The World’s Largest Czech Egg

Signs along the highway told us we were nearing the “World’s Largest Czech Egg,” I didn’t know that was even a thing until we started seeing the signs. But we were willing to stop and see what it was all about.

DSC_0120First of all, Wilson is the Czech capitol of Kansas.

The people wanted to do something to honor their heritage and also to encourage people to stop at their town – so they decided on “the world’s largest Czech egg.” Next challenge, however, was “who would build it?”. That took awhile as they searched for someone who could construct a 20 foot tall egg. They found a company who build fiberglass tanks for oil fields and the owners agreed to help out.

Meanwhile, a high school art teacher designed the egg in a “kraslice” pattern.  And the egg was born or hatched or something.

The egg is 20 feet high and 15 feet wide.

However, once again, we visited a town where we didn’t see anyone. Downtown shops seemed deserted except for random seating on the sidewalks in front of their stores. Hmmm. Puzzling.

Wait – I take that back – we did see other people  – another car of travelers stopped by to see the egg just as we were leaving.

Kind of fun. If you’re going by, stop – the egg is not difficult to find and is located in a small city park.

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Lecompton, Kansas

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The town sign.

The temp said 108 degrees as we rode into Lecompton, Kansas.

This small Kansas town was once named Bald Eagle (hence the sign), but was changed to Lecompton after the chief justice of the territorial supreme court: Mr. Samuel Lecompte. Lecompton was the center of the territorial government.

And is known as the birth place of the Civil War.

In 1855, a Lecompton Constitution was written establishing Kansas as a slave state. But  the constitution was rejected nationally as it was one of the big topics in the Lincoln-Douglas debates. The seed of a massive debate was born, a debate that ended in war. Lecompton continued to be a place where pivotal decisions were made in  American history but because we didn’t really get to see more than the outsides of buildings, I won’t go any further with the historical facts.

Except to say …

Later, in 1863 Lane University was established in Lecompton, a school which Dwight Eisenhower’s parents attended.

Right now there are three or four historic Lecompton buildings on the National Historic Register. – and it was rated one of the best five small towns in Kansas by the people of the state.


But none of that made much difference on that 108 degree July afternoon.

The town was quiet, empty and extremely … hot.

Hungry – we found a storefront restaurant on the empty main street – Aunt Netters.

Inside, a young girl and guy worked behind the counter. A display of cupcakes were behind a glass counter and cupcakes mobiles hung from the windows. We were the only ones there.

We enjoyed a good, homemade lunch and then we debated whether or not to get a cupcake and eventually decided against it – which was a good thing, because we soon realized that the place had actually closed while we were there. (The time was 2:00.)

Once outside, we decided to walk down the street (yes, the street itself) and check out one of the historic buildings – Constitution Hall. Not surprisingly – it was closed. But even though it was 108 degrees (Did I say that already?), the walk was pleasant. Heading back to the car, we passed another historic building – the Radical United Brethren Church.

I don’t think we saw even one person the entire time we were in town (except the two people at the restaurant), but when I look the restaurant up on TripAdvisor, it had a lot of ratings, so there must be people there sometime!

A peaceful town on a peaceful afternoon.

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Aunt Netters’ cafe – good food … with cupcakes being their specialty.
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A walk down the main street of town (on a hot afternoon)
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Constitution Hall .. but it was closed and not a tour guide in sight.
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The Radical United Brethren Church – another National Historic Site.

 

The Bridge of Madison County

DSC_0100I’ve done the bridges of Madison County before – not because I like the movie, but because I was visiting Kayla who lives in Des Moines and we were looking for something to do … and we like covered bridges.

This time, we got off the road mostly to find a restroom and we saw they had a visitor’s center … and a bridge! I had totally forgotten there was a bridge in that town.

The visitor’s center was in an old church with slanting floors, stained-glass windows with the bridge incorporated into the glass —  and walls and tables full of antiques. We were greeted by a lady who was friendly and informative about the town and about the church and about how John Wayne’s birthplace was right down the road. (You get off at the tiny village of St. Charles – his birthplace is in Winterset or something like that – I couldn’t figure out where St. Charles ended and Winterset began.)

She then directed us to the church basement which I thought smelled like our first church in Michigan – not a bad smell; a church-basement smell. (That’s where the restroom was located.)

We probably could’ve talked to her all day, but needed to get going so we headed out of town again, stopping at the Imes bridge. (This is the oldest of the remaining original bridges – arsonists burned one down.)

We got out and took some pictures and were on our way – a quick, but enjoyable stop.

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New Food – Maid Rite

IMG_7953Once upon a time there was a butcher named Fred Angell. In between cutting up standing roasts and baby back ribs, he worked at blending the just-right mixture of spices to make the just-right sandwich. A deliveryman happened by and when tasting Fred’s creation said, “This is made right.”

Fred was good at butchering, but not so much at spelling (so says their website) and the Maid Rite sandwich made an appearance. Soon Maid Rite restaurants popped up all over Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, Ohio and Missouri – but mostly in Iowa. This was back in 1926 and is considered one of the oldest fast food franchises, along with White Castle and A&W. Many of those original franchises are still going strong.

The difference between the Maid-Rite sandwich and a regular hamburger is that the meat is loose – kind of like a sloppy joe without the tomato sauce. They are served wrapped up in brown paper with a spoon in the wrapper.

This was one of the places I wanted to visit to try a new food or at least a presentation of an old food in a new way.

We were not disappointed. We enjoyed the Maid-Rite immensely. Good taste and no grease. Felt just right for a lunch on the road.

So if you’re ever heading through Iowa and want a quick lunch with a twist – find a Maid- Rite and enjoy.

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New Food – Dragon Fruit

Ever since I started my new food adventure, I’ve been wanting to try a dragon fruit. They are truly intriguing-looking.

So, when I was up north, I decided to buy one and test it out on the up north family. Now, nothing against the up north grocery store (we have shopped there for years and I’ve always liked it), but their dragon fruit didn’t live up to the ones I’ve seen in the suburbs. Maybe by the time they get up north, they are in the first stages of wilting.

But I bought one anyhow – the best-looking in the bin.

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One night, as we sat around chatting with some company, I cut into the fruit. Some are white with black seeds inside – but the one we had was red inside – a glossy, shiny, red like the side of a just-waxed fire engine.

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A lot of people are using dragon fruit in salads these days (so says the internet and of course, we believe the internet.) But we didn’t have a fruit salad, so we just ate it as is.

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I gave everyone a piece and although we all sort of hesitated (trying new foods is always rather frightening), we did all (including the company) eat a piece.

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Here Jeff is trying to figure out exactly what it tasted like because in the end, we all decided that it didn’t taste like much of anything. But at the same time, it was sort of good. Cindy liked the crunch of the seeds. And most of us said it sort of reminded us of a strawberry. I think one of the kids had two pieces. Even the company was sort of intrigued.

In the end, we decided on a five out of 10, but I’m wondering if we had one that looked like it wasn’t on the way to wilting, if it might taste better.

So, I might try another one. Or, YOU could try it and tell me what you think.