I put in a full day preparing the house for winter. This included vacuuming out the cold air intakes, changing the furnace’s air filter and putting on our storm windows. The windows take the longest. After about four hours I told C_ that I loved her as I went out to put the final storm window on. It’s in the backroom and I call it “the widow maker”.
The “widow maker” is a multi-step process. I slide the window out from inside the second floor and pull the bottom part of the window into place, using three hooks to secure the bottom portion of the window. Unfortunately I cannot hang this window, so it is an ass backwards approach. I climb high up on my ladder that is placed on our uneven brick patio and pound the top portion of the window into place with a rubber mallet. It’s not as bad because I have the method wired down, but back in the day it had “dumbass” written all over it. As in, “What was that dumbass thinking when he crawled up there and broke his neck?”
The night before we got back from Kansas City, Missouri. Such a frickin’ awesome town. We stayed with our good friends Rachel and Gabe and their delightful children Dexter and Vivian. I posted a bunch of photos from the trip over at my Flickr account. I’m not going to do a blow-by-blow account but I will touch on the highlights in list form. The easiest way to digest.
Thursday afternoon, arrival.
- General settling in and much talking. Gabe and I got dinner from a burger joint. While we were “waiting” for our food we each had a stout with a nitro push. Delicious. Nitro makes stout beer go down like water.
- General plan making for the next day and evening.
Friday, time to get busy
- The early part of the day was spent shopping about, getting lunch and eating it amongst gigantic shuttlecocks.
Friday night, Union Station, Art walk, The American Royal
- Left Rhen with Rachel’s mom. Be good! Much fretting by C_. Rhen did awesome. He cried a little bit and then settled down for pizza, some videos and a small nap. We took in Union Station, the second largest train station in the U.S. and had cocktails at Pierponts. A swanky lounge place inside of Union Station. My favorite part was when our waiter said to Gabe, “Sir! Your drink is dangerously low. May I bring you another one?” Duh.
- The art walk! This is where things get a bit dicey because Gabe and I are sort of drunk and we need to plan things out for the American Royal. We’re having a great time! Kansas City does us right. Sure they love barbecue but they’re also incredibly talented. Rachel sums it up best. “It’s better than Seattle because it’s undiscovered.” No pretentious passive aggressive assholes talking about their Netflix accounts. C_ and Rachel stop at a little greasey spoon diner deal to have dinner. Gabe makes multiple phone calls to people. A short aside about Gabe. He’s the lead programmer for a company called LabelMaster. Watching Gabe solve problems is a little like watching someone turn lead into gold. He can manage groups with ease and confidence. I never worry about anything when I’m with Gabe. He’ll just do it and the plus is that he’ll even take time to show you how to do it yourself. So he coordinates meeting times with Dennis (Rachel’s dad) and his friend Brian (who looks a little like George Costanza). The four of us will rock the American Royal. The largest BBQ festival in the U.S.
- The American Royal. Brian describes it to me as the “Mardi Gras of Meat”. It’s basically laid out like this, you pay admission to get into the festival grounds and then you mill about. There are like, 100 private parties going on at once. Dennis is a chemist for Bayer(?) and gets us into the Bayer party. We head there to load up on free beer and BBQ. The rest of the night is spent going from party to party–drinking, talking to people from all over the world, looking at cool smokers, fireworks and dancing with women! The four of us bond at the “booze luge“. A 300 pound block of ice with channels carved in it. A guy at the top pours the shots down it and you place your mouth at the bottom and receive it. We all took one. I remember a lot of camera flashes going on. Gabe and I walk home from the festival. The phrase, “ass-raped” is repeated often as we trudge through the streets of KC. I partied like I hadn’t partied in 18 mos.
- Saturday morning, Block party breakfast and KC marathon. Haha. We didn’t enter the marathon but we did watch it from Gabe and Rachel’s neighbor’s porch. They had a breakfast block party deal. I traded between swigs of coffee and a Bloody Mary. Gabe managed the kid undercooking the waffles. What did I tell you about him? He’s a natural teacher. I like it because he never makes people feel stupid while showing how it’s done. Gabe and I also go to Bo Lings, a Chinese restuarant where I order chicken feet. I don’t want to go into it. Let’s just say chicken feet suck. Let also be known that I develop a deep appreciation for Aqua Teen Hunger Force on this day too.
- Saturday night, grilled steaks. Gabe grills up massive steaks for us. I love meat. I love Kansas City. I love our hosts. Love love love! Dennis comes over to join us and makes a delicious bernaise sauce. He also brings over a bottle of wine and shows me how to use his fancy bottle opener. I fidget around with it because I feel like I’m on the spotlight (afterall, he is chemist) but he’s a good teacher and shows me how to do it right. He makes C_ open the second bottle of wine with it. She does a much better job of it. I eat my steak and half of Gabe’s. In the middle of the meal I proclaim that I feel human again.
- Sunday morning. Light breakfast and mass amounts of coffee. We’re hitting the road as soon as we get our shit together. The car is leaking oil for some reason and I obsess over it quiety in my mind. Rachel’s mom comes over before we leave and tells us a charming story about Rachel as a child watching Saturday morning cartoons. Basically, Rachel calls it like it is. No way the coyote would still be alive. Everyone is in a good mood and rightfully so. It’s hard work travelling with a toddler. Rhen does a super job of it but he’s missing home. We take a group picture and say our goodbyes. Sniff. We ride out of Kansas City completely satisfied. KC is a great town but our hosts make it the best part. That’s the secret about travelling to a new place. It’s about the people, the town just compliments them.
- Sunday afternoon/early evening. Somewhere in Iowa. C_ is using the bathroom and Rhen and I are walking around the rest stop parking lot. We stop by a Harley Davidson motorcycle. The owner gets on and smiles at us and tells me to put my kid’s ear muffs on because he’s about to make some noise. I tell him to rev it up. He laughs and tells me about how cold it’s been since Ames, Iowa. I agree. He’s revving his engine and telling me about using his camera phone while riding his motorcycle. Rhen is completely fascinated by the bike. This is what I love about travelling. Just talking to strangers you meet on the way. There’s no reason not to. Like Evan Dando sang, “You might have to talk to a park ranger, when you visit a park.” And that sums up my KC visit. I liked the big city. I liked talking to all the great people at the American Royal. During the American Royal I spilled my guts to Dennis. I told him I was adrift. Looking for something. Working at Target, obviously is not the answer. I asked him about why he became a chemist. Later on he asked me, “So Ted! What’s the answer?” This was at the Australian party. I told him I wanted to write a book, but not until I was forty because it seemed like a definitive age. Perhaps it is my way of looking forward to an age most people dread.
Reading over this post I find it to be the blow by blow account I wanted to avoid. I think it’s more for me than you, because I don’t want to forget. KC is a beautiful city. Full of great people. I look forward to our next visit.