West Coast Tour 2016 – Kansas, Part Two

Timeline: October 19-24

We spent Friday night, a cool crisp evening, sitting around Bill and Bev’s fire ring, enjoying the flames, the sun setting in the west as we prepared for our adventure the next day, a trip up to Kansas City to spend some time with our Nephew Dillon.

Bill and his Campfire

Bill and His Campfire

Two Cute Girls

Bev and Joanna Enjoying the Evening

After breakfast the next morning the four of us hopped in the car for the ninety minute drive up to Dillon’s place in Overland Park, a suburb on the Kansas side of Kansas City. After a brief stop at his house and introduction to his new cat (she got outside and we had to chase her a bit to return her indoors) we took off for the Power and Light District, a dining, shopping, office and entertainment district in Downtown K.C. comprising nine blocks on the south side of the downtown loop. It is one of the largest development projects in the Midwestern United States and is named after the art deco Kansas City Power and Light Building.

Power and Light District

Power and Light District

We parked in a structure and walked a half block to our first stop of the day, here-to-fore kept from me as a surprise, the Kansas City branch of our favorite beer joint, the Flying Saucer. We’d spend almost two hours there, consuming a couple of rounds of beers, splitting orders of pretzels and nacho’s, filling enough that we didn’t feel compelled to eat again until much later in the day.

Flying Saucer Kansas City

Flying Saucer Kansas City

Dillon had joined the U.F.O club earlier, which Joanna and I also belong to. In this club, when you drink 200 different beers you are awarded a plate (the ring of honor), which is put on display at, your home location and this plate is updated with a different color inner ring each time you consume 200 more different beers. I’ve just completed my third plate and Joanna has one, meaning we finish one about every two years.


A Listing of Charlotte Saucer Plate Holders

This may sound like an admirable accomplishment until one considers that some participants have more than twenty plates with a top contender garnering sixty-five. I’ll leave it to you to ponder whether this is a goal worth emulating.

Bill, Dillon, Joanna and Bev

Bill, Dillon, Joanna and Bev

We finished up at the Saucer and walked north on Walnut Street nine blocks or so, crossing over the I-70 to arrive at the Historic City Market. In this location since 1857 when it became the focal point for people making their way westward, it has operated as many iterations of a market up to its present day incarnation as a food related destination with over 100,000 square feet of restaurants, food oriented shops, and museum exhibit space.

Historic City Market

Historic City Market

We walked the stalls, marveling at the breadth of product available, in one instance a staggering amount of spices on display. After completing our circuit of the market, we dropped in at the Arabia Steamboat Museum, which houses artifacts salvaged from the Arabia, a steamboat that sank in the Missouri River in 1856. The museum’s collection consists of thousands of items intended for daily life on the frontier including more than 4,000 pairs of boots and shoes, 247 hats, 235 ax heads, 29 jars of pickles, 328 pocket knives, and one children’s doll. All are from 1856 or earlier; most of them were brand-new merchandise heading to general stores on the frontier.

Spice Vendor

Spice Vendor

As the afternoon was moving along and we had other plans, we decided to skip the exhibit and its $14.50 entrance fee and move on to our final destination, Boulevard Brewing. A day or so earlier I had purchased a four-pack of their Bourbon Barrel Quad, an abbey-style quadrupel that is aged for a number of years in oak bourbon barrels. Having already sampled one bottle and thoroughly enjoyed it, once I realized we’d be visiting the brewery itself I was looking forward to sampling some of their products on draft.

Upstairs Boulevard Brewing

Upstairs at Boulevard Brewing

Being a pleasant Saturday afternoon, the place was packed when we arrived, with four long lines leading up to the bar to place an order. While some of us stood by the second floor windows waiting to grab some seats at a table once it vacated, others did the duty of standing in line to order our first round. During the course of our stay I’d consume a Long Strange Tripel and a Snow & Tell Oak-Aged Scotch Ale. Both were high gravity (alcohol) brews and were just the ticket for sipping without consuming large amounts of liquid, a consideration given the nearly two hour drive ahead of us to return to Bev and Bill’s house.

Boulevard Brewing Tap List

Boulevard Brewing Tap List

Another quiet evening followed as we prepared for the long drive home starting the next day, our plan to do the 1,000 miles straight through, roughly 17 hours of driving. After a hearty breakfast Sunday morning, we bade farewell to Bev and Bill and drove back up to Kansas City to pick up the I-70, staying on it until St. Louis where in the afternoon, we turned south east on I-64 and then I-24 to Nashville and the I-40, stopping every couple of hours for gas, coffee and dinner around 8:00pm at a McDonalds.

The Arch

St. Louis and the Arch

Nearing midnight and on the outskirts of Knoxville, we pulled into a Love’s Truck Stop, backed into a long parking space in-between two big-rigs, set up the sun shade on the front window, hauled out the sleeping bags to use as a comforter as we pushed back the seats to sleep for about four hours. It’s not the most comfortable or best sleep one can get, but it does do the job as we awoke around 4:00am, got gas and a cup of coffee and continued east towards home. This can be a magical time on the road, dark out and little traffic, as if you are in your own world.

Serentity Heading Home

Serentity Heading Home

Right around 6:00am just west of Asheville we stopped in, for the very first time, at a Waffle House, or as some know it, the awful Waffle. The meal ended up being OK, nothing fancy and given all of the normal breakfast dining options available to us on the road, not necessarily worth a return visit. When we first arrived it was extremely cold in the building, so much so that we went out to the car to fetch our jackets; they would turn on the heat a bit later and it would get more comfortable.


Waffle House Favorites – The Short Menu

One other thing we didn’t realize is that the laminated menu on the table was an abbreviated version of the full menu; if we had known this was available it might have changed my opinion a bit about the place, as I like to get an omelet most of the time. The hash brown scramble I did get was good, but had more potatoes than I would normally care to consume.


Waffle House Full Breakfast Menu

The last two hours of the drive went smoothly and as we pulled up into our driveway at home we were filled with conflicting emotions. Glad to be back to the comforts and familiarity of day-to-day in Charlotte, we were sad to have finished a great trip, as we grew used to the freedom of the open road as we did in 2014. The benefits of traveling for long periods of time are palpable, each day an adventure, that sense of rootlessness truly making every day a Saturday. But for now, it was good to be home.

Made It to the Top

Made It to the Top


Power and Light District: http://www.powerandlightdistrict.com/

Flying Saucer KC: http://www.beerknurd.com/locations/kansas-city-flying-saucer

Historic City Market: http://thecitymarket.org/

Arabia Steamboat Museum: http://1856.com/

Boulevard Brewing: https://boulevard.com/age-verify/?r=https://boulevard.com

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