Posted in Houghton College, Travel, Uncategorized

Bike ride across America

Today’s post is a short one, about a story I saw on the Houghton College Facebook feed, about four students, recent graduates, who are biking across America.

This blog follows their journey, which started in mid-May. I haven’t had a chance to barely read any of it, since I came across it over the weekend, but the idea of the journey is one that intrigues me. It is something I think I might like to do, in one form or another, something I haven’t yet done, in one form or another.

These four are taking the freedom they have to make that travel journey to remember. Most of the rest of us before, during and after were on the trail of life, career, and advancement, or some such portion thereof. To have the resources and freedom was something we didn’t explore.

Not that I regret my course. I had enough choices and freedom, but the travel portion is something I have always had a greater hankering for than I’ve had the time and treasure to explore.

So, I intend to take some time and follow, even in arrears, their story across the country.

Posted in Fitness, Reviews, Travel

A Look Ahead …

This past weekend, along with the next two weekends, is the BBQ and Brew Festival at Worlds of Fun. So I’ve chosen a look back, at last year’s festival, as a way to look forward to this year’s.

This coming Saturday, like when I posted about last year’s festival, is also the Kansas City Corporate Challenge 5K race. Located at the same place, same time.

So this weekend is going to be an interesting and busy one.

Enjoy the blog, and video, from last year.

Posted in Travel, Uncategorized

A Blast of the Past #92: India, Part 3

My stay in India in 2007 included the holiday of Diwali. As Wikipedia describes it:

One of the most popular festivals of Hinduism, it spiritually signifies the victory of light over darkness, good over evil, knowledge over ignorance, and hope over despair. Its celebration includes millions of lights shining on housetops, outside doors and windows, around temples and other buildings in the communities and countries where it is observed.

It takes until later in the Wikipedia article for the two main things I observed about Diwali celebrations to be mentioned: fireworks and Rangoli Art.

I had a picture of Rangoli art in last week’s post on India. This week I am going to include a lot of pictures, poor quality of course, of fireworks, and some pictures of lights at night.

One of the nights while I was working in India in 2007, when everyone got off, they came out to the parking lot and we had a party setting off fireworks. Most of them would have done this earlier, if their jobs didn’t basically make them work through most of the night. So I also have some pictures of coworkers watching the fireworks they were setting off.

Posted in Travel

Where to dine

When you are staying in an area you don’t know, and you don’t know exactly what you feel like eating, it can sometimes be hard to decide where to go to eat. So if you aren’t careful you go to someplace safe and eat something ordinary and known. That either means a comfort food, or something that is sustenance but not especially satisfying.

We were in Excelsior Springs last night with just that dilemma. Here is a list of things that I looked at (Which one of these would you choose):

Eighty-Eight at The Elms
401 Regent St.
Excelsior Springs, MO 64024

American Midwest fare with seasonal and locally procured ingredients; hearth-baked breads and tarts, spit-roasted meals, pasta and more. Local coffee, beer and wine. Read More

Mill Inn Restaurant
415 St. Louis Ave.
Excelsior Springs, MO 64024

A family-owned restaurant since 1967, the Mill Inn offers daily specials, breakfast anytime and carry-out. Traditional home-style fare. Sunday buffet from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Ray’s Lunch & Diner
231 E. Broadway
Excelsior Springs, MO 64024
Famous for its hamburgers and chili, Ray’s Diner is a quaint breakfast and lunch gathering sport for locals and offers visitors a unique vintage lunch counter atmosphere and cuisine. Lunch specials.

Ventana Gourmet Grill
117 W. Broadway
Excelsior Springs, MO 64024
Upscale, casual dining in a restored historic storefront downtown, Ventana has been

featured in the “Home in the Northland” and on KCPT’s “Check Please!” Restaurant features full menu and bar selections. Party room available for special occasions.
Posted in Fitness, Travel

A fall day… a fall excursion

Yesterday was a wonderful day for a bicycle excursion after work. So I took my bicycle out on the trail, to find a lot of other people out and about.

Riding a bicycle can be a solo experience, or it can be a very social experience.The difference depends on how social I am, and how focused or social the other people I pass are.

