some wild horses and we saw lots of them. Beautiful!

Here are my traveling peeps! If you watch her show, this is one of the views you see often. Beautiful! And super fun.

Okay, and now let me share a bit of a story with you.

(Hubby…avert your eyes. I did not share this pic with you for fear that you would have a heart attack seeing our brand new 5-day old car like this…)

Three weeks before this road trip I found out that my minivan needed some serious service. It was not deemed fit to make the road trip so hubby and I had some decisions to make. I loved “Mack”, my old minivan. It’s the one that was crashed into last August and we were without it for six weeks and I prayed it would get fixed and not totaled. I did get Mack back and was so happy. But, Mack was quite old. So is our other vehicle because it was mine before we had kids and I won’t let my husband get rid of it yet because it’s a bit of an awkward bird since it is not a vehicle that is in production any more. So, he drives it now. I won’t tell you how I finagled and schemed to keep Mack but in the end, the grown-up thing to do was replace my minivan. Have I mentioned that I am not a fan of being a grown-up? Every free moment for three weeks was spent car shopping. Ugh. They just don’t make them like Mack any more and Mack was not really all that fancy.

We ended up with a new minivan and since I like to name my vehicles, I had to have a name in place before the road trip. The obvious names like “marshmallow”, “fluff” and “snowy” were tossed around but they were not quite right. Then I noticed that the name of the paint on the vehicle was called “Blizzard Pearl”. It just so happened that I had recently been to see the new “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie and Captain Jack Sparrow’s pirate ship is called, “The Black Pearl”.

So, we had ourselves a new pirate ship called, “The Blizzard Pearl”, which is now more often called, “The Pearl”. It helped to endear the new van to me because I am still missing everything about Mack.

All righty, back to road trip…again.

Most of the drive to the Lodge was on good old country dirt roads, the kind that leave a trail of dust behind you. Great for making fast getaways. Or maybe not. You might be able to leave your “pursuiters” behind in a blinding trail of dust, but then you would also have a trail of dust following you around as you drove – an obvious sign of where you have been. Hmmmm….I’ll have to ponder this a bit more. Hopefully I will never have to test it.

Before we even made it to the Lodge my van was covered in dirt dust. Guess that’s why Ree says her cars are always dirty. By the time we left the dirt roads behind and were driving on pavement again, I needed to use the windshield wipers in the back to clear off the window. Dust settled into every nook and cranny. We could call the new van “Thomas” for the English muffins with all of their nooks and crannies, but then my husband might figure out how dirty we got. Let’s just keep this between you and me.

I spend most of my road trips in the bathroom with the wee ones so I like to take pics of myself in the mirror because it often feels like the only sightseeing that I get to do.

So, it only seemed fitting to take a mirror-selfie in Ree’s bathroom at the Lodge. (Nevermind the weird rounded hair-do. I actually tried to do my hair that day. It’s not easy participating in the civilian world of hair, make-up and clothes.)

Ree knew that we would all love to see the behind the scenes of her show so she left out her “gettin’ ready” props.

I am just really looking at this pic now since I was busy providing parental supervision when I was at the Lodge. No time for looking around too much when you are keeping your eyes on your youngin’s. I bought that flowered coffee mug that she has in her one-cup coffee maker. It’s full of happy colors and flowers…and coffee too. I also have that same Nivea tin. We share a love of the big-barreled curling iron too but then we are both gals of the 80’s, so that is not surprising. Bring back big hair!!!

And I threw in a mirror-selfie, but not from the bathroom this time.

And, what the heck…let’s see how it feels to get ready for the show.

By now you may have noticed that I always look a bit “unsure” in these pics of me, myself and I. My mom was taking the pictures and I am never sure when she is actually taking the pic because it takes her a few moments to find her shot, so we have those mother-daughter conversations where I finally start asking if she needs help, asking if she is taking any pics yet and telling her to let me know when she takes a pic. I am not a person who can sit with a natural looking smile for hours so I eventually get tired of holding the pose. All the while she is snapping shots so we get it all on film, and the “conversational” pics are often the only in-focus pics so I have to roll with it.

If I did this fireplace look in our house with the shoes we wear all the time there would be dirty, ratty sneakers all lined up.

This is a pic of Ree’s pantry that you see from the TV show. There is actually another larger pantry too. Clever to have one pantry that always looks organized for TV and one that ends up being a mish mosh of pantry items that no one gets to see. Not that hers was, but mine would be.

