July 2010

Our vacation in Kansas City was quite nice.

We left early Saturday morning the 17th and KC was not as far away as I had thought. Traffic was not an issue and we were there sightseing by about 10:00 am.

My GPS took me directly to Union Station. Actually, it took me underneath the station which was unexpected. There isn’t actually that much to do there other than a children’s science museum but I loved the grand old building. I was not thinly one as apparently there are a number of volunteers who will give you a free walking tour. I only discovered this after giving myself my own tour but we let an elderly gent show us a few things. There was a small exhibit on the history of railroads in KC as well as a gigantic model train layout courtesy of a local club.

We walked across the pedestrian bridge over the tracks to a barbecue place that came highly recommended. It was pretty good.

We got there right as a heat wave began to grip the Midwest and so suffered from the effects of the humidity. Luckily most things were inside or had covered parking.

We next headed to the Crown Center which was only a short distance away. We had been told to go see the Hallmark visitor’s center and some other stuff. I thought that it was only moderately interesting but it was a friendly place with some artists demonstrating their craft and it was altogether pleasant.

The rest of the place was essentially a mall which we explored. We left briefly to go get checked into our hotel whereupon we came back for dinner and a play.

We ate at a place called Fritz’s Railroad restaurant. This is typical of me; I’ll go places like this rather than a really nice place. This place is clearly geared towards children since you place your order via an old style telephone at your booth and the food is delivered by a little train from the kitchen. I love trains and this was too much for me to pass up.

We then walked up to the America’s Heartland Theater for their production of Putnam County Spelling Bee. This musical comedy was a lot of fun. As we went back to our car in the garage we got a sense of what the heat wave was like. It was 10:00 pm in a covered garage and the thermometer in my car was showing 97 degrees.

We got back to the hotel with the plan of having a swim but for some reason, the pool water was intolerably cold. I couldn’t bear it.

The next morning we took it easy until the Steamboat Arabia museum opened. This was easily one of the most I retesting things we saw or that I have ever seen. Not much need to go into details here but I really enjoyed the whole thing. We had a hotdog at the city market just outside and then headed over to the 18th and Vine district to visit the Jazz museum. I guess Sunday isnlt much of a tourist day since we pretty much had the place to ourselves. This was less of an artifact based thing than an auditory experience. I could have sat inside for hours listening to jazz and swing music and learning all about it.

I’ll finish this later.

Power and Light district free concert

Buffalo burger and cosentino’s market

Truman library

Truman home

Town square

Money museum

World War I memorial and museum



Nelson-atkins museum

The Plaza



The results of the AP tests are in and Erin actually passed them all including the infamous physics exam which almost nobody passes.

This opens up new possibilities since these scores are actually good for college credit. That saves her some time at the university as well as money although most kids majoring in engineering will actually take calculus and physics at the university to be assured of the basic understanding. Trouble with calc and/or physics has been the downfall of many. We’ll see; this still makes her look extremely good.

I’m extremely happy with her performance. We know better than to assume anything where competion is involved though. When Evan was applying for scholarships we thought “how many people can there be with ACT scores over 30?” but when you scoop them all up from all over the state, there can be a lot. Having good test scores does not guarantee anything but I’m still very encouraged.

Yesterday (Sunday) was pleasantly busy. It started out as an empty plate but ended up pretty full.

It began with us deciding to ditch church. We’d been planning on meeting up with Mel’s sister to look at a couple of houses up in town so we decided that we’d better get some chores out of the way before that. We had invited them to come over after house hunting for home made ice cream and figured we’d better have it made already.

We hade cooked up the cream the night before. I had no idea that making ice cream was such a time consuming activity but presumably it will go faster the next time. We had to go out to buy rock salt and ice which was more trouble than anticipated. Not everybody sells rock salt. But when I finally started churning, it worked exactly by the book. It was fantastic.

We looked at the decided-upon houses and then got a call from a nephew who was also looking at houses and so went and looked at his too.

Then a friend called and wanted to use my table saw. I was sad to make him wait; any other Sunday would have found us with plenty of time but everything always happens at once. We came home with not only the in-laws but the nephew and his girlfriend as well and served ice cream to all. Then we decided: what the heck? Let’s grill burgers.

I also called my friend and told him to come on over with his wood. He brought his five year old to see our dog. That was a bit awkward since I had to tell him that our dog had died in October. His response via text message: “my bad”.

He arrived, we did our woodworking and of course had ice cream. That made up for the lack of dog apparently.

Then Erin came home from work (and had ice cream) and had a couple of friends over. They just sort of showed up but they got ice cream too.

We still have another container of ice cream left. Evidently, if you make ice cream, you also make friends.

I usually leave my car windows open about an inch in the summer. It seems to make a slight difference and when it’s really hot, any difference is worthwhile. But it rained the other day and I forgot to go down and put them up.

Now my car stinks. I’ve been trying to leave the windows open more but it has continued to rain sporadically so that’s been a problem. I hope time and air conditioning can take care of this. Or those air freshening things they sell everywhere.

We’ve finally found an uninterrupted stretch of summer and made some arrangements. It’s not grand and glorious but it’s a break and should be interesting.

Everything I’ve tried to put together has been not quite doable but we finally decided that just going to a city could not possibly fail. There’s no way that a city full of hotels could fill up like the Old Faithful Inn at Yellowstone. Thus we have a few days planned in Kansas City.

There’s more to see there than I previously thought so we should have a diverting few days. I will update via Twitter since Mel is not too cool with me using facebook and thus advertising the fact that we are not at home to all our and Erin’s friends. That’s probably a good thought and nobody know about my twitter feed.

My office shares the floor of my building with an elevator shop. The elevator maintenance guys have a small office there and the hoist motors for a bank of elevators are there. They’re pretty interesting guys to talk to – I ask them all those dumb questions everybody has like “do those ‘close door’ buttons do anything?’ (answer: yes but they don’t close the door immediatly like you think they should; they merely shorten the timer.)

Today I walked past their door and saw a gigantic motor armature (the turny part inside an electric motor). The guy saw me admiring and invited me in for a tour. I love seeing how things work and getting backstage tours.

He showed me how the entire system works and I have to say that I feel pretty safe at this point. Still, the elevators occasionally do strange things which he explained but which are still a bit unnerving.

Plus they can make the elevators do anything from there which although possible is not advisable since that tends to freak out whoever is riding.

But they are definitely never going to fall and hurt anybody. Thanks elevator guy!

Well the ACT tests are in and Erin has officially kicked ass. Financial aid is now more hopeful.

Well, all vacation plans have fallen through and I’m out of ideas. I’ve looked into visiting relatives in Aspen ( they’re gonna be out of town), guitar camps, and woodworking classes. We could go on a road trip but Mel is on a 9 day road trip with her sister and may be fed up with driving – I’ll have to see when she returns.

Plus it’s hot everywhere now.

I’m getting depressed. I wonder what there is to do in Kansas City.