Tag Archives: travel

Final Kansas City Wrap Up

Let’s wrap this up before summer is over.

We took a bus to Independence to visit the Harry Truman Presidential Library which was phenomenal. I think I’ve confessed before that my U.S. history is weak mostly because I took history in summer school so I could do a special program my senior year where I only went to school half day and I had a job in the afternoon. Summer school history is remedial history. Safe to say I had no trouble passing. I think I was the only student who didn’t go smoke behind the autoshop at the break.

This means my knowledge of presidents is vague and when Bob signed me up for this adventure I didn’t understand what an incredible time period that Truman served in. WWII ending, post WWII and Korean War. This isn’t going to be a history lesson but the library covered Truman from a political and historical perspective as well as his biography. A lot to think about to look back at that time now.

Remember I mentioned we walked around Thomas Hart Benton’s house while we were waiting to get seated at BBQ? He painted the mural at the library. Sorry that’s not the greatest photo.

Bob made sure to point out the replica of the liberty bell at the library. I said: I saw the real liberty bell last year and I wasn’t impressed.

We also went to the Harry Truman historical courtroom. To be honest, we went in there to use the bathroom but then we went into the visitor center and they asked if we were there for the tour and we said yes. The regular tour guide wasn’t there so this other guy took us through and he was great. He had gotten married there and he had some good stories. There was a little art museum in there and I would love to tell you more because the featured artist had an interesting story but Internet Search Tool is failing me and I don’t have all day to write this.

Now that I’m trying to get links, I guess we went to two courthouses? We went to this one, which is called the historical courthouse.

This is what you get when you don’t take notes on vacation, kids.

If you are a history nerd and find yourself in a position to visit Independence, I recommend.

I also recommend taking the bus if you want an authentic experience. Bob and I don’t mind public transportation and this journey kept it real. For the trip home we were waiting to board the bus and the driver helped a clearly intoxicated man in a wheelchair deboard. The man insisted he hadn’t been anywhere near alcohol and the bus driver exits the bus carrying a half empty 40 that he sets down on the sidewalk. I guess I should say half full 40 because a kid that was waiting to board the bus picked it up and put it in his backpack.

The last place we visited before we went to the airport was the American Jazz Museum (of course, if you know Bob) and it was also super interesting. They have so much historical footage of early jazz acts plus lots of information on performers and jazz clubs.

I’ll take notes next time so I have better stories to tell.

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Kansas City Sports

The rest of my vacation coverage is going to be spotty since other than the giant plates of meat I ate, it’s already a blur.

This photo reminds me that during our time in MO I saw more empty parking spaces than I’ve ever seen in my life. Everywhere you looked there was some massive parking lot, often with zero cars in it. Or just a few. Or a fence around it because dang it, just because there are parking places doesn’t mean you can put your car there.

If only there were a way to export parking places.

My note about the title is that I would say 4 out of every 5 people you see are wearing some sort of Kansas City team attire. Those Missouri folks love their sports teams.

Our hotel was downtown and new with amazing service. The room was terrific except it was like a meat locker. Even Bob was cold. I turned the fan down. I turned the thermostat up. I was afraid to turn it off because that seemed like something that could backfire.

I hated to do it but I asked about it at the desk. They were super nice and they said they adjusted something but we eventually broke down and turned it off. Also the A/C unit had a bright blue light on it. I am relaxed about light sources when I sleep and even I was astonished that no one had put tape over it or carved it out of the unit. Since I already complained about the A/C and the staff was so attentive, I didn’t want to ask about the blue light.

Also, my tea was never hot enough. I didn’t have a decent cup of tea the entire trip. I’m not sure if it’s a coincidence or if it’s because it’s 1000 degrees there and they don’t like their hot drink truly hot.

Isn’t that great how I these are the details of the trip I remember?

