Monday, March 6, 2017

This "Toupee" Shall Pass: Diversion Technique #2



President Trump has been our reality for six weeks. Somehow it feels longer, but it also serves as another reminder of how quickly time goes by. It is now March, which means that I have not yet been successful at slowing down time. That concept, however, is a whole separate tangent. Still the focus of this edition of diversion technique or "This 'Toupee' Shall Pass" is: Exploration.

One of my favorite authors, Gretchen Rubin, recently reminded me that "...people who do new things -- learn a game, travel to unfamiliar places -- are happier than people who stick to familiar activities that they already do well." I think it is easy to believe that the only way to accomplish this goal is by planning a trip to some new destination; but there are so many other ways to find joy right in your own area.


This point was reinforced of by someone I have known since elementary school whom I live vicariously through on Facebook as she is quite the globe trotter. She has spent much of 2017 in Tokyo with a few side trips to other Asian countries. A number of people started messaging her after the election about how much they enjoy her travel posts/photos because they are a nice distraction (diversion!). She went onto remind us all that we can post non-political things too, including something like finding joy in a cup of coffee and sharing it through social media. We don't need to be on the other side of the Pacific Ocean to do that. Thanks, Valerie!


While I do revel in having someone ask me, "where are you going now?" after posting some silly airport experience (usually a result of morning brain) because I do enjoy traveling. Yet, I  also take great pleasure in being a tourist in Denver. I have lived here for almost 10 years (in May), and I am still finding new and interesting things to do. For instance, so far this year Danny and I have tried: the National Western Stock Show; a Monster Jam truck rally; and "Thank you for being a friend. In drag," The Golden Girls (now that was a hoot, especially the guy who played Dorothy). This weekend, the docket includes Frozen Dead Guy Days.  Please note that most of these things are done using some kind of discount offering - Groupon, Goldstar, etc. are worth subscribing to, or at least checking before you buy full priced tickets.


Yet, I also like to be a tourist in other places whenever possible. Working for a national organization means that I travel for work with some regularity. I often go sight-seeing on my own dime, even if it means coming in a day early. An example would be my side trips in Boston last week - Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum and the JFK Presidential Library and Museum were crammed in before my meetings started on Sunday. It was fun to see that my parents took advantage of the opportunity to come into Cleveland a day early to visit the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame as they were picking up my sister and her boyfriend en route to visit our family in Baltimore for Christmas. My in-laws also jumped at the chance to continue on to Quebec City after joining Danny and me on our Cleveland leg of our east coast baseball adventures of 2016. As an aside, the four of us all enjoyed Cleveland more than we would initially thought. A lot can be done in 36 hours visiting, "the mistake on the lake."


It's always fun to think about what's possible. In fact, I have read that adventures create a trifecta of happiness: the planning/anticipation, the doing, and the memories after the fact. Let's be honest, I may take more pleasure in the first part (the planning) than most; but this may prove that others enjoy it too. 


I hope you will think about living out the quote from the Dalai Lama: "Once a year, go someplace you've never been before." I used this quote on the back of our photo book for 2016 because I took pride that Danny and I had accomplished it. And if you do it, I would encourage you to send yourself a postcard about it; in an effort not to forget what all went into this year, we made a conscious effort to document our fun through postcards.


Have fun, the year is still young!

