July 15-16, 2019, Kansas City (MO) (and Olathe, KS )-
In 1959, Wilbert Harrison, a rhythm and blues singer from Charlotte, delivered the signature rendition of the whimsical tune, “Kansas City”- imagining a visit there would bring him romance, which would change his life.
Of course, it was pure fancy and the real Mr. Harrison probably spent no more time in KC than anyone else who didn’t live there. He did have a good idea, though. Kansas City has long been a place through which I have driven, en route to somewhere else. I visited the Truman Presidential Library, in nearby Independence, in 2011, but the big city eluded me-until today.
KCMO, simply put, has the most welcoming hostel in which I’ve yet stayed. Considering that I have had great experiences in all but one of the hostels I’ve visited in the past four years, that’s saying a volume. Honeycomb, and its owner/host, Elsa, make every guest feel like family. This is a woman who has lived a full life, most recently having made an interesting attempt to climb Mt. Everest, which she says will NOT be her last attempt. Then, there is Max, the house dog, who has his own skateboard, on which he can barely fit.
Max does his skateboard trick, for a piece of cheddar cheese.
There is much to see and do in Kansas City, so this will not be my last time stopping here. There were two immediate goals for this trip, though: Finding signature barbecue and getting a handle on downtown.
The first goal was achieved when,courtesy of Elsa, I headed towards Q 39, a medium-sized barbecue palace, in mid-town, and in a strip mall,yet. There are more stately-sounding barbecue restaurants, recommended by Lonely Planet and Fodor’s, but I’d come back here again, in a flash. Burnt tips have become this steak lover’s favourite, and no one does them better than Q 39’s kitchen staff.
Upon my return, the conversation with Elsa and three other guests, young men who are here for an extended work-visit, left me thinking that a need to slow the cross-country engine down, and actually spend 2-3 days, or more, in a place like KC, as I do in Massachusetts and Carson City-Reno. Family is as much in the mind and heart, as it is on a tree of ancestry. No, I’m not implying following Wilbert’s whimsical example; most women I encounter on the road are perfectly content with the men who are already in their lives. I am seeing the wisdom in matching my intensive mode of exploration with an actual time frame that fits.
Tuesday morning I left Honeycomb around 11 a.m. and headed to Union Station, far more than a place to catch a train.
As the skeleton implies, here is a top-notch Science City, which is offering a Stonehenge exhibit. Having been in Carnac and to Cahokia Mounds, I passed this one up, but for the small children going in with their parents, it had to have been a blast.
The interior lobby, though, gives Grand Central a run for its money.
The lobby has a couple of nice little food nooks, so I got a sandwich from Harvey’s, following up with a fine latte and fresh scone from Parisi. That set me back on the road, for a forty-five minute auto tour of downtown. Following this excursion, KC’s nice system of boulevards and parkways made wrestling with the construction zones at I-70’s on ramps completely unnecessary. I was past Kansas City, KS within a half-hour.
Continuing notes to self: Kansas is making a concerted effort at increasing its foliage. I make it a point to record all such scenes as I encounter.
NEXT: Solemnity and Noise in Eastern Colorado