Saturday, May 20, 2017

Going to Kansas City

Our escape from Bennett Spring State Park was a narrow one. Rainstorm after rainstorm rolled into the area, and by the time our Mayday exit date approached, a real Mayday was going out because of flood waters in the park.

Right up to the bridge

This is our exit road.

We had a route out of the campground area for cases like this, but it was a narrow path, with a couple of sharp bends, and a tail-dragging dip, so we were relieved that on the morning of the first of May, the waters had receded to the point where we could get out. We were going to be leaving with our share of mud on our rig, but were leaving all the same.

We headed north to Arrow Rock State Historic Site for a couple of days. We had been there before during our shakedown summer of 2015, so it was a known quantity, and since we received free Missouri camping vouchers for our service at Bennett Spring, our stay there was free. Free is good.

Arrow Rock
Arrow Rock

I imagined Arrow Rock as being a psychological buffer between being on the road and our heading back to Kansas City after nearly a year and a half on the road. I probably could have used some more buffer, truth be known.

We hit the eastern edge of the Kansas City area and set up housekeeping at Lake Jacomo Campground in Fleming Park. Jacomo was a regular recreation stop for us before we started traveling, and I had been going there since I first got a car, but the campground was a nice surprise. A gated campground staffed with full-time, paid hosts, the camp was quiet, well-maintained, and had plumbing-bursting 95 p.s.i of water pressure. You have been warned.

I went to see my dentist the first full day there, and while negotiated the Westport traffic, Kath headed over to see our new great-granddaughter Harper. My planned lunch with long-time pal and former client Jo Coleman fell victim to an erratic electrical system on our rig. I called a service company, and they shifted our Friday appointment to the following Monday. Day shot.

We went to the Polish Festival, "Polski Day" on Strawberry Hill in Kansas City, Kansas, and saw another buddy and former client Tim Sostarich. Tim played with the polka band at the festival, and we had a good time catching up and chowing down on the church-basement Polish food. I have a history with that church basement, and my adopted Polish family, the Egnatics, that goes back to the early '70s. The Polish/Croatian/Czech/Ukranian communities in Kansas City, Kansas do a wonderful job of keeping their proud heritages alive and well, and passed on to their kids and grandkids. I envy them that.
Tim Sostarich with a traveling Buc-ee's Ambassador

Sunday was BBQ day - finally. I know that barbecue preferences will start a fight nearly anywhere in the U.S., but in my less-than-humble opinion, there is nothing that even comes close to Kansas City BBQ. Our favorite stop is a small pit in Independence, Missouri called, "A Little BBQ Joint". Yes, I know, Kansas City has more famous stops - Bryant's the requisite stop for presidents, Gate's, Fiorella's Jack Stack, Smokestack, LC's, Joe's Kansas City all have their followers. But no one does
better burnt ends than A Little BBQ Joint. Burnt ends are the key to eating this stuff, and theirs melt in your mouth like meat candy. Their Bloody Marys are designed to incapacitate you, and are served with a plank each of brisket and thick, smoked, bacon. Bring a driver.

Burnt ends at A Little BBQ Joint

The rest of the stay in Kansas City was uneventful - I did get to see fellow gearhead and photo blood brother David Hutson for a few minutes, but then had to beat feet back to the park to meet my service tech. A few hours and as many hundreds of dollars later, issue solved, or at least worked around.

I had plans to catch up with a number of friends, but the actual number turned out to be two. I was unable to meet up with a dozen or more people that I really wanted to see. In the course of twenty-five years in the studio, I made many good friends, and those good friends helped me make a comfortable living in photography. I'm thinking it will be at least a couple of years, maybe more, before I see KC again, and that's a long time. 

My home town is finally starting to come into its own, and is poised to take its place among the great cities of America. Much credit to Mayor Sly James, The City Council, and the Council of Governments for allowing Kansas City to finally begin to meet its potential. Mover and shaker Tracey Leiwicke once told me, "In Kansas City, no idea is good enough." Right now, Kansas Citians are looking at replacing their 45 year-old airport, and the predictable wailing and gnashing will likely go on for a while. When the new terminal is in place, the airlines will be able to utilize its central location to create a much better passenger experience in and out of the area. Kansas City's future can then really take shape. Everything will finally be up to date in Kansas City.

But, we have to go. So, with Kansas City in our rearview mirror, we set sail for Oklahoma and a casino experience.

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