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.

Return to the Rising Sun, Day 1: Getting There is Half the Fun

It was a journey 4 years in the making.  After the end of our escapades in Japan (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7), my friends, Mat O’Donnell and David Sundberg, and I decided we would one day return to experience it anew.  With Mat’s impending wedding in November, it was decided that the adventure would take place in August 2016.

After months of planning and preparation, the day finally arrived to begin our return to the Land of the Rising Sun.

It takes a lot of time to get to Japan and I mean a LOT of time.  On August 16, Dave and I awoke at 2:30am.  Our first flight of the day would leave at 6:20am.

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Dave is bright eyed and bushy tailed for the day ahead.

My good friend, Jeff Bevirt, picked Dave and I from my home and drove us to Eppley Airfield where we met Dave’s niece, Amy Joy, who would also be joining us on the excursion.

We would be using United Airlines.  This was my first time utilizing their services and it was pretty good all the way around.  When we arrived at the nearly empty airport, a friendly desk agent took our passports and quickly checked us in and checked in Dave’s suitcase.  Using the “gussie” system of packing, I would be checking no luggage so I’d have one less thing to worry about.

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Transportation to Japan provided by United Airlines.

United likes to board early and we started getting on board nearly an hour before our flight started.  I happen to think this is a good business practice as if everyone manages to get onboard early, we can leave a little early which is exactly what happened.

After a brief flight, our little group laid over in Denver for an hour, where we scarfed a quick breakfast from McDonald’s (oh, how I hate to rush a meal) and boarded another plane set to take us to Los Angeles.

At LAX, I made my only miscalculation of the trip.  I decided to change my dollars over to yen while I was there.  I got a pretty good deal, but would learn that I should have waited until I reached Narita International Airport in Japan as they give you a much better deal.  My dough would have netted me an extra 15,000 yen had I waited.  So take my advice, if you go to Japan, always exchange your money at Narita.

We waited through a 2.5 hour layover at LAX before finally beginning the long haul of the trip.  I love to fly, but 12 hours is an awfully long time to be on a plane.  They do their best to distract one with a wide variety of entertainment from movies to music to TV shows.  To pass the time, I read a new Sherlock Holmes pastiche, began a new Nero Wolfe novel, watched a little TV as well as the films Money Monster and Insomnia.

There was something profound about this trip, especially as I was taking it in the daytime and could look out the window.  There’s something deep about looking down on the majesty of the Pacific Ocean and seeing nothing but blue as far as the eye can see.  We also went from day to night to day in a flash as we crossed over to the other side of the planet.  And there was something about flying over the edge of Alaska that put a smile on my face as I looked down upon it.

The food wasn’t too bad on the flight.  United prides itself on its 3 course meals and served us a lunch of teriyaki chicken, rice, vegetable medley, and salad with southwestern rice.  For dessert, they served us a wonderful vanilla bean gelato which was some of best ice cream-type food I have ever eaten.  Before touchdown, they served a breakfast of Udon noodles, though Dave had to be a rebel and order the scrambled eggs.

As I said the journey was long and I only napped for about an hour as excitement fueled my body.  Upon arriving at Narita, we waited for Mat who was delayed as everybody on the planet decided to land at Narita at the same time he did.  This slowed down his going through customs and immigration which my little group blew through in about 15 minutes.

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Japan, I have arrived.

We collected our resident expert, then got our J-Rail passes so we could travel through Japan.  Then we hopped on the Narita Express for a 90 minute journey to Shinjuku to arrive at the first house we would stay at through Air BnB where we met Mat’s friend, Mauricio, and his girlfriend, Allison, who would be joining us on a part of the adventure.

Despite being beyond the point of exhaustion our little group went out to dinner at a place called Pronto’s which is a bar/restaurant.  I normally don’t like to eat late, but one thing I appreciate about Japan is that we share a similar size appetite as all servings in Japan are small.  I had some juicy fried chicken with a splash of lemon.  After dinner we stopped at a mini-mart to get some things for breakfast.  I grabbed an orange juice and some of the famed pancakewiches of Japan.

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Pancakewich

I passed out and I mean passed out on my tatami mat to end this day’s adventures.

A Quaint & Quiet Retreat: Cannon Falls & the Quill & Quilt Bed and Breakfast

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Well, hi, there.  It’s nice to see you again.

The grip of the road had hold of me once again this Memorial Day weekend and so I found myself traveling to the little town of Cannon Falls in Minnesota to enjoy a little rest and respite at the Quill & Quilt Bed and Breakfast.

Since I had to travel a little farther than normal for this trip, I broke it up over a few days so I wouldn’t cut into valuable exploration time.  My journey began on Friday night where I promised myself I would drive an hour past Des Moines, IA before stopping to rest for the night.  About fifteen minutes before my promised stop time, I passed through Story City, IA where I nearly pulled over for the evening, but reminded myself that I said I would drive a full hour outside of Des Moines.  After all, surely there’d be another place just a bit up the road.

Silly me.

