I really had good intentions when I indicated I would tell you what one should do before leaving home for an extended period of time; and what to pack for 3 seasons/3 months.  Unfortunately, I was not taking into consideration Thanksgiving and Christmas which only left us 6 days to throw it all together.  In addition packing clothing was somewhat difficult given a bit of a weight gain over the holidays.  Cookies were way too good this year.  So instead this report will come at the  end of this segment and I will report on what I packed that I actually wore.   I’m an outstanding organizer — in my head and on paper, but when it comes to implementation I fall somewhat short!

Dressed in very warm clothing we set off on January 1, at 6:37 AM, with a temperature of -8 and blowing snow.   I do love Minnesota and I really think there is nothing more beautiful than the ethereal beauty of a snow scape.

Finally the snow and blowing stopped as we reached the Missouri border.  The sun was shining and surely it would be clear sailing going forward.  We have always been very fortunate in picking restaurants that not only served great food but had terrific atmosphere.  Toot-Toot Restaurant and Lounge in Bethany MO was no exception.  Owned and operated by the Jennings family since 1984 it has a full menu with breakfast served all day and a very large buffet.  Great food and so many items that I’d wished I could have tried but the belly can only handle so much food.   They open at 6 AM and close at 10 PM and their lounge is open 4 PM to 1 AM.   We had the buffet and our bill was $19.30 plus a 10% tip.   They don’t appear to have a website but they can be found on Facebook.    (A note about tipping:  While it is not expected that you tip buffet wait staff we do.  We tip a standard 10%, and others may tip $1 per diner.  A lot depends on what kind of service you receive from the wait staff)

During our meal it began to snow, and snow and snow!  Must move further south, quickly!!!!



Next stop, Wichita Kansas and CrestHill Suites.



We do not make reservations ahead of time because first, we don’t know what the weather will do to our schedule and second we don’t know what we’re going to encounter along the way that piques our interest.  Sometimes we travel 600 + miles a day and some days we’re lucky to get 200 miles down the road.

But back to the CrestHill — what a find!  It is beautiful, spotless, and the amenities had no end.  Asst General Manager Whitney Spear is a true master at serving travelers and knowing what they need even before they do.   The staff was very friendly!   When we arrived we were pleasantly surprised that they served a complimentary light dinner Monday through Thursday, hot breakfast every morning, free guest laundry, and they had a fitness center, outdoor pool and grills.  They can also provide grocery shopping services and van transportation (based on availability).  We were there on Wednesday night and the complimentary light dinner was pizza which was a perfect dinner for us as we were still stuffed from our late lunch at Toot-Toots.

We stayed in an absolutely gorgeous one-bedroom suite. (Picture of our suite from their website)

One Bedroom Suite

Everything about it from great WiFi connection to wonderful shower heads screamed CLASS ACT!   Breakfast Thursday morning had something to make everybody very happy and leaving with a very full tummy.  It was excellent!  (Our pictures can’t do it justice so please check out their web site)

You are probably thinking “Wow that must have been expensive.”  Nope…  $67.49 plus $8.88 in taxes for a total of $76.37.

Naturally I asked where their other motels were…  sadly there are only three.  Wichita KS, and Albany and Syracuse NY.  Next year’s trip to Vermont will include one of those cities and another stay at a CrestHill Suites.

(A note on hotel charges:  Bear in mind that we are traveling during the week and off-season so there may be a difference in charges if you are traveling weekends or in-season.)

And so ends Day One of our trek southwest!  630 miles through snow, wind and sun, $72.10 at the gas pumps, $21.30 for food and $76.37 for lodging.  Not a bad day at all!


  1. This is great, Heidi! Thank goodness for a great hotel the first night, especially after a pretty hairy driving day! As to your clothes, several years ago, friends of ours traveled to Europe…the bags never got there, but, luckily they had always had a carry on with an extra blouse & slacks. 2 underwear changes and an extra pair of shoes (for each of them). (makeup and shaving gear, too) Rinsed out every other night, didn’t even buy anything and were there for 4 weeks! Anxiously waiting for Day 2! Love, Coppy

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