One of the things Shannon and I like to do, at home or on the road, is to celebrate special occasions by dining out at a really nice restaurant. When we are in at our home base in Aztec, that usually means a trip north to Durango for adult beverages at The Office and dinner at Ken and Sue’s, but when we are on the road we prefer to be in more rural areas, and we rely on Trip Advisor to find a dining establishment worthy of this special occasion, our 15th wedding anniversary.
We are parked in another beautiful Corps of Engineers park on John Redmond Reservoir in eastern Kansas. The nearest towns are Burlington and New Strawn, both of which sport cafes which tout a fine burger and fries. . . so not what we had in mind for such a grand occasion. So we widened our parameters. Our next closest possibilities were Emporia, home to Emporia State University and Flint Hills Technical College, 40 miles away, and Ottowa, home of Ottowa University, about 45 miles from our campground. I find that college towns tend to have better restaurants and more bike trails, so things were looking up.
Since it’s still very hot and very VERY humid, we opted for a morning activity and a nice lunch. Emporia weighed in with a zoo and a microbrewery, Ottowa offered a bike ride on the Flint Hills Nature Trail and either BBQ or sushi. HMMM . . .decisions, decisions. The zoo got raves on Trip Advisor and the pictures of the food offerings at Radius Brewing looked beautiful. Shannon was already a little wimpy from the heat, and although BBQ always sounds good, I’m, always a little skeptical about sushi this far from any ocean. So, Emporia it was. It was a perfect choice.
The David Traylor Zoo is small, housing mostly animals and birds from North America. There is also a Madagascar House with some lively and highly entertaining lemurs. The grounds are clean and beautifully landscaped, and the enclosures are big and contain lots of creative playthings for the inhabitants. The zoo works with other larger zoos around the country in efforts to help preserve endangered species. There is no charge for admission, but they do take donations to help defray food costs. There are lots of educational programs for kids, and it seems obvious that this zoo plays a big part in the community life of Emporia, Kansas.
We spent several hours enjoying the zoo, and after watching all of the animals eat their breakfasts, we were getting a little peckish ourselves. So we headed downtown to Radius Brewing Company. Even though we were a little early for lunch we were not the first to arrive, and the place filled up by noon, a good sign that we were going to enjoy this meal. We had a window table and enjoyed a summer cocktail, an appetizer of Scotch eggs (hard boiled eggs coated in sausage, rolled in panko bread crumbs and fried, served with mustard dipping sauce. Interesting and yummy,) shared a steak and mango pizza and a finished with a stout infused crème brulee. Wonderful food, great service, reasonable prices.
The day couldn’t possibly have been better.
Thoughts on Kansas:
- It’s really, really green.
- I’d like to have a great playlist and a job on a riding mower in this state.
- The whole “all cornfields all the time” thing, so not true.
- I’m watching how kids and parents interact with each other at Walmart, and I’m thinking the Midwest may be the hope for America.
Some leftover pictures. . .too good not to share.
Blessings this day:
Shannon. . .let’s go another 15!