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Tuesday, February 24, 2015


Broadway Brewery, Columbia, Missouri
Great place to tour and taste
OK, it’s SMILE TIME because Kansas City, Missouri is also home to the Boulevard Brewery.  Though only established in 2009, this Brewery sees itself as rivaling that other Missouri brewery, Anheuser-Busch.  In fact, for a short while after Anheuser-Busch was sold to InBev, an international company, Boulevard was the largest independent brewery in Missouri

But Boulevard has since been sold to a Flemish company, so it only retains the title of being the largest craft beer brewer in the Midwest.  It is the 12th largest craft brewer in the country.  BTW, the sale price was reputed to be 100 million dollars, quite a return for a man began by delivering his beer in his pick up truck to the local Mexican Kitchen restaurant.

Broadway Brewery, Columbia, Missouri
As it grows, Boulevard is a combination of the old and the new

Boulevard is famous enough that Ben Affleck wore a Boulevard t-shirt in the movie Gone Girl!  When I spotted that, I was really elated.  I love when stuff like that happens!

But enough with background, we went to tour and to taste, and that is exactly what we did.

The original brewery, an old brick factory building was updated and redesigned and among other areas of growth and improvement, eight huge 300 barrel fermentation tanks replaced the six 105 barrel tanks.  There’s nothing old fashioned about Boulevard, and the tour took us through areas of shiny, gleaming metal, a hospitality atrium, glass walkways, and ended in the tasting room where any additional questions could be answered as we tasted the different beers. 

Broadway Brewery, Columbia, Missouri

While we didn’t have lunch there, Boulevard also maintains a restaurant.  It did have an interesting gift shop, however, and you could even mix and match your own 6-pack.

Broadway Brewery, Columbia, Missouri

It was a good informative tour and a good tasting, so if you are in Kansas City, this should be on your hit list too.

Broadway Brewery, Columbia, Missouri

And finally, how could we come to Kansas City and not go for Kansas City-style Barbecue?  The city has one of the highest concentrations of barbecue restaurants imaginable, and it would be a high crime to ignore the specialty of the area.

Two aspects of KC “cue” that differ from other types are that it is famous for its burnt ends, the chunk at the end of the meat not really sliceable.  It’s cut off, cut into chunks, dipped in sauce and devoured!!!!  The second difference is that Kansas City barbecue sauce is a little sweeter, and so the entire flavor of the meet changes. 

I admit we tried to go to Oklahoma Joe’s, re-named Joe’s Kansas City Bar-b-que, the Zagat rated #1 “Cue” joint and arguably the most famous one.  We knew about it through Anthony Bourdain and Man vs. Food both on The Travel Channel. Oklahoma Joe’s began life as part of a gas station (begun when the gas station owner closed his chicken shack and leased it out for a barbecue place) and in partnership with a famous maker of smokers, Oklahoma Joe.  The original gas station location is still open, but it has some brother restaurants around town as well, and the Kansas City partners have long since bought out Oklahoma Joe. 

When we called to ask about waiting times, the answer was about 2 hours.  Just too long a wait for us.  Joe’s will have to wait for another visit.  But we have to remember that burnt ends are Tues. and Wed. for lunch and Sat. for dinner?  They go fast.

Kansas City, MOWe headed to the Zona Rosa area of Kansas City, Missouri and SmokeHouse BBQ.  You might have seen this restaurant featured on Good Morning America.  We waited there too, but this place is cavernous, and we were soon seated. 

We ordered some appetizers:  “Zucchini Slabs” and “Battered Onions” and “Cheddar Dipped Cauliflower.”

Then platters:  Baby Back Ribs or Pork Spare Ribs Combo – with choice of one: 2-pc Bone-in Chicken or Burnt End or Pulled Pork served with choice of 2 sides.   Here was our introduction to Burnt Ends.

Kansas City, MO
Those lovely chunks of meat are the burnt ends
I thought everything was scrumptious!  Jen and Michael said this was nothing next to Joe’s.  How delicious could that be?!!!!  But I did learn why burnt ends are so incredibly popular.  Wow!  Are they good!

We’ve had barbecue in, among other places, North and South Carolina, Virginia, Memphis, and Texas.  This was different.  We had great barbecue in St. Louis, MO too, but I didn’t know enough then to compare.  And St. Louis is about 250 miles away.  Do they serve KC style?  I’ll have to visit and check it out.