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Why I Chose to March



It is estimated that 3.2 million people joined in Women's Marches around the United States, with more than a quarter million participating in solidarity around the world. Even though we will never know the actual figure, there were a lot of people troubled by the current state of our government. Two weekends later, I am still thinking about why I decided to participate. So here goes...
  • As a woman of faith I take Luke 12:48 very seriously: "From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked." I have worked hard as an adult to put a roof over my own head, provide for my family, and go to graduate school. I would be terribly remiss, however, in not acknowledging all that I have been blessed with and the riches that have been shared with me to provide me so many opportunities. My parents and extended family ensured that I never went without, was provided a quality education including a bachelor's Degree, and even straight teeth (braces are not cheap). Plus as a woman especially, I am grateful that I live in a country where I can do what I want, when I want. Not everyone in this world can say that, even in 2017. All this is to say not everyone, even someone born in this country, is as fortunate. I feel a sense of responsibility to help those around me, due in large part to what has been given to me. Is this system perfect? Absolutely not; but it is the system we have and we must work within it to help those in need.
  • I have availed myself of the many services that Planned Parenthood has to offer women. I went to a clinic in college when I was trying to figure out "how to be an adult;" but I did not understand health insurance nor did I have a gynecologist to help diagnose what was causing problems below the waist. Sadly this organization has become predominately associated with providing abortions, but let's be clear that only  3% of their overall services are abortions.
  • I think Betsy DeVos is wildly unqualified to be the Secretary of Education. Even though I may no longer be a teacher, I still have serious concerns about the education system in this country. I truly believe we are falling short of preparing our future generations, and the appointment of such an inappropriate candidate shows that President Trump is not attuned to the need for education reform. 
  • After graduating from college I was having trouble finding employment that provided me with access to or enough compensation to afford health insurance. I went nearly two years without health insurance. I was very fortunate that I did not require any serious medical care, or have a pre-existing condition that would require on-going care. The Affordable Care Act allowed minors to stay on their parents' insurance up until age 26. If this had been an option for me, it would have sustained me until my current position that provided benefits. The repeal of the ACA without a viable replacement is unconscionable. 
  • I believe that global warming is a real phenomenon that requires the full attention of the EPA among other organizations, as well as the full attention of each person. I have serious concerns about the world we will be leaving for future generations if we continue to ignore the impact of our dependence on fossil fuels, and our consumptive nature as a society.
  • Finally, I believe that the millions of people around the country who participated in marches in their respected locations were availing themselves of the right given all Americans by the First Amendment to the Constitution, which allows for peaceable assembly and free speech (along with airing our grievances, freedom of RELIGION - all religions, and freedom of the press). I fear many have lost sight of the fact that the Bill of Rights is comprised of the first 10 amendments to the Constitution, not just the second one that allows people to bear arms.
Even though I have more personal reasons why I chose to participate, this is all that I feel is fit to print. As it is I  I cannot speak for anyone else who participated in a march, nor do I think that everyone who opposes them feels the same way. At the end of the day, I hope we can remember in tense situations such as this that neither side is all about "you" nor "me."




Friday, January 27, 2017

This "Toupee" Shall Pass: Diversion Technique #1


https://flic.kr/p/71rzKV


Today, a week after the inauguration of this country's 45th President, Donald J. Trump, I find myself anxious, pissed off, scared, and really all the negative feels. I cannot possibly stay in this mental state for four years, so I need to work on a diversion technique. More than one really, but in the short-term this is what I have come up: "This 'Toupee' Shall Pass" blog series. Every couple weeks or so, I hope to provide myself, and possibly others if you have read this far, an idea of how to take your mind off the current political landscape.

Before I explain my first idea, I want to explain the overarching concept of this series. Last weekend, my sister and I joined more than 200,000 of our closest friends in the Women's March on Denver. One of many marches that took place across the country and around the world. More on that event later; but the phrase, "This 'Toupee' Shall Pass" came from a sign that I saw at the March. The expression really struck me, I think due to a combination of my faith, as well as my love of history. After I stopped laughing at the play on words, I felt a strange sense of momentary peace. I need to believe that the framer's of the Constitution, especially perhaps my man James Madison built a system of checks and balances intended to safeguard the people from a single leader. The Executive Branch (the President) is actually the weakest branch of the three by design. I can only hope that the Legislative (Congress) Branch does their job by holding the President in check and meeting the needs of their constituency, many of which did not vote for President Trump.

Now where did my diversion idea for this week (and this whole series, really) comes from? It actually goes back to the fact that I am continuing a New Year's Resolution that I started in 2016 (and actually kept), which is to explore one new restaurant and one new activity/place per month for the whole year. Since I enjoyed it so much, I continued into 2017. The new activity for this month was to finally attend the National Western Stock Show as it is a HUGE deal here in Denver. Groupon provided cheap tickets for Thursday night's rodeo, so we decided to give it a try. After eating wildly unhealthy food: a bacon wrapped hot dog, a deep fried Twinkie (!!), and s'more flavored mini-donuts, we took our seats for the main event. After being totally confused watching cowboys compete in bareback riding and saddle bronc riding, out came a little kid riding a sheep also known as Mutton Bustin' . And then it happened again and again... as there were many little kids who had won their age specific tournament. At the end of the event they were each given a trophy that was definitely taller than most of those kids, and probably taller than me. I truly laughed so hard that I was crying. After seeing how much fun I was having, Danny told me I needed to document this on the blog. He believed that I could come up with a bunch of ideas to help me think about something else. Secretly, I think he just wanted to get me to start blogging again - be careful what you wish for, JDP!

