Kansas City Here I Come!

I’m going to Kansas City. Kansas City here I come! I bet you’re singing it now, too, aren’t you?

There’s a song about Kansas City and I haven’t been able to get the Fats Domino classic out of my head since I boarded my flight last Saturday.  I’m going to Kansas City. Kansas City, here I come! I bet you’re singing it now, too, aren’t you?

I flew into KC on a Saturday so I could spend a little time with my cousin and do some fun stuff before heading up to St. Joseph on Monday for the eclipse and before getting down to work on Tuesday.  (Read about my trip to St. Joe).  The weekend was hot and humid.  It can be this way in KC.  I am a Midwesterner by birth, but after you live for years in the West away from the humidity, you can somehow never return…

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Baseball at the K

Thankful I’d packed some capri pants and a tank top, my cousin and a couple of friends and I headed out to “the K” to watch the Kansas City Royals. (The Royals play baseball for you sports averse people).  Even though they’re having a rough season (my aunt described it by simply plugging her nose), I enjoy a ball game.  Our seats, thank God, were in the shade because Sunday was a scorcher.

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Baseball at the K

The ballpark is a really fun one to visit and they’ve done some work on the grounds since my last visit.  The game was entertaining and the Royals pulled out a win! Oh, and by the way, the on-site Hall of Fame museum is really interesting AND air-conditioned.

Kansas City is known for a few things.  It’s the City of Fountains. It’s a barbecue city – complete with a Barbecue Society.  It’s a sports city.  But what I like best about Kansas City is its old buildings. Kansas City is a modern, functioning city, of course, but it is a city that has found a way to repurpose its old buildings.  And I love that.  You can keep your modern, reflective glass skyscrapers.  Give me a chunk of stone with embellishments any day.

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Hotel Phillips

I got the opportunity to stay in two hotels downtown that are in repurposed buildings.  The Hotel Phillips has always been a hotel, but is now owned and operated by….you guessed it, Hilton Hotels.  Right on the corner of 12th and Wyandotte, the hotel is in a prime location for checking out the city.  I find Kansas City to be a very friendly city and I rarely feel uneasy here, but it is a big city, so just keep your wits about you as you stroll around.  This hotel has a very

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Hotel Phillips

boutique feel and I can safely put this one into my top ten favorites.

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Hampton Inn in the Gumbel Building

The Hampton Inn (another Hilton property) is in the former Gumbel Building in the Financial District. The Gumbel Building was opened as an office building in 1904.  It was the first commercial building constructed of reinforced concrete. You can check the building out at 8th and Walnut.

The Financial District has several impressive building specimens.  I think there is something so lovely about these old buildings.  Most of them were constructed in the early 1900s and are decorated with crests, friezes, and flourishes that leave modern office buildings feeling cold and stale. I have a friend that tells me all the time that I was born in the wrong era and I suppose that could be true.  There’s something about these elegant, old buildings.  Take a look at the Scarritt Building if you’re having trouble imagining a day when people took time to put on something better than yoga pants and a ball cap.

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There are a few other places where there are some buildings that simply beg to be gawked at.  If you like to wander neighborhoods where you can imagine life in a house you could never afford in this lifetime, drive over to the Hyde Park neighborhood, park your car, and walk around. Not far from these homes is the gorgeous Our Lady of Perpetual Help Redemptorist Church. This is a stunning Catholic Church and it’s worth a trip inside to take a look even if you’re not Catholic.  (I wasn’t raised Catholic but might be Catholic by osmosis after living so many years in a largely Catholic state…)

 

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Rosedale Memorial Arch

The greater KC area is a large metropolitan area and you can stumble upon hidden little monuments and parks. Today I saw a sign for the Rosedale Memorial Arch, so I pulled off the Interstate to take a look.  I had no idea what the memorial arch was commemorating (turns out it’s a monument to the men of the Rosedale neighborhood who served in WWI).  In addition to the monument itself, you can get an incredible view of the Kansas City skyline here.

