Kansas Trip Spring 2014 – Iowa, Kansas City, and Larryville

Ladies and gents: I should probably be working on my Peter’s Five Years Old Blog Post, however I really hit a wall with the video portion (every year, my video-splicing skills get more and more amateur, if that is even possible). But also, I want to get the last Kansas trip up on the old blog before I forget the finer details. We don’t need a “blogged over a year later” like that lovely Minneapolis trip, AMIRITE?

Settle in, because this first post is going to be a doozy. When we’re visiting family’s homes, I tend to forget about the camera a lot and don’t take as many photos. Believe it or not. But when we’re back on our home turf by ourselves, I get rather snap-happy…

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We are in a routine now when it comes to our Kansas trips. For the first few years we tried to get down there often-ish (which ate up all our PTO and was truly exhausting), and it was always lovely but man, just crazy busy. Which made it not really that enjoyable to be honest. We have a rule now: no more photography work. The biz is officially shuttered in Kansas, so that takes care of one bit that made things so nuts. Also we have capped the Kansas Trip at twice a year, barring any special things (weddings and such). I know some people think that’s not enough, but too bad. More than that is hard on us and the kiddos.

This was Linus’ first trip down to The Plains! It meant breaking the drive over two days was probably a better idea, given his undying hatred for long car rides. So the Friday before Spring Break I left work a little early to pack up the car, get the boys, and have everything ready so that we could hit the road the moment Scott got off work.

Our car was packed solid, I won’t lie. We were bringing lots of things down with us in addition to our luggage, lots of gifts to cover birthdays missed, Linus in all that Baby Glory meant lots of extra gear, and we were going to be gone for over a week so we needed to make sure we had every possible last little thing we might in any way need. I basically did not see my feet for most of the trip; that’s because I held with me in the passenger seat the following: the diaper bag, snack bag, bag of special dollar-store purchases to keep Pete busy when he got bored, extra bottled water, my purse, the camera, baby toys I could toss behind me at a moment’s notice, Kleenex, barf bags, plastic grocery bags for garbage collection, that miiiight be it. I was loaded up, yo.

The boys did really good on the first leg, just both hung out and enjoyed the drive through Southern Wisconsin and through Iowa. Pete played games and read books on the Kindle, and Linus just enjoyed the scenery with his plug in his mouth (we retired the pacifier after getting back from this trip, before he got too attached, so it’s kinda funny to see photos of him with the thing). We made it to our favorite little hotel in Des Moines pretty late, and pretty much dropped into our beds.

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Linus slept like total and utter crap. Brat. He and I were up before the sun so, as my own special form of revenge, I dressed him in a Chambray one-piece number with butt-pockets. THAT’LL TEACH YA. We had that cheap hotel Continental Breakfast that Pete adores so much, then got the hell outta Des Moines. We stopped a few times, so Linus could stretch his legs and for diaper changes (one gas station in Missouri was… interesting, but even with its lack of a baby changing station and its wet dirty floors in the stalls, we made it. I just laid Linus on my jacket in the cleanest (and dry) patch of floor, ironically a small area by the sink, and shoved my foot up against the door while changing him so no one entered and accidentally trampled him. EASY PEASY FOLKS).

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We cruised into the Kansas City area around lunchtime, which of course meant one thing: BARBEQUE. We drove to Oklahoma Joes in Olathe and hopped in line. Note to visitors: best BBQ, in our humble opinion. Of all time ever, and Mr. Bourdain agrees. And there is always a line, but unlike those people in Texas, the line moves amazingly quick and efficiently. Super duper quick. So: do not be spooked by the line.

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I got the Z-man, which is a brisket sandwich and is something you truly need to sample before you die. We were lucky in that the burnt ends had not yet sold out, so Scott went that route. We both ordered lemony yellow Boulevard Wheats. Pete got… a hotdog. Next time we’re forcing something better on him. Linus helped me with my pickles and fries (Scott helped as well, because you get buried in fries here). We ate and ate and ate, and then rolled ourselves back out to the car and headed on to Lawrence.

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We got into town, checked into the hotel, then hit up KU campus. I miss KU campus so much, you guys. It used to be my most favorite spot to just walk and clear my head, for years and years and years, and I had all sorts of little favorite spots to sit and hang out. So we parked by the Fieldhouse, took a few snaps there for posterity (and for the Mighty Beef), then just walked all over.

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Random side comment: when I was in college, I used to… well, smoke. My first semester at KU, I’d have a cigarette every morning before heading into my class at Burge, standing near these giant landscaping rocks they have outside. And one day, I noticed there was a dark blue marble sitting deep in one of the pits in the rock. Hmm! From that point forward, almost every time I walked past that rock I’d look for the marble. It was this weird little oddity that I found comforting, it was like my own little personal KU campus secret, if you will. Anyway: I had to check to see if the marble was still there, or if instead it was gone because someone else who noticed it finally had the gumption to dig it out.

Still there, folks. Still my old campus.

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We eventually headed back to the car and to the hotel to try to get the baby to take a nap (no go, my friends). Then out for dinner – at Johnny’s Tavern. The OG Johnny’s, none of those other imposters you find in west Larryville and around KC, oh no. This is where everyone went to drink in college, and where we had lunches out frequently when I worked for the science publisher on the East side of Lawrence, and now where we take our kiddos early in the evening, for a quick bite well before the party crowd hits.