If you find yourself frustrated, scared, etc. I highly recommend watching YouTube videos on Mutton Bustin' - just avoid the ones that talk about the bad things that can happen when you mix a kid under 55 pounds and a sheep. Nobody wants to see that - it won't help.

Until next week, let's keep our chins up, and if you feel so inclined write your representatives to share how you feel (support or dissenting opinions). Everyone is entitled to their own thoughts and feelings, but expressing those opinions in a constructive, non-judgmental manner is the only way the American Democracy can work and thrive.


Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Keep Calm and Carry On OR In Which We Explore the Utterly Perplexing Art of Decluttering With Joy


I have a lot of ordained and theologically trained colleagues, which is a wonderful blessing. Our staff and board functions tend to start with a meditation/devotion/prayer, and in the "old days" when I first started I was part of a rotation, so I only had to prepare one or two per year. A combination of a smaller staff and my role as a Vice President means I can't really duck the responsibility any longer. This past weekend the staff came together, and I was asked to give one of the closing devotions. When it came time I thought my boss had forgotten, but no... So I gave the caveat that I was nervous mainly because I had combined two very separate resources into one devotion (when really I was freaked out because the people around the table are MUCH MORE qualified) to speak on such topics. Since it was well-received and because perhaps other people need help in keeping calm, I share my devotion with you:

Excerpts from Kristin van Ogtrop’s article which appears in the April 04, 2016 issue of TIME and Max Lucado, God Will Carry YouThrough

In the days leading up to the war with Germany, the British government commissioned a series of posters. The idea was to capture encouraging slogans on paper and distribute them about the country. Capital letters in a distinct typeface were used, and a simple two-color format was selected. The only graphic was the crown of King George VI.

The first poster was distributed in September of 1939:
YOUR COURAGE
YOUR CHEERFULNESS
YOUR RESOLUTION
WILL BRING US VICTORY

Soon thereafter a second poster was produced:
FREEDOM IS IN PERIL
DEFEND IT WITH ALL YOUR MIGHT
These two posters appeared up and down the British countryside. On railroad platforms and in pubs, stores, and restaurants. They were everywhere. A third poster was created yet never distributed. More than 2.5 million copies were printed yet never seen until sixty years later when a bookstore owner in Northeast England discovered one in a box of old books he had purchased at an auction. It read:
KEEP CALM
AND CARRY ON
The poster bore the same crown and style of the first two posters. It was never released to the public, however, but was held in reserve for an extreme crisis, such as invasion by Germany. The bookstore owner framed it and hung it on the wall.  It became so popular that the bookstore began producing identical images of the original design on coffee mugs, postcards, and posters.

[Personally I am having trouble keeping calm. I have also been trying] to understand Japanese supernova Marie Kondo, who approaches organizing as a painstaking, solemn process of finding joy in every corner of your house.

I am the editor of a magazine with organizing at its core, and I happen to know that many Americans, in fact many of you reading this column, are complete slobs. The best part of it is that you don’t really care that much; your slobby nature bothers you the way your hair bothers you. As in: Eh, that’s just the way it is. And this is fantastic, because it means you have a sense of humor.
You know that mess is just mess, not a metaphor for the lack of control you have over your mental health, intelligence level or chances of getting into heaven.

Kondo recently published a new book, her second, called Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up. Even though the book has charming little illustrations, this is a very serious volume for very serious people who don’t think it’s weird to throw out a screwdriver because it doesn’t spark joy and then try to use a ruler to tighten a screw instead. That’s what Marie Kondo did, and the ruler broke. And then Kondo was really sad, not because she recognized the stupidity of trying to tighten a screw with a ruler, but because the ruler had sparked joy.

Does anyone besides me think this is completely bananas?

