Heading West – A Country Lawyer and A Pioneer Woman

Pawhuska, OK

After enjoying a wonderful week with Dave and Sue (and Lewis) along Conesus Lake, we finally pointed the motorhome west with our home in Boulder City, NV the ultimate destination.  Driving between 225 and 300 miles a day, we made our way through Pennsylvania into southern Ohio.  Rain held us up a couple of days just north of Cincinnati before we headed through Kentucky and southern Indiana into Illinois.

An early start allowed for an easy drive through Cincinnati

At a rest stop in Ohio we found that our starter batteries were providing inadequate power to start the engine.  But an electronic (called a BIRD, for bi-directional) switch on the motorhome allows you to add the power of the house batteries to the starter batteries, so we were easily able to get started.  The two starter batteries are over eight years old so we had anticipated their demise in the near future.  While north of Cincinnati we stopped at a large Freightliner dealer but they did not have the batteries we wanted.  We called a Freightliner dealer at our next destination, Mt. Vernon, IL, and found they had two in stock.

After arriving in Mt. Vernon early in the afternoon (we had left Cincinnati very early to beat the traffic and also changed time zones), John picked up the new batteries (not easy as they are very heavy) and installed them.  That left us with time to visit one of the local attractions, the Fifth District Appellate Court House.

Built in 1854, this building is the last courthouse to hold a trial where Abraham Lincoln served as an attorney (1859).

A statue of Lincoln stands near the main entrance along with a plaque commemorating the event.

The courthouse is still functioning today, holding a couple hundred trials each year.  While court was not in session during our visit, a security guard gave us a nice tour of the building.

Attorney A. Lincoln stood here in 1859

After a short stay in Mt. Vernon to get our batteries charged (literally) and visit with Abe, we continued our trip west, crossing the Mississippi at St. Louis.

Below is a picture of Busch Stadium, home of the St. Louis Cardinals.  I-64 runs right past the stadium.  Unfortunately for us, the nice view of the stadium means we missed the turn on to I-44 south, which was located just before the stadium.  Fortunately, we were able to turn on to Grand Ave. in just a few miles and drive a mile south to the correct highway.

Our next stop was near Springfield, MO where we took a walk around the campus of Missouri State University and made a visit to the Nathanael Green/Close Memorial Gardens.

MSU has a decent campus, but the heavy use of light colored concrete and stone gave many of the buildings a very institutional look.

The Bear’s football stadium on campus

We do not often visit parks with botanical gardens (one of us has less than a little interest in plants), but we needed some exercise and the paths were mainly shaded by the numerous trees, an important feature on a very hot afternoon.

Someone offered to stay in the Jeep and “attend” our valuables.  It didn’t work!

A photo to verify he was there

We continued our trip west for a visit to Pawhuska, OK.  We realize most of our readers have already spent time in Pawhuska, but, believe it or not, this is our first visit.  And what brings us to a tiny town in the middle of the Osage Nation?  It is home to the Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond, of Food Network fame.  Ree records her show in a beautiful lodge located in the middle of the huge cattle farm owned and operated by her husband, Ladd,  his brother, Tim, and their father.  Two years ago Ree and Ladd completed renovations of the old mercantile building they purchased in the heart of the town.  The building is now home to a restaurant and mercantile store on the main floor and a coffee shop and bakery on the second floor.  Next door they have completed a boutique hotel called the Boarding House with eighth themed rooms available to the public.

The Pioneer Woman Mercantile

An un-named tourist visits the Mercantile

The retail store

Second floor coffee shop

The pastries are delicious

Flatiron building across from the Mercantile (under renovation as a hotel)

The Drumonds recently opened P-Town Pizza across the street.  More on that later.

At the Mercantile we asked for directions to the ranch where the Pioneer Woman program is recorded.  The directions also serve as a ticket to get into that building.  To get there we drove west on US 60 for about 12 miles and turned north on to Foraker, a well-maintained dirt road.  About six miles up that road we turned east on another dirt road for about a mile to the small parking area at what they call the Drummond Lodge.

The Lodge

Since there was no recording activity during our visit, the building was open for the public to walk through.

A new, young pioneer woman at her stove

Main area where Ree does her cooking on the show

While in the Lodge we were able to get the Drummond family to sit down for a photograph.

Ranches are great places for dogs, and the Drummond Cattle Ranch is no exception.  These two guys are very comfortable around strangers.  In fact, they didn’t even budge when the treat lady (minus a pocket of treats) showed up.


