Our Anniversary ROADTRIP… and book treasure hunt

“Anniversary trip? Lance. Lance. Come now, that was like… like four months ago!”

Did I mention I had a lot of catching up to do?

We love road tripping for vacations, even if they’re only an hour or so away. Okay, love the open road. Kiddo loves the open road. Kiddo’s Hips, however, do not. Neither does my back’s scoliosis. But neither of them get a vote, so we hit the road, Jack, and didn’t come back until new moon rises.

Which is why I have her take pictures of sunsets on the way:

You can’t see it, but the trees are frozen. Ice storms in this part of the country get cra-cra. (That one’s for you, Micah).

Anyways, we went to Northwest Ar Kansas. This was before the Crystal Bridges visit. We drove down and ate at this pretty hip pizza joint named the Mellow Mushroom. We ordered two awesome pies:


Olive oil and garlic base, Shiitake, button and Portobello mushrooms, caramelized onions, mozzarella and Montamore cheeses. Drizzled with garlic aioli and black truffle oil. Garnished with fresh chives and shaved Parmesan.


Olive oil and garlic base, all natural grilled curry chicken, mozzarella cheese, Roma tomatoes, onions. Topped with fresh basil, cucumbers and a sweet swirl of Thai chili sauce.


They were de-lish, though the Thai Dai’s on the verge of too much heat for Kiddo.

Then we arrived at our place which is this top-secret Anglican retreat center that also gives away books.


If I told you, they’d have to kill me. Many of my close friends, that is, so we’ll just have to say I’m grateful that this place exists. And grateful for Linda especially who works there and files all of the volumes and helps me search for Chesterton and weird books about language and theology and mythology. This is where I found that first edition hardback of Tolkien’s Smith of Wooton Major. Love that book.

Kiddo takes pictures of me while I’m perusing the shelves for her own reasons. I was a bit portly at the time:


Now this place works much like the stacks in The Name of the Wind. Layers and layers of cataloguing systems over the years makes for this atmosphere that mirrors the excitement of some breakthrough archeological dig.

Two words: treasure hunt.


I should also mention that those Anglicans… they get a little… let’s just say they’re a bit more frisky and a bit braver than me…


Titles like this are not a rare occurrence. In fact, when a big group of the guys migrate south for a book run, we’ve developed certain traditions over this place (I’m bolding it to prevent myself from saying the real name). One of our traditions involves yelling out ridiculous titles that, out of context, sound terrible. Like Sex in the Parish.

Time out.

I should mention that Kiddo started this trip with a quick seminar from none other than…

DSC_0290Mrs. Mustard Seed.

Kiddo took a penstorm of notes, filling pages in a journal and several megs worth of MP3 action. She immediately applied several ideas to our home and saved up others for our eventual move to Brooklyn.


We then went to Hammondtree’s Grilled Cheese, a place that designed their interior off of Star Wars. Their delivery truck’s named The Grillenium Falcon and their Cheebacca’s a manful fusion of bacon, sharp white cheddar, house cheese, grilled onions, garlic cilantro sauce, and pulled pork gripped between two slabs of sourdough.

Gourmet. Grilled Cheese.


Then it was coffee


…with an old friend…


…which was particularly awesome because we hadn’t seen her in ages. Talking to an old friend for hours is awesome, am I right? The feeling makes a close cousin to that feeling of getting off the airplane and finding your loved ones waiting for you, all smiles. Coming home, that’s it. It feels like coming home.

Then at the corner of School & Dickson, there’s this bookshop that started out as a small store.


That grew and took over the next shop.


And the shop behind it.


And the shop behind that.


Which results in the most labyrinthian book experience available to me in this part of the country, akin to Powell’s or Strand. Coupled with the treasure hunt of that place that gives away free books, Dickson Street made for a holistic NotW book experience as we went up and down various stairs and through thresholds that used to be the walls of different shops and building behind the store.


(That was a copy of the 2007 Best American Short Stories, Ed. Stephen King. In my opinion, he’s the best guest editor of that series).

I noticed, during my reading, that Kiddo was taking pictures…

So I posed.


Man that hair was a mess. Glad I shaved it off.

Anyways, we ended after a few days at this awesome Iranian restaurant and had some Kabob and Grape leaves. I made breakfast with steacon (steak- or thick-cut bacon) and we watched The Legend of Bagger Vance, which was strangely similar to The War of Art (on Amazon).

The best part?

The place we stayed is nuzzled in the hills and you can see the whole of the valley below from atop — no joke — a grassy knoll. A walk on the Arkansas hills, overlooking nothing but trees and hawks and the wind… yeah, that definitely reminds me of another feeling, another memory:

The spotted hawk swoops by and accuses me, he complains of my gab and my loitering.

I too am not a bit tamed, I too am untranslatable, I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.

The last scud of day holds back for me, It flings my likeness after the rest and true as any on the shadow’d wilds, It coaxes me to the vapor and the dusk.

I depart as air, I shake my white locks at the runaway sun, I effuse my flesh in eddies, and drift it in lacy jags.

I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love, If you want me again look for me under your boot-soles.

You will hardly know who I am or what I mean, But I shall be good health to you nevertheless, And filter and fibre your blood.

Failing to fetch me at first keep encouraged, Missing me one place search another, I stop somewhere waiting for you.

— Walt Whitman, Songs of Myself

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    1. Thanks, Doberman. Moving a bit more toward stories of families and away from reviews for now. Trying it out.

      Which is weird because I feel as if I’ve nearly found my voice as a writer (fiction and non) but I’m nowhere close as a blogger.

      In due time, I suppose.

    1. Thanks. Yeah, these places are awesome. The first one isn’t *technically* a bookstore. It’s more like a library where you get to keep the books.

      Think “need a penny, take a penny; have a penny, leave a penny” but for books.

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