An Added Dose of Christmas: Fulton, MO & Loganberry Inn

Loganberry Inn

Today the road has brought me to Fulton, MO.

But I did take my sweet time in getting there.  Ultimately my goal was to reach Loganberry Inn for a bonus Christmas review, but I had to stretch my trip out a bit to do it.

Omaha was set to be walloped by a snowstorm the day I originally intended to leave so I rearranged my plans and arranged to do 2 nights in St Joseph, MO at their Holiday Inn so I could get out of its path.  Thanks to my Platinum status, I was upgraded to a free suite so I had plenty of room to stretch out for a few nights.

I didn’t do much in St Joseph though I did get to scratch my Christmas itch a bit as I visited Krug Park on the first night to view their 1.5 mile trek of Christmas lights and displays.  But mostly it was just kicking back in the suite reading, watching TV and especially enjoying watching the Iowa Hawkeyes put a thrashing on the Northwestern Wildcats in basketball.

Wednesday I finally headed off to Fulton.  St Joseph was out of the path of the blizzard that drilled Omaha, but it did get a generous portion of freezing rain that crystallized the trees and power lines as well as wrapped my car in a cocoon of ice.  The ice broke readily off my car and I heard its remnants crack and slough off the car as I continued further south.

By the time I arrived in Fulton, my car had been fully deiced and I found my way to Loganberry Inn.

Loganberry Inn is a Grand Victorian mansion built in 1899 and had been one of my choices for my annual Christmas review back at the start of December.  The inn has actually been graced by quite a few famous people over the years. Margaret Thatcher, Mary Soames (daughter of Winston Churchill) and Polish President and Nobel Peace Prize winner Lech Walesa are just some of the luminaries who have stayed at the inn.

The town itself also packs a bit of history and renown.  Westminster College and William Woods University have their homes here.  The former also has a museum which houses a piece of the Berlin Wall.  Fulton is also close to several major cities including Jefferson City and Columbia as well as being near to the Katy Trail.  The downtown area also houses several antique shops, an old-fashioned soda fountain and the Brick District Playhouse.

I was greeted at the door by Loganberry Inn’s innkeeper, Monique.  She led me to the Garden Room which would be my secluded headquarters and I stress, secluded. 

The Garden Room has its own private entrance at the rear of the mansion and contains a king-sized bed with a memory foam topper, a decorative fireplace and an easy chair couch. 

After settling myself, I headed back into the mansion proper to look around the place.  The inn is still decorated for the holidays and has the feel and look of a traditional Victorian Christmas.  After finishing my explorations, I took a walk over to Westminster College to wander about its campus. 

From there it was back to the inn where I kicked back for a bit before heading out for a bite to eat at Fontenot’s Po’Boys.  This little Cajun eatery is noted for its in-house gumbo and a bowl (or cup) is well worth a taste.  I had a cup of it along with a ½ fried shrimp po’boy. 

With dinner digesting, I made a stop over at Veteran’s Park to experience Fulton’s Festival of Lights.  It’s quite an impressive display of Christmas cheer.  Aside from the festive displays of Santa, elves, snowmen and other Yuletide delights, the park has also its Field of Joy which is a wide array of Christmas trees.  And if you look just past the trees, you can see Santa playing a bit of baseball with one of his elves.

With my heart full of Christmas spirit, I returned to the inn where I posted some photos and then went to bed.

And what a sleep! For me, I slept late, not rising until 7:30am.  I took a bath in my jetted tub and watched the heat escape from the water.  I mean I actually saw the steam float out of the water and hover in the air.  Once cleaned up, I headed to the dining room for breakfast.

The inn alternates between 3 course savory days and 2 course sweet days.  Today was a sweet day.  I had an appetizer of Peach Napoleon followed by an entrée of banana-blueberry pancakes with hot maple syrup and cheddar encrusted sausage balls.  Superb!

After a fine meal, I watched the Robin Williams movie, Man of the Year before taking a walk around the neighborhood and downtown area.

Dinner that night was at the Fulton Diner where one can get some homestyle cooking.  I enjoyed a Patty Melt along with a salad and some fries before returning to the inn for some writing and puttering around before retiring for the night.

