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A quick trip to KC MO

10/31/2011 @ 9:34am

My wife and I recently made a quick trip to Kansas City to visit our youngest son. Kansas City might be best described as “A large metropolis located in middle America; the vast majority of its citizens would test positive for barbecue sauce.”

Our journey to Kansas City was unremarkable save for the views of the extensive areas that had been inundated by last summer’s flood. It was clearly apparent that the muddy Missouri had washed the colossal toes of the Loess Hills.

The receding river left behind a vista that epitomizes the word “stark”. A flat expanse of battleship gray silt runs for miles and miles and miles. It reminds one of photos taken from the surface of the moon, with ash-colored regolith stretching to the far horizon. Ironic, that the floodwaters should create a landscape that resembles a desert.

A well-defined high-water mark can be seen on grain bins, farm buildings, and even a luckless tractor. Here is a scour hole that could swallow a barn, there sits a random silt dune. Driftwood decorates an otherwise empty soybean field. In many areas, the silt has dried to a crazed crackle; the earthy aroma of river mud is a palpable presence.

We opted to break up our trip by overnighting in St. Joseph. Wild and crazy people that we are, we also decided to visit the Pony Express Museum.

The Pony Express, we learned, was an important force in shaping the history of our nation by proving that mail could make it from St. Joe to San Francisco in just ten days. It also provided a huge future economic boon in the form of highly-collectable historic postmarks.

After only 18 months of operation, the Pony Express was supplanted by the telegraph. I imagine this was akin to replacing a dialup connection with a high-speed fiber optic cable.

We didn’t have time to tour the nearby Jesse James home, which was fine by me. I wouldn’t spend a plugged nickel on that cad after what he did to Sandra Bullock!

Judging by its wealth of stately Victorian homes, St. Joe was once a very wealthy town. Some of its mansions are still single-family dwellings, while others have been converted to apartments. Many sit empty, their windows boarded up, hoping for the day when a haunted house movie is shot in St. Joseph.

We motored into Kansas City, where sparkling towers scrape the prairie sky. While waiting for a table at a barbecue joint called Jack Stack, we struck up a conversation with a woman from Dallas. I asked her whether Kansas City or Dallas had the best barbecue.

“Definitely Kansas City!” she replied with a fervor that bordered on religious zeal. “But I’m prejudiced. I grew up here.”

I guess that just proves the truth of the saying that home is where the heart is. Except in this case, home is where the heartburn is.

We later stopped at -- surprise! -- another museum. This particular gallery contains the cargo of the paddlewheel steamship Arabia.

In 1856, the Arabia struck a snag and sank to the bottom of the Missouri. In 1988 she was found out in the middle of a corn field, buried 45 feet below the surface. Talk about getting lost!

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