In the Middle 1: Kansas City Here We Come

Posted October 16th, 2013

Under the grey sky, in the grey light of early morning, Eero Saarinen’s Gateway Arch looked dully grey as I peered through the window of the plane as it descended toward the St. Louis airport. I am sure the view from the ground—now that there appears to be some kind of concord in Congress that will result in the reopening of the government and the National Park System, and a collective step back from the precipice of national suicide—will be much more imposing.

Now we are in Kansas City, Kansas, having hied down I-70 in the little grey Corolla—do I sense some kind of a theme here?—past signs for a chain called “Dirt Cheap” that offers “cigarettes, beer, booze, the lottery,” or as My Dear One suggested as a tag line, “all the legal vices.” We arrived a little before one, just in time for a lunch of smoked ribs at Woodyard Bar-B-Que. This is what smoked meat is supposed to be? Sweet, succulent, fall-off-the-bone tender and, well, smoky? I am beginning to get a sense of what all the fuss is about.

But this place is confusing as all get-out. KC KS and KC MO are separate municipalities and obviously not in the same state. “Downtown,” however, seems to send you off to MO no matter what side of the Missouri or Kansas Rivers you start from. Wherever you go, moreover, you enter a snarl of highways, ramps and bridges that resembles nothing quite so much as a pile of spaghetti. Thank heavens for GPS, for our Blessed Fiona. There’s no way we’d successfully navigate through it all on our own.

Lewis and Clark point back down the Missouri River, Kaw Point Park

After a visit to Kaw Point Park, where Lewis and Clark paused for a few days to rest, reconnoiter and administer a lashing to  a pair of hapless expedition members who partook of some of the whisky supply without permission. It is beautiful spot, the confluence of the Missouri and the Kansas; the park has walkways, natural stone terraces and tables, and a view toward the skyscrapers of “downtown.” We left there in search of the Historic Garment District Museum of Kansas City. We thought it would be a cool thing to see, and what we could see through the windows of the locked doors was indeed cool, but it’s open only on Saturday 10:00 to 3:00.

But y’know, that’s okay. We’re beat. The alarm roused us at 3:30, we were headed to BWI at 4:00, on a Southwest plane before 6:00 and in St. Louis before 7:30. (Okay that last involves a change in time zone.) Interstate-70 is not an unpleasant highway, and parts of it are attractive in a rolling, gold-and-green-with-splashes-of-red, autumnal kind of way, but the drive takes about four hours and that’s just tiring. My Dear One has chosen Oklahoma Joe’s for dinner. I’m gonna get  me a “burned ends dinner.” I’m feeling peckish and also in need of an adult beverage.


BLOG CATEGORIES: General, Travel, United States

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