The least social portion of the trip was the first five miles up area streets to get to the trail. Since this was during the start of rush hour, there was a lot of traffic. It could have been more social — in an unpleasant way — but yesterday no one honked horns or screamed obscenities from their window telling me to get to the sidewalk. I was able to ride all the way to the Maple Woods/Happy Rock Trail with my rights of the road as a cyclist respected by the motorists.

It was when coming down the long hill from Wal-Mart to the bridge that joined the main trail that I got my first social experience (or lack thereof). Usually this long slope gets me up to 30 mph and I have to make sure to break near the end before the jag to the bridge to be able to make the turn. But halfway down the hill there was gravel covering both sides of the sidewalk, leaving only a small clear stretch down the middle. In that middle section was a walker listening to her headphones. She must have had the volume way up, because when I started applying my breaks they squealed quite loudly for a long time, yet she never varied her walk or seemed to notice anything besides herself. She barely noticed anything when I rode past and gave her my usual “good afternoon”.

I rode the Happy Rock trail over to Happy Rock Park, where I passed several people, who did respond to my greetings, and then finished my first leg with a visit to the chiropractor’s office at Infinity Chiropractic.

When I finished there I rode back toward the park, but skirted the park, and connected to the trail north of the park and south of Maple Woods College. While cycling around the college I passed several college-aged ladies jogging. They were spread out in singles and groups of 2-3. I assumed they were a running group or cross country team from the college. All of them had good trail etiquette, and we passed nice greetings as they moved to allow me to pass.

I also passed another gentlemen who I recognized from my ride toward the park. He had been headed up the trail before I saw the chiropractor, and was now headed  back down, while I continued my course up the trail to the trail head at Barry Road.

From there I worked my way across Barry Road to reach the Line Creek Trail. That included using the nice bicycle lane east of North Oak, and riding without one to cross 169. I did a little north-south riding above Barry to find the new trails there are putting in along 152.

There is a Costco going in on the southwest corner of North Platte Purchase and 152, and on the southwest side of the intersection they have a trail all nicely paved, but unlandscaped, that I found to ride between there and Line Creek Parkway — where it joins up with Line Creek Trail and the rest of the 152 Trail. Well, actually, there were a couple of short stretches where the concrete forms were still on the trail, and I walked my bicycle across the loose gravel and dirt.But I wasn’t the only person using this probably-not-officially-open section of trail. I did pass and greet a couple of walkers coming  toward me.

Once I got on the Line Creek Trail, and started heading south, the trail traffic started picking up. Most of the people were regular trail people by the way they greeted and acknowledged me as I passed them. . There were the usual groups of families. Two groups were parents taking their kids out on their cycles with training wheels learning how to ride.

I saw several cyclists. One cyclist in particular, headed south like me, was just ahead of me on the trail. I gained on him fairly easily, but with the traffic heading toward us it took me awhile to pass him. The amazing thing was how after I passed him he seemed to go faster. I never quite got far enough ahead of him to actually get ahead of him, until he turned off at his exit point on the trail. Apparently my passing him was some sort of minor challenge.

Near the 68th St. transition I came upon a cluster of cyclists, including a couple riding a tandem bicycle. I spent about a tenth of a mile lazing along at their tempo talking to them about how easy/fun it was to ride the tandem.

I could go on about the rest of the trip, but it was pretty much the same exchanges, pleasantries, until I exited the Line Creek Trail at Riverside, and started another 5 miles of streets to get home. Once again the traffic was courteous, without insults or blaring horns.

As was stated, a nice fall day for a cycling excursion.

Posted in Travel, Uncategorized

MidAmeriCon II

Interesting. I have lived in Kansas City since 1997. My wife first moved here in the 1980s. Until today neither of us had found reason to enter Bartle Hall. MidAmeriCon II changed that. It is our first SciFi convention we have attended.

Both of us entered to pick up our badges and information packets. The information we received via e-mail recommended entering via the 13th St. entrance. That brought us in on ground level, and we walked on ground level a whole block inside, past 14th St., to get the 2300 lobby where the badges and packets were. In that block we went from ground level to at least a floor above grade: we could see 14th street below us out the windows.