The Lodge is also a guest house, with five or six bedrooms.  Ree and her family live in a farmhouse complex about a mile and a half to the south.

The home of Ree and Ladd Drummond

Instead of returning back to Pawhuska we continued on a series of dirt roads for a drive through the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve.  The Tallgrass Prairie Preserve is owned and managed by a non-profit group called The Nature Conservancy.  It is protected as the largest tract of remaining tallgrass prairie in the world. The preserve contains 39,000 acres owned by the Conservancy and another 6,000 acres leased.  It is a small part of what was the original tallgrass region of the Great Plains that stretched from Texas to Manitoba.  The preserve is home to a herd of over 2,500 bison.  The day of our visit was very hot, so most of the bison were taking shelter in the trees.  But we were able to spot a group of about 25 grazing in the open.

We returned to Pawhuska for dinner at the P-Town Pizza Shop.  There is a take-out store at street level and a dining room on the second floor.


The beer menu was a bit limited, but the nimble hiker enjoyed a tasty bottle of Not Your Father’s Root Beer.

Many online reviews recommended an appetizer called Not-Knots.  We tried a basket and found them to be pretty tasty.

We shared an Italian Chopped Salad and a small Fig and Prosciutto Pizza.  Both were delicious!

After what turned out to be a very interesting visit, we are now continuing our journey west as we head for our house in Boulder City.  We’re still a long way from home so there may be a few more adventures along the way.

More on that later . . .

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45 Responses to Heading West – A Country Lawyer and A Pioneer Woman

  1. Jeff Pierce says:

    Got a laugh seeing the bison and the oil-pumping grasshopper on the Tallgrass Prairie. A bit of opposites IMHO. Safe Travels on the way home!

  2. Ingrid says:

    Thanks for a great tour. Those treats look amazing!

  3. Laurel says:

    Haha, when you told me you were going to visit the Pioneer Woman Ranch I didn’t realize you meant Ree Drummond! I thought it was going to be some historic ranch from the olden days. 🙂 Looks like a fun stop—so glad you dragged John out of the car for a walk in the botanical garden. He deserved those treats afterward.

    • placestheygo says:

      Oh, Laurel! I guess I just assumed everyone knew the Pioneer Woman and wanted to visit her ranch! Yes, John did an awesome job with this stop in Pawhuska and let me set the agenda, gardens and all.

      • Laurel says:

        I definitely know of the Pioneer Woman and have even tried some of her recipes—I don’t know why I didn’t realize where you were going! I seriously thought it was some kind of historic site. But I think visiting her ranch was MUCH more fun! Now I want to go there, too. :-))

  4. exploRVistas says:

    So you aren’t going to be signing up for a garden membership anytime soon, John? Love the courthouse. It’s pretty special to be in a room that Abe Lincoln was in.

  5. georgeyates says:

    What fun area to explore, and loved tour pictures.

  6. Sue says:

    Loved your “second cup” goodies. It looks like there was enough to feed a few friends! Pawhuska certainly has it’s fair share of beautiful old brick buildings. The Drummonds seem to be single handedly keeping that little town afloat.

    • placestheygo says:

      You would have loved the bakery and all the goodies. You can watch them baking through the windows. Pawhuska was quite the place until the bottom fell out of the oil market in the 80’s. The Drummonds are definitely bringing the town alive again.

  7. So cool you were able to visit the Ranch!–Safe travels and we will look forward to hearing about more adventures!

  8. Box Canyon Blogger Mark says:

    MSU, formerly Southwest Missouri State College, is my Alma mater. Thanks for taking me back to the campus life and some fond memories. I ran those stadium steps many times…but that was before that added the upper decks.

  9. Wow, John in a garden!

    Boy, the Pioneer Woman must be the largest employer in that small town!

  10. Sherry says:

    You are really running away from the east coast with those miles per day. Don’t suppose you checked out Cayahoga National Park or Hocking Hills State Park in Ohio. Boy that Lincoln really was tall. So glad your missed turn was easily fixed. Ours never seem to be. I sure do feel totally out of it never even having heard of Ree Drummond or Pawhuska Oklahoma. Must be on TV? The food channel?? I can see I’ll need to make her acquaintance though from the looks of those pastries. Sounds like the Drummonds are economically taking over the town. We stopped and spent a day at the Tall Grass Prairie Preserve and had no idea this famous person was nearby. But we loved the prairie and tried imagine what miles and miles of it, as far as the eye could see, must have looked like to pioneers coming west. That dinner at P Town pizza looks delicious. I take it P Town Pizza is also a restaurant of the Drummonds. Thanks for the education.