I am lucky to have two Lazy-Susan’s and I used them recently as a summer project for kids at home. Everything came out, they were cleaned and then everything went back in. Years ago, they started out as very organized, but now no pantry item could be found in its own “neighborhood”. It was anyone’s guess where the tomato sauce was and if it was the last jar or not.

I even made it a fun project, I’m no dummy, and brought out the kid’s toy shopping cart to help move things back and forth. My daughter is a great sorter and organizer so I knew this project would be right up her alley.

It was a bit embarrassing to see all of the pantry items laid out on the table. Yes, I am aware that my grocery shopping trips are not as planned out as they used to be and that I would buy something because I didn’t know if I had it (as result of a messy Lazy-Susan, perhaps?) and I was not running back out again. I thought for sure I would have two bags of items to donate to a food pantry.

(My going on 9-year-old son thought it would be funny to put his Batman hat on the food, so there you go.)

But when all was said and done and organized into groups, there really was nothing embarrassing or glutton-like about my giant pile of items. At least I have been able to rationalize it. Duplicate items were rare. I do have a lot of BBQ sauce (I was a bit obsessed last year – read about it here...), but we eat it. I did have three cans of hash, which seemed like a lot, but we do not eat it often and when I want some, I don’t like to go to the cupboard to see that it is bare of hash. But even my three cans of hash were different kinds. I didn’t even know there were three different kinds of hash. I DO have a lot of different oils, but I am a home-cook and a baker by hobby so it is not all that off the charts ridiculous.

And…to clear my name…my two Lazy-Susan’s are really my food pantry where I keep all of our food because my real food pantry is loaded with snacks that the kids can reach to be independent and lots of baking supplies and tools. So, I’m not really all that crazy after-all. That’s my “take-away” from the whole experience.

Okay, we should probably steer the conversation away from me right now. It’s going into a slippery topic.

Do you need a break? I do. I will be right back.

All righty, I’m ready.

Ahhh….here I am, back in my kitchen. Okay, I was pretending. Do you recognize it? It’s Ree’s kitchen from her TV show. I still have that wild rounded hair thing going on. You can never get the good hair styles to stay in place no matter how much hair goop you use but the crazy ones just won’t go away, not even with all the wind they had going on in Oklahoma.

Here is her well-stocked pantry. I wonder if she has six jars of BBQ sauce? I did add my own little gift bag – that green polka-dotted one there – because I had picked up a cute and funny dish towel for her at one of my fave gifts shops here in Wisconsin. I didn’t know where to put it so I figured her pantry was the perfect spot. Later on though, we saw someone who was giving tours so we left it with her.

My kids wanted to climb the stone steps behind the Lodge that you will sometimes see in an episode, so off we went. Having kids late in life keeps me fit. Well, “fit-ish” at least.

I found a piece of grass in the shape of a “4” while we were climbing back down the steps so I showed it to my 4-year old. He loves being “4”. He is actually “four and a half” if you ask him. “Four” has always been the most un-fun age in my kids as far as I am concerned. The “Terrible Two’s” and “Testy Three’s” are nothing compared to “four”. I’ll let you know if being four trumps the teenage years. I haven’t heard good things about them either. And that is an age I can remember being and it was not pleasant for those around me I am sure. Will have to get back to you on that one, luckily I am not there yet.

What is it about a dirty car that just makes you want to write on it? Probably ’cause Dad told you not to.

The entrance to Ree’s family’s homestead was back off of the main paved road. I am sure she still has a dusty ride ahead of her, but lucky for her, we had to stay on the paved road, so we didn’t find out. Having all of us PW-loving tourists tromping around one of her homes was enough.

All righty, my BFF’s, I need to let you go and break up this giantly huge post into two posts. I know I still need to tell you who I saw in the bakery, but it will have to wait until the next post.

It’s a cliffhanger.







  • Erica

    July 8, 2017

    Loved the pics Aaryne! Looks like a fun place to visit๐Ÿ‘

    • aarynemm

      July 14, 2017

      It was! I love checking out the world ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Mac

    July 15, 2017

    Wow sounds like a great trip so far. We are thinking of going cross country with our tribe (we have 4 kids) sometime. I like the name of your old car. You’re right they don’t make “Macs” like they use too. Lol

    • aarynemm

      July 17, 2017

      Road trips can be crazy but they are so much fun, if you can get past all of the bathroom stops! I think all of your muffins are older than mine so you should have more flexibility. You would like the name “Mac” ๐Ÿ™‚

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