Friday Postcards from Kansas City MO
My two weeks of whirlwind travel started last weekend when I headed to Kansas City, MO for the first time. Want to guess what the only thing I knew about Kansas City was before I left? You got it—BBQ.
Oh how I love a good BBQ. Pulled pork is my favorite, but you can also grab me with a good brisket. Kansas City has many famous sandwiched that include “burnt ends,” which if you don’t know BBQ can be confusing. All it means is it is the ends of the piece of meat that they have been smoking. It’s crispy, with a whole lot of flavor and crunch packed in.
Although my focus was clearly centered on what I would be eating this trip, I found that there was a bit more to this Midwest town than I thought. First of all, they are devout Royals fans. The Royals were in the running for a spot in the World Series. The city was very excited, which is probably an understatement. They won two games while I was there over the weekend. Each win lit the city up in glorious blue across many of the buildings downtown. Cupcakes went blue. Fountains went blue. Skyscrapers and whatever else they could put blue on, went royal’s blue. It was exciting to see that pride for the home team, even if it wasn’t my home team.
Jazz is another thing that Kansas City is known for thanks to their hometown boy Charlie Parker, who pioneered the bebop sound in jazz. The American Jazz Museum is a small collection with a docent who brings every visitor through the museum on a guided tour. Normally I don’t like being on a tour when I visit a museum. It’s boring and distracting. However, this gal brought jazz to life for my group on her tour, and she does the same for area school children, as well as when she travels to other countries to educate people on the importance of American jazz in the music world. In fact, she’s heading to Australia this week to lead a discussion on jazz. She makes you care about these individuals– Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington– who brought jazz to the big screen, breaking down racial barriers through music by having mixed orchestras of white and African American musicians performing together in movies and on stages throughout the country. Our docent’s stories about Charlie Parker’s life and tragic death brought tears to the eye as she showed her pride of going to the same public schools as he did, tracing his footsteps, and sharing his story with local kids. It’s that pride in storytelling that will keep the magic and beauty of our nation’s jazz history in books, on the stage and in films for years to come.
What Kansas isn’t really known for is basketball, at least not always collegiate basketball, and yet Kansas has a College Basketball Experience that families can enter to learn a bit more about college basketball, check out the hall of fame, but more importantly, play a little basketball themselves. I highly recommend you wear sneakers, or plan on not playing at all. And moms and dads, if you don’t already play basketball, don’t try to do a slam-dunk or you will fall on your bum and it will hurt. Bad. We aren’t as young as we used to be!
The most surprising thing I saw, and the one thing I wish I’d had more time to explore is the street art throughout the city. As we were shuttled from one place to another I noticed murals on the sides of buildings, old advertisements, and new art that individulas had put up. Public art is so important to a city and shows what they care about most I find. If I have a chance to go back this is what I will schedule first on my itinerary. I’m not sure if my kids would enjoy it, I’ll have to try it out with the Philadelphia murals first, but when it comes to Kansas, after getting my fill of jazz and BBQ, I know that art is next on my list of prioritize.
Have you been to Kansas City, MO? Have a favorite spot?
READ FIRST: Welcome to Friday Postcards, a place where I will share a small memory or “postcard” moment from our travels. I hope you will join me too. Link your favorite photo-driven post here if you have a blog so we can share the joys of traveling with each other. If you would like to spread the word, please link back to this post in your own post so others will know where to find a little travel inspiration to end their week. #fridaypostcards
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