Gorgeous weekend, but we left for Austin on Monday to accommodate Brit’s work schedule. After learning of the pending weather, we delayed our morning launch to buy new all-weather tires for the van. Hard to say that was not a good call, but it’s possible we might have been able to stay in front of the weather system had we departed Denver two hours earlier. We attempted to flank the eastern side of the blizzard by driving I70 through Kansas, but had to pull off the highway 50 miles short of I35 in the charming farm town of Wilson, Kansas. This was after seeing a good twenty or so cars in the ditch, many whom had only recently passed us at higher speeds. I slid after passing a car and clipped a mile marker sign with the passenger-side mirror. This was when I finally acquiesced to Karen’s plea to pull over.
And so we are now ensconced in the historic Midland Railroad Hotel in Wilson, Kansas. The proprietor is Heddy Mahoney – no relation. Heddy married a Mahoney but is of German descent – her name shortened from Hedwig like the owl in Harry Potter. Upon shaking her hand as she told me her name, I had a flashback to The Shining and imagined I might go insane while riding the storm out. I was still tense from the white-knuckled drive. Heddy went on to say the kitchen and tavern would be closed due to the blizzard.
Being the first to abandon the highway we got to choose our room. It’s turn of the century with more oak than the lost woods of Killarney. Among the oaken furniture and paneled walls are two rooms separated by an antique bathroom. Ellie immediately set out to hunt for ghosts where upon she discovered the Sample Room Tavern in the hotel basement. The tavern is so named from salesmen riding the Union Pacific 100 years ago whom would display their wares in the basement. Upon this discovery, Heddy apprised us that the cook just arrived and the hostess was soon to follow. We could dine on the tavern menu at 5pm.
The Sample Room ministered satisfying pub food and nerve calming libations. And get this, free wifi throughout. I’ve experienced many a business hotel that could take lessons from this establishment. I caught up on email and am now studying road conditions and weather forecasts. Looks like a couple of causalities from a rollover an hour behind us on I70. And the roads should be open tomorrow but the storm won’t really clear until mid day. We can likely make it to Austin tomorrow, but there’s no guarantee. We’ll adapt. I can do some work in the morning. Hopefully the kitchen will be open for breakfast.