Journey 141: Third Thursday Fun


Tonight was my first time downtown this year, for the event called Third Thursday. Main Street closes to traffic, from A Street to 7th, and people take to the streets instead, visiting booths, participating in a variety of fun activities, sampling an assortment of foods. It’s a great time of strolling and connecting with people. 

This evening Greg, Linda and I joined the throngs of people, enjoying the sunshine and seizing the opportunity to be outdoors on such a gorgeous day. This is the perfect time to catch up with friends, as we meet on the street, and chat with total strangers. We three did both! When an older man joined Linda and me on a bench she engaged him in conversation and found out he was a photographer, who snapped pictures for the enjoyment of it. 


I got to experience a first downtown. We stopped by a small but popular hamburger restaurant, called Whistler’s, offering old fashion burgers, a bag of chips and a drink for $3.50. I’ve not eaten here before. 

Tonight  they were set up on the sidewalk, taking orders and calling out your name when your burger was ready. People stood in groups, chatting and laughing together, waiting for their food. The burgers were great! And what a great deal, price wise. 


There is always much to see during Third Thursday! The stores and restaurants on Main Street stay open late and often have product displayed or offer food and seating outdoors. There are blocks of activities for kids, dancing and acrobatics in the street, and a whole section set up with stages for various singers, musicians and performers.

We saw medieval knights engaging in sword fights, ladies with outrageous hair dos promoting a show, a Star Wars storm trooper, and masked men handing out fliers for short films being judged tonight. This is a family friendly event, as evidenced by parents pushing strollers and the number of children in line for balloon animals. It’s pet friendly too, with many walkers accompanied by a dog on a leash. 

I love Third Thursdays! What a great way to get in a walk, see new sights, connect with friends, invest in Joplin.  The best part is, we have five more such opportunities this year. I’ll see you downtown! 


Day 309: The Dining Car at the Gryphon

Dining Car exterior

Today’s first was a yummy treat. And an interesting experience when I can have two firsts in the same restaurant space, under two different names! Today I met my friend Georgia at the newly opened The Dining Car at the Gryphon, located downtown at 1027 S Main, in… guessed it….the Gryphon building! Earlier in the year, I had lunch for the first time at The Fork, located in the same space. This is a new venture, with new owners and management.

The Dining Car at the Gryphon, henceforth referred to simply as The Dining Car, opened in October. It has a railroad theme with train memorabilia used as décor. According to Joplin Globe reporter Wally Kennedy, railroad cars used to pull up to the building on a spur on the north side, when the Inter-State Grocer Company occupied the space. It’s an appropriate theme, yet it is not overdone. The atmosphere was comfortable, cozy and clean, and there were many occupied tables while we were there during lunch time.

The Dining Car is managed by Stacy Gamble, former manager of Jim Bob’s, which was destroyed by the tornado in 2011 and then by a fire, after it reopened in its new location. Stacy brings years of experience in the food industry to this new establishment.

The restaurant features American food including hamburgers, sandwiches, pasta, pizza, prime rib, fish, steaks and chicken. There are lunch and dinner menus and one just for kids. Georgia and I browsed the lunch menu and both selected the same item, the Canyon Creek Pass Chicken. This was a pan roasted chicken breast, on a base of mashed potatoes and a large fried portabella mushroom, topped with chopped avocado, feta cheese, and a special gravy type sauce. It was delicious, with a home cooked, satisfying flavor and it was just the right portion for lunch.

We enjoyed our leisurely lunch. Georgia and I have been friends for a long time. It is always good to catch up with each other’s journeys and share the recent aha’s we’ve had about life. She is one of those friends that I can not see for a while, and then when we meet, we instantly pick up where we left off in our last conversation. We share beliefs about life and we are both learning so much about who we are and what our roles are in the world. I appreciate her insights and that we can journey together, as traveling companions. And, The Dining Car just might become our new place to meet for lunch or dinner. There are so many tempting meals to experience on the menu!

Dining Car

Day 296: Sweet Carolines Treat with Cate

Sweet Carolines logo

This afternoon, my dear friend Cate and I had planned a trip to Galena, KS to visit a new ice cream parlor there with a unique twist. Due to a death in the family, that parlor is closed for a few days. We will save that adventure for another time! We decided to get together still, in search of a first, and met at the Gryphon Building in downtown Joplin to check out the new restaurant that just opened there, The Dining Car. We met at 4:00, only to discover that the restaurant didn’t open until 5:00.

No worries! We chose instead to enjoy an ice cream at Sweet Carolines Ice Cream & Coffee Parlor, also located in the Gryphon Building. I have been here once before, so to create a first, I tried something new. This wasn’t difficult, since Sweet Carolines serves 32 yummy flavors of ice cream!

