View from the top of the WWI Memorial
The real destination for this trip was Springfield, MO, where my daughter was graduating from college. (She graduated Summa Cum Laude from the Honors College with an Animal Science degree and Equine Science minor. If you are reading this and hire Animal Science /Ag folks let me know and I'll connect you with her).
However, since we were flying through KC we decided to hang out for a couple of days before coming home. Living in Richmond VA means that our opportunities to fly non-stop are pretty much limited to Florida and the big hub airports. Kansas City is neither, so we got to go through Atlanta both ways. The trip west last week left us with a 2-hour layover, and our arrival gate was directly across from The Varsity.
- I had no idea The Varsity had a restaurant in the airport
- Two chili dogs and rings are a fine dinner to start a vacation.
This conversation happened at the Budget Rent-A-Car counter in Kansas City.
Budget Employee: Would you like a king cab pickup truck or a Ford Explorer?
Me: Which of those is the 4-door mid-sized sedan that I reserved?
I went with the Explorer, which was actually rather comfortable to drive. Not so comfortable was the MPG when I had a 3-hour drive to Springfield in front of me. We picked up my mother at the airport the next morning and headed south to Springfield, stopping for lunch at Gates BBQ on the way out of town. Don't @ me with your opinions of KC BBQ. Gates is the best. If you think otherwise you are wrong.
The graduation ceremony at Missouri State was really well done. Plenty of seating in the basketball arena, and Senator Claire McCaskill was the featured speaker. Interestingly, one of themes she hit on was the need to get outside of your bubble and get to know people that think, look and believe differently than you. That same theme was also featured by Mitch Daniels in his commencement address at Purdue this year.
The morning after graduation we loaded the Explorer up and drove 3-hours through rain and thunder back to KC, dropped my mom off at the airport, and went back to Gates for lunch again. We spent that afternoon at the WWI museum, and then went to our AirBnB apartment. $70 for a private studio apartment for the night was a great deal, as decent hotels in downtown were more like $200 a night. We were a little SW of downtown, just two blocks from the Kansas / MO state line, in a cute neighborhood only one block from a commercial strip with bars, restaurants, indie designer shops etc. It is exactly the kind of neighborhood I aspire to live in. Dinner that night was at a pub around the corner from the AirBnB, where we met up with somebody I had "known" online since the late 90s, but had never met in person.
The selfie is from the top of that tower.
Sunday we woke up to more rain and thunder, so we planned all indoor activities. We started at the Toy and Miniature Museum, which was way cooler than I expected. The level of obsessive detail that goes into the miniatures is crazy. And the collection of toys was a a lot of fun, as I had owned more than a few of them back in the day. It was only $5 a person for the museum and it would have been a bargain at twice the price.
This is the interior of a dollhouse. I wasn't kidding about the attention to detail.
Toy gun, racist dolls, and a game named "Trap the Jap in Tokyo." A trifecta of bad ideas.
After lunch we hit the Negro League Baseball Museum, which had been on my bucket list for a while. It's mostly photos and placards, which is to be expected given the source material. A lot of the Negro Leagues failed quickly, records are sparse, and video is non-existent. Still, it's probably a must visit for any serious baseball fan. It's co-located with a Jazz museum. The combo ticket was only an extra $5. It wasn't worth it. The jazz museum feels like an afterthought, something to use up some space. It purports to celebrate the African-American jazz culture that existed at 18th and Vine in KC back in the day, but it's really just a Intro to Jazz 101 program that you can whip through in less than an hour.
Jackie Robinson wasn't actually the first black guy in the major leagues. There were a few pre-1900. This was the start of the handshake agreement for MLB teams to not recruit black players. It was never a written rule.
Buck O'Neil was a great player, and even better person.
And then it was time to go home, complete with one hour waits on the tarmac in both KC and Atlanta. Our flight into Atlanta arrived as our flight to Richmond was boarding, but we made it as the flight was waiting for a few other incoming connections. We made it home about 2 AM. Taking today off was a smart move.