Toward the end of Mel Brooks’ classic movie “Blazing Saddles,” Cleavon Little is riding out of town when he runs into his sidekick, Gene Wilder.
“Where you heading?” Gene asks Cleavon.
“Nowhere special,” Cleavon says.
“Nowhere special,” Gene says. “I’ve always wanted to go there.” And the two of them ride off together.
I seldom have the time to go nowhere special, at least not like I used to. When I was younger and single, I could always find time to go nowhere special. On a Saturday afternoon, I might get into my car intending to go in one direction and wind up going in an entirely different direction.
It was nice having nowhere special to go and nothing special to do, but I think I took those days for granted. I figured I would have a lifetime of nowhere special to go and nothing special to do. What I didn’t know was that someday life would start getting in the way, and I would always have somewhere to go and something to do.
That’s not a complaint; it’s just an observation.
Last week, I took some time off, and on Thursday morning, I discovered that I had some time on my hands. Sure, I had some stuff to do later in the day, but it appeared that I had a few hours to myself.
I got in the car intending to check out a place in Kansas that had been recommended to me. I had been on the road for about 20 minutes when I realized that I didn’t remember the name of the place that had been recommended to me or where it was located. But that was OK. I had nowhere special to go and nothing special to do, so I kept driving.
I drove through Joplin and on through Galena, Kan. When I got to Riverton, I turned off the highway and drove around a bit to see if the town had changed. Many years ago, when I first moved to the area and was working for a radio station in Pittsburg, I used to live in Riverton. As I drove, I noticed that the town hadn’t changed all that much. I decided that was a good thing.
I then drove on to Baxter Springs. Because I didn’t have anything special to do, I parked my car on Military Avenue, got out and walked around looking for somewhere to eat. I stopped in front of Angels on the Route, 1143 Military Ave. The sign said the Angels served sandwiches, soups and frozen custard, so I ambled in. What I found was a small, cozy restaurant/knickknack place that was inviting despite the fact that I was the only male in the room. There was a nice lady behind the counter and another nice lady in the kitchen. There also were a couple of women sitting at tall tables. The women also seemed nice, even though they gave me one of those “What’s a guy like you doing in a non-gin joint like this?” looks.
I looked at the menu and saw that the Reuben sandwich was the Angels on the Route’s specialty, so I ordered one. I like Reubens. The one at Angels on the Route was microwaved rather than grilled. But there was plenty of corned beef, Swiss cheese, dressing and sauerkraut, so I was happy.
Some people insist that a Reuben should always be grilled. But I don’t know. Sometimes I think some people should get a life.
I had a glass of iced tea and a bag of potato chips with my sandwich. While I ate, I looked at the stuff on the walls of the restaurant. It was sort of like grabbing a sandwich in a museum. But not one of those stuffy places. Nope, this was sort of like grabbing a bite to eat in your grandmother’s house.
I mean that in a nice way, by the way.
All in all, it was a pretty good afternoon. I took a nice drive on a sunny pre-spring day, and I had a great Reuben. So, here’s some advice: If you get a chance to go nowhere special, take it.
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