My mom and I went on an absolutely epic road trip – it was part Midwest Road Trip, part Reality Show Road Trip, and part Route 66 Road Trip. My mom has been dying to go to Antique Archeology, because she's a fan of the show American Pickers, and The Pioneer Woman's Mercantile. I've been wanting to go to Des Moines, because I've heard so many cool things about it through My Midwest Is Showing. We decided to throw it all into one road trip, and while we were planning our route, we discovered we could hop on Route 66 on the way home. It was perfect, and we had the best time. I covered the trip live over on @MyMidwestIsShowing's Instagram stories, and documented each day below. I hope you enjoy reliving the trip with me!
We started off by driving the backroads to Le Claire, Iowa where we went to Antique Archeology, the HQ for the show American Pickers. Cute town, cute store – my mom and I got some fun souvenirs, but hit the road again shortly after and made our way to Des Moines. We spent the night there.
Woke up in Des Moines and hit the town to grab breakfast at St. Kilda and go shopping. My favorite stores were Pink Print Co., the chicest print and stationery shop you have ever seen, and Eden, a modern take on an old-fashioned apothecary (shout-out to Erika Veurink for the inspiration – check out her love letters to Pink Print Co. and Eden). From there, we hopped back in the car and made our way through Missouri and Kansas to end up in Oklahoma.
This is the one day my mom and I stayed put and didn't do any major driving. Our hotel was in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, but we made the short trek to Pawhuska, home of The Pioneer Woman's Mercantile. We ate breakfast and an early dinner at her restaurant, and I can say without an ounce of hesitation that it was the absolute best food I have ever eaten – my mom says the same. We did some shopping at The Mercantile, and walked around the town and talked to the locals – we wanted to find out what they thought about the way Ree Drummond, AKA The Pioneer Woman, has changed their tiny town (Pawhuska is a town of about 3,000 people, and when The Mercantile first opened, they were getting about 10,000 people visiting the shop and restaurant every day). For the most part, people seem happy and excited about the change – the only complaint was the sudden lack of parking :)
We started to make our way back home by taking parts of Route 66. The old Route 66 doesn't exist in the way it used to, so it was tricky to stay on it all the way to Chicago – instead we just picked a few places we wanted to see and weaved in and out of Route 66 and highways. Our first stop was Gary's Gay Parita outside of Springfield, Missouri. My mom and I honestly could have spent the entire day here chatting with George, pictured below. George and his wife Barbara live on the property – they took over for Barbara's parents a little over a year ago. There's a replica gas station and buildings filled with antiques and Route 66 paraphernalia. It was so cool, but George's stories were the best part.
We also hit Hwy 61 Roadhouse and Kitchen in St. Louis, Missouri, which just happened to be featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives (added to the Reality Road Trip!). Highway 61 is known as "The Blues Highway" - it connects St. Louis to New Orleans, so they served comfort food with a New Orleans twist.
Before calling it a day, we went to Henry's Rabbit Ranch on Route 66 in Staunton, Illinois. It was closed by the time we got there, but they have an actual rabbit farm in addition to the Volkswagen Rabbits buried in the ground (a play on the famous Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Texas. It was really cool, and the perfect ending to our time on Route 66.