When my friend, Heather, mentioned a few months ago that she was thinking of coming to Kansas City for a visit, the wheels in my head started to turn. I was craving, I mean craving company here so, once the visit was confirmed, I immediately started thinking and planning out a basic itenerary. I mean, I'm here what? About three months so I'm still learning my way around. But there is no better way to discover new territory than by doing it with a visiting friend. And Heather was just that.
Even the pickup from the airport was fun. Well, kind of fun. The part where Heather couldn't believe how easy everything was, from deplaning to getting her baggage - night and day from the sublime La Guardia or JFK experience. The hard part for me was the constant stream of bad Mets' news being supplied by the phone calls to and from my brother. The Mets were playing a huge series against the Phillies in Philadelphia and, just as Heather's plane landed, Stuart called to tell me about an abrupt extra inning ending, with the Mets on the losing side for a second straight night. Still, with Heather about to step off the plane, that bad news soon became a memory. For about fifteen minutes or so. Heather likes baseball, so she was the perfect listener. I'm sure I drove her nuts.
Take Me Out To The Ballgame - The first day was set for some planned relaxation - a nice walk, a short Plaza tour, and then ... a return Kauffman Stadium engagement. "Let's see a game," is what Heather said two months ago. Obviously, I'm not one to turn away from a baseball game, so her wish was certainly my command. And the seats were great, right on the 3rd base line and with the weather finally cooling down, it was a gorgeous night to take in a game. Other than the fact that the scoreboard kept reminding me of yet another tough Mets' loss to the Phillies, (strange interference call at 2nd base) it was the perfect night - a Royals win over the Tigers, combined with one huge scrumptious all-beef hot dog and an ice-cold Coke. I don't know the last time I ate a hot dog like that. Does a hot dog taste better any place else?
Lawrence, Kansas - I'd heard so much about this town from a number of sources, so I was really looking forward to taking an afternoon drive with Heather to see Lawrence - home of the University of Kansas. So, after breakfast and a walk around the park, we headed west and took in the sites along Route 10. Then it was all about walking up and down Lawrence's main drag - Massachusetts Street - great shopping, restaurants - it reminding me a lot of Northampton or Cambridge. Most small college towns have the same kind of allure and this was no exception. We ate lunch at The Free State Brewing Company and discovered a new pasta ("ear" pasta? Strascinati?), which was delicious the way they prepared it with goat cheese and roasted tomatoes. By the way, that's Heather up above, striking her best Kansas pose on Mass. Street. Of course, leave it to me to be interviewed by a man-on-the-street for The Lawrence Journal -World & News. The question posed was, "How are you going to be spending Labor Day?" If you want, you can check out my fascinating response at the this LJ-World.com link.
It just struck me that it would be silly to describe the entire week to all of you. So, I'll just say this: I loved having a good friend here with me. There was something nice about knowing there was someone to share things and experiences. I miss that, I can't lie. And, aside from a disastrous four game sweep of the Mets at the hands of the Phillies, this KC adventure with Heather was a lot of fun. A Mets collapse was a small price to pay for such a special visit. "The Bourne Ultimatum," long walks around Loose Park, a delicious jointly prepared dinner (my chicken Francaise and Heather's incredible garlic-Parmesan roasted potatoes), a trip to the Nelson Adkins museum (love that birdie!) as well as down to River Market to see an extraordinary sunken steamship exhibit (see the next blog posting - that experience deserves its own entry) - and the other meals - Classic Cup, Cheesecake Factory as well as one more solid visit to Gates' Barbecue ... add it all up ... I must have gained 10 pounds as the gracious host.
Not that I'm complaining.
And, by the way. By the time I hugged Heather goodbye at KCI airport, I'm happy to report that the Mets had recovered from their nightmare with a three-game sweep of those Atlanta Braves.