For savory day, Monique opened things up with a dessert course of baked apple with brown sugar and ice cream.  That was followed by orange bread and then the main entrée of Southwestern frittata which had tomatoes, sausage, egg, cheese, and tortilla.  Conversation with a lovely couple from Columbia, MO only added to the enjoyment.

And that brings us to the end of this little write-up.  Fulton, MO is a fine little town to visit if you like history and antiques and a visit to Loganberry Inn will make for a thoroughly relaxing stay and a bit of the holiday spirit if you time it right. 

Until the next time. . .happy travels.

On the Road Again, Part II: Stauer House and McGregor, IA

Stauer House

Today the road has brought me to McGregor, IA.

And welcome to Part II of this article.  As McGregor was only a half hour south of Lansing, I decided to make a visit there in order to spend a night at Stauer House Bed & Breakfast, owned and operated by Donna & Robert Staples.

McGregor is a throwback to yesteryear.  Like Lansing, everything is located on Main Street and a cornucopia of shops are available including antique shops, eateries, a rare book shop, a sweet shop, and even a local drugstore.  Like a small town of yesteryear, a lot of places close up early or are not even open on the weekends.

Close to the town for a visit are the Effigy Mounds and the Spook Cave Boat Tours.

Stauer House is a Queen Anne style home which was built by architect E.W.H. Jacobs for local businessman, Peter Stauer in 1882.  Stauer sold the home to another businessman, J. A. Ramage in 1904 where it remained in the Ramage family for most of the next 100 years.  Though, after Ramage’s death in the 1940s, his children primarily used Stauer House as a part time summer home.  In 2002, it was purchased by the Staples who lovingly restored it to its original beauty and saving it from the disrepair into which it had fallen.

I arrived in town around noon and entered through Stauer House’s back door.  I was greeted by Robert and Donna and Donna led me to a unlisted fourth room known as the Captain’s Room.  It is a very spacious room with a king sized bed at its center and containing from classic furniture and also containing an en suite bathroom. 

After making a quick turn about the house, I took a walk around Main Street and did a rarity by stopping for lunch at Café McGregor.  I continued reading Sherlock Holmes while munching on a small club sandwich with some kettle chips on the side. 

Cafe McGregor

After that it was back to the inn where I enjoyed doing a whole lot of nothing for the afternoon.

In the early evening, I took another walk and then spent the night writing, watching The A-Team, and enjoying a bath before retiring for the evening.

Shortly before 8am the next morning, Donna knocked on my door to let me know that breakfast was ready in the dining room.  I made my way downstairs and found a series of dishes ready for selection.  I took a little fruit, glasses of water and OJ, two pancakes, a piece of sausage, and a couple slices of an egg frittata.

It was definitely the quietest breakfast I’d ever had as not only was I the only guest but Donna and Robert had taken their grandchildren to school so I was completely on my own.  But it was a most pleasant meal and I was especially impressed with the fresh frittata with its gooey cheese and the pancakes which were infused with cinnamon.

After that, it was a quick wrap up to this article before making the trip back to reality.

But when you feel ready to travel again, a visit to McGregor will be worth it for those who love nature, antiques, and classic Americana and a stay at Stauer House will be a comfortable one.

Until the next time, happy travels.

Off to the Cotton Patch, Days 4 & 5: A Journey to Squiers Manor

When I awoke on Sunday, I knew it was going to be a looong day of driving.  But first, it was time to feed the spirit with worship.

I attended the early morning service at St James Catholic Church.  It was a quaint, welcoming church and I rather liked it.  It was a good service which ran a little longer than normal due to the baptism of twin children.  I was particularly moved by Father’s sermon.  He connected the story of God restoring Elijah in the desert with a hearth cake and water to Jesus’ Bread of Life discourse in the Gospel of John.  God restored Elijah with physical food, but Jesus restores with spiritual food (Eucharist and His Word).

To be honest, all of this talk about food was stirring my appetite so I dashed back to the White Swan where Cathy had breakfast waiting.  Today it was cantaloupe, cappuccino muffins, multigrain waffles, and some small sausage links.  Cathy proved to a most gracious host as she shared conversation with me while I ate.

