Kansas City itself ended up not being so bad. I did far more in KC than I did in Rochester or Tulsa or some of the other b-list cities we’ve hit so far on the tour. Once my suitcases arrived and I felt more settled, things got much better.
Our hotel, the Hotel Phillips, was really nice. I had a very comfortable bed and a sofa (where I spent quite a few late night hours watching the first season of “Jericho” on my computer). The bar there was nice and it was rumored that Harry Connick was staying there, although I never saw him.
On Wednesday, after recovering from load-in and opening, I rented a car and Ryan and I drove out to the Harley Davidson Factory to do their factory tour. Ryan is big Harley fan, having two bikes of his own, so it was cool to go and see how they are made and to hear a bit about the history and values of the company. We also got to sit on some very cool motorcycles.
After the factory tour, we continued the bike theme and drove to a bike shop in Kansas to pick up a bike for me – a bicycle that is, not a motorcycle! Keith, our head carpenter, has been telling me for months that if I wanted a bike they could travel it in one of the trucks, and with Portland, Denver and Seattle coming up, I decided to go for it. I ended up with a green Raleigh bike which is perfect for city riding. It has the most comfortable seat ever. I love it.
On Thursday I rode my new bike around a bit – I went over to the City Market area of Kansas City, where they hold their Farmer’s Market. There are some shops and restaurants over that way, so I wandered around a bit. Then I biked over to the Arts District and looked at a few boutiques. I spied a yarn shop, which unfortunately was closed – although it probably saved my wallet from some damage. After an hour of exploration, I was so hot (it was over 100 degrees out all week), I went back to the hotel and took a shower. I had planned on biking to a day spa later that afternoon to get a pedicure, but the heat was too much, so instead of biking, I took a cab.
Friday began with the most genius parade ever. Kansas City (for some reason) holds an Elvis Parade every year to commemorate his death. I think this was their 20th Anniversary parade. I went with Fran and Roy and we laughed our asses off. I think pretty much anyone can be in this parade if they throw a black wig and sideburns on. The 65-year-old Elvis’s made me howl. They were giving away all kinds of swag, and having a “Best Elvis” contest, as well as live music, and an Elvis high-wire act (which unfortunately I missed!). And all this was led by the Master of Ceremonies, Tommy Chong, of Cheech and Chong. Hilarious. Here’s a couple of pics:
After the parade, Ryan and I rode over to another bike shop near the City Market. When I got up that morning, I noticed that my back tire was flat already! At the bike shop, they told me I had a bad valve so I bought a new inner tube and they adjusted a couple of other things for me. I am super happy with the bike that I bought, but if I had known beforehand that this bike shop had been there, I probably would have bought from them, because they were so knowledgeable and helpful.
Once we had the new inner tube in place, Ryan and I went for a ride down by the river (he travels a bike, too) and then we came back up to the City Market to go to the Steamboat Museum. Tanya had told me this museum was a must-see for KC, but I really didn’t know what to expect. It turned out to be the coolest museum!
About 20 years ago, a couple of men began excavation on an old steamboat that had sunk in the Missouri River back in the 1850’s. Over time, the course of the river shifted and eventually the boat ended up buried under farmland owned by this group of men. In doing the dig, they have discovered the largest collection of pre-civil war items that exist in the world today. Because everything was buried in mud with no oxygen, all the items that were found on board are in fairly good condition, with hardly any decay. About 2/3s of the collection is on display at the museum. The other third is still being cleaned up and restored. It is estimated it will take another twenty years before the entire collection has been cleaned up enough to be displayed.
It was a very cool exhibit, and so neat to see all the items that were being shipped for trade in the 1850’s. Many of the tools look the same as ours today. I loved looking at all the beads, and hat pins and earrings. Here are a couple of snaps:
It’s a pretty incredible collection – especially all the china that survived, with no breakage. Amazing.
Friday night, Ryan and I borrowed Jovon’s car and drove out to the “Plaza” – a big shopping area housed in Spanish-style buildings. It was really pretty – I was sorry I didn’t have a chance to walk around there during the day. We then motored over to the Westport area, which is a couple of streets that are cordoned off so that folks can just roam the streets with liquor in hand, and bar hop. We found a nice pub with outdoor seating and had a couple of beers and a cheese plate. The security in that area was a little over the top – there is far less on Beale Street in Memphis, but for all the queuing and showing IDs and wearing wrist bracelets, it was still pretty fun.
Saturday between shows, Jovon and Piper brought in a giant take-out order of Stroud’s Fried Chicken (apparently “the best fried chicken in the world”) for a group of us to share for dinner. The chicken was mighty tasty – I actually don’t really remember the last time I had fried chicken before that, it had been so long. I’m not sure it was the best in the world, but it was damn good, and so were the mashed potatoes and cinnamon rolls that came with it.
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So now we are flying to Portland, OR, which I am so excited about. I’ll see my mom and dad this weekend and get to explore a city that I have always wanted to visit.
So far the travel day this week is going swimmingly. I hope last week’s events were a one-time fluke – I don’t wish to repeat them anytime soon.
As for Kansas City, you know, there were plenty of things to complain about – it was 100 degrees outside, nothing to eat downtown, the theater was a mess and the stagehands were truly terrible (Oh how I wished I had my deaf prop guy from Des Moines back!), but aside from all that, I found that most people I ran into – like the Starbucks barista and the guys that worked at the sub shop, and the guys at the car rental place, and lets not forget the hotel staff – were all soooooo nice and helpful and friendly. I really liked that part of KC. I also think the city has great potential. There are some really cool buildings and there is some work going on to revitalize downtown. I think they can do it. It was nice having my new bike so that I could ride around and check out some of the different areas of town. I imagine with a car its even better.
So I’m going to give Kansas City itself a thumbs up in my book. I just hope I don’t have to work at that theater again any time soon, and if I do, I hope that my luggage arrives on time at least!