May 23

Yikes. I have been talkin' Wrong-gah-dee Wrong Wrong which is among my least favorite things.

It appears, from closer inspection of an actual map (acquired from the internet so no guarantees there...) that KC, KS and KC, MO are NOT bisected by a river. That's the Missouri River up there in big river blue.

Then coming off that is the Kansas River separating KC, KS from the KS residential suburbs including Bill and Cheryl's place in Overland Park.

At least that's what I think I'm seeing. Live and learn. I'm in the airport now waiting for Ken and Cheryl. I'm intending that before this trip is over I'll have figured out the whole river-city thing.
In the airport. Toto! There's no place like home!
May 24

We gathered our wits and a little before noon headed out for the day.

First stop - Kim's store. Oh sure, she just looved seeing her mom and her mom's friends pour into her store while she was at work, calling out to all her colleagues and generally making a fuss. Sure she did.
Ken got so excited. A robin! A robin! He said he hadn't seen a robin in forever.
Lunch at the Elephant Bar. It's a chain, but I've never been in one.

You absolutely can't can't Can Not believe the real estate available out here. As far as the eye can see, which is very very far, are faaabulous housing developments (4 bedrooms, 3 baths, finished basement - $280,000) with names like Hampton Place and Wilderness Park surrounded by Every Single Gigantic GiGantic outdoor mall and chain stores the size and number of which you Can Not believe.
Ken and Cheryl posing for a photo-op at Fritz's Railroad Restaurant where a little train overhead brings your food to a rack beside your table that then lowers for your dining convenience.
Downtown Kansas City MO. We're in the revolving bar at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Crown Center, Crown Center being the complex that contains the marvelously refurbished train depot, Union Station, and a shopping complex containing the Hallmark Cards Visitor's Center.

The classically styled beige building in the foreground at the far left was originally the Kansas City Power and Light Building and was the tallest building in Missouri in 1931 when it was built.

There is a modern glass tower behind it intended to echo the KCPL building. Built in 1988 it is now the tallest structure in KC.

That low circular building in the center is a new arena still under construction.
You can traverse the whole Crown Center complex of shops, office buildings, Union Station, and hotels using The Link, a glass walkway about 2-3 stories above ground. It's especially welcome in the winter and a fun shortcut in better weather.
Union Station opened in 1914 and was restored in 1999. It is the second largest train station in the US (only NY's Grand Central is larger) and it's true that the interior spaces are enormous both in height, width, and solidity.
Bill's plane was 1 1/2 hours late. This is the scene driving to the airport.
May 25

This was a great day - a day of discovery! Here is a helicopter photo from the internet of the totally fabulous Nelson-Atkins Museum with the new addition under construction.

They are now completing a massive expansion designed by one of those celebrity architects (Steven Holl) and named the Bloch Building. I've seen write ups on this all over the place and was especially looking forward to visiting here. The new wing won't be open until early June but it was still very fun to see.

There's another one of those shuttlecocks further down the lawn and one in back too.
I took this off the architect's website showing how the outer walls of the addition are made of a translucent material that brings light in during the day and glows at night. I'm so curious to see how the gallery spaces will work out.
The museum opened in the mid '30s from an endowment of pictures and cash from the Nelson family and the land was bequeathed by the Atkins family.

On the second floor.
From the Nelson-Atkins website: 'Even before the Museum was built, its benefactors planned to include in it the first major gallery in America devoted solely to Chinese art. As early as 1930, the focus was to build a collection that would represent China’s highest achievements in every medium and from every historical period. As a result, the Chinese collection is one of the finest in the world.'
We took a tour and we all Looved the docent.

(I just noticed - isn't it fun, the contradiction between words and image.)
At the back. I was so taken with this place, really. I think the shuttlecocks are Fab. This is a commissioned piece and the artist envisioned the museum itself as the net and placed the pieces around as though a game were in action.

It's amazing I think, about these gigantic commissioned pieces. Basically, you take what you get, and what you get is going to be Big.
Then we went on to Country Club Plaza.