Our first night we were ready to go check out the BBQ but couldn’t find anything within walking distance of the hotel. The desk clerk was kind enough to recommend a restaurant that was in walking distance but it was a chain and we have one in Portland and it’s one of those places that thinks it can disguise the fact that they have mediocre food by having a giant menu.

I wasn’t about to waste a vacation meal on that place so we broke down and tried a ride sharing app. The desk clerk understood our change of plans and was happy to help us figure out which bbq to try.

I forgot to mention earlier but we took the train from St. Louis to KC. It was a pleasant way to travel but it was a tad disappointing in terms of scenery. Most of the time the train is in its own little trench so we saw lots of green trees and only a few nice views. But mostly I read my book. I read 4 books on vacation.

Getting back to dinner, we’d been traveling all day so we were hangry by the time our ride dropped us off at Q39. It was 4:30 and the line was going out the door. We had to wait in line to put our names on the list. We never would have done it except we had no car so we put our names in and then went for a walk and found Thomas Hart Benson’s house (artist) which was closed but we could walk around it and the neighborhood was pretty.

The food ended up being amazing. Super amazing. We both ordered platters where you try different things and tried everything. It turns out I can eat a lot when I’m motivated.

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Meet Me At The Fair

St. Louis, MO, Vacation Wrap Up Part 2

I tried to make this pretty but I am afraid while the mighty Mississippi River has many things going for it, beauty is not one of them. But we enjoyed the boat tour and learned about boat and recreational traffic on the river. I think my earlier post might have given the impression that I was afraid I would have to go whale watching in Missouri.

That was not my concern.

We stopped in the Old Cathedral while we were around the Arch park. They are very particular about their silence.

It is the oldest building in St. Louis. Construction began in 1831 and the church was dedicated in 1834. Right now there is a huge renovation project going on down at the park where the Arch is so there are land movers and fences and big piles of dirt. It’s supposed to be done next year and should be really cool.

We also went to the Dred Scott Court House, the history museum and the art museum in Forest Park which was the site of the World’s Fair in 1904.

Missouri has a lot of interesting history because of its location. When the US was in full burn pioneer mode, the settlers would gear up in Missouri before setting out.

Forest Park is beautiful and we enjoyed the museums. Unfortunately, we were caught in a thunder shower while we were walking around. Bob said: Quick, let’s wait under this tree. And a tree can be decent coverage for a certain kind of rain but not the sky opening up and gushing. There was some sort of venue but I don’t think it was public and we started running for that and then spotted a restroom. So we ducked into a stinky park restroom for 20 minutes until the rain stopped.

My summer sandals are probably going to have to be retired after this summer. They didn’t bounce back from the slosh.

Next stop. Kansas City.

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Meet Me In St. Louis

This is vacation wrap up Part 1.

For the first time in forever, I didn’t take any notes on this trip. I brought no writing materials of any kind except for the ability to note take on my phone which is not an activity I enjoy and I do only when I have to.

We’ll see if I can remember anything interesting.

We started our trip in St. Louis. I’ve lived on the west coast my entire life and found it adorable that St. Louis calls itself the gateway to the west.

They were in between heat domes so the weather was tolerable. I have concluded that I don’t dislike the heat as much as I dislike going back and forth between the A/C and the heat. I get chilled so easily so I’m always dragging around long sleeves and I hate to have my legs bare. I’ve had good luck with those special travel clothes that are lightweight and dry fast and do magic tricks. I don’t know what they are called but worth it to track down.

When Bob was telling me about St. Louis he mentioned a boat tour and a trip to the top of the Arch. I don’t like boats or high places but I was trying to be game. Turns out the boat tour was a paddleboat on the Mississippi. Of course I wanted to do that. The kind of boat trip I don’t want to do is whale watching in high seas. I kept an open mind about the Arch but then I saw this in the visitor center.

You get into one of these things and ride to the top. For 5 minutes.

We did not do that.

Later, on the boat, a lady talked about doing it and said up in the Arch it shakes. So doubly glad we skipped it.