I normally go for a vanilla based ice cream, such as pralines and cream, or blueberry cheesecake. I’m not a big chocolate fan. So today, I decided to go with a chocolate treat. Sweet Carlolines had several amazing looking selections. The helpful young man behind the counter let me sample a couple of possibilities. I settled on a waffle cone, with a single scoop of Pirate’s Plunder, a decadent chocolate based ice cream with chocolate covered pecans, mini caramel cups and swirls of thick caramel. Cate had pistachio with hot fudge sauce. Since she normally chooses chocolate ice cream, this was a different selection for her as well.

Sweet Carolines treat with Cate

The real treat today was getting to chat with Cate as we enjoyed our ice cream. When we get together we pick right back up on our conversation, as if we had just been chatting a few minutes ago. We met for the first time earlier this year, and yet we are like long time friends. Today we had much to catch up on and much to share about our respective journeys. We chatted long after the ice cream was gone! That is the sweetness of friendship and I appreciate Cate very much. When we at last left the ice cream parlor, we hit the “pause” button on our conversation. After all, we have two other places to visit in the near future, for firsts, and we will continue our visiting there!

Sweet Carolines treat  Pirates Plunder

Day 261: Zumba in the Street

downtown zumba 3

Tonight was Third Thursday. I always enjoy milling around downtown, chatting with people, checking out booths and art, and listening to music. The Joplin Y took over the corner of 3rd & Main Streets this evening and cranked up the Latin music. For my first today, I joined in with other enthusiastic dancers and did Zumba in the street.

downtown zumba dave

Dave takes the stage

It was a busy day with several unexpected twists and turns, work wise, that kept me on the phone or in the car for a good part of the day. I did get to enjoy the company of granddaughter Aubrey for a short time. After dropping her off at home, I met my mom and sister downtown to watch other groups perform Zumba and wait for my instructor, Dave, to take the stage.

downtown zumba 2

The Y had 8 of their instructors downtown, putting willing participants through a variety of moves, much to the enjoyment of the crowd gathered to watch. When Dave’s turn to lead the dances arrived, Mom and I joined in, front and center. There was at least one other woman from my class present. I arrived downtown straight from Carthage, so I didn’t exactly have on Zumba clothes, but I had a great time. Dave shines as an instructor. Fun and very expressive, he had the dancers moving, clapping and whooping in no time. My sister held our stuff and snapped pics while Mom and I danced through four routines. I’m very proud of my mom, who faithfully attends class three times a week and showed up tonight ready to give it her all. She has rheumatoid arthritis, but you’d not know that from her energy and ability. She inspires me to keep going as well!

downtown zumba e

There’s my mom, two down from me dressed in black. Go Mom!

We finished with the Chicken Dance, which is a high energy routine, even though it isn’t one of our usual numbers. I unfortunately pulled my Achilles tendon on my right heel having a blast on that one and have my foot soaking in warm water with Epsom Salts. I’ve aggravated this heel before and I know it will be fine shortly. It didn’t help when I added insult to injury and stumbled over a parking curb in the dark, walking to the car!

I am grateful to Dave for his patience with the Zumba Gold class, and for his playful sense of humor. And I am thankful for this excellent form of exercise. It is not only fun, it is good for me, on so many levels. I’ve just got to beware that Chicken Dance!

downtown zumba dave 2

Great finish, Dave!

Day 198: Meet Artist Alice Lynn Greenwood

Alice Lynn Greenwood e

Tonight was July’s Third Thursday, in downtown Joplin. The light rain falling didn’t seem to dampen the enthusiasm of the people walking about, participating in this fun event. I was delighted to see a good turnout, undeterred by the weather. I always enjoy Thirds Thursdays, however tonight, I had a very specific purpose in mind as I strolled down Main Street. Artist Alice Lynn Greenwood had an exhibit set up at the Post Memorial Art Reference Library and was present at another exhibit located at RSVPaint. I had been looking forward to meeting her. For my first today, I had the opportunity to do so.

Born in Little Rock, AR, Alice Lynn earned her art degree from Hendrix College. She moved to New York, with her two children and two cats, to study at the General Theological Seminary and the Art Students League. After her children grew up and left the nest, she returned to AR to care for her aging parents. She remained in AR for 10 years, creating a studio and a life, gardening and painting, active in her community, grateful for the many changes in her life that had guided her. Alice Lynn’s journey most recently brought her to Carthage, MO, where she has set up a studio in an artist cottage beside historic Route 66.

