We took a road trip to Kansas City in the second week of May, one week after graduation. Our goals for the trip were simple: unwind from a long academic year, watch baseball (Royals and Atlanta), and eat barbecue. All goals were met.
The drive to Kansas City is pretty boring, but made better by the banter among good friends and the recollections of road trips past.
Spring rains have flooded a number of fields, particularly as we approached the Nebraska-Missouri border. Some areas look ready for rice crops, just as we see in West Memphis Arkansas each year on our trek to Florida. I suspect that some acreage just won’t be planted this year. Because we have made this trip so many times before, we tried to identify locations that had memorable qualities, not an easy task given that most of the route is made up of fields and hills and not much else. All of us did seem to remember certain stops, the food available, odd names (I has noted some of these in previous posts), and the quality of restrooms. So, we started a list.
- Exit 53 on I-29 in Iowa—Fireworks World (We got Bang/TNT) and Jesse’s Last stop (nice restrooms). They also offer concealed firearms training at $50 per person.
- First Conoco station in Iowa (just north of the Missouri Border)—fried chicken that is so greasy that you cannot hold the steering wheel.
- Dearborn exit/New Market Store—a winning Powerball ticket sold here (a big one)
- Trex Gas station—good restroom
- Platte City/Conoco station—good bathroom
- Fred P. Ott’s on the plaza in Kansas City—best onion rings and very good chicken tenders/nasty restrooms
Our first stop in KC was Joe’s which once was called Oklahoma Joe’s. It’s a wonderful barbecue place, complete with a 60 minute wait (Friday afternoon) to get into the place. The Carolina Pork sandwich, AKA Memphis style, was very good, along with the chicken, brisket, ribs and sausage. From there it was on to the Intercontinental Hotel just a short walk from the Plaza. The hotel has a style that was popular 50 years ago and reminded me of a few places that I have stayed at in Bucharest and Iasi Romania. That is, the hallways are very long and dark, and some rooms just seem out of place. The refurbishing of the hotel has gone well, but more work remains. We sat in the bar area and listened to a very nice jazz/soul ensemble and the drinks contained alcohol. The best observation of the entire trip was made just after seeing a Fulton County (Atlanta, Georgia) license plate in the garage of the hotel. My friend, who is not a fan of Atlanta quipped, “Mmmm, Atlanta, they burned it down once and it grew back.”
We decided to visit the Boulevard Brewery, and an earlier morning arrival is a must given that the lines for entry tend to get long. At the same time, pre-noon beer tasting has a way of setting the tone for the rest of the day. The tour was disappointing (the beer was good) only because I have toured less modern facilities (e.g. in Milwaukee), places where one can get very close to the operation complete with the sights and sounds of the clanking equipment, long conveyers bringing empty bottles in and full bottles out, and large vats of beer, all in the same place. Boulevard has modernized its facility—great for quality and cleanliness, not so great for entertainment. I still recommend the tour.
It was Ned Yost bobble head night at Kauffman Stadium, which turned out to be the most exciting thing the Royals did all evening. We kept Ned in the box he came in, concerned that he might erupt in a profane tirade as they fell further behind; they lost 5-0. The rest of the fans were entertaining though. A lot of alcohol was consumed, numbing up the masses from a painful game to watch. I did see a woman carrying what appeared to be about ten hot dogs, a feat not easily accomplished.
It was a short weekend in some ways. We left for Omaha on Sunday morning. Janet and I were leaving for Chisinau Moldova the next day. Unfortunately, we had to drive back the same way we had come. As I noted earlier, it is not the most exciting drive.