I am pretty sure I have said it on here before: the pizza here is fab. Get. It.

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We dragged our tired selves back to the hotel and off to bed. The boys slept like the dead that night (Scott included, who zonked out watching TV). I did not sleep well, because I kept hearing the baby crying. Guess what: he only woke up a few times. But I kept dreaming about him crying, which still made me wake up. Several million times. It was awesome.

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The next morning came, again, BRIGHT AND EARLY OMG. Children! They ruin everything. Okay maybe not, but they sure take what was once fun (like leisure travel) and make it way exhausting. Thank god for coffee.

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We got up, showered, dressed, and hit downtown. Today we were meeting my brother Paulo and his girlfriend Stacey, for some brunching and shopping. We got there a little early but no worries, that just meant we got to run around Mass St. a little before loading up on food.

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We hit up 715 for brunch, because: hello? It’s brunch. They know brunch (and cocktails, and hand-cured meats, plus handmade sausages and pasta and OMG JUST GO THERE ALREADY).

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After brunch it was necessary to stop at Java Break for some coffee. Mandatory, really. There are some places I just miss so very much, and Java Break is definitely one of them. Such a dump, but a quirky, charming dump. With fantastic coffee.

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Then time to shop!

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And the rain, time for rain. Pete was ready, we had his rain boots and also umbrellas packed in the trunk (I packed rain gear, yep).

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We had to hit up Love Garden. Best little music store in the Midwest! We didn’t get any music, because we are total poseurs when we go in there (we just browse but rarely get CDs/records). Instead I got Linus a shirt and Pete picked out a Mickey Roy button. We may not be indie-music devotees, but we still support the little guys.

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At this point, Paul and Stacey headed back to KC. Sad face. We said our good-byes, then made one last stop downtown, at Kansas Sampler. Not my most favorite of the local-sports-gear stores, but: they pretty much have everything, so it was more convenient than stopping at 3-4 different spots. We stocked up on KU shirts and Pete got a KC Royals Matchbox car (yeah I dunno, whatever: he wanted it). Then back to the hotel.

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So at this point, Scott took Pete and they went back out, to hit up Dillons and grab a few items (snacks, water; stuff like that). I stayed at the hotel, to get Linus down for a nap. Which I did, miraculously (he is a light sleeper and needs total darkness). I tidied up our room, restocked the diaper bag, pre-packed some things into our suitcases, that kinda stuff. While I watched Legally Blonde, because it was pretty much the only thing on (don’t judge me).

And then the weather people broke in to talk severe weather… Yeah. It didn’t look so good out the window. So I called Scott and told him to hustle back, they barely beat the storm. Just lots of rain and wind, no tornadoes. Thanks for taking it easy on us while we visited, Kansas!

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After the storm, we met up with friends for dinner at Free State. I didn’t take any photos, not a one, mainly because we were too busy juggling all our kids. After dinner we headed back to the hotel, and I realized: I feel awful. A.W.F.U.L. I am not sure if it was food poisoning? Orrrrrr a really short bout of the stomach flu? But at any rate: I was essentially glued to the bathroom floor, all night long. For those counting, that is now 3 nights of no sleep for Nemmie. Start playing that teeny violin…

The next miserable morning, I requested that we maybe wait an hour or so before starting our day. That was the day we were driving to central Kansas, and the thought of sitting for 3-ish hours in a moving vehicle was not sitting so well with my guts. So we took our time, cleaned up and dressed and finished packing suitcases. Scott loaded the car, and eventually I dragged my sorry self out the door. But even through the grossness, I insisted we stop at Munchers. It was a quick stop for baby formula at The Merc nearby, then on down the strip mall to Munchers (oh yes did I mention? This trip was also when I officially gave up nursing. I had a minor procedure done in my doctor’s office that essentially murdered my once-awesome milk supply, so I bid adieu after trying approximately 847 different natural remedies in differing combinations, none of which did anything).

Anyway, no one wants to hear about that. Let’s talk Muncherrrrrs! Oh, Munchers. Home of the Amazing Cream Cheese Donut (I have never had anything else like it). Their other offerings are delicious as well, yummy mini cinnamon rolls and pastries and strawberry knots. Their cake donuts are even good. When Scott and I first moved to Lawrence, my first job was at an art store in this strip mall, working my way through college. I used to run down to Munchers for a donut on my break, because I could get a sugary cake donut for like forty cents, and it tasted like heaven and got me through until I got home and Scott whipped up a pot of that amazing Hamburger Helper at 10pm.

(OMG. I miss those days. Hamburger Helper and a glass of boxed wine, WINE YOU GUYS, because we were fancy dammit! We’d sit cross-legged on that beat-up old gold couch and watch The Daily Show or The Real World while we had our evening meal and I did my homework on my lap. It was amazing.)

Anyway. I give you: Munchers.

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The boys got donuts and we got one in a little white To-Go bag for me to eat when I could stomach it.

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Pete had to hit the bathrooms before we left, so I took him along the side of the bakery, through the area that opens into the back room, down the hall, to the bathrooms they share with the bar next door.  It is a very weird system, and apparently dudes like to hide in the ceiling tiles in there.  Quirky!  Still love you, Munchers.

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And then we drove one last loop through downtown before we left, just to wave our final good-byes. Bye bye Larry! Air kisses, my love!

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Next up: deep into The Plains…

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