Sausage and multigrain waffles

Sausage and multigrain waffles

Once breakfast was done, I settled my bill and stepped out to the car.  I felt a little blue.  I really liked this little town.  Hopefully the stars will align so, one day, I may be able to return.  But if you’re in Whitehall, get a room at the White Swan.  Cathy will make you feel like family.

Today’s drive was much more pleasant than it had been on Friday.  Traffic was at a much lower volume so I was able to speed quickly through Indiana and the construction slowdowns were kept to the bare minimum.  Then came my rematch with Chicagoland traffic.

I mentally cracked my knuckles and dove into the fray.  The speed limit was still a suggestion, so I fought fire with fire and raised my own speed limit to somewhat keep pace with the traffic.  The other cars were still moving faster, but I didn’t feel like a sitting duck.  I managed to quickly slip past Chicagoland and the rest of the drive was a snap after that.

After 6 hours, I was ready for a break, so I was grateful that I had arrived at my stopping point of Maquoketa, IA on schedule.

Squiers Manor

Squiers Manor

My final stop for this journey was Squiers Manor owned by Kathy and Virl Banowetz.  Let me say that this is the finest inn that I have stayed at in Iowa and makes my top 5 list for the B & B project.  The house is a beautiful 1882 Queen Anne and the manor and its land take up a block.  The interior and grounds are immaculately kept and the manor is still the same as when it was originally built.  Kathy and Virl also deal in antiques and many items in the inn are for sale.  They also deliver.

Originally I was to have stayed in the Maid’s Chamber, but Kathy graciously upgraded me to the J.E. Squiers Room at no additional charge.  This is easily one of my favorite rooms that I have stayed in.  It almost has a Victorian feel.  The queen bed is very comfortable and I’m quite taken with the soft, forest green carpet.

The J.E. Squiers Room

The J.E. Squiers Room


Front hall

Front hall

Upstairs hall

Upstairs hall

Kathy suggested several restaurants and I decided to have a little Mexican food at La Casa de Pancho.  Once more, Mapquest tried to bamboozle me with ridiculous directions that would have sent me into the middle of nowhere, but Kathy had given me better directions and I easily found the restaurant.

Kathy had told me the portions were ginormous and, if anything, it was an understatement.  I ordered the burrito chicken fajita with rice and olla beans (they’re cholesterol free).  My eyes bulged when the plate came out.  It would have taken 3 of me to finish the meal.  I’ve got an issue with wasting food, but I had little choice since I had no way to preserve the food until I got home.  So, note to myself, bring a cooler for future trips.  My note to you, plan on sharing a plate with your date or friends.  The portions are that large.

With a full (luckily not overly so) stomach I returned to Squiers Manor to begin writing today’s article.  After I had written as much as I could, I went down to the guest area to have a piece of Kathy’s chocolate mousse cake.  It was moist and delicious and, being chilled in the refrigerator, was the perfect dessert for a hot night.

When I had finished my cake, I drew a hot bath in the Jacuzzi tub and nearly fell asleep in the swirling water.  I managed to drag myself out of the bathtub and over to the bed where I fell into a peaceful slumber.

I really didn’t want to get out of bed when I awoke the next day because the bed was so comfortable, but it was time to start organizing to leave.  But first, it was time for breakfast.

Kathy had promised me a taste adventure from her garden and this meal filled the bill.  Along with glasses of orange juice and water I enjoyed cantaloupe, cinnamon encrusted coffee cake, raw fried potatoes and squash, and an omelet with broccoli, onions, cheese, and possibly more because I lost track of the ingredients.  It was a foodie’s delight.  The meal also came with a little bratwurst, but I was stuffed so Kathy kindly wrapped it up for me to take home.

Fruit and cinnamon encrusted coffee cake

Fruit and cinnamon encrusted coffee cake

A vegetarian omelet, raw fried potatoes and squash, and bratwurst

A vegetarian omelet, raw fried potatoes and squash, and bratwurst

So ends another journey for me, but I insist you arrange for a stay at Squiers Manor if you find yourself in the Quad Cities area of Iowa.  As Kathy’s sign says, “Enter as strangers. . .leave as friends.”