Trying to follow Kondo’s advice is like, oh, I don’t know, listening to dolphins communicate or watching Star Wars in Farsi. I know something extremely important is happening, and I can almost understand it. But just almost. And it makes me wonder: Are all the people buying her best-selling books doing it … ironically? It reminds me of watching the March presidential debate when Donald Trump crowed about his manhood. I kept waiting to hear a voice say, “Live from New York, it’s Saturday night!”

I’ve been to Japan only once, and one of my favorite things about the trip was going into a store to buy a little inexpensive something and watching the clerk take 15 minutes to wrap it, like it cost $3,000. It was amazing, magical, perfect. I mean, I don’t take that kind of care in wrapping Christmas presents, even the expensive ones. So maybe the difference between me and Kondo is the difference between a slobby American with mediocre gift presentation and an elegant Japanese shopkeeper who will wrap any item carefully, even if it’s worth only $7.50.

Although I do spend much of my work life thinking about organizing, I am never ever everevereverever going to fold my underwear like origami, as Kondo instructs. I am also not going through my house (don’t even get me started on the garage) to hold each object firmly in both hands and wait to see if it sparks joy. Needless to say, Kondo did that, and now she uses a skillet to pound in nails (picture it, people) because she threw out her un-joyful hammer.

However, Kondo has given me an idea. Any organizing expert–including Kondo–knows the goal is not managing physical stuff but managing the stuff swirling around inside your head.

And so I’ve decided to eliminate a few things from my head that don’t spark joy.

[Or perhaps you can appreciate] the reminder from another generation to keep calm and carry on. You can do the same. You can’t control the weather. You aren’t in charge of the economy [or the upcoming Presidential election, which] I have started to think is just one long Kabuki performance, and I can no longer muster any joy. You can’t undo the tsunami [or the inexplicable bombings in Brussels or Pakistan] or un-wreck the car, but you can map out a strategy.

Remember, God is in this crisis [and the clutter]. Ask Him to give you an index card-sized plan, two or three steps you can take today.
PRAY TO GOD

AND CARRY ON

Thursday, March 10, 2016

My Letter to the Orioles


Yesterday on Facebook, I put Joyce of the Baltimore Orioles ticket office on notice that if she is that unhappy with her job that I would be glad to take over. Well today, I wrote my first ever complaint letter. I really wish I had followed up with the Mariners after my experience that I entitled, "Fear the Beard" aka The Seattle Mariners Ticket Office. Still, this exchange with the Orioles stung even more because of my life-long history with the team. 

I am working on a list of "Thing I Think, I Think" about baseball in general - so more to come. In the meantime, here's my best attempt at an effective letter...

March 10, 2016

Scott Rosier
Manager, Season Plan Sales
Baltimore Orioles
Oriole Park at Camden Yards
333 West Camden Street
Baltimore, MD 21201

Dear Mr. Rosier:

I am writing this letter to you in response to a most unpleasant exchange that I had with Season Plan Sales Representative, Joyce Noto on March 9, 2016. The reason for my call was to purchase tickets for an upcoming Orioles Game.

As a life-long baseball fan, with many fond memories of the Orioles this interaction was especially disappointing to me. Even though I was raised in Philadelphia, Chicago, and now live in Denver, my family roots are in Baltimore; so I have always kept a close eye on the Orioles. Like so many children of the 1980s, I grew up admiring Cal Ripken, Jr. I had a crush on Brady Anderson in my teen years, I was angered by the fan interference play of the 1996 ALCS, and I will never forget watching, on TV, the numbers on the warehouse change to 2,131 when Ripken broke Lou Gehrig’s record. The Orioles ascent from the lower ranks of the ardent AL East to be more competitive gives me hopes for both the White Sox and the Rockies to figure things out one day.

As an adult I have become a ballpark chaser. To date, I have been to 18 stadiums, and my upcoming road trip of five stadiums in nine days will get me closer to completing the goal. Camden Yards may not have been my first baseball experience (Veterans Stadium), but it is the ballpark that made the biggest impact. Each stadium I go to is compared to Camden Yards. I have seen delightful parallels in use at Comerica Park and Coors Field, which is also where I was married; but they’re not quite the same.
  