At first, I thought fate was going to push my drive all the way through to Mason City which is just outside MN’s border.  Fortunately, about 30 minutes after my promised stop time, I saw the telltale 3 blue signs which meant that gas, food, and lodging were close at hand.  I pulled off I-35 into the tiny town of Williams, IA and obtained a room at the Best Western Norseman Inn.  The motel wasn’t much to look at from the outside, but I was pleasantly surprised by the clean and comfortable room that met my eyes.  It also came at a very affordable price ($65 before tax).

After settling into the room, I went across the street to Boondocks Cafe for my supper.  I was momentarily stunned when I saw the restaurant because I swear that I had actually eaten at this place as a child with my grandparents.  I had a sourdough club sandwich and some fries for my meal which filled the cavity nicely, but I felt the price didn’t match the quality of the food.  Everything was a la carte, so I ended up paying $12 for diner food.  However, bear in mind that Williams is an isolated town so that makes it a bit of a seller’s market.

I returned to my room for a hot bath and some sleep.  And I must say that this inn has the thickest curtains I have ever seen.  When I turned out the lights, I couldn’t see my hand in front my face.  So I faded into the land of Nod.

The next morning I had a quick continental breakfast and was on the road by 9:30.  About 12:15, I found myself in Cannon Falls.  The best way to describe this town is that it’s a small town with big city energy.  The place was bustling!!  People were walking all over the place and this town must be the bike riding capital of the USA for I saw more bicyclists here than I’ve seen anywhere in the country.

The first thing on my mind was lunch so I found Mick’s Downtown Diner and went inside.  The joint was jumping, but I managed to find a seat for myself.  I ordered a delicious steak pita and settled down to a relaxing meal while I completed the novel I was reading.

After lunch I wandered around the town a little before finding the famed trails of the city.  As I walked along the trail, I found the city’s namesake waterfalls and wished I had packed swimming trunks and an inner tube so I could have tubed down the falls and Cannon River.  Instead, I took an invigorating 8 mile hike along the Cannon Valley Trail.

Upon the conclusion of my hike, I attended services at St Pius V and finally was able to check into the Quill and Quilt.  I was greeted at the door by the innkeeper and enjoyed a glass of natural fruit juice from a container that had strawberries, kiwi, and other assorted fruit soaking in ice.  Very tasty.

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I was led to the third floor of the inn and my room, the Writers Loft.  This was the most spacious room, I have stayed in to date.  Not only was the living area a good size, but the bathroom was a duchy in and of itself.  It contained a whirlpool tub and a double shower nicknamed the Car Wash.

 

The bed was king sized and comfy.

The bed was king sized and comfy.

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The Car Wash

The Car Wash

 

Once I had settled in, I gave the innkeeper my juice order for breakfast the next day, hopped in my car, and drove to the Mall of America in Bloomington, MN to have dinner with my brother, Jeff AKA That One Guy Who Travels, and his S.O., Scott.  We ate at Tucci Bennuch, a very wonderful Italian restaurant.  I was in the mood for something healthy so I opted for the Scottish Salmon with lemon risotto and arugula salad while the guys settled for spaghetti dinners.

My dinner was absolutely magnificent and after a pleasant night of food and conversation, we walked across the way to the Nestle Tollhouse store where I bought a chocolate chip cookie for dessert.  Our group said our good-byes and I made the 45 minute drive back to Cannon Falls.  Needless to say, I had funned myself out and collapsed into the most comfortable bed I had ever slept in and slept all the way through to the next morning.

I started my day with a long soak in my whirlpool tub, then headed downstairs to breakfast at 9:30.

The breakfast opened with a small dish of fruit with granola and a honey glaze and a glass of OJ.  The main course was an egg quiche with cilantro, cheese, and other veggies that made me feel healthy just looking at it.  On the side was a butter scone and some spinach and garlic sausage (which was devastatingly tasty).  Most enjoyable was the companionship.  For my regular readers, you know that I have been the sole guest at most of the B&Bs I’ve reviewed.  This time, the place was sold out and I had an great time simply conversing with the other guests.

After breakfast I proceeded to do absolutely nothing.  Now that’s a day.  For once, I planned no itinerary.  I wandered down another trail where I found the city parks and a frisbee golf course which had me wishing my old friends, Mat and Dave, had been with me for a little competition.  Once my walk had concluded, I returned to my room and watched the classic film, Mississippi Burning.

When the film ended, I went down to the spa suite on the first floor and enjoyed a 2 hour massage from Anna Harvey.  Her slow, firm pressure and movements really worked the kinks out of my weary body.  Once the treatment was completed, I returned to my room and enjoyed another long soak in the whirlpool tub to continuing purging the toxins from my body.

The Spa Suite

The Spa Suite

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Once done, I decided to hunt up some dinner and found myself at Chuggers, a little bar and grill on the main drag.  I decided to try the Fireball Burger which was truly exceptional.  After eating, I picked up a Dr. Pepper and returned to my room where I’m preparing to sip soda and watch Insomnia.

Tomorrow it’s back to reality until my next adventure which may be sooner than anyone thinks. . .

But if you find yourself in Cannon Falls, get a room at the Quill and Quilt.  You’ll be glad you did.