The countdown has begun, as the state of Kansas is my next to last or 49th state to visit. As I have mentioned before, I may have changed planes here back in the 1980s when I traveled extensively. But I doubt I would have left the airport, which is located in Missouri, nor driven across the border into Kansas.
Here is something startling, almost surreal:
Like so many popular indulgences—beer, cupcakes, coffee—even snow cones can go artisanal, and Kansas City may be on the cutting edge of the foodie-friendly snowball. At Little Freshie’s (811 West 17th Street)—a popular, small-batch-made soda fountain—you can get snow cones in avant-garde flavors such as watermelon basil, blackberry lavender and homemade root beer. I had a grape and orange blossom combination, what tasted more like Welch’s grape fruit juice drink.
Sidebar: Would you believe we use root beer to flavor our liquid oral morphine?
Sidebar #1: Tallgrass prairie once covered 170 million acres of North America. Within a generation the vast majority was developed and plowed under. Today less than 4% remains, mostly here in the Kansas Flint Hills. The preserve protects a nationally significant remnant of the once vast tallgrass prairie and its cultural resources. Here the tallgrass prairie takes its last stand.
The attempt to revive jazz in KC turned out to be quite a story. Here it is: In the 1970s, Kansas City attempted to resurrect the glory of the jazz era in a sanitized family friendly atmosphere. In the 1970s, an effort to open jazz clubs in the River Quay area of City Market along the Missouri ended in a gangland war in which three of the new clubs were blown up in what ultimately resulted in the removal of Kansas City mob influence in the Las Vegas casinos. Wow, I never knew that. The Jazz Museum focused primarily on Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Charlie Parker, and Duke Ellington. Did you know Duke’s real first name was Edward Kennedy (Ellington)?
Also, rather surprisingly, KC is home to many famous companies: Hallmark, Applebee’s, American Century Investments, Cerner, H&R Block, Russell Stover Candies, and the VFW. And I may have mentioned that I saw a huge old Western Auto sign above an old abandoned brick building just near the downtown area.
Some of the places I would like to visit are: The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, American Jazz Museum, and the National World War 1 Museum. But I did drive out to Kansas again, mostly to shop for cycling clothes, and to have a light lunch. Tonight is a music concert, who remembers Brewer and Shipley? Then back home Sunday. Not a bad place here, lots of community pride.
That leaves just one state, which I will combine on a trip to the Windy City, and perhaps a ride on the rails to complete the Big-Five-Oh!!!!