The travel gods were with us, for the most part, and we had a successful trip to-and-from Kansas City over the girls’ fall break.

First, our biggest thanks to our many friends who cleared their schedules, opened their homes, and loaded up on Boulevard Wheat to spend time with us. While the large number of kids under six running around both Friday and Saturday nights meant our adult conversation to kid chasing ratio was approximately 1:3, we still enjoyed seeing everyone.

As I said, the traveling went pretty well. On the trip out, the girls were excellent. As tends to happen when we travel on I-70 with girls in the van, we ran into a one-hour delay due to an accident that blocked both sides of I-70 near Columbia, but the girls were troopers and were just slightly fussy by the time we rolled into the Plaza.

The trip back was not quite as good; C. was suffering from the funk that comes with sleeping in a bed other than your own for three nights. She was a bit of a beast for the eight hours we were in the van, but the other two girls were excellent. Again we ran into an accident just east of Columbia, but fortunately this one was minor and only delayed us about 15 minutes. And we drive through 45 minutes of rain rather than four hours as we did on Thursday.

As for the eats, I have to admit, 2009 was not a good eating year for me in Kansas City. I spent parts of seven days in the city this year, and only had real Kansas City barbecue twice. What the hell is wrong with me? Our obstacle this time was the lack of kid food options at most barbecue joints. Our girls are opening up their palates a bit, but I think pulled pork or ribs is still a bit of a stretch for them. Thanks to the N’s, we had Gates for dinner on Friday (And a President’s Platter at that! Memories of Royals O’Bashes past…) Our other best shot for barbecue was Friday at lunch. I was going to run out and grab something to bring back to the hotel, but given that it was already noon, I figured it would be a quicker trip to Planet Sub* than to Oklahoma Joe’s. Since the girls were hungry and cranky, speed was paramount.

(I realized that this fall is the 20th anniversary of my first trip to Yello Sub in Lawrence, and thus my first every Yello Sub sans dijon, my regular order for these past 20 years. Although I’m pretty sure my first ever had dijon on it. I don’t think I strayed from that order until 2001 or 2002, when Planet Sub opened on the Plaza and I was able to eat it more frequently, and thus try new things. I did eat a Creamy Crab once in college when a roommate ordered one and didn’t like it, but I never actually ordered something other than the Yello (Planet) Sub for 12-13 years.)

Friday day kind of sucked. It was nasty cold and windy. We tried walking the three blocks from our hotel to Barnes and Noble and the girls did not tolerate it very well. My step-dad drove up to meet us and we ended up driving over to the Starbucks rather than walk. So one day of Plaza strolling eliminated.

We stayed at the Sheraton Suites, which I highly recommend. The girls did pretty well at night. M. and C. slept on the pull-out, usually with S. or I needing to lay between them until they drifted off to eliminate “C./M. stop touching me!” type comments. L. slept with us, which she adored. All the girls loved looking out our windows, which from our 15th floor perch, offered a nice view of the Plaza. We could see my old apartment building, as well, which the girls thought was cool. I enjoyed looking down on the hill I used to stroll down to go out on weekend, to go to S.’s, or just take on my path over to the Trolley Trail when I was running.

I made the mistake of telling M. to get away from the windows when we were in the process of changing her clothes Friday afternoon. Naturally she took that as a challenge and spent the next five minutes flashing the people in the office building opposite our room. Is it child porn if you don’t stop your kid from showing her who-ha to the world?

Our girls joined with Caroline N. and Meredith M. to form a girls club Friday night. No boys allowed! The four of them seemed to hit it off, although C., as is her current default, was a but aloof from the group, playing in parallel but not necessarily with all the time.

Saturday was a gorgeous day, perfect for walking around and taking in all the Plaza fountains, which the girls loved. We met my dad for lunch, then went back to hotel, where everyone proceeded to crash for the next two-plus hours. By the time we were all awake, the KU game had started and we needed to begin getting ready for our evening commitments.

For old-time sake, we cruised over to the Hen House in Fairway to pick up some items for breakfast and van snacking on Sunday. If we went to Hen House, that means we had to go to BerbigL. on the way back to the hotel, just like every Sunday grocery shopping trip from 2000-2003. I carefully placed a 20-pack of Unfiltered Wheat in the back of the van to carry home.

Saturday evening we met many friends at the B’s home. Lots of kids running around, and I think they all did remarkably well. I don’t remember any tantrums; no need to correct me if I’m wrong. It was funny watching L. jet around and check everything out. I think this was her first big social gathering since she started walking, and she seemed to enjoy it.

When we left, I was a bit bummed that I had such brief conversations with all my KC friends. I realized, though, that in only a few more years, we’ll be able to do this again and ignore the kids and talk all we want. So it will get better as the kids get older.

That’s 1000 words, probably more than any of you care to read. As always, it was fantastic being back in KC. The visits are always bittersweet, but I’m fortunate that I get to make them often and see both my best friends and the city I grew up in regularly. It’s good to be home, but I’m looking forward to 2010, which promises several trips to KC, thanks to weddings and whatnot.

Again, huge thanks to everyone who spent time with us over the weekend. We loved seeing you and all of you are welcome here in Indy any time.