Last week, before the heat and the sleet kicked in, I made a trip to Cuba.
Cuba, Kan. has been well-documented by others, including Jim Richardson of National Geographic fame. My recent trip was my second to the tiny town of about 150 in far north-central Kansas.
I drove up through the Ark River Lowlands and through the gorgeous Smoky Hills, crossing the Saline and Republican Rivers, to get to the location of a sunny Thursday meeting.
It’s possible to do some urban exploration, even in the tiniest of Kansas towns. The meeting took place in a community space tucked away behind an unmarked door on the downtown strip. A handwritten sign on the wall indicated that the space had been used for community events years ago — perhaps as recently as the 1980s — but was now used for smaller gatherings. Card games, maybe? Pitch is big here. The group that gathers at the cafe on Thursday mornings invited me to join for a hand or two. (I declined, mostly because of the meeting, but because I grew up playing six- and seven-point pitch. Woe to me when I inadvertently ditch the trey.)
No kolaches were to found in town, but the luncheon special at the cafe was a deconstructed bierock, swimming in cheese sauce but boasting a thick and homemade crust.
After the meeting, I made a stop for the thickest-cut smoked pork chops at the Cuba Cash Store, which also has some of the best homemade ring bologna around. The pork chops rode home in a cooler on the back seat and became a fantastic kässler rippchen for Monday’s supper.
Scenery, geography, history, food, exploration and kind people make for a pretty fantastic day.