Sunday, March 12, 2017

The Blue Lady Travels in the Red Lands: A Short Trip to Kansas City

Sorry, but I did not actually see any real fountains on this trip
Randy, my former TIAA advisor, told me, that in his experience, new retirees do a fair amount of traveling at first, and then kind of get tired of it and settle in someplace for the long haul. So be it. Right now I'm just barely into the "early travel phase."   I have quite a few trips planned in the next months. And lots of ideas for where to go after these already arranged excursions. I'll write about them as they happen.

The first one wasn't really my choice. Well, of course, it was my choice. I volunteered to be an accreditation site visitor for the nurse-midwifery education program at the University of Kansas at their medical center in Kansas City. This is one of the volunteer activities I am continuing into my golden years as long as they will have me.

The choice was skip this season or  to go to Connecticut, I think it was, or Kansas. One of my rules for this work is that I don't go to the eastern time zone. Too difficult to adjust those old circadian rhythms when you fly there, you know. Living in the mountain time zone is very advantageous. I just have to adjust one hour in either direction as I move around.

And it turns out that most programs and most other visitors live in the east. many can drive to a given place from their home. They usually don't lack for volunteers. West coast programs are glad to have me come because I'm cheap. Delta Airlines makes it easy and inexpensive to fly to every west coast city. And there aren't that many visitors who live out west either. (Plus I'm told I have a reputation as being a really good site visitor too.)

So the choice was, being miserable at the end of February in Salt Lake, the east coast or Kansas City. I'll go to Kansas City. What the heck. Why not?
This part of town IS worth your time to visit.
But we didn't have any extra time for strolling around this trip.

This was just a 3 day fly-in, fly out visit. I had been to Kansas once before back in the 80s. I took a driving trip over about 6 weeks one summer, all over the Midwest to visit friends and relatives when I was working a 9 month schedule . At the time I had a friend who was going to school at KU in Lawrence. We went to the big city one day. We toured the art museum, which is world class, really, and the part of town called "The Plaza."

This trip I could not think of anything I really wanted to do that would be worth the trouble of an extra hotel day and staying over by myself, especially not at the end of February. The weather turned out to be very nice and spring-like, but, being as how it is in the midwest in the winter, it could have been just horrible. (And, as it turned out, it snowed and was real icky back home in SLC.)
You'll be seeing more of Sock Monkey in the future as he goes on trips with me.
Notice his fine new jewelry.
Rock! Chalk! Jayhawk,!as they say there for some unknown reason.

As always, the people we spent time with were just lovely and very hospitable. I have never had a bad experience with these visits with the people associated with nurse-midwifery, nursing or the whole university.
Literally right across the street.
A really nice modern building for the College of Nursing.

Our hotel was a Holiday Inn Express that was literally right across the street from the university buildings. What can I say? It was  Holiday Inn Express in a very convenient location. I did not sleep well. The mattress was too hard for my liking, and there were several of those little lights, like on the thermostat, that were bothersome. The TV was nice though. I watched the Academy Awards the first night all the way through the big goof up at the end. And the next two nights I watched the ABC mini-series "When We Rise" which was excellent, but had far to many commercials. (I skipped the big speech by Mr. T before Congress. I heard he did ok, for him.)

As was usual, also, our hosts steered us well into good restaurants for supper. The first night we went to a local place in the Plaza called Gram and Dunn. It was clearly very popular especially with groups of men who seemed to be coming right from work as we were. The menus was kind of "southern" in that it featured things like shrimp and grits and a fried chicken dish. It was not all that expensive either for the kind of place it was. Cara, our hostess, said it was an area wide favorite.

The next night we went to a little neighborhood where there were several small places. We ate at a tiny Italian place called Ragazza. They had a huge wine list and everything was delicious. The place is just tiny, so reservations are needed.

We did NOT eat barbecue, which is one of those things Kansas City is known for. Not the favorite of any of us, especially not when the barbecue is ribs which are messy and not all that satisfying. In my humble opinion. Both nights I ordered steak, even in the Italian place. Beef is another one of those things that KC is known for. I was very happy. My companions were more eclectic which is how I can tell you that the menus were really good in both places.
Is it cheating that I did not go to St. Louis, but bought a mug from there?
If it weren't from Starbucks, I would have come home with just a few lousy postcards.

And that was about it. the only shopping I did was at the airport. I have little good to say about the airport. I've never been to one that works the way that one does. But I heard plenty of locals who say they really like it mainly because it's quite easy to drive into and drop  off / pick up people. If you say so. You live there, not me.

And so, the final question, would I like to live there? Probably not. It's a nice enough big city with all the stuff you need in a big city (including rather well known yarn shops in the suburbs). It seems safe, there are jobs, two good universities, good health care. If a job took me there, I would be happy, I'm sure. But that's not where any job is going to take me now. And I don't know of any special "wow" factor that would make me want to seek out a home of any kind there.

So as the songs go, "Everything's up to date in Kansas City. They've gone about as far as they can go." That was the case with the nurse-midwifery program. All up to date, although they probably can go farther, if they try. I'll just have to be content with not finding out about that kind of "crazy way of lovin'" they have there. Oh well.

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