Category Archives: Travel

Mission Secondary Objective #9 Achieved!

Kansas City.

We moved there in 1960, left in 1967, over fifty years ago. But those are some formative years.

This was my third time back, all in the last twelve years. Last year we were there for a couple of days, but while we did some sightseeing, the focus was on the total solar eclipse. This time we had almost a whole week with the focus being the football game on Sunday, so we got to get much more familiar with the city as it exists today.

I really liked what I found. Aside from the museums, the art, the BBQ, and the hotel, I got time to wander a bit.

Downtown, near the Power & Light District, is full of construction on new, modern skyscrapers, mixed with block after block of restored historic buildings. For example, the Hotel President (another of the Hilton Curio Collection) was built in 1926 and was the site of the 1928 Republican National Convention.

All over the place are these monuments of Art Deco brickwork, right next to fancy glass & steel. I love the juxtaposition.

The Convention Center is huge and a cornerstone of Downtown. Just beyond it on the right a block or two is the Kaufmann Center for the Performing Arts, a world-class concert venue.

The city was decked out in its finest for the holidays.

In that vein, some of what I remember most are things I wasn’t able to take pictures of at the time. Shocking, I know – the very concept of me seeing something really neat and not taking a picture is horrifying, but in this case I was always driving so I chose the safe course. (Even more shocking!)

In this case, one thing that stood out was a large shopping area near the art museum. It was lit up for the holiday for blocks and blocks and seemed familiar. It was only after I got home that I stumbled across a series of photos from the early 1960s when the holiday lighting of the area was first started. Seeing the pictures from over 55 years ago, I recognized many of the buildings that I had seen last week. Since we were living in the area at the time I’m sure that we would have come down there as a family to look at the lights.

The city lights up beautifully at night and you can still see that dichotomy between the old and the new architecture. From our room at the Hotel Phillips we also had a great view of the downtown airport (seen here between the skyscrapers). When I was a kid this was the main airport and I remember many trips down there to pick up or drop off my dad when he was traveling for work.

On “Red Friday” through game day on Sunday, almost every flagpole in town was carrying a “Chiefs Kingdom” flag, just like the one we fly in our living room.

Another thing I saw but didn’t get to photograph was the way the city and skyscrapers lit up with red spotlights at night prior to the Chiefs game. Union Station, below the WWI Museum (which we saw last year) was lit up all in crimson. As you cross back the tracks and climb back toward Downtown, many of the big buildings, both old and new, are similarly lit.

I felt at home, a part of the community, in a way I’ve never felt in Los Angeles.

Finally, in weather I haven’t experienced in a long time (25°F with a 25 knot wind gusting to 35) I went and found “The Scout” statue, an iconic symbol of the city.

Needless to say, I had the park to myself. The locals are smart enough to be someplace warm. I was glad to be wearing more than a loincloth…

With Downtown in the distance, the Convention Center and Kaufmann Center clearly visible, the WWI museum nearby, this must be a wonderful park to hang out in during the warm summer months.

Maybe if this is where we pick to retire to we’ll find out. I could see that happening.

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Mission Secondary Objective #8 Achieved!

Kansas City has many great old buildings downtown that have been restored to fantastic condition, so I made a conscious decision to look for someplace unique. We’ve stayed at plenty of Marriotts and Sheratons and Crown Plazas and so on, and there’s a lovely Marriott right next to the convention center and next to where we stayed. But we went for unique and stayed at the Hotel Phillips, a 20-story hotel build in 1931 and recently restored by Hilton.

It’s freaking gorgeous!

From the outside, the brickwork is exquisite.

Plenty of big glass skyscrapers around, but also plenty of stunning old brick buildings. (Don’t these people ever worry about earthquakes?)

The lobby is marble and polished wood and brass, all decked out for Christmas.

There’s a second-story mezzanine that’s full of more comfy chairs and quiet spots.

The double staircase is Art Deco made of wrought iron and dark wood and nickel filigree.

Then there’s that statue overlooking it all. (By the way, the building is on the National Historic Register.)

When I win the lottery and design my own 20,000 square foot mansion, I want THIS in the main foyer!

“The Goddess of The Dawn” was created in 1931 by Kansas City sculptor Jorgen Dryer.

If you get a chance to stay at the Phillips in KC, take it!!

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Mission Secondary Objective #7 Achieved!

One thing I loved about this trip was our ability to be flexible & take advantage of opportunities that came up.

For example, I didn’t know that Kansas City had a great theater which hosted a series of touring Broadway plays and other productions. I most certainly didn’t know that it was only three blocks from our hotel. And until we got there and checked in, I didn’t know that for five days only, while we were there, it was showing a play we had wanted to see for years.

Once again, serendipity reared its ugly head!!

 

“The Book of Mormon” was a ton of fun, if decidedly NOT for the easily offended!

 

The KC Music Center theater is a great venue!

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Mission Secondary Objective #6 Achieved!

Kansas City boasts a world-class art museum. I spent several hours there, could have spent several days! (More pictures, etc, when I get settled after the new year.)

It’s free (except for parking) and I highly recommend it!

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Adventure!!

We have rarely, if ever, traveled during the holidays. Part of it was being home with the kids and all, part of it was the horrors of, well, travel during the holidays.

This year is different. An opportunity came up, the kids have all long since moved out, and hell, why not?

YOLO!!

Yes, well, about that…

We were supposed to be getting to the airport about now, flying to Seattle, but the airline sent an email telling us that the flight was delayed by at least three hours. Which would mean that we would miss our connection and end up sleeping on the floor in Oakland waiting for a connecting flight in the morning. Not my idea of a good time.

After over a half-hour on hold we’ve gotten switched to another set of flights that will get us into Seattle about 1:30 AM. Also not my idea of a good time, but better than the alternative.

I plan on having a good time on this trip, but between the flu earlier in the week and this start to the trip, I’m wondering if the gods have other plans.

I hate it when I have to fight with the gods to have a good time!

Oh, well. It will be an adventure. Where’s my adventure hat?

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North Carolina Color

Not as much as I might have hoped for, but then again, I’m a Vermont expat.

There were a few trees doing their best to lead the charge, and I applaud them for the effort! But given the temperatures, the rains, and the changing climate in general, it looks like it will be early to mid November before peak color comes to central North Carolina.

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What Did The Hydrants Do?

I’m confused. Granted, there are differences from community to community, state to state, region to region about what certain things mean and now they’re indicated in local signage, but I really don’t understand here –

Just what did the hydrants do to deserve this sort of campaign of negativity?

Maybe it’s a voting thing – God knows there are enough election-related signs everywhere urging us to vote for this guy, against that guy, for this proposal, against this other stupid idea… Maybe there’s some local ordinance that’s being protested?

Just what did the hydrants do to deserve this?

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