From their website: 'Technically this is a collection of buildings, but it was all envisioned by the same man: J.C. Nichols. In 1922 the Country Club Plaza became the first suburban shopping center.'
From another site: 'Those who have traveled overseas might take a second look at the statue of Winston Churchill. Just steps away two of Spain's landmarks - the Giralda Tower and the Seville Light - tower majestically on the horizon. Down the street in a quiet courtyard sits an original bronze of Pomona by Italian sculptor Donatello Gabrielli.

'Is this England? or maybe Spain? or could it be Italy? What a surprise to the traveler to find these magnificent European works of art in the heart of a Kansas City.'
Remember that story about KC having the most fountains of any city in the World? That's what every KC website proclaims. They are indeed Everywhere...
Bill and Cheryl's lovely home.
And Daisy the Dog.
We had dinner at a Meat Place, called Jack Stack's in Overland Park, that was so deeelish. They still smoke in restaurants here. That'll take you a-back!
May 26

It seems we don't really get started until the afternoon... Bill and Ken went shopping and then we went for an outing at the Arabia Steamboat Museum.

A steamboat plying The Mighty Mo (the Missouri river - 'Too Thick To Drink, Too Thin to Plow') sank in 1856 and was rediscovered in the middle of a Kansas farm field in 1987.
Here's an artist's rendering.
The museum is really very entertaining. The guys that discovered and excavated the site are a bunch of farm country good-'ol-boys one of whom shows up for almost every tour.

They were able to recover virtually the entire store of goods and instead of just laying out examples, they display every single object.
The dotted lines on this map show the banks of the river before people started messing with it. The light blue and red is how the river looked when the Arabia sank, and the dark blue lines show the river today.

Where you see names and dates are the supposed locations of other steamships that went down during the same era.
Returning home, here's a corner of B&C's backyard, an example of the backyards in these big developments. Dog owners and new parents fence their space. Otherwise, you can often see whole swaths entirely open.
B&C's Daughter Kim and Daughter Kim's Boyfriend Ross.
The gang gathered in celebration of Cheryl's birthday! Cheryl; Lydia, their friend and one-time employee of Bill; Ken; Kim; Ross; Bill.
Here's a photo of Bill and Cheryl from their last cruise which I am including because they both look their most handsome, happiest best.
May 27

We lolled around in the AM and then went out to look at some model homes. The prices are not all less than $300,000 btw. The new, average, 3,500 sq feet places in these sub-divisions are around $400,000 without upgrades for floor and window covering, landscaping, etc.
Ken had to leave tonight and he wanted to experience one of the river casinos, so we made it out to The Argosy on the way to the airport.

Talk about the smoke filled room...lordy. It seems I can tolerate heat a little more and smoke a lot less than I could a few years ago.

Here's the story as told by B&C: The law said you could only have gambling 'on the river' so what 'they' did was build casinos beside the river and then dig a little channel so that some part of the river flowed around the building and voila! you are 'on the river' without having to build a building that floats.
After leaving Ken at the airport we went on to enjoy the 5th annual Celebration At The Station. That's Union Station you see in the background. The KC Symphony would be playing a concert of patriotic tunes and then we'd have a big fireworks show.

Bill is sitting in a chair they acquired at one of the Dick's Sporting Goods stores. When Ken and I, driving in the car, first saw a Dick's we exclaimed 'Look! Dick's!' to which Cheryl replied 'yes, they're big around here', a phrase we repeated ad-nauseum. Sixty-smichksdy.
Mostly you watch the show on the JumboTron.
Sunset and the crowd on the move. This very large crowd was out for a picnic and socializing. The concert was, for most, a barely noticed background.

The event had a nice small town feel in that parking was a breeze, and free, and kids were everywhere.
Wow! Kah Boom!

The tower you see as a dark shadow is the Liberty Memorial and stands opposite Union Station with the gathering spot for the event between the two buildings.
...and I have sooo many More.
May 28

Our holiday outing takes us to a tailgate afternoon, and then an evening contest between the Kansas City Royals and the Baltimore Orioles.

