Saturday, May 25, 2013

Penis on the prairie and both Kansas Cities

So what is there to do in Kansas City in two days? Well the first thing to realise is that Kansas City is in fact two cities. There is Kansas City, Missouri and there is Kansas City, Kansas. Both are really the same place, but the state dividing line runs right down the Missouri River which also divided the two parts of the city itself.  So even though I had reached Kansas City, I hadn’t actually reached Kansas, the State.
Anyway, there is quite a lot to do in the part of Kansas that is in Missouri and not much in the bit that’s in Kansas! 

I had a look around the extensive gardens that surround the art museum, where there is a weird sculpture. In fact the museum itself forms part of the sculpture. It acts as a net, which is supposedly part of a giant badminton game – complete with four huge shuttlecocks sat at various positions on the giant lawns. 
Badminton anyone?

We get everywhere

On the way north into town I came across yet another ‘Davey’ reference – this time an interesting looking bar that is called ‘Davey’s uptown ramblers club’. It was mid afternoon on a public holiday, so there wasn’t anyone around, so I just took a couple of pics instead of venturing inside. I was on my way to the Liberty Memorial and World War 1 museum. This is set in a picturesque garden which itself, overlooks the city. It too was closed due to the holiday. But I just wanted to see the memorial itself and the view of the city just a mile or so to the north. It was a really hot afternoon with no signs of the impending storms that had been promised on the news, so I also spent a while looking around the Kauffman centre, which in my eyes looked a little like the Sydney opera house with its curved arching roof. It’s a spectacular building, once again with great views out over the city itself.

WW1 Memorial

Kansas City

Kauffman building
I also took a drive out of the Missouri side of the city, through the non distinct Kansas side and out into the country. I found some shale covered back country roads and enjoyed burning around the bends making dust in the rear mirror. It was good to get out of the city itself and I thoroughly enjoyed myself, without seeing a single person in well over an hour.

Backroad Kansas
I also went to see the Kansas Speedway track – a huge oval track just outside the city. I had hoped to get inside for a look around but it was closed, so I made do with a walk around the outside of the fence, but it was repaid when I found a gap in the fence where you could see through and see almost all of the track itself.
During my time in Kansas I stayed at the Argosy Hotel, Casino and spa. Unbelievably, the 4 star room was cheaper than the dodgy motel that sits just across the car park – Always check for rooms on, before booking anywhere! I had a huge bed, flat screen TV and a bathroom with a humongous walk in shower with two showerheads. I really don’t want to leave here – especially after enjoying a really nice sunset through the floor to ceiling window this evening!

Nice room!

It was then onwards to yet another state – Nebraska – State 48 out of 50. I decided to head over to the State Capitol – Lincoln, because the Capitol building itself is quite an interesting structure. It has a 300 foot high tower with a domed roof and has been nicknamed ‘The Penis on the Prairies’. However, I didn’t once hear that nickname mentioned by the tour guide who was telling a group of schoolchildren all about the building, when I started to look around. 

The Penis on the Prairies



Arty stuff
Inside the building it is like being inside a gothic or art deco castle. The ceilings are covered in mosaics and they curve down into the corners. The whole building is made of a light coloured stone, which makes it look bigger than it actually is, but also gives it a lovely clean style. I really enjoyed my couple of hours looking around, enjoying the strange heavy metal doors and the quaint little elevator. I’m really glad I took the time out to visit it before I continued my journey back across the state line and eastwards towards state 49 – Iowa, where I am now.      

I’m just outside the city of Des Moines, the state capitol. As it is the state capitol, I decided to go and visit the State Capitol Building again. This building couldn’t be more different from the capitol building in Nebraska though. If that was a castle, this is a palace! It’s a stunning building, with huge gold dome sitting above what is a huge open rotunda space inside. The wide sweeping stairway is made from granite and marble and there are ornate carvings, paintings and artworks everywhere. Like Nebraska, you can just go in through security and wander around to your heart’s content, watching the senate or the House of Representatives in their individual and wonderful chambers discussing whatever political ideas they are trying to pass into law. 

Des Moines - Iowa Capiol building


The Library

Marble and Granite stairs - awesome
Then there is the Iowa state library, which is like something out of a movie. Ornate iron workings including two awesome iron circular staircases are surrounded by volumes about the state and the laws within. I could have stayed in there for ages just looking – so I did!

After my wander around the staircases and corridors of power, I decided it was too nice a day to stay inside so I found a nice little park with some shade and a small lake and spent the majority of the afternoon just mellowing out and watching a few squirrels play in the trees. A really nice way to spend an afternoon.
It’s now Friday and after a good drive east and north I am just outside Chicago, near to O’Hare airport. Early tomorrow, I drive to the airport, drop off the hire car and take a flight to Seattle where I change planes and continue on towards my 50th and final state of the Americas.........Alaska. 
Inquisitive squirrel


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