“Hallmark towns really do exist,” my little sister, Sara, told my older sister, Julie, as we walked through the tiny town of Cuba, Kansas. Cuba was the 3rd small town we had visited that day, and we were attending our second hometown Christmas parade in less than 24 hours. Ponies trotted past us with giddy children on their backs, a tractor pulling a wagon of hay rolled down the street, and Santa walked down the sidewalk chatting with every child along the way. I half expected Candace Cameron Bure to pop out of one of the stores and snow to start falling on cue.
When we planned our trip to Belleville, Kansas over the Thanksgiving holiday to meet up with my mom, sisters and their families, I was thrilled to spend time with family, but I hadn’t expected much from a “vacation” standpoint. Scott and I were traveling 8 hours by car with Ella (5) and Nora (2), and I knew the 4 of us would be staying in a tiny house style cabin for the duration of the trip. Talk about family togetherness😳. However, the car ride went off without a hitch- let’s just say that this Thanksgiving I was exceedingly thankful for tablets, headphones and sugary snacks. And, the surprises kept coming!
The tiny house I mentioned is located at The Cabins at Rocky Pond, LLC. In full disclosure, these are cabins that my sister, Sara, and her husband, Michael, own. This was my first time seeing them; “wow” pictures had not done them justice. I was impressed. Our cabin which included a kitchenette and bathroom, was cleverly laid out so that 5 adults can comfortably sleep in the tiny space. We had room to spare! Between the cuteness of the decor, beautiful view of Rocky Pond, and the cabin’s similarity to a treehouse, I was in lodging bliss. You are bias you say-well maybe- but 47 five-star reviews on Airbnb from folks who aren’t related tell the same story.
Oh yeah, did I mention that my sister makes to-die-for homemade biscuits for every guest who stays at Rocky Pond? I understand if you stop reading this and pack your bags now.
Woodland cabin at Rocky Pond. View of pond.
Our cabin was the perfect home base for our hometown tour. Downtown Belleville is a 5 minute bike ride from Rocky Pond. My husband Scott and I took an unhurried peddle around town, spotting several unique murals, waving at everyone we passed and stopping for coffee at the delightful Feathered Nest. Small town charm was starting to cast its spell on me. Belleville wasn’t the only stop on our Heartland adventure. Agenda, Kansas, with a population of 68 at the last census count in 2010, was an unexpected gem. You might call Agenda a one-woman-town as the entire “main street” is owned by one women. She runs several stores including Cedar Porch gift shop and an old fashion soda fountain. She has converted the space behind the shops into a beautiful courtyard. The kids had a blast playing in the courtyard stream while we ate sandwiches for lunch. Of course, lunch was followed by ice cream at the soda fountain counter.
Courtyard and soda fountain in Agenda.
This brings us back to our stroll through Cuba’s Christmas kick-off. All these tiny towns were giving me the feel good, days-of-old vibes of a Norman Rockwell Christmas painting. I mean it’s hard to hold back a smile when you look around and see ponies decorated in string lights and your belly is full from the chili you just ate at the community center.
Christmas kick-off festivities in Belleville and Cuba.
Back at our cabin, sitting next to a campfire, I had time to reflect on our long weekend spent in America’s Heartland. Our family had felt the hospitality of small town life and the allure of a slower pace. My kids were giggling with their cousins, the fire was crackling, you could see every star in the sky and when I snapped my fingers, snow began to fall- okay,okay, that last one might not be true. But, there really was something magical about our tiny town tour while staying in our tiny house. Yes, Virginia, there really are Hallmark towns.