Tuesday, April 23, 2013

I've moved!

I have used Blogger since the beginning of my blogging existence. To this day, it shows that I have no subscribers. I know this to be completely untrue as I made Robby and my BFF, Lindsey, join. If you are a subscriber that I don't know about, I hope you will continue following me on my new blog site @ Thegravelroadinguru.com. Same content topics (mostly Missouri travel)with a whole new look. Thanks, Pan, The Gravel-Roadin' Guru

Friday, April 12, 2013

A Travel Blog in the Making: My One Year Blogging Anniversary

One year ago today (well, not really today but it was a day around this time and that's good enough for me), I was suffering from the insomnia of a shift worker. A typical night really. On these nights I daydream, catch up on the latest gossip on Facebook, and sharpen my skills at Bejeweled. On one of these nights, I lay there thinking. Thinking about hobbies that I'd like to pursue more. Saddened by my lack of time in doing those, since I was a new mom.

All of a sudden it hit me. A way to bring many of my hobbies together in harmonious matrimony. A reason to keep "messing" with my hobbies. A reason for Robby to continue letting me "mess" with my hobbies.

Blogging. I knew little about it really. A gal I had went to high school with had just introduced Facebook to her blog (camillestyles.com-quite brilliant really) and boy, was I intrigued. Here's a medium to tell the world anything you want to tell them. I had so many stories already brewing in my mind, ready to spill to the willing of ear.

All our backroads travel stories. Before the days of parenthood, Robby and I spent so many lazy days roaming back country roads of Missouri, anxious to find a hidden gem of a place. And we did find them. And I know there's still so much exploring to do.

That's how The Gravel-Roadin' Guru came to be. This gives me reason to continue to get out and explore, sharpen my photography eye, and brag on my beautiful baby girl (who, by the way, is not a baby anymore but I will refer to her as such for many years to come).

Oh my. I just can't get enough of this face!
It was really discouraging at first. I wrote and wrote and wrote and for weeks (months, really) I think the only people who read what I wrote was Robby (and no, not just because I made him either) and my best friend, Lindsey. It was hard to keep my head up and difficult to see that the things I say really might matter to somebody someday.

About a month into all this shenanigans, I realized I was going about things all wrong. I had been telling my stories but leaving out little in regards to myself and my personal life. After getting addicted to some other, very wonderful travel blogs, it dawned on me that I was missing the whole point. People have blogs because they want to talk about themselves. And people become blog subscribers because they want to hear about others lives.

I made an initial goal to make it to six months and if I was still into it, I would upgrade my blog to something with a better format than my free blogspot (not to dog blogspot because they are free, but the site just isn't any sort of eye candy).

I hang my head a little in shame that when it got to six months, I had fallen off the blogger wagon. It wasn't that I had tired of it but I was having trouble finding the time and material on which to write about. Robby and I bought a house last summer that needed quite a bit of fixer-uppering (thanks to my hubby, The Handyman!!) and this consumed soooooooooooooooooooo much of our "free" time. Robby spent nearly every single weekend at that house from June until February. Quite a few weekends, I was found there too, paintbrush in hand and paint from head to toe. Seriously. I am the messiest painter. I couldn't leave the house without paint in my hair. It was ridiculous.

So, we've finished that project as of February and my blog-fire has been rekindled. I've been writing again. Robby, myself, and Olivia have been getting out and about more. Leaving me with much more to write as of late.

I'm pleased to announce that now, my one year anniversary, I am upgrading (finally!) to that fancy new site. It's in the works right now. My logo should be on the design table (thanks, Trisha!) and I'm working on my new platform. I'm hoping this year to be bigger and better with more content than last year. My focus remains on inspiring travel and exploration for people of all ages, with tales of travel mostly in Missouri but around the entire US (as I do take regular vacations and love to dish about those trips too).

I still try to keep my head up. I do, on occasion, get discouraged by other travel bloggers. My favorite travel gal, Geraldine, from everywhereist.com is always on the move. Within the last several months she's been to Australia and South Africa and Lord knows how many other fantastic locales! I mean, how can I compete with such awesomeness? Kristin of camelsandchocolate.com is getting ready to launch on her 55 day cruise excursion and writes travel pieces for Southern Living (seriously, my super duper dream job!). Yep, no competition. None. Zilch.

During those times where I look at all the things others are doing in their lives, and feeling a little blue about how insignificant mine feels, I pull myself back to reality. I know I have to have a job and Robby has to have a job. I don't know exactly how others do it but we need money to live on. Of course, I have Baby O so I don't have the luxury of spurting off at the drop of my flower-brimmed hat to have a weekend away.

Which is all fine. In the grand-scheme of life, I just have to give my all at all I do and hope that at the end of the day, I've done what God has planned for me to. Would I rather be a travel writer, scoping the globe for the world's best travel find? Absolutely. However, I spent years becoming a trained ER nurse, a pretty good one, I think, and that's what I'll be doing for some time, I'm sure.

Hard at work as usual.
 I am also a wife to one of the best catches an awesome gal like me could land.

Check out that handsome dish, would ya?
 And of course a mother to whom I think is the most beautiful baby girl around.

But, underneath it all, I am Pan, The Gravel-Roadin' Guru.

Sarcasm at it's best. This was sent to my friend, Andrew, after he sent me a pic of him standing, thumbs up, on the beach in Cali
 Here's some of my favorite travel blogs that have lead to laughing, inspiration, and jealousy:


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Old Brick House Deli: A Jefferson City Tradition

In the middle of this dreary day off work (yes, I still have that stinkin' day job), I put aside the cleaning and laundry (it was so hard to do too, I tell ya) to go have lunch with my mom.