Alice Lynn is an artist with an amazing eye for beauty and something somewhat unusual for an artist….a strong love of language and words. Her passions combine to create imaginative, bold works of art that enchant the viewer. I first encountered Alice Lynn’s work through a Joplin Globe article featuring her art and highlighting one of her exhibits downtown. Unfortunately, I didn’t make it to the show. A couple of months later, while eating lunch at Cooper’s, I admired the beautiful paintings hanging on one wall. I was particularly captivated by one that used vibrant, fall colors and contained the words, “Let the beauty of what you do be what you love.” Greg surprised me and bought the painting for me.

Alice Lynn Greewood post library e

At home, I looked up the artist online, and realized this was the same gifted woman whose exhibit I had missed. I love how opportunities have a way of coming to us again. I friended Alice Lynn on Facebook. When I posted a blog link and a picture of my vintage suitcase vignette, featuring the art piece I had picked up downtown, Alice Lynn recognized her work and commented. We have enjoyed following each other’s journeys since, via Facebook.

It was a privilege and a joy to meet Alice Lynn Greenwood this evening and chat for a few minutes about her art, our journeys and life. She graciously allowed a picture to be taken of the two of us, and wrote a lovely inscription in her recently published book, “The Beauty of Change”, which I purchased at the exhibit. Alice Lynn not only captures beauty in her artwork, she embodies it. Her book furthers her love of words and art and is an invitation to travel with her through her journey of changes. I accept that invitation and I look forward to Alice Lynn’s continuing journey, captured so brilliantly through her art.

Alice Lynn Greenwood and Cindy e

Visit Alice Lynn’s Facebook page


Day 170: Furballs Launch Party


Third Thursdays are always fun. Thousands of people wander about in downtown Joplin, between 7th and A Streets on Main. Vendors, performers, artists and organizations are set up along Main and in storefronts. It’s a great time to connect with friends and meet new people. It’s a very festive atmosphere, which is perfect for a Launch Party!

Today, for my first, I attended the launch party for Furballs, a new game app. A year in the making, Furballs is the baby of creator Les Olsen. His company, Wise App Inc., is located in downtown Joplin along with his other company, Sidecars Inc. Les embodies entrepreneurial spirit and creative energy. His vision was to create a modern day Duck Hunt with cute little woodland characters who inflate themselves with an air compressor and float around the screen. The player shoots them to deflate them, knocking off their fur and sending them to the ground. There are multiple levels, that increase in difficulty as the player progresses, making this a game that appeals to all ages.

After sharing the idea with colleagues and friends, Les says, “I knew by how excited everyone was that this was a good idea and from there, it was a matter of finding out HOW to get this done.” Thus began a long and not always easy journey of bringing his vision to reality. Using a post production team from Bulgaria and a support team of collaborators here, the project evolved from an idea to character development to storyline to the app that released today.

I downloaded the game app, from the iTunes store, before attending the party this evening. I confess that I enjoy playing games on my iPhone. It is my guilty pleasure and after a long day of work and play, it is a way for me to unwind. I’ve played Angry Birds and a variety of arcade style games. I still play Candy Crush. So I am not a game novice. Furballs is a FUN game. I played for 40 minutes before needing to leave the house and I laughed and learned and progressed. The graphics are amazing, the music catchy without being annoying, and the game easy to figure out as I moved along. I love the movie quotes that the main character, Beemer, shares after each round of play. And I laughed the most when, after a poor round on my part, Beemer came out and shook his head, saying “No, no, no….”.


This app is available now for iPad and iPhone and will be available for other platforms soon. At a price of $2.99 this game joins a movement against in-app purchases. There is an option to purchase coins for those who want to take a shortcut, but it isn’t necessary to progress in the game.

My daughter, Elissa, works for this amazing company. I’m looking forward to spending a day with her at work soon and learning more about this product and other upcoming adventures. I’m excited about this game, not just because it is so fun to play, but because it is inspiring to witness a dream come true.


Learn more about Furballs below:

Day 162: Gryphon Building Firsts


Today’s firsts both took place in the Gryphon Building, located downtown at 1027 S. Main, Joplin. Formerly known as the Bagcraft Building and before that, the Inter State Grocer Building, this huge historic structure, built in 1915, sat empty for many years before being renovated in 2010. It features 123,000 square feet of office and retail space, and modern amenities with historic class and character. The Local Color Art Gallery & Studio is located in this beautiful building. There is also a restaurant, Fork American Kitchen, that I had not eaten at before, and as of today, a new ice cream shop, called Sweet Caroline’s Cream & Coffee. For my first today, I had lunch, and then dessert, in the Gryphon Building.

