Coffee, Hotel from Hell, and Gluten Free Cookies

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We left Ferguson, just outside of St. Louis, a few hours ago, after the best cookie and lunch stop! Jon foundFree Range Cookies, an entirely Gluten Free bakery, on Yelp, and so we went a little out of our way to visit the bakery.  It is a small shop, and the owner/baker Linda appears to be something of a one woman show, but the donuts are delicious and it was a very enjoyable stop. Linda, who was a pleasure to talk with, was excited to have customers from California, where most of her ingredients originate.  She also carries bacon bandaids, in case you need to stock up on those!

We tried to hit a Gluten Free restaurant in Knoxville, TN, yesterday, but unfortunately we arrived to find the place no longer existed.  The area of Knoxville we were in,Bearden, seemed pretty neat.  We ended up eating atBig Fatty's and I had a salad called"the Happy Fatty."  It was decent.  At least it wasn't a hamburger and fries.

Tennessee and Kentucky were pretty, though North Carolina was so stunning that it was hard to compare.  We arrived in Illinois when it was already dark, so we didn't get to see much of it until this morning on our way out.  We made the unfortunate choice to stop in Benton, Illinois, at a hotel that turned out to be right next to a sports bar and a railroad track.  We ended up having to sedate Pixel because she was so freaked out all night by the combination of loud-mouthed men outside our hotel room and the train whistle. I can sleep through anything, so there were very few moments throughout the night that woke me, but Jon was up all night between the men, the train, Pixel, and my phone, which received multiple text messages in the middle of the night.  We decided that the hotel room was so awful that it didn't matter if we dirtied it a bit, so I took the opportunity to bathe our stinky pup.

Fortunately, we had already planned a morning hike at Rend Lake outside of Benton, and Pixel had a great time chasing after deer, climbing on rocks and bouncing around in leaves.  Hopefully that made up for the fright of the night before... we think it did, as she is relaxing comfortably in the car today.

The title of this post contains the word "coffee" and so I must explain: yesterday morning Jon and I took a detour to a natural foods grocery in Asheville and found a delicious local roast that we look forward to trying.  During the day, we passed the best truck ever, labeled"coffee" (see picture).  Unfortunately, twice now we have stopped at McDonald's out of desperation and ended up with the most offensive, lukewarm coffee... I think we need to invent the car-powered coffee maker!

Tonight we are on our way to Lawrence, Kansas to enjoy Brazilian food and visit a candle shop that my friend Nora recommended we see, then Salina for our over-night.  In the morning we'll tour through Kansas, with stops at the Cathedral of the Plains and Monument Rocks, then end up on the doorstep of my Vassar-friend, Errin. Pixel is looking forward to playing with Errin's pup, Paka.

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