August 13 – 15
With a long day ahead of us to get to Kansas City that Monday morning we were up and out of the house early. For the next few days we would be dogged by heavy rain making for often less than ideal driving conditions on the I-70, often slowing to 40 miles per hour with the emergency flashers on, hoping we didn’t hit anyone or get rear ended.
Later in the morning, right around getting hungry time we stopped for a bite to eat, for the first time in a very long time, at a Sonic Drive-In. This one had indoor seating and the place was busy when we walked in, ordering a cheeseburger combo and a breakfast burrito. All in all, it was a decent meal, about as good as fast good gets.
We pushed on and eventually arrived at the Best Western Plus Seville Plaza Hotel near downtown Kansas City and a short distance from our nephew Dillon’s apartment. This is a nice property, centrally located with super friendly staff, making our two night stay a pleasant experience. After checking in we powered down after the long drive and made arrangements to meet Dillon at his place and then go to dinner.
After checking out his apartment, a spacious two-bedroom in an older building, we set out to for the International Tap House, locally known for its large and excellent selection of draft and bottled beers. We parked on the street nearby and walked around the corner to the entrance, only to discover that they were closed that night for a special occasion.
Undaunted we walked down the block to another well-known joint, Grinders Pizza where we were seated and ordered beers and a pizza that has been featured on the Food Network, the Bengal Tiger. Made with pesto sauce, tandoori chicken, crab meat, hearts of palm & cilantro; odd sounding but quite good, the chicken heightened by the cilantro, the crab mild and sweet.
Dillon dropped us off at the hotel and we agreed to have dinner the next day to celebrate my birthday. After a lot of deliberation, we settled on a well-known German restaurant near downtown, Grunauer and agreed to meet there early in the evening. We awoke to a rainy day the next morning, killing any idea we had about riding our bikes and so we settled on some light sightseeing and then a movie in the afternoon.
Our first stop was Meshuggah Bagels (reportedly the best in KC) where we each enjoyed a toasted bagel (Joanna’s with lox) and a good strong cup of coffee. From there we headed downtown to tour Union Station, which opened in 1914 serving a peak annual passenger traffic of over 670,000 in 1945 and then quickly declining in the 1950s until it was closed in 1985. A public/private partnership funded a $250 million restoration and the station reopened in 1999 as a series of museums and other public attractions. In 2002, Union Station saw its return as a train station when Amtrak began providing public transportation services and has since become Missouri’s second-busiest train station.
The problem was we couldn’t find any parking close by that wouldn’t break our budget and so discouraged, we drove around the downtown area a bit and then made our way out to a suburb to catch an afternoon movie.
At the appointed hour we drove back into downtown to meet Dillon for dinner and while waiting in the bar for our table, received the best kind of birthday gift, a surprise as my sister Bev had driven up from Colony to join us and celebrate.
It was a fine meal, featuring a couple of great German beers, including an Ayinger Celebrator and a memorable Kaisergulasch (Stewed veal in a paprika sauce with capers and spinach spätzle), followed by my favorite German dessert of Apple Strudel, all of it amped a notch by having both Bev and Dillon there. We said our farewells outside of the restaurant, needing to retire early as we had another long day of driving ahead of us.
That next morning at the provided breakfast downstairs we got into an interesting conversation with a couple of gentlemen in town on business to promote a software interface that enables making transportation connections. We drifted into speculating on a future where driverless cars and Uber type services might eliminate the need to own a car, and how this will transform how we move about, use land, and how that concept might spill over into other things a person owns.
Our long days drive would land us in Shelbyville, Kentucky, about 20 miles west of Louisville. We used points to stay at the Best Western Shelbyville Lodge, a large complex in the heart of horse country. It’s a nice enough place with updated rooms and my only complaint is that smokers kept propping open the exterior door near our room in an isolated section of the hotel. In the overall scheme of things not a big deal as we weren’t that concerned about crime, but in a sketchier part of town it could have led to trouble.
For dinner that night we drove a couple of miles to Marimba, a highly rated Mexican restaurant, located off the road at the top of small hill. We started with a couple of big but inexpensive margaritas that hit the spot and split a large combination platter, more than enough food for us and an imaginary friend. It was some of the best of this type of chow we’ve had in a long time and a perfect way to end a couple long days of travel.
Our next to the last day on the road would take us to Wytheville, VA to meet with Bev and her other son Jed, so that they could see the NASCAR race at Bristol, Tn while we did the Virginia Creeper Trail. It would be our last stop of the trip, time having passed quickly. Not ready to stop and yet the pull of home left us with mixed emotions. Such is the nature of long distance travel.
Sonic Drive-In: https://www.sonicdrivein.com/
Best Western Plus Seville Plaza Hotel: https://bestwesternsevilleplaza.com/
Grinders Pizza: https://grinderspizza.com/crossroads/
Meshuggah Bagels: https://www.meshuggahbagels.com/
Union Station: https://www.unionstation.org/
Best Western Shelbyville Lodge: https://www.bestwestern.com/en_US/book/hotels-in-shelbyville/best-western-shelbyville-lodge/propertyCode.18051.html