Fork American Kitchen was formerly Table Mesa. I did not try that restaurant before they changed their name and menu. From what I understand, Table Mesa served Latin food and this new menu focuses on American favorites with a twist, such as crab mac & cheese and curry chicken pot pie. Whatever the past restaurant name, menu and experiences were, it is most definitely in the past, so for today, for me, this was a delightful new experience. And I enjoyed my lunch. Loving a good Reuben sandwich, I chose that with a side of sweet potato fries. Both were excellent. The sweet potato fries were perfect….crispy on the outside and tender inside. Greg, who accompanied me, tried the Hollywood Chicken Sandwich with potato wedges and found those tasty as well.


The service was good, the restaurant attractive and clean, and the atmosphere was fun. There are also three banquet rooms available that seat up to 100 people. And live music on the patio on Friday nights. I will eat here again.

Sweet Caroline’s Cream & Coffee just opened in the Gryphon Building today. After lunch we strolled down the broad hallway to this new ice cream shop with an old fashion look. Offering 32 flavors of hard packed ice cream, fine chocolates and coffee, Sweet Caroline’s is a family owned, mom and pop type shop. They also serve up such specialties as shakes, floats, sundaes and cones. The décor fits in perfectly with the charm of the old building. I had a single scoop of no sugar added raspberry cheesecake ice cream in a waffle cone. It was delicious! Greg enjoyed a scoop of Caramel Caribou ice cream. We got our cones to go, but there was ample seating available in booths and tables.


I hope both businesses flourish. It is great to see more and more stores and restaurants opening in downtown Joplin. And for this grand old building that sat sadly neglected for so long, it has a vibrant and well deserved new life. I love seeing such restorations. It is the ultimate in repurposing.


Day 133: Chemical Peel at Salon 529 and Day Spa


My sweet sister, Linda, gifted me with today’s first, a facial chemical peel. She had one done recently and decided to help me do something I’d never done before. In fact, I’ve never even considered having a chemical peel. Coupon in hand, I met Justin at Salon 529, located in downtown Joplin at 529 S Main Street. I didn’t know what to expect at all.

Justin was friendly, courteous and fun. I told him about my year of firsts and that the chemical peel was going to be my first for today. He explained what he was doing, as he worked, and we chatted about my year of new experiences. Justin applied a glycolic acid solution to my face and let it work for 90 seconds. There was no pain, just a slight tingling sensation, and no blistering or redness. Justin then carefully rinsed my face with cool water, removing the solution. After applying sunscreen and a moisturizer, I was done!


Justin recommended a series of five peels over the next five or six weeks, to receive the maximum benefit. A chemical peel works by removing the layer of dead cells that dulls the skin. It minimizes wrinkles, reduces fine lines around the eyes and mouth, reduces age spots and overall, improves the look and feel of the skin. I have made peace with aging, and have decided to do so gracefully, but that doesn’t mean I can’t or won’t take very good care of the skin, hair and body that I have! After one session, the skin on my face feels silky smooth and looks great.

Since this was also my first time to visit Salon 529, Justin gave me a tour. I love the buildings downtown with their exposed brick walls and high ceilings. Salon 529 has a functional yet beautiful space. Downstairs are the stations for washing and styling hair and doing facials. In the spacious upstairs area there are massage rooms, including a couples room for massages times two! Near the large windows there are stations for manicures and pedicures, and applying eyelashes, and in the back, a room for waxing and spray on tans. I was impressed. Salon 529 and Day Spa is truly a full service salon, offering a variety of services and packages.


Justin set me up for my next appointment and gave me a Welcome goody bag.  It was a pleasure to meet him. I enjoyed talking with him and appreciated getting the tour. I can highly recommend Justin and Salon 529 and Day Spa. Although the words “chemical peel” can sound intimidating, this was a fun and informative adventure! I’m grateful that Linda encouraged me to experience a first that I probably wouldn’t have thought of!

Day 120: Cooper’s 66 Eatery & Coffee


I love the firsts that seek me out, rather than the other way around. These experiences amaze me and also teach me about how life unfolds and about following the path. When cool rainy weather postponed my planned first, I decided, at almost 3:00, to eat a late lunch, and since I was eating anyway, to find a restaurant I hadn’t eaten at yet. Greg was with me and had not eaten lunch yet either. We headed downtown to try out a fairly new pizza place.

Except the pizza establishment was closed, in spite of posted hours saying it should be open. What to do? We were still hungry, even more so! Next door was the corner café, Cooper’s 66 Eatery & Coffee. Thinking it was about to close, we almost walked back to the car. Thankfully, the cook happened to be standing outside and informed us the café was open. In through the door we went. I’m so glad we did!