The Cardinals baseball field is downtown. They were on an extended away streak while we were there but we wandered around the field. I know know who Stan Musial is. He is a rock star in Cardinals history.

More to come.

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Philadelphia Part 2

Welcome to part 2 of my half-assed trip coverage.

We also did the historical museum (obviously) and all the historical tourist things. I will be the first to admit that my U.S. history is pretty weak. For my senior year of high school I wanted to do a program called 4/4 and take 4 classes in the morning and work in the afternoons. In order to do this I had to take a summer school class so I took my U.S. history in the summer. And summer U.S. history class is remedial class. I think I was the only person who didn’t sneak off to smoke by the automotive lab during the break. Everything else I know about early American history (that isn’t directly related to Indians), I learned from reading John Jakes.

Regardless, I could still appreciate the historical stuff. I loved Independence Hall and the graveyard where Benjamin Franklin is buried. I was underwhelmed by the Liberty Bell. There was a giant long line and the lady doing security clearly hated people and her job. Then of course everyone needed a selfie with the bell, which looked exactly like the pictures, and also like a movie prop.

One night there was a huge thunder and lightning storm with heavy rain. My phone gave me a flash flood alert. We were on the 17th floor and full from dinner and with our snacks and adult beverages handy so we pulled our chairs up to the window and watched. You could see the gusts of rain sweeping by. Very dramatic.

What is up with the liquor laws in Pennsylvania? We went to Trader Joe’s and there was no booze. We went to the wine and spirits shop and there was no beer. Then there was a separate market that Bob went to to get beer. The clerk there didn’t clarify but agreed the laws were complicated. There’s another twist that I’ll talk about in Part 3.

Bob finally got his Philly Cheesesteak the last day. I was urged to try this local delight numerous times, but if I’m going to destroy my digestive system eating something like that, I’d like to be closer to my home bathroom. I enjoyed a fruit cup while Bob enjoyed his sandwich. It smelled good.

On Sunday we visited the library and there was something called Hip Hop Fundamentals going on in the auditorium. The only reason we were by the auditorium is because that’s where the bathrooms were. Bob insisted we peek in and we ended up staying for the whole thing. It is a “diverse team of Philadelphia B-Boys dedicated to spreading true Hip Hop as an inspiration and academic tool.” And it was amazing. Tons of people and their kids learning hip hop. The B-Boys were great. I think everyone in the world should know about this group.

As of today the project of mid-August:

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Philadelphia Part 1

And now for part 1 of your single butt-cheeked coverage of our trip to Philadelphia.

First of all, in keeping with the theme, I did my trip clothing shopping in 15 minutes on the day we were leaving. There should be a prize for that.

There is a Columbia store across the street from the office. I ran over there with my wallet. Tried on 6 things to determine my size, and then selected a pair of shorts, a pair of pants and a short sleeved shirt – all made of this modern magical material called something like OmNiRron or Tu2vaFibre. It’s like wearing clothes made out of FedEx envelopes. They weren’t super flattering but they had tons of pockets and ended up being terrific when we were wandering up down the hot and humid boulevards.

We took a red eye out, even though every time I do one I swear it’s the last time, because cheap and *direct* flights showed up on my fare alert so we snatched them up. If you fly out of Portland, it is generally not cheap or nonstop to fly anywhere outside of the region. I once had a work trip to Reno and I had to fly through San Francisco.

Luckily, our hotel could check us in when we arrived so I was able to have my first nap followed by a food finding mission and then my second nap. Then I was good to go.

Our first day we went to the Rosenbach Museum and Library which Bob picked mostly because it was close to where we ate.

It turned out amazing. It’s a collection of rare books and manuscripts, plus some other items like furniture and we saw some miniature paintings. We took the guided tour, which was just the two of us, and we’re such literature nerds we asked millions of question. Our guide seemed happy to have us. It gets our highest recommendation. We would go back in a hot second.

