The bar has been set pretty high for spectacular breakfasts now, though for the next few nights, the standard Hampton Inn included offering will suffice. I think that's my way of excusing myself today's rather huge plateful.
That's brioche French toast, lemon curd and half a ton of blueberries, by the way, on the menu ot the charming Half and Half
Suitably stuffed, we set off on the first leg of our road trip proper, to Columbia Missouri, about half way to Kansas City. The first landmark was crossing the Missouri river, prompting an impromptu and clearly unrehearsed performance of Oh Shenandoah from the two sitting in the front seats. The travelling companions and I kept our counsel in the back...
We drove through the Missouri wine country (yes, I know....who knew?) and a lush green, rolling landscape, noting a cycle trail running parallel to the road along the old Missouri Kansas Texas Railroad (known as the Katy) route.
We stopped at one of the waypoints and pulled up the car by this warning sign. Of course, we did as we were told and read the sign, though thought it was a little much when we were intending to only step as far as the information boards about ten yards away. We had neither a whistle nor pepper spray, so were hopelessly ill prepared for the venture.
Using our combined common sense we made it safey back to the car without mishap. Phew!
We were following Lewis and Clark's trail and felt on relatively familiar territory since we'd driven through this area on a previous roadtrip. But there was another sign just after this one with the unwelcome words "Road Closed". I was too busy telling myself that the roadkill we'd just passed couldn't really be an armadillo could it? (Oh yes, it was!) But the Road Closed sign was for real as well and so we drove into the small village and parked up for a while to consult our map.
Whilst driver and co-pilot mulled over the possibilities and drew a blank, I took photographs of the rather attractive poster hanging on the derelict grainstore adjacent to the Katy Trail. My Hero then went totally off piste and out of character and strolled into a nearby bar to ask for directions (!) The advice on offer was, yes there was a diversion to avoid the bridge closure but no, it wasn't any good because the alternative bridge was closed as well.
It was time for a detour, through corn fields this time, and eventually on the Interstate rather than the ordinary by ways we prefer. No worries, we were on our way again and shortly came across a destination I'd marked on our map, just outside Columbia (in Fulton, another place from a previous road trip)
Soul Sentiments was a great place to stop. Not only was there a wide range of interesting products for papercraft and journalling, there were plenty of samples to inspire and tempt me! Room after room filled with all kinds of great ideas and a classroom at the back with a workshop in progress.
Chatting with the women in the class was fascinating and I couldn't resist asking them for a dinner recommendation - where would they choose? They answered in unison: CoMo Smoke and Fire was a must-do, explaining that CoMo is how locals refer to Columbia Missouri to avoid confusion with other cities of that name. OK. Got it.
We were rather closer to CoMo than we thought and so Mary and I spent a happy hour or so in Ulta, whilst my hero played with his phone!
A detour past the distinctive buildings of the University of Missouri allowed us to stop and set the satnav for the hotel. Except that every time we tried to get it to accept the address of the Hampton Inn in Columbia, Missouri, it didn't seem to recognise it. Such frustration was trying at this time of the day and it was some time before we realised what was going on. The street address for the hotel in CoMo appeared to be the same as the one that kept appearing in Columbia Maryland...
Slowly, it dawned on us. What if we'd booked two rooms in Columbia MD and not in Columbia MO? It didn't take long to get out the confirmation and discover that was exactly what we'd done.
Thankfully, the Hampton Inn in CoMo (how sensible to use the nickname!) had two rooms for us and we wouldn't have to sleep in the car after all. Not only that, a call to the Hampton Inn in Columbia MD resulted in a refund for our mistaken booking too. All's well that ends well.
And yes, the CoMo Smoke and Fire BBQ was terrific! Thanks ladies!