The owner, Fran, greeted us warmly as we seated ourselves at a high top table near the large front windows. Looking around, I fell in love with Cooper’s 66 Eatery & Coffee before a menu was placed in my hands. With an exposed brick wall and high ceilings capped with tin, the interior was charming, with many interesting items and pieces of art to check out. As Fran handed us menus and took our drink order, she asked if this was our first time in, which allowed me to share about my year of firsts. When I told her I’d be writing a blog about Cooper’s and would share it on her Facebook wall, she graciously told me about her café.


Cooper’s 66 Eatery & Coffee is located at 122 S. Main Street, Joplin, and is open Mon – Fri 11:00 – 7:00 and Sat 11:30 – 3:00. Named after her maternal grandmother, Cooper’s offers a wonderful assortment of salads, sandwiches, deep pan and personal flat bread pizzas, and homemade pies and cheesecake. Fran grew up in this area, and after being away working for a major retail company for 37 years, has returned home. Cooper’s has been open for almost two years. Fran uses fresh, high quality ingredients and relies on family recipes to create such delights as chicken salad and peanut butter pie.

Greg and I both ordered the 7” personal flat bread pizzas. In the spirit of trying new things, I had a “Bugs on the Windshield” pizza, featuring chunks of all white meat chicken, bacon, cheese and alfredo sauce. Slightly off my diet, but oh so good! The freshly brewed unsweetened tea was delicious as well. Fran kept our glasses full and was delightful to visit with each time she passed by to check on us. We sampled the peanut butter pie and found it wonderful…not too sweet and topped with chopped peanuts.


One of the things I’ve loved the most about this year of firsts is meeting new people and learning a bit of their stories and hearing about their dreams. I learned that Fran takes part in Downtown Joplin’s Third Thursday each month, exhibiting a different artist’s work on her brick wall, and hosting an evening of live music. She also sponsors concerts for a cause, such as for the arts and autism, grilling burgers in the large parking lot out back while bands perform on an outdoor stage.

We had a very special lunch at Cooper’s 66 Eatery & Coffee. I am extremely grateful that events led me through that door today, as surely as if I’d followed a trail of bread crumbs. Fran was friendly and offered amazing service, the food was delicious and the atmosphere casual and fun. While there, Greg gifted me with one of the beautiful pieces of artwork displayed on the wall.  I’m looking forward to my next visit to Cooper’s, and sampling Fran’s famous chicken salad!


Day 79: Visit New Businesses During Third Thursday


Today’s first took place during the kick off of Downtown Joplin’s wildly popular event, Third Thursday. Held each year, from March until October, on the third Thursday of the month (hence the name), this event is located from 7th Street to A Street on Main Street. Roads are blocked off, stores and restaurants stay open late and vendors, performers, musicians and artists line the streets and inhabit storefronts for the evening. Thousands of people stroll up and down Main and spill over onto neighboring avenues, viewing art, listening to a variety of music and catching up with friends.

The first day of spring was perfect, weather wise, and people turned out in huge numbers for the first Third Thursday of the year. Greg, sister Linda and I were some of those people! I’ve attended many Third Thursdays so that couldn’t be my first today. Therefore, I made a point of visiting a couple of businesses that I’ve not been to before.

Blue Moon Market, located at 613 S Main, features clothing, jewelry, accessories and distinctive home furnishings. My sister and I LOVED this store. I believe they have been open for a little while, but I had not made it by yet. What a lovely and eclectic mix of product. Linda and I just missed the hippie era, but we love the look of smocked oversized tops and loose comfy pants. Perfect yoga clothes are available here! Vintage items and jewelry caught our eyes as did painted signs and banners. There were even old doors for sale at the back of the shop. They truly do have a little bit of everything here. The store was very crowded with ladies ooohing and aaaahing over the merchandise so we intend to visit again very soon and shop.

The second business I visited during Third Thursday was RSVPaint, located at 420 S Main. Tonight was the Open House for this new venture in Joplin. Originating from Springfield, MO, where they have been very successful, RSVPaint offers a place to relax, sip, visit and paint. Classes are offered Thursday – Saturday in the evenings. In two hours, you can create a work of art to take home. It was fun to look at the sample pieces and classes offered. We passed this evening on the wine, that’s the sip part, but we did sign up for a class next week! It will be a great experience that we can share, and of course, a first for me.

What a great evening of strolling, looking, chatting with friends and listening to music. To my surprise and delight, there was even a young man, splendid looking in his kilt, playing the bagpipes. Now that’s not something you hear and see every day in Joplin! I’m glad I caught his performance. I look forward to the next Third Thursday, and the new adventures awaiting me there.