It was there we picked up the badge, the MidAmericCon II booklet and the MidAmeriCon II Pocket Program. Perhaps I am the wrong type of fan, but the program seems mostly a lot of promotion. The Pocket Program seems the really helpful piece of information that we received.

It begins with a Get Started section that has policy notes, then goes on to a section with listings, day-by-day of the various panels and events. That is followed by separate sections for Academic and Film Festival, both of which have their own day-do-day schedule listings. Not sure why the Academic needs to be separated, but the film festival makes sense.

So I’ve been flipping pages in the program book, looking for panels and events that sound interesting. We intend to be there at 1 p.m. Wednesday for the “How to Enjoy Your First Convention” presentation, and I’ve circled an item or two each hour between then and 5 p.m. that might be worth attending.

At 5 p.m. we want to attend the opening ceremonies (see how exciting, pompous, or boring they are) — if we can find the Heinlein stadium anywhere on the maps they have provided.

We also need time to wander the display halls and see all the vendors and other color going on. There are supposed to be nightly parties in the exhibit hall (note to self: bring ear plugs), along with various featured music performances.

The game room is another level of experience we probably won’t have much time to explore. We are talking board games, online games, in person RPGs, along with sessions and panels with discussions and tips on how to set up and design your own.

The convention is also a time to connect with some people we’ve gotten to know over the past few years via writer’s blogs — see how well we hit it off in person vs. the conversations we have developed. We might even get to join some private party conversations (private meaning invitation-only confidential) that won’t be reported on this blog, but that might give us additional color into the Con from people who are more seasoned than we are. Of course, as some of the home-town contingent, we also have local advice and flavor to offer — if anyone bothers to listen to it.

I am trying to figure out what we want to carry with us, and how we want to carry it, during the day. My hope is to be able to take notes on the various events we attend, as we attend them, and then pull that together for a daily post that has at least a little color and a little interest, to chronicle the Con from the perspective of the first time attendee.

Posted in Reviews, Travel

Food Truck Frenzy Aug. 13 at WOF

Things to Do

Hey, it’s been weeks since I’ve actually used a Thursday for any sort of update on Worlds of Fun action, so let me do one today.

This week is the last week where WOF/OOF will be open on weekdays. As a cap to the summer, Worlds of Fun is having what they call a Food Truck Frenzy this weekend. From noon-6 p.m. Aug. 13 they will have food trucks of all sorts at the park for people to be able to purchase and eat from. The food trucks on the list so far are:

  • Jazzy B’s BBQ
  • KC Pinoy
  • SnoFlower Shaved Ice
  • Tito’s BBQ
  • Yummylicious Cookie Company
  • and more!

I believe the shaved ice truck was at the park in the Americana Plaza during the July 4th celebrations. My one observation there was their external gas generator they had running made way too much noise and spoiled the ambiance of the park. Hopefully that won’t be the situation for all the food trucks, or else the park will become quite unbearable instead of enjoyable with the Food Truck Frenzy.

I will say that we have enjoyed the efforts of Kevin Williams, Executive Chef, this summer, both in the special food events, and in the regular season dining plan. The dining plan has the WOF/OOF food truck on it, that serves very good street tacos that have become one of my favorites this summer — it is the one live truck features in their banner picture above.


Posted in Social Issues, Travel

Ignorance of the Law is no Excuse

This past week was the Kansas City Corporate Challenge Swim Meet from Monday-Thursday at the Gladstone Natatorium. Since I am my company’s swim meet coordinator, I was there every evening from 5 p.m. to end. Since the Natatorium is only 5.5 miles from home, I rode my bicycle there each evening.

Motor vehicle drivers react to cyclists differently. Most of them are tolerant; a few even give a thumbs up or say something positive. But the most common interaction, when someone does interact, is negative. It had been awhile until this week, but both Monday and Tuesday afternoons, while riding on Antioch north to the Natatorium, I had several people yell “sidewalk” or “get on the f***ing sidewalk” at me as they squealed on by.