Some similarities and some differences here.  One was bread.  Corn bread and rolls in some places, white bread in Memphis, and white bread here in Kansas. That just looks odd to me.  French Fries in some places, but here, in Missouri, creamed corn was an option.  This addition really struck my fancy because are we were in the mid-west, the Corn Belt, and that’s exactly what our meal reflects.  I liked that a lot.

But those big chunks of burnt ends.  That was a grand difference.  And I liked the sweeter barbecue sauce too. 

I recommend SmokeHouse BBQ, but there are wiser and more experienced taste buds than mine.  I am anxious to do a “flight” of KC BBQ.

Before we left Zona Rosa, we drove around to see the buildings outlined in lights in this section of Kansas City.  It was the crowning part of the evening, so to speak.

Kansas City, MO

Saturday, February 14, 2015


All this snow (as it's snowing now) makes me drool over thoughts of Hawaii and how beautiful it is--
so much so that it inspires artists.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015


Kansas City, Missouri
As I said in Kansas City Part I, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, and we've come to Kansas City, Missouri to celebrate Jen!  Missouri is the “show me” state, so off we go to see what it can show in terms of celebrations!  First stop—a dinner celebration.

Cooper’s Hawk Winery and Restaurant is delightfully different and full of spirit and energy.  As we walk in, we are greeted by bright lights, a smart d├ęcor, wine barrels and wine bottles, and places to taste and nibble.  People are at all the stations, tasting wine, buying the most scrumptious looking desserts, checking out some fantastic wine accessories, and making the place lively and gay.

Kansas City, Missouri

Kansas City, Missouri

Upstairs in a balcony setting so one can look down at the bustle is the dimly lighted restaurant, surprisingly quiet and peaceful.  It’s just the place for a relaxed dinner and good conversation.  Rising up in certain areas from the floor below are stacks of wine barrels reminding us of where we are and of some of the loveliness we will enjoy.

Kansas City, Missouri

Our table for six is by a window overlooking the beautiful, lighted city.  For the holidays, three areas of Kansas City outline its buildings in lights, and it’s a great sight.  It’s impossible not to be impressed.  Below us, bundled up people walk the streets, sometimes waiting for a horse-drawn carriage to pass in front of them, sometimes stopping to peer into decorated shop windows.  Everything about the evening is primed to induce smiles.

Kansas City, Missouri

We begin our dinners with wine flights—a tasting of four lovely wines brought up on wooden holders and served to us on long paper coasters.  Each glass sits in a circle, the description of the contents written below.  I like that because it’s such a great game to try to find the different tastes—the components of the wine which are subtle but evident if one tastes diligently enough. Mine is a red flight:  Sangiovese, Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, and Cabernet Sauvignon.  Each one is lovely, and it is always fun to taste and talk and compare.  Accompanying the flights is a platter of cheeses, spreads, and flatbreads.  Totally great way to begin a great dining experience.

Kansas City, Missouri

Dinner is superbly done and presented, but I’ll share the photo of what was written on Jen’s special dessert.  Lovely.  And each couple shared a dessert.  How could we resist on this special night?  Sweets on a sweet night.

Kansas City, Missouri

But the night isn’t over with dinner!  Out among the other folks enjoying the crisp winter night, we decide to take one of those carriage rides.  Not necessarily on my bucket list, but the truth is that except for one time in Charleston, South Carolina when I spoke at a conference and took a carriage ride with a friend, I’ve never done this—not even a romantic ride through Central Park.  Never done it with Rob.  Here I am with five people I love—all together. So this is pretty special, and all six of us ride through that holiday city, that lighted city, that very happy city, and laugh and take photos and enjoy making another memory together.

What a lovely way to spend an evening!

Saturday, February 07, 2015


Alaskan landscape yields photographs that look more like paintings
Alaska is an incredibly beautiful state.

Tuesday, February 03, 2015


Kansas City, Missouri Kansas City, Kansas was beautiful in December.  At three different sections of the city, buildings outlined in bright holiday lights reflect the sparkling joy of the season.  We came not as tourists but to attend Jen’s graduations, we had a scant three days to enjoy the city with our family, and thanks to Michael and Jen’s guidance, we made the most of it.

Of course there was a lot of just being together for the first time since July, but we really packed in the touring too. 

Kansas City, Missouri
This was the former prison at Ft. Leavenworth.
Look at that guardhouseat the end of the wall.
We took a brief drive through part of the very famous Ft. Leavenworth, the oldest active military base west of the Mississippi River.

