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To Baldwin City and Beyond

January 31st, 2012 at 11:15 am

Today’s Flyover People column as seen in The Emporia Gazette:

TO BALDWIN CITY AND BEYOND

It was two weeks before the 151st anniversary of statehood, but it felt like Kansas Day to me. Dave and I were in the car, white stripes slipping behind us as we drove eastbound.

Ahhh. The blue sky, the open road, the level horizon; it doesn’t get any better than that.

Several weeks ago a friend, Greg Jordan, told me about a new place to eat – Feaster’s Bistro, a farm-to-table restaurant in Baldwin City. “I think you’ll like this place,” he said.

We were definitely willing to give it a try. So when an open Sunday morning showed up, one with blue sky and the promise of a 65-degree afternoon, Dave and I aimed for southern Douglas County.

It had been so long since we had been on an actual exploring trip that I was giddy, feeling once again the joy and freedom and adventure that being on the road offers.

When you send your eyes out to the horizon, you get to take in the full expanse of the land. With all of its colors bleached by winter, Kansas looks even bigger. Plus, this time of year you can see through the skeletons of trees, see things that are hidden during the leafy months.

Feaster’s Bistro is located along U.S. 56 in Baldwin City. The restaurant, in a renovated residence, offers a homey atmosphere. Dave and I sat in the upper level which had wooden floors, mismatched tables and chairs, built-in cupboards and thick woodwork painted white.

When it came time to order, I had difficulty choosing between bacon and French toast and bacon and eggs. I went with the latter. The bacon was good, of course, and the farm-fresh eggs were full of color and flavor. My meal also came with fried potato chunks, a mix of sweet and white potatoes. Dave enjoyed his chicken-fried steak and poached eggs.

Feaster’s Bistro gave us a fun destination for a day trip. For more information, check out www.feastersbistro.com.

Dave had never been to Black Jack Battlefield and Nature Park, so we drove a few miles east of Baldwin City to check it out. This was the site of a battle on June 2, 1856, between Free State and Pro-Slavery forces. Many consider this to be the first battle of the Civil War.

Black Jack Battlefield Park is a pretty place especially during any season that is not winter, but yet I was taken by the lines of tall sugar maples which cast long shadows from south to north.

This was another coat-free day in January. The wind blasted us, a front moving in from somewhere, but at least it was warm air. It’s unusual to have wind in January without the accompanying words “wind chill factor.”

In the pasture to the east, swales in the land are Santa Fe Trail wagon ruts, deep ditches, actually. As I took a photo of the wooden sign which said “Santa Fe Trail Wagon Ruts,” a jet and its contrail showed up in the background, a nice contrast of time and transportation.

Moving on, we went back into Baldwin City and found the depot. Midland Railway offers passenger train rides in the warm months and we’ll plan to come back then. But for this day, Dave and I enjoyed photographing the variety of passenger cars, using the bright blue sky and the town’s elevator as a backdrop.

As we often do, we took the long way home. And the long way this particular day meant through Lawrence.

First, we visited the Spencer Museum of Art on the KU campus. I’m drawn to modern art; I like the dramatic shapes and colors, and the energy in this art feels fresh.

A bit later, we walked up and down a few blocks of Massachusetts Street in downtown Lawrence, stopping at an art gallery and a few stores including Love Garden Sounds, a CD/record store where Dave bought a used Mark Knopfler CD.

After a quick visit to The Merc for bulk spices, we headed for home. Once again, as the car swallowed one white line after another, I looked into the distance and felt delight in the simplicity of our horizon.

When you live here, every day is Kansas Day.

Copyright 2012 ~ Cheryl Unruh

Dave’s chicken-fried steak and poached eggs.

Two eggs, bacon, sweet and white potatoes.

columns, history, traveling, vittles

  1. January 31st, 2012 at 13:32 | #1

    So happy to read about this new eatery! Sounds like a terrific destination (and that you enjoyed my kinda day, too).

  2. Greenseeds
    February 1st, 2012 at 00:00 | #2

    Looks good! So nice to hear of new businesses opening. And always looking for good places to eat. So, do they ever mind you taking pics of their places? I’ve often thought of it but wondered if the restaurant folks would care?

    And who would think we would have such non-jacket days in January?

  3. Scott
    February 1st, 2012 at 00:06 | #3

    Glad you guys made it through BC. Feasters is pretty darn good. So good, they’ll probably pack up and move to Lawrence before long!

  4. april
    February 5th, 2012 at 22:05 | #4

    That looks great, gonna have to stop in there sometime. Do they serve anything besides breakfast?

  5. February 5th, 2012 at 22:33 | #5
  6. February 5th, 2012 at 22:35 | #6

    Actually the breakfast/brunch is only on Sunday. The other days, they’re open for lunch and dinner. Closed on Monday.