I hope you’ll get to Kansas City to wander around and check out the incredible buildings, maybe catch a game, and fill your gut with some barbecue. (And check out some of the other great things to do in the metro area: https://www.visitkc.com/visitors/things-do)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eclipse Watching in St. Joe

I’m a geek. I admit it.  I geeked out about this total solar eclipse….geeked out to the point that I scheduled a work trip to get me close to a place where I could view the 100% eclipse.

I’m a geek. I admit it.  I geeked out about this total solar eclipse….geeked out to the point that I scheduled a work trip to get me close to a place where I could view the 100% eclipse.

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Downtown St. Joseph

About an hour north of Kansas City lies the town of St. Joseph, Missouri. St. Joseph just happened to be right in the eclipse pathway so guess who had to get up early to make the drive up? Yep.  At 7:00 AM, Miss HeatherLynnP was headed north on I-29 to find a prime piece of real estate to park it with her snacks and eclipse glasses.  Friend Boo Boo in tow, we made it to St. Joe with plenty of time to do some sightseeing (duh) before the big event.

St. Joe is an interesting little town.  I’m sure I’ve been through  more than a handful of times in my life, but I couldn’t recall taking time to check out the town itself.  St. Joe boasts two claims to fame:  it’s one of two endpoints for the  Pony Express and it’s the place where Jesse James died.  The town is right on the Missouri River and was a rough and tumble frontier town that was incorporated in 1843.  The city has had many ups and downs in its history and that’s really evident when you wander around town.

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The downtown melds together boutique shops, art, and abandoned, run-down buildings. I’d recommend finding a place to park so that you can wander around to check out the many sculptures and murals that line the streets of St. Joseph.

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Wyeth-Tootle Mansion

You can tell there was once money here.  Nowhere can you see a better example of just how much money than at the Wyeth Tootle Mansion. This turn of the century mansion has 40 (FORTY! who needs that much space?) rooms and has been lovingly restored.  We didn’t get to go into the mansion on this trip as a special luncheon was being held in conjunction with the eclipse, but you can get a good idea about the riches involved on the website.  Across the street, a home which Boo

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Mansion in the Historic District

Boo coined as the town’s “haunted mansion,” stands another behemoth once owned by someone who made his money in the meat packing industry.

You can see remnants of wealth in other places, too, like the large, abandoned homes that have fallen into disrepair around the historic neighborhood.  It always makes me a bit sad and nostalgic to imagine what these boarded up structures might have looked like in their heyday.

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Abandoned building

Churches can fall victims of abandonment, too, until a group of citizens step in.  While taking a look at a gorgeous old cathedral, a couple of gentlemen came to say hello as they’d noticed we were starting at the facade of what is now the Immaculate Conception Shrine.  The Shrine had previously been the Church of the Immaculate Conception, built in 1908. Membership waned and the church closed until a group purchased the property and re-opened it as a shrine and national pro-life memorial.  Miss HeatherLynnP isn’t interested in discussing her personal politics, but if

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Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

you appreciate a beautiful building and peaceful place, drop in.  The Shrine is being lovingly restored, piece by piece as money allows, and it holds some lovely stained glass.

 

After getting my fill of historic buildings in various states of dilapidation, Boo Boo and I headed out to get some caffeine and to see if we could locate a couple of lawn chairs.  After a bit of discussion, we decided that we’d head out to Remington Nature Center, one of the preferred eclipse viewing sites.  We figured the $10 parking fee was worth an organized clearing with bathrooms.  The skies in St. Joe were mostly cloudy, but we were hopeful that the clouds would burn off as eclipse time neared.

We didn’t get that clear sky, but the clouds broke apart often enough that we did get several good views of the eclipse.  When the rain started falling and the sky looked socked in, we decided to head out.  Braving the much heavier return traffic to Kansas City, we pulled off of the Interstate simply to be outdoors when the total eclipse actually happened.  Even with cloudy skies, the feeling in the air changed dramatically.  Things got very quiet and still….except the weird kid in front of us dancing up and down the off-ramp.  He might have been on something or maybe he was just high on eclipse energy. Whatever, dude.  Get your eclipse celebration on!