The other brilliant museum we went to was the Barnes Foundation. According to the website, the Barnes holds one of the finest collections of Post-Impressionist and early Modern paintings. It’s a gorgeous building and the works are displayed in ensembles rather than by artist or time period. It’s explained here. I had no idea the collection was so extensive when we started. It was worth it but by the end I was short-changing my experience, because my brain was saturated. Another 1000 star recommendation.

And speaking of the project of mid-August. As of today:

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Very Last Parting Thoughts

A few last thoughts and I promise I won’t mention the trip again unless I have to complain some more about Lufthansa not giving me my $70 back.

1. People all over the world will put their bag on the seat next to them on public transportation in the hope that no one will sit there.

2. People will travel halfway across the world to an amazing location and walk around looking at their phones.

3. Everyone looks ridiculous holding their phone up like plate to speak into it.

I just remembered one more story I didn’t tell. The last weekend we were there was a 3 day weekend in Germany. We went from Bad K to Frankfurt on Sunday evening. The train was unbelievably crowded. And there was no place to put giant bags. The overhead racks were only big enough for a box of donuts and between the seats it was too narrow. Meanwhile, there were at least 15 bikes in a car that I think was intended for bikes but maybe not that many. We crammed our bags in the bike area and then crawled over bags in the aisle and asked a lady to move her purse (she was nice about it) so we could sit down. She later left to see if there was a less crowded place to sit (it was a double-decker train!) and when she came back she said it was packed everywhere.

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Last Day

We ended the trip where we started: killing time in Frankfurt.

Except this time we didn’t mind so much since we weren’t so tired and we already knew the drill. We even knew where the cheaper lockers were to store our bags for the day.

The bummer was that it was a Monday so all the museums were closed. But we walked around. Found this Karmeliter Kloster with wall paintings and a garden.

Then we hiked up the stairs of the St. Bartholomew cathedral for the view. This fulfilled our cardio needs before spending hours on a plane.

The last thing to do was pick up a few last things at the store before we left. We had a terrible time finding them and later I realized it was like we were looking for Oreos and Nutter Butters at Nordstrom. We were on our way to pick up our bags when we found a bargain mart that had all my cookies and a fresh supply of Fisherman’s Friend.

Two giant trips in 4 months is a lot of travel for me, the girl who loves her couch, but it definitely whet my appetite for travel again. Gotta save some money.

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Wild Animal Park

On Hilla’s birthday we spent part of the afternoon in this wild animal park. It wasn’t exactly what you’d expect. It was a huge lovely park that happened to have some animals. It was a great place to wander on a fall afternoon. It was warm enough in the sun but cool in the shade.

This is how they displayed the stuffed animals for sale out front. That’s not how I would do it.

Not related to the animal park but every morning that I was in Bad K I saw a Jack Black-looking guy in small silver car drive by our hotel while cranking heavy metal.

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More Bad Kissingen

Here’s the information on the Untere Saline in Bad Kissingen. Unfortunately, it’s in German.

I will explain as best I can.

I remember going here the first time I visited BK which was before I got married so almost 20 years ago. And I never heard about the place again so I thought maybe it wasn’t real.

In order to be a health spa in Germany you need one of these. It’s a giant barn-type structure filled with sticks and the mineral waters are pumped to the top and dribble down.

You stand on the walk and inhale the mist and it’s good for your lungs. I had a cough because for some reason my body decided that I wouldn’t have a cold for almost 2 years and then I would get one right before I left on a major trip. It wasn’t too serious as far as colds go, but I did have a nagging cough that didn’t want to let go. After the saline I didn’t cough much until after the plane trip home.

And it was a nice place to hang out with the mist and the peace and quiet. Hilla said it was one of her favorite places before she gave up driving.

It’s hard to see in the photo. It looks sort of mossy but the air is delightfully fresh.

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