Bill and Kim are both KC Royals fans. The kind that hang in there through thick and thin and it's been mostly very very thin. We had no trouble at all arriving at the park and then getting a good spot and good seats...

Here Bill is off to tend to his bbq. Ross got 5 bonus points for his earlier caption 'man make fire'.
It's cool how they mow the lawn. We had a good view fairly close there between third base and home however...
...we ended up under the cover high in the bleachers due to the periodic appearance of Rain.
This is early in the game, before Rain. People here really try to be fans. They wear the shirts. They know the team. But the team is just so bad.
This is Bill's 'omg What Is It NOW?!' expression that he wore pretty much throughout the entire 1-9 loss.
Aww, cute kids. (ps They've been seeing each other for only a few months now so don't go start asking about the ring.)
And then even though it wasn't dark yet...
...we were treated to another splendid fireworks display.
May 29

This afternoon we went out to Independence, MO, home of Harry S Truman and his Presidential Library. It was very interesting and only about 40 minutes from Kansas City.

(internet photo)
They used the front page from various newspapers to tell of the landmark days, bam bam bam, between FDR's death, HST's inauguration, and the historic events leading to the end of WWII.
All the Life Magazine covers and a few stories from HST's last year in office.

There were plenty of entertaining and educational displays using personal and public memorabilia to go along with the stories. I remember when the National Parks Visitor's Centers had the most wonderful displays but now-a-days there is plenty of competition brought about by, I think, the widespread advances in Desk Top Publishing and Digital Technology, two of my favorite things.
What's cool, as well as the Library, is the Library's website. You can rummage around in great old photos. For example this is the town of Independence in 1945 and it looks very much the same when we visited, without the snow of course. There was a horse-drawn tour though.

You can check out the website at Truman Library Photographs. Click their home page if you want to read more about the Library.
You can also tour the first floor of the Truman's home. This is a National Park Service site so you get Rangers for tour guides and that's always a pleasure.
This little sliver looks funny here...I was trying to find some way to express the vastness of the housing developments and outdoor malls. There are, unexpected by me, a lot of trees around the KC area. Bill said they have to cut down trees every time something new goes up.

The developments come in every density, from what look like apartments, then attached condos, close-packed single family homes, bigger homes on bigger lots, and even developments with individual gigantic homes clustered around a lake or a golf course.
May 30

This afternoon we decided to go into the Arts and Jazz districts of downtown.

A big advertised attraction is the first Friday of the month when they have an Art Walk through the old industrial spaces that are now studios and lofts for artists but we wouldn't be able to do that. I wasn't here on a first Friday but hope Bill and Cheryl have a chance to go soon.
In this area the American Jazz Museum and the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum is a hot attraction. There once were a hundred jazz clubs along these few streets and they call themselves the mother of swing and Bebop.
I though the Jazz Museum was particularly well done with great interactive opportunities to get a feel for the components of the various styles of Jazz. They could make an interactive DVD out of this stuff and you could get college credit. Here's a link to the American Jazz Museum website.

They took my camera so no photos from inside. This is the entrance to the Jazz Museum.
This picture is back from the 24th but I didn't tell about it then. That tower was the backdrop for the fireworks show after the concert at Union Station.

I'm including it here to show how the trees blanket the view. It used to be called Liberty Monument and is now a WWI memorial with a museum and a large collection of artifacts. When the weather is good, which it was not today, you can go up into the tower.
From standing at the base of the tower, looking down to Union Station and Downtown.
And then...The Hallmark Visitor's Center. They had a big display window for every decade and many other windows telling the story of the Hallmark Experience, and when you care enough to send the very best.
Although a lot of what you see in the photo are photos, two of the machines were working and that guy told us about some features of the manufacturing process. That was fun.

Then we had some dinner, went home to watch a movie, and went to bed for my 4AM wake-up.
Here's a link to the TripAdvisor site where you can find the Best of Kansas City attractions. I saw, basically, all of them!
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