Once, summer trips to Kansas City were the norm for me. Just about every summer I would sneak away for a weekend that, famously, included the four B’s: baseball, Boulevard beer, barbecue, and buddies.[1] But as the girls got a little older, it became more difficult to get away. Buying a lake house where we spent most of our summer weekends added another layer of difficulty to making that trip during school vacation. It had been four years since I made a summer trip to KC that revolved around baseball!

Luckily I broke that streak this past weekend.

Despite the long slump, this trip had a familiar rhythm to it. Fly in Friday on the early, direct flight. Pick up a car and start driving around. Go to the Plaza. Drive by some of my other favorite spots and see what’s changed, what’s the same. I usually snap some pics while doing my wanderings, but this is the first time I’ve come back since I started taking photography semi-seriously. I added in a trip to the Liberty Memorial this time around where I got a few decent shots. It was a weird day for pics: overcast days are often good for pics because you don’t get blinded by the summer sun, but the clouds Friday morning were really thick and I struggled to get good color in many of my shots. Oh well.

Obligatory downtown KC pic
Obligatory downtown KC pic

I made a stop at the Boulevard Brewery. Stupidly I didn’t think to reserve a time for a tour a few weeks back before they filled up. I’ve heard you can often slip into already booked groups if you just show up, but I went about 40 minutes before my lunch plans kicked in, so didn’t have time for that. I just bought a sweet shirt instead.

Lunch at Charbar, one of the new barbecue places in town. It was really good. While meeting the folks I was eating with, I randomly ran into another good friend I hadn’t seen in years. In the first few years after I moved to Indy, when I would go back to KC I would always be looking around, expecting to run into someone I used to work with, lived near, or hung out with. This is probably the first time that’s ever happened!

Friday night was Royals game #1, a fellas’ night out. We had good seats, the Royals had a lead going into the 4th, and life was good. Then Minnesota tied it and heavy rains moved in. We hustled to our car and departed for the Peanut, as the radar showed storms stacked up halfway across Kansas. That was a wise move, as play didn’t begin again until nearly midnight. And then they had to play into the 11th inning before the Royals got their sixth-straight victory.

Saturday I met my uncle at Oklahoma Joe’s[2]. I was at Joe’s a couple years ago, when we brought the girls back. But this was my first Z-man sandwich in probably 5–6 years. It was delicious.

An obligatory trip to the Kansas Sampler for buying the girls some KU gear and myself another Royals shirt followed.

Saturday night was our big evening at the K. Seven families were represented in some form, along with a whole gaggle of kids. There was tailgating, football throwing, wisecracking, and reminiscing. Our seats were way up in the view level, an area of the K I hadn’t sat in since 2001 or 2002. But they were just fine to catch up with folks and watch a 10–0 Royals win.

Then I was on the noon, direct flight back to Indy on Sunday, where the delightful weather that reached Kansas City on Saturday morning had just rolled into town. There’s a hint of fall in the air, which made this trip the perfect capper to a pretty good summer.

For my obligatory “what did it mean to me” part of this post, Kansas City started to feel foreign to me awhile back. There were just too many changes, whether it was my friends moving and adding to their families or making other major life changes, or things like the Power & Light district or other physical changes to the area, for the city to feel fresh to me. But still there’s a lot of familiarity there for me. I think I find my footing pretty quickly even with all those changes.

I’m definitely not a local anymore when I visit. Yet there’s still a part of me that feels more at home in KC than Indy. I guess I lived there (mostly) for 23 years and this is just year 13 in Indy. Perhaps that feeling will flip someday.

It was great to see all of you who stop by here on occasion and made time to meet for lunch, or at the K.

  1. Buddies being a gender-neutral term in this case.  ↩
  2. I know what it’s called now. I’m still calling it OK Joe’s!  ↩