June 27, 2016

Round 2 in Kansas City (feat. Maker Faire Weekend)

With yet another week of hitting 40 hours by Thursday evening, and knowing I wouldn't have another chance to make my side of the trip for another month, I left Kafka behind in dear Fayetteville Friday at lunchtime for another weekend of exploring Kansas City.

Unfortunately, I'll be the first to admit I didn't take as many pictures as I would have liked, for a number of reasons--a couple being repeated visits, errands like grocery store runs (though I did think the Cheese Curds at Cosentino's Market were pretty fantastic, and I finally found lemon sorbet after a year of searching), going to see movies/shows (Free State of Jones), being in overly crowded places (I've noticed I just don't take many photographs when I'm feeling claustrophobic), and many other reasons.

The first thing I did when I got into town was drive around to the camera shops to find a battery charger. I realized - after much wasted time looking everywhere else - that I had left one of my batteries charging in the wall of the church building we celebrated my grandmother's birthday in. They said they hadn't found it when I called, but even if they had, it was 2.5 hours southeast in a town I'm rarely in anymore. I have an issue with misplacing my batteries/charger when it comes to my camera. This set was one I ordered during my road trip to California last year and shipped to my cousin in Tucson after I realized no one carried Panasonic equipment or any universal chargers that fit my weird little battery size.

I killed some more time while my friend attended a work dinner he hadn't known about until the day of - I went on a lipstick hunt at Target, painted my nails while continuing my Game of Thrones audiobook (I never could get past the first few pages when I tried to read it myself, but now that I'm almost finished with book #1, I think I could - but it's a great time killer on long drives), and took myself back over to the Vietnam Cafe I mentioned in my first KC post for another cheap, delicious, filling bowl of pho bo. We didn't do much when he came back from Houston's, but he did share his leftover $70 bottle of wine they sent he, the intern, home with. Makes me impatient for our three-day child abuse conference at the end of August ;) where I get to stay in a nice hotel and have meals reimbursed - the one time annually we get the special "state treatment". I guess good deeds are enough of a perk on their own!

I don't think I touched on the varied architecture around Kansas City. I don't have a deep knowledge of the different styles and time periods associated, but driving around in the residential neighborhoods is KC is so much more interesting than a suburbia in Texas, where the homes all look exactly (or almost exactly) the same. While many of the neighborhoods certainly feature a similar matching style, each home is still incredibly unique - to the point you could describe the outside to a first time visitor and not simply the house number. Something else I didn't mention before was all of the beautiful graffiti/murals all over KC. I'm always in a moving vehicle and not strolling around or I'd have some pictures, but there are some seriously talented artists in the Paris of the Plains - just do a Google image search of Kansas City graffiti/murals and you'll see what I mean.

It was another Saturday morning at the market, where we bought some crisp salad ingredients for the week (and another battle for a parking spot, though we're starting to learn there's always a space at the Grand and Oak intersection by Veolia Energy. Then we went to the big event of the weekend: the Kansas City Maker Faire. This is where I'm really sad I didn't take more pictures - tons of booths inside and outside of Union Station full of wicked creations - sculptures, crafts, robots, you name it.

They also had vehicles from Twister, Ghostbusters, and Dumb & Dumber!

If 1986 missed a single shot, I didn't see it happen. Watching my friend talk to the high schoolers who'd built
one of these was really endearing as he learned how they worked and encouraged their serious skills. 

Probably my favorite invention ;)
After we made it through the Maker Faire areas, we also took liberty of the nature of the day by exploring Science City for free - despite not having any children with us. Don't worry, we always let the kids go first - but they weren't the only ones playing in the musical park, enjoying the illusions of Mr. E's Hotel, or messing around in the Science of Energy lab. My one regret is not riding the Sky Bike. I didn't see any other adults in line but I totally could've gotten away with it. 

I felt really special after following my traits on their flowchart
and learning I only shared my traits with 2% of those surveyed!
I was starving by the time we made it back to our car. The walk back was steamy but we passed by the lovely Liberty Memorial, built in 1926. While we still haven't made it inside of the World War I Museum, we've heard it's one of the best museums out there. We ate at Jack Stack BBQ's Freight House location and I somehow didn't steal a picture of my burnt ends sandwich (which...I realize as I write this, I abandoned my leftovers in the KC fridge and am really wishing I had them for lunch today). I have to admit, while I loved the ambiance and I could tell the way the meat had been cooked was superior, I found it to be rather bland and dry. I'm not sure if it's supposed to come with any kind of sauce or not but I couldn't detect it, so I traded each sandwich bite with one from my saucy baked beans to even it out. Basically, I wasn't really impressed, which was especially disappointing with it being a more upscale place. 

We hoped to sneak a free tour at Boulevard Brewing but arrived to a packed house only to learn the tours were full for the rest of the day. Not wanting to waste a trip, we tried their brews anyways. The bartender did an excellent job handling my request of the "least hoppy" beers they had - I enjoyed all of them, and didn't have to rely on a heavy, dark, malty, wintery beer in the summer heat. 
Flight from left to right: Ginger Lemon Radler, Black Walnut, Unfiltered Wheat, Hibiscus Gose.
Also my friend's full-sized beers: Tank 7 & another Black Walnut.
We relaxed for a little while, ran a couple of errands, and eventually made our way down to the Green Room where we waited, enjoying a small-batch brew (saison for me), before an improv comedy show at the Kick. Our tickets got us a dollar off each beer and it looked like a great place for a good burger or even a board game with friends, pop art strewn around the walls. There was also this enormous homemade chocolate cake straight out of Matilda that I wished I had room for (a slice...which was still enough for the table of friends next to us).

The Kick Comedy Theater, which is sandwiched between the Green Room and Westport Coffeehouse, was a really great space dedicated just for this sole purpose - plus at $5 a student ticket for a late night Saturday show, it's super affordable, too. It was fun to watch this troupe have fun!

I wanted to save my leftovers for Sunday dinner or Monday lunch (RIP leftovers I left behind) - so I used this as an excuse to eat out one more time. Not only does Northwest Arkansas not have any kind of African-style restaurants, I'd also never even tried Ethiopian food before - so after much searching for the perfect lunch, I knew Blue Nile Cafe was the right choice - and at $10 for an all you can eat Sunday buffet, it's a pretty good deal... even if you're like me and you don't eat that much in one sitting. I also enjoyed the curious experience of neighbor customers partaking in the vacuum coffee pot experience...which made me that much more curious as to what the even more expensive coffee "ceremony" was...

Okay, so this may not look super delicious (unless you know what it tastes like) but I assure you it was. Using the spongy injera (flatbread in place of utensils) to scoop up the various stews was a fun experience, although I noticed none of the other patrons doing so... I also enjoyed a delicious butternut squash and red lentil soup (duba shorba) not pictured here that I'd like to attempt making at home. Why doesn't Fayetteville have an Ethiopian restaurant?! Get on it, Foodies!

As I said before, most of Sunday was a lazy day (aside from the grocery run & food prep for the week) - we watched Free State of Jones at the nicest Cinemark I've ever been to (at the Plaza), the Master Chef episode of Futurama, and of course: the season finale of Game of Thrones (wow!). Needless to stay, my choice to stay to watch the latter had me arriving home very late. And in the pouring rain no doubt. With no leftovers. But with lots more memories to add to our list.

Hopefully I'll make it back up at least one more time this summer! I really enjoy Kansas City - as I called it before, it's just this Oasis of the Midwest - with plenty to see, do, taste, and experience. If only it were closer to the coast with all of those cheap international plane tickets and the breeze of the ocean...

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