June 6, 2016

KC in KC: How I Spent My First 52 Hours in the Paris of the Plains

Well, I did it - I shipped my best bud off for the summer. Even though I know I'll see him at least every couple of weeks (he's keeping his house so he'll have to come in and mow his yard and play with his doggies - not to mention I'll definitely be going back at least a couple of times for getaway visits)... it's still really hard thinking about how he won't be around during any of the weekdays. He truly is my best friend and if I'm going to do something with someone he's always my first pick.

However, I'm trying to focus on the positives, naturally. First and foremost, this internship is an amazing opportunity for him - and for a minute there, we didn't think he was going to get this kind of opportunity and he would just finish out his final semester this summer. I'm beaming with pride and it will certainly help him come graduation time. He also needed a break from school - he's basically been going his whole life and he's two years ahead of me. He's also really wanted to move to a city where he didn't know anybody, just to experience that feeling, and he's certainly going to get a taste of that seeing as neither of us had ever even been to Kansas City before.

It also gives us a chance to reset and make the most of the small time we will have together. It will be great practice for improving our communication... and practice for what is very likely to be a long-distance relationship for at least a few months when he gets a job after December. While we will get less time together quantity-wise, it will force the time to be high in quality - which is what's most important at the end of the day.

And finally, individually... maybe I'll actually get around to that Couch to 5k and work on some home improvement projects with that extra time on my hands. I can focus on other relationships in my life more. I can get reacquainted with me-time and force myself to go to social events I've been interested in but anxious to go to... letting him give me the easy way out if he's not interested either.

We were fortunate enough, however, to get a really great send-off weekend together - which I was starting to think just wasn't going to work out... and was really bummed at the thought because he'd only just gotten back from a several day trip to New Orleans a couple of nights before he had to leave, during which he was busy prepping for the move for much of the time. So without further ado, I share with you some photos from our first visit to Kansas City! I forgot to take many pictures for the first half of the trip, but started making more of an effort by the time we got to the museum on Saturday...

One of the very first things we did after getting my friend settled into his suite-style dorm (I think it's hilarious that he's never lived in campus housing until now...although it's not really fair since he has his own private bathroom...I wanted to take a picture of him all moved into his room like my mom made me do on day one but he wouldn't let me :( ...it made me sad.) is make a quick trip to the Walmart Neighborhood Market to grab a few things. Right across the street was Joe's Kansas City BBQ, situated inside an old (and still functioning) gas station. We didn't quite realize that we had accidentally picked one of the more famous places, but we weren't complaining about that. We lucked out by going right before a rush at 5:15. I find it kind of funny that one of the most popular KC BBQ joints is technically from Oklahoma, but I see why they love it. The rib bone basically pulled right out, clean as a whistle. Below is my plate with the potato salad and pulled pork (don't worry, I added more sauce than what it came with) but my friend was convinced by a certain 5'3.75'' person to order the Cowboy Plate, packed with ribs, sausage, and brisket with fries, baked beans, bread, and pickles.

I find it bittersweet to report that we knew what we'd be having for lunch the next day. It was equally delicious but I wanted to try more, more, and more new food.

Next, we piddled through the Main Street traffic to arrive down at the Crossroads for First Friday - basically like Fayetteville's annual Block St. Block Party times ten and held monthly (though with less of a focus on music, I would say, and more about the art, like our First Thursdays/Last Saturdays). I think one of the coolest things about Kansas City is parking is basically free everywhere on the weekends - but finding parking during busy events is a whole other story.

This unfortunately was one of the times I didn't get many pictures (partly because it was so crowded) which is a shame because there was so much going on. Tasty food booths (alas we were stuffed), craft booths, a main stage with music, lots of people enjoying balcony beverages, and gallery walks like the Rabbit Hole, the world's first "explorastorium" - this immersive storytelling concept through art & play is totally original and everyone should check it out!

For Saturday morning, we checked out the historic City Market during the Farmer's Market. Again, parking was a pain but it was so worth it by the time we made it... can't wait to learn the public transport system there!