Wednesday night no one said anything, but I saw a couple of Gladstone police officers standing at the corner of 69th street and Holmes as I pulled up to park at the community center. So before going in I walked over and had a talk. I mentioned that I had talked to officers in Kansas City and North Kansas City, and just wanted to confirm whether the regulations were the same in Gladstone. Then I told them about the people yelling at me to get on the sidewalk. Their reaction was: no, that would be against ordinance. You are correct to stay on the street, etc.

Thursday my trip up was uneventful, but on the way back down I had another “get on the f***ing sidewalk incident on Antioch. But this time the guy squealed up next to me, straddling the white line in a menacing manner as if to push me off the road, pacing me, blocking the traffic behind us both. This time, since he was still there, I yelled back “The police say I’m supposed to be on the street.”

I’m not sure if he heard me. The window on the truck was up. And I couldn’t get his plate number — the light for it was out. So when I spotted a Gladstone police car another block or two down the street, I pulled into the parking lot just north of KFC where the officers were.

The officers greeted me pleasantly and asked how my evening was, to which I described my recent encounter. They asked if I could identify the vehicle, to which I admitted I’d tried but I couldn’t see the plate. The one officer, who serves on their bike patrol at times, agreed I was where I needed to be, and that if he had seen what the guy did we would have written him a hole bunch of tickets for the infractions done.

I then got to hear his stories about being a bike patrol officer, with a cycle that said police on the side, and signage on the back, and still have people do things to him like they had done to me. Sometimes people are so close their windows almost hit his handle bars.

I share this to show the number of drivers who feel inconvenienced by cyclists, and don’t realize the cyclists have rights to right-of-way on streets. The police officers mentioned they aren’t likely to come down on a cyclist on the sidewalk, as long as they yield to pedestrians. It is, after all, a safety issue.

I mention this to also say how pleased I was by the conversations I had with the Gladstone police officers. All four of them, the two from Wednesday, and the two from Thursday, were pleasant, helpful, and competent. It is a sad fact that, like on Thursday, unless they are right there at the right moment, there is often little they can do, but they are committed to trying.

I spent evenings the past week enjoying the hospitality of the Gladstone Community Center. For several years they have hosted the KCCC Swim Meet, and I hope we are allowed to come  back for many more years. The center is a shining gem for Gladstone. And now I have experience with Gladstones police officers, and my appreciation for this city surrounded by Kansas City has only increased.

Posted in Avondale United Methodist Church, Church, Family, Travel

Be Careful Little Ones How You Drive

Sunday was a day that some might say had curious omens for us.

As mentioned in previous blog, Sunday we traveled to Wilderness Retreat and Development Center to attend our son’s baptism during Avondale United Methodist Church’s Worship in the Wilderness weekend.

This is what we saw when we pulled out our driveway:


The neighbors down the street had just moved in during the past week, and this U-Haul van had been parked down the street on the side Saturday night when we came home. We weren’t sure where they were driving it between Saturday night and Sunday morning to get it turned and stuck over the side of the road like this. But we didn’t go down the road to get out of the neighborhood Sunday morning.

When we got on I-35 to head north, just north of Liberty we ran across this:


The picture of the semi doesn’t do it justice (we took it on the way back — at 70 mph). It was crumpled and bent sort of accordion-like. The accident that caused  it occurred the afternoon before (see this blog for other ways this accident affected other church-attendees for the weekend), so it didn’t affect our progress, but it was the second vehicle we saw in odd circumstance.

A few miles up the road we saw a horse-trailer on the side of the road, between Kearney and Holt.  That seemed to be a simple flat tire being changed. That vehicle we expected to be back on the road soon.

Finally, between Lawson and the camp itself, we were slowed by a police car that first sped past us, then stopped on the side of the road where the shoulder got very low, grassy and wide before hitting the treeline. As were crept past the police car we saw the reason — another car slid off the side of the road and into/against the tree line.  It looked to have occurred at least the night before — so why the police officer coming now? We did not know the answer to that.

But 4 separate incidents certainly instilled a sense of caution in our driving.