John & Brenda's Excellent Tour travel blog

Standin' on the corner 12th Street and Vine

Sculpture and architecture of the Country Club Plaza

July 27

The drive from St. Louis to Kansas City is shorter than most we've done lately at a mere 374 kms. As we drove, Brenda realized from the maps that there are really two Kansas Cities, one in Missouri and one in Kansas across the river. We were targeting the one in Missouri and found 2 Comfort Inn motels that met our criteria, one 16 miles out of downtown by the airport and one right downtown. Of course we checked out the furthest one first and found no room at the Inn due to it being Friday night. While there was room at the downtown location, they weren't accepting coupons, so we ended up paying $81 a night with our AAA discount.

Kansas City is another town known for its BBQ and we had just seen a feature on the Food Network on Fiorella's Jack Stack BBQ. When I called, we found they didn't take reservations and waiting time (at 6:30 pm) was 1 to 2 hours. We quickly called a cab for the 5-minute drive to the restaurant to get in line for dinner.

The joint was jumping with a bunch of delegates to a women's jewellery convention. We squeezed into the bar while we waited for our table where we met several fun women from the convention. They were with Silpada, which is a 10-year old multi-level network marketing company similar to Mary Kay or Tupperware where they sell through home parties.

Their product line is based on sterling silver, somewhat bangly jewellery that appears to meet a real niche given their amazing 10-year growth. We immediately thought of entrepreneurial women back home who would love an opportunity like this as they are not yet operating in Canada meaning the opportunity is RIPE. Having been jazzed up by their motivational sessions along with copious alcohol, they were very entertaining in their enthusiasm.

We finally made it to the top of the table list and were seated for our feast. We had way too much food but experienced the very best onion rings we've ever had...they'd better be good at approximately a dollar each! I had the crown of prime rib bones along with Fiorella's world famous baked beans (eat your heart out, Dennis) and Brenda had the baby back ribs. We carried out the biggest doggy bag ever and headed back to our hotel, fully sated.

July 28

Saturday broke with hot, hot heat and high humidity. Brenda had checked out the exercise room and the equipment was non-functional. She checked with the front desk, where they claimed, "We called the guy," at which point you abandon all hope. A lady at the Fiorella's bar had told us to go to the Country Club Plaza for shopping, restaurants, culture and nice architecture so that became our prime destination for the day.

We checked the list of attractions for Kansas City and we found a city park called "The Going to Kansas City Plaza at 12th Street and Vine" could you not go? It was on our way to the Country Club Plaza so we added it to the agenda. Leaving the hotel we were immediately impressed how the city had allowed for ample green space along its streets and boulevards, although it was more brown in the current heat. Kansas City was a very pleasant surprise and we were certainly glad to have booked the extra day.

For those who don't recall, here's an excerpt from the song "Kansas City":

"I'm gonna be standing on the corner

On the corner of Twelfth Street and Vine

With my Kansas City baby

And a bottle of Kansas City wine."

When the city underwent urban renewal in the 1970's, they created a green space that eliminated the 12th Street and Vine intersection. In 2005, they developed "The Going to Kansas City Plaza at 12th Street and Vine" with sculptures, interpretive displays and a replacement signpost on the former location of the intersection. It was really cool to be there on such a hot day.

Brenda also pointed out that the interpretive signs showed there are 2 versions of a line in the song that we didn't know about. The version we recalled had it as:

"They got some crazy little women there

And I'm gonna get me one."

And the other is:

"They got a crazy way of loving there

And I'm gonna get me some."

You learn something new everyday on this trip.

Our next stop was the aforementioned Country Club Plaza, where the arts focus was again evident with sculptures and murals accenting the streetscape. The Plaza area is 40 square blocks of Spanish-influenced architecture featuring retail and restaurant businesses. Development of this beautiful area started in 1922 and it has been immaculately maintained with gorgeous street landscaping. They feature musicians on many afternoons and evenings to complement the setting.

We browsed through the Pottery Barn and Restoration Hardware stores, giving Brenda even more renovation fever. It didn't take long for the heat to have an effect on me and we sought out nice restaurant that appeared to be popular with locals. Brenda raved about her excellent scallops, which were seared perfectly, while I had a non-traditional Thai chicken pizza that really sped up my recovery.

We then surfed through the adjacent Barnes and Noble for a Lewis and Clark book, having had my interest in their explorations piqued through our last couple of stops. We ended up with a bag of books I could hardly carry...damn you, Remainder Table! Back at the hotel, we heated up our excellent BBQ leftovers from the previous night's dinner. Brenda decided to do some laundry and we once again got stacked up behind somebody else. We found out why they were taking so long when the washer refused to spin the rinse water out of our clothes and we ended up wringing them out by hand...a partial workout for Brenda?

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