It’s  much more than the prison that is the reason for its fame, and as it turned out, we never did see the prison complex that is used today.  It’s at a far end of this large military installation. We did, however, enter the building that WAS the prison years ago although today it houses, among other much more gentle things, an art framing studio.  The door to the building, however, is a very solid reminder of what once was located where we stood.  Very solid. 

Kansas City, Missouri
Guess this door might be an unpleasant
reminder to some

We passed the military cemetery too, rows and rows of reminders that the men and women who walked these Ft. Leavenworth grounds and now rest here are those who protected our freedoms—some making the ultimate sacrifice.  It’s a beautiful cemetery, very peaceful and open.

Kansas City, Missouri
Kansas City, Missouri
National World War I Museum
The Liberty Tower stands 217 feet high
Notice the giant sculptures on either side of the tower.
Each one is a Sphinx, eyes covered

Kansas City, Missouri is also the home of the National World War I Museum, and it is an institution not to be missed.  Trip Advisor rates it the #1 attraction in the city, and some reviews rate this museum as one of the most comprehensive museums in the country. There’s no doubt in my mind why.  

It is designed so well that any visitor will get a good idea of what led up to the Great War, why it was truly a World War, why the United States became involved, and how the war affected the world to come.  

It’s all done in creative and interesting ways: exhibits involving WWI artifacts in the forms of vehicles, weapons, and uniforms, for instance, dioramas, videos, interactive exhibits, and a constantly changing program of special exhibitions, discussions, videos, etc.  When we were there, mid-December, they announced a special program pre-viewing the new season of Downton Abbey! If you are a Downton Abbey fan, you know the connection.  That’s something I would have loved to attend!

Kansas City, Missouri

Kansas City, Missouri
ye old Ford
Kansas City, Missouri
a fighter plane
Kansas City, Missouri
Some of these insignias are still used in today's Army
Kansas City, Missouri
This diorama was used in conjunction with a terrific video presentation
Kansas City, Missouri
Aren't these marvelous!
Decorative envelopes become art work bringing letters from home to cheer the weary soldier at the front
Kansas City, Missouri
A foggy day in Kansas City from the Memorial Court
Guides at the museum are friendly and knowledgeable, and the entrance fee includes a trip to the top of the Liberty Memorial Tower.  The view from the top of the tower over Kansas City is amazing in nicer, clearer weather than we had, but it was still worth going up.  On the flat roof up there, called the Memorial Court, we saw a wedding party using the view as a backdrop for photographs.

Fundraising for the museum's construction began in 1919 soon after the end of the war.  Money came in quickly.  Groundbreaking and dedication was in 1921 and attended by luminaries from around the world including then Vice President Calvin Coolidge.  Present were 60,000 American Legion members and a Kansas City haberdasher named Harry Truman.

The building is an example of Egyptian Revivalist architecture, and looming overall are two colossal sphinx-like statues.  They are on the Memorial Court, and their symbolism is very moving.  To give you a better idea of size, each weighs 615 tons.  They epitomize the mood of the museum, built soon after the war and remembering the tremendous sacrifice so many made.

Kansas City, Missouri

One sphinx is named “Memory.  It is on the southwest side of the court facing east toward Flanders Field.  It hides its head to forget the pain and suffering of war. 

On the southeast side, “Future” covers its head and faces west.  It covers its head to symbolize the cynicism and skepticism of things to come. 

These sculptures were dedicated in 1925, and certainly are as symbolic in today’s world as they were so soon after the War to End All Wars.

Kansas City, Missouri
Rising above the Memorial Court is the Tower. Into the base of the tower are sculpted four Guardian Spirits representing Honor, Courage, Sacrifice, and Patriotism.  Each includes a symbolic element.  Honor is characterized by a wreath; Courage by a helmet; Patriotism by a civic crown; and Sacrifice by a winged star on the forehead.  Each figure also carries a sword, representative of necessary military guardianship.  Believe me, it is awesome, quite moving, and very sad.

There is so much more to the museum including, as you enter, a glass bridge through which you see fields of poppies, and you are, of course reminded of John McCrae’s 1915 poem which begins:

“In Flanders Fields the poppies blow,
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.”

Kansas City, Missouri
The glass bridge over the field of poppies
This is how you enter the museum
It certainly sets a solemn mood.

It’s a museum to visit often, and our short time did not give us an opportunity to appreciate all it has to offer.  But should you visit Kansas City, know that this is a must-see destination.

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, so with all the things to do and see in Kansas City, we had to have a celebratory dinner at a great place, so off we went to Cooper’s Hawk, right in the middle of a city celebrating the season.  I’ll write about Kansas City at night in Part II.