On the days that I'm not out making the money, I'm at home with Baby O. That being said, those Mommies out there already know that I don't get out for lunch much. Who wants to juggle a cranky tot while you're trying to relax and enjoy a nice lunch?

Most days, not me. Today, however, I knew Mom would be in town and so I invited her out for lunch. I had the choice of restaurants and trying to steer clear from the chains such as Applebee's and Longhorn's, I picked The Old Brick House Deli.

Located just off Edgewood Dr (right down the street from the massive JCMG building), this deli-ry is housed in......wait for it..... an old brick house.

It's a cute house. Nothing special about it really. But it seems to be a Jeff City tradition. They're only open during the week which is a bummer but they are open for both breakfast and lunch.

Years ago I frequently visited the deli for lunch. I haven't been there in probably 7 years but it hadn't changed. The order line was long but service is quick so we had our food and a seat within 10 minutes.

Mom had the house salad and sandwich. The salad was delish. I actually finished off half of that for her. I had the chicken salad sandwich with chili. The chili was pretty good although nothing to blow your mind away but the sandwich was really quite tasty.

I've told you before and I'll tell you again that I'm an atmosphere kind of gal and this place has what I like. It's "cute", quaint, pretty quiet, and different from the rest.

They "had me at hello" when I was ordering and they asked if I would like a plate of cheese and crackers for Olivia. Seriously? No restaurant has ever bothered to try and accomodate Baby O. Kudos to you Brick House Deli!

There's also a patio out back for those warm, beautiful days that are hopefully coming soon!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Claysville Store: "Claysville, MO"

This past weekend, the Hubbs, Olivia, and I made good use of such a beautiful day and went biking along the Katy Trail. I had so many things that needed to be done around the house but who can do chores when we had a 70 degree, sunshiny day after the months of dreary, miserable, Missouri winter weather!

We set off from the Jefferson City trailhead. Between Jefferson City and Hartsburg, there is a town called Claysville. No. No. No. Scratch that. Between Jefferson City and Hartsburg, there is a place called Claysville. Wait. That's not right either. Between Jefferson City and Hartsburg, there is a place that used to be a town called Claysville. Now, there's just a restaurant that they call a store. Claysville Store to be exact.

It's not much to look at from the outside. But lest we forget, looks can be deceiving. It's actually a quaint and clean little restaurant inside. Hardwood floors and murals on the walls. But we opted to sit outside and soak up every last ray of sunshine we could get.

Between Jefferson City and Hartsburg, just off of Highway 63, there is a road called Claysville Rd. Surprising, I know, but this is the road to take to get to this little hidden gem.

Hidden gem, you say? Well, apparently so. When we got there, it was pretty late in the afternoon. Store staff asked if we had reservations. I thought they must be joking but actually they were quite serious. It seems that the store is so popular with the locals that reservations must be made for their lunch service.

And their fried chicken did smell pretty good. Really good actually. I think Robby's mouth was salivating as we were talking about it. There was a plaque on the wall giving them accalaides for the "best fried chicken" by Rural Missouri. That's good for something right?

We steered clear of the chicken but did indulge in some good southern sweet tea, served from a mason jar of course (Robby's fav) and dessert (my fav).

I had the cheesecake. I love cheesecake. In any form it's made. I. will. eat. it. all. Mmmm.....

Hubbs had the ice cream with chocolate sauce.

And of course Olivia Grace had some of it all!

So, if you're going to stop in for lunch, make sure you've made your reservations. If you get there later in the afternoon, you'll find some of the older folks still milling about, but there's plenty of room for you too.

Their list of desserts went something like this: blackberry cobbler, peach cobbler, banana cream pie, chocolate cream pie, banana chocolate cream pie, ice cream, cheesecake, and cherry cheesecake.

And let's get real, folks. If you can't find a dessert on that list you don't like.......Well, you draw your own conclusions.

It's a cute little place to stop by for lunch or dessert. They're only open Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.

But remember when I warned you about the exterior?

It's a little like Deliverance. But don't let that scare you off.

I'm hoping you got to enjoy the outdoors as well. Tell me, what did you and yours do this weekend?

Pan, The Gravel-Roadin' Guru

Monday, April 1, 2013

Unknown Landmark: Missouri Route K outside of Hermann, MO

Roadtrips. That's where this whole thing started. Gravel-roadin' and hitting the roads. I can't remember exactly when I started or exactly why I fell in love but over the years, I've enjoyed more gravel-roadin' adventures than I can remember.

Several years back, I was in a funk. I had just went through a break up and felt a little blue. One Saturday morning, I was showering and had an overwhelming urge to just get out.

I hopped in my car, ready for some high quality alone time. There was nothing on the agenda. No map in the car. Simply me and the roads.

I have always enjoyed Hermann and headed down that direction. The beauty in the river, the majesty in the hills, it all hits me in just the right place. Somewhere along the trip, I ended up traveling along Missouri Route K, located just off Highway 19 just north of Hermann.

I came across the most amazing building set back in a field just off Route K.

Not what you were expecting?

There's something you should know about me. I'm fascinated with old buildings. Old, dilapitated, worn down, withered away buildings. There's so much history and so many stories hidden in walls just like these. Old houses strike me with intrigue.

In fact, I was so amazed by this old structure that years later, I drove Robby right back here so he could take it all in too. He's a bit of an old house nerd-o like me!

I can't figure out what this particular building is. It's obviously old. It looks kind of like a house but to me, it seems, it's a pretty fancy setup for a house that old. Generally speaking, houses of this era were simple and square. It doesn't look like a church either. Hmmm.....

If you know what it is, have seen it before, or know who I can go to and figure out this puzzle I've been pondering all these years, let me know.

I would have liked to take a closer look but the "No Trespassing" signs made me think better of it.

Enjoy your week everyone!

Pan, The Gravel-Roadin' Guru