It really was something else. Again, it reminded me of Fayetteville's sweet little farmer's market on the square... but in addition to local produce, crafts, and a few performers there were booths for everything around the world. Spices, teas, food from various ethnicities, and all kinds of shops. It reminded me that Kansas City really is its own little Oasis in the Midwest. While I'm not sure I would ever be crazy about moving-moving there (as it's just that much farther from the coast and... let's be honest, I'll take high south over Midwest any day), it definitely stands on its own vibrantly and is chock full of things to do, see, and taste.

 As if the main market isn't enough, you can also stroll over to the Chinatown building across the street where you should be able to meet any cooking needs for that region of the world. I'm thinkin' we finally found a place we could dare to make our own raw fish sushi (and not the sloppy imitation crab roll I once made).

I love free museums. The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art is no exception and obviously the point at which I started taking too many pictures. It's also home to the world's largest birdies/shuttlecocks, but I'd still never heard of it:

Don't be surprised if you start feeling a bit of deja vu with some of the following collections...

The Jain Shrine was actually my first introduction to Jainism - Jains practice non-violent behaviors to work towards individual perfection and are an ancient religion from India.

There's also a super elegant restaurant and you can smell the food from up on the Rodin balcony.

The above is just a little pouch to keep your tobacco in.

One of many of Rodin's The Thinker casts in the Sculpture park followed by lots of contemporary art in the Bloch Building including this Warhol...

I would say this sums up our personalities but I may actually be sillier than the guy to my left... I just know how to take a picture seriously ;) he's always gotta be goofy.

After Nelson-Atkins we wondered down the street into some shops like Nature's Own Health Food Market and Phoenix Herb Company. 

We went back to relax for a little while (i.e. eat our leftovers & digest) before adventuring out into the early Saturday evening... lookin' for brews. I was proud of the spot I picked because I knew he would love it: Kansas City Bier Company, a true German-style biergarten with pretzels and sausages, too. (Sidebar: super excited to get my hands on one of the local German restaurants in the area on my next visit, as well as the variety of Mediterranean I noticed.)

I feel like the next picture doesn't do my beer's size justice, but it's a full liter of their Dunkel and it took both of my hands to wrap around the outside of the glass.

After the first liter, I wasn't opposed to a second but this is the only size the Weissbier Royale came in.

Maybe it's just the American in me but I really would've killed for some cheese instead of mustard to go with that pretzel.

We swung by the store to grab a box of Boulevard brews on the way home... I may or may not have passed out with the bottle in my hand after the first few sips. 

Sunday morning started with a picnic at Swope Park. At over 1800 acres, it's double the size of Central Park and also includes its own zoo, the Starlight Theater, and more - plus it's incredibly spaced out so we had the place to ourselves for as far as we could see. The weather was perfect underneath the shade of these trees. We learned the hard lesson of Karen-needs-to-plan-the-picnics because I was in a short dress and the grass & ants were mighty itchy without a blanket to sit on. I just sat on our cooler bag we'd packed the cheese in and it worked out alright!

We hid inside the Sea Life aquarium during the hottest part of the day (still, much more bearable when it's not so humid), which is tucked into the Crown Center of Kansas City (essentially: a classy mall). 

These jellies may have been my favorite part. They had this neat little educational game center at the end just before the gift shop - which we skipped right over to look at the attached Lego shop (he's obsessed, for those who don't know, and was looking for an approaching birthday present).

Y'all, it's not the very best I've ever had but I found a $6.80 bowl of pho and it was damn delicious - as you can see, they didn't skimp on the noodles either. We also split some gỏi cuốn (spring rolls) for $2.50!

One of our last stops was to look for an ironing board, and I visited a Goodwill OUTLET store for the first time... I had no idea they existed. Apparently all that stuff that doesn't sell gets shipped to stores like these, where there are huge cardboard boxes full of stuff lining their warehouse and they bring them in via these giant blue rolling wheelbarrow type things, rotating the options ever so often and items are even cheaper than in normal Goodwill stores.

Unfortunately we had to make a trip to a Walmart Supercenter at the edge of town after all and watched one episode of the Americans together before sending me off on my way... during Game of Thrones premier time. The weekend technically ended with me keeping his doggies company overnight, where we Facetimed while watching the newest episode and OH MY GOD. That is all.

I wish him the very best first day at work this morning! I hope he learns lots & lots.


  1. Super cute photos! Go get your 5k girl & way to let the people you love g..r..o..w... xoxox

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