    • placestheygo says:

      We’ve haven’t done much touring on our way back east since it has been so hot and humid. Yes, The Pioneer Woman is on the Food Network as I mentioned which is on TV. The Drummonds are reviving the town for sure. Yes, P-Town Pizza was opened by the Drummonds.

  11. Larry says:

    I’ve often wondered just where the Drummond Ranch was located

  12. I am also out of touch. Never heard of the Pioneer Woman or Pawhuska, but that P-Town pizza looks like it’s worth a stop!

    • I guess I assumed everyone knew about the Pioneer Woman, but if you don’t watch the Food Network, it would be foreign. Now you know…lucky you! You would have enjoyed the pizza. All interesting and unique toppings.

  13. Alicia Baker says:

    You’re driving in circles around the US! HAHA! Loved going up in the arch about 10 years ago. Fun place!

    Alicia @ GirlonaHike.com

  14. So glad Lewis do not have a laptop or he would have been jealous that you pet another dog 🙂 This looks like an interesting stop and I do sometimes copy Pioneer Woman’s recipes. They must have own that town and I could live in that ranch!
    John in a garden, what a miracle and he does deserved the yummy treats afterward. I wonder if the MH is filled to the brim with all your stuff from storage or did you purge more?

  15. Nancy says:

    Ree was my very first blog that I read… Blogging was unheard of back then.

    I have a blogging friend, who has a popular DIY blog, and she was invited to stay at the Lodge with a few other bloggers.

    So neat to see the tours of both visits! Thanks!

  16. pmbweaver says:

    Oh you met up with my favorite guys, Abe.
    Oh I think the Mercantile looks so pretty. I love the layout. And I knew you couldn’t resist those pastries. Yummy
    Pam, I think you would be a great stand in for Ree . You look so natural in the kitchen. The family portrait is just beautiful. Were you able to get that photo in one take?
    That’s salad and pizza looks so delicious. I’m glad you had a great adventure. I never the. Drummond’s owned so much property. Pretty successful family for sure. Y’all be safe now.

  17. Jim and Barb says:

    You guys are making great time and will be back in Nevada in no time! The Mercantile reminded me of Magnolia Markets we visited in Waco Texas, very cool!

    • We certainly aren’t driving your mileage but we are making good time with some extra rest days here and there. Yes, the Mercantile seems to be along the same theme as Magnolia Market.

  18. That courthouse is awesome. Definitely the kind of place I like to visit. You’re giving us some good ideas for when we travel through that part of the country possibly next year. I’ve heard of the Pioneer Woman, but haven’t watched her show. It’s pretty cool that they give guests access like that.

    • placestheygo says:

      We’ve been back and forth across the country several times and usually choose a different route each time to see as much of the country as we can, Laura. I’m sure our blog has lots of ideas for which ever route your chose.

  19. LuAnn says:

    We will be visiting OK later this fall to see the kids and grandkids. I will have to get out a map and see how close we will be to Pawhuska. Safe travels!

    • placestheygo says:

      The town of Pawhuska has a lot of history on its own. The Drummonds are certainly helping to bring it back to life after the oil market collapsed in the 80’s from which they never recovered. If you are close enough, it is definitely worth a visit.

  20. Jodee Gravel says:

    Wandered some gardens and lived to tell about it – it does happen :-))) Glad you were able to find the batteries you needed! I love those double stairways on the courthouse. Looks like the Drummonds are doing for Pawhuska what the Gaines have done for Waco – very cool. Love all those beautiful downtown buildings. What fun to stand at the stove where all the magic happens. I always mention the Prairie Preserve when Bill asks why we’d go to Oklahoma – now you can back me up!!

    • placestheygo says:

      I know!! He did survive but it was touch and go for awhile. LOL! The Drummonds have done a lot for Pawhuska. It is amazing how many people are coming to see the store and the Lodge.

  21. geogypsy2u says:

    I knew Abe was tall, but really. How do you keep your girlish figure eating pastries like that? You would make a fine replacement for the Pioneer Woman.

  22. phishsihp says:

    Why doesn’t love a good drive through a big city? Great post. Travel safe!

  23. Debbie L says:

    You really looked at home in Ree’s kitchen! What a great trip with so many interesting sights!

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