While I am a Millennial, I am rather “old-school” in that part of the ballpark chasing experience is talking with locals in the ticket office. The enthusiasm and pride that many of the ticket agents display for their home ballparks is contagious. Plus I get the inside track on the best place to catch a game. I recognize that there is a mixture across Major League Baseball as to whether teams sell lower quantities of tickets for individual games. In an effort to be prepared, I made an inquiry back in February to find out the stance of the Orioles. I spoke to a very pleasant man who said that the ticket office would be glad to assist me once the tickets went on sale.

Based on this information, I trust you can understand why I was shocked to have been immediately transferred to Tickets.com. So I called back, and had my regrettable exchange with Ms. Noto. She did not understand why I would want to speak to someone in the ticket office who, in her words “could see the green grasses of Camden Yards, rather than ‘Hazel’ at Tickets.com.” After I explained my reasoning a second time, she tersely stated that this has been the practice of the Orioles for 27 years. She went on to say that unless I wanted to be a season-ticket holder there was nothing she could do for me. Even though there are teams that will not sell individual game tickets, this is the first time I did not even have the opportunity to converse with an agent about the nuances of a ballpark.

I proceeded to purchase my six tickets for a game in May through Tickets.com. Please understand that I refuse to let this impact my experience at Camden Yards, especially since this will be my husband’s first trip, but the whole incident left a bad taste in my mouth.

For those of us on the outside the opportunity to go to the ballpark every day for one’s job feels like a privilege that should be treated with respect. I trust that this is not the way that the Orioles do business; so I wanted to make you aware of your employee’s actions.

Thank you for your attention to this matter. Go Orioles!



Wednesday, January 27, 2016

You can have Roots AND Wings


In May I will have lived in Denver for nine years. Not too bad for an accidental transplant who as a child had trouble with a week long sleep away camp. Still I often wonder, is Denver home? The answer is yes and no for as the picture says, I will never be completely home again. Rather, I have embraced the idea that I can have "roots and wings."

Last year I flew back to Indiana for a dear friend's milestone birthday party. I did what many of us who have spread our wings have done, I way overpaid for the ticket. I went back and forth about whether I could spend the money, and by the time I came to the glaringly obvious conclusion of, I want to be there - the flight prices had gone up. Still when the birthday girl hugged me, and her daughter (also my best friend) hugged me, and my parents came with me to the party, I knew I had made the right decision; the cost was the furthest thing from my mind. My Dad remarked that I seemed to know everyone at the party, and when I realized that I did it further reminded me that along the way I had become a part of their family as well as my own. There may be no greater feeling than to feel wanted and as though you belong.

It was at this party that my Dad also asked me a question that has been bouncing around in my head for quite a while now, "where do I call home?" I realized that some of it may be contextual as I say I am going home when I head toward Indiana and Denver, but I also realized that I will never again only have one home. This is also why the song, "Roots and Wings" from one of my favorite television shows, Nashville, really resonated with me.

So many places, I wanna go
So many people I wanna know
I wanna stay
I wanna leave
I want it all
I've got to believe

You can have roots and wings
You can have everything
You can know where you're from
And still wanna fly

Having roots and wings was "normal" in my family. This really started with my paternal grandparents as they were the first to move away for either side of the family. They moved a three hour car ride away, which as my Grandmom reminded me is a big help as sometimes our wings take us further away. When my parents were married, they also moved away from their parents - Durham, Nashville, Philadelphia, and now Highland, Indiana. The closest I ever lived to my grandparents was two hours, which grew to 10-12 hours when we moved to Indiana. So I thought this is what "everyone did." I ass-umed that everyone understood the fear, trepidation, and excitement that comes from spreading your wings. I also thought that others would know just how much support is required to put roots down somewhere else. When you move away from your current life, you are trying to start a brand new one some place else. It's a scary proposition.

So many choices I've gotta make
So many voices I'm trying to shake
They think they know
What's best for me
But I want it all
I've gotta believe 

You can have roots and wings
You can have everything
You can know where you're from
And still wanna fly

This assumption bubble of mine was burst when Danny asked me how far I thought the average person lives from their Mom. I said 50, well as it turns out, it's only 18 miles. Well crud. Danny, my family, and I are not as "normal" as I thought. Suddenly I understood why at times I am fighting the spoken/unspoken mindset of, "well you chose to move away, so you should be coming back to visit." I didn't even realize that this mindset existed until my Mom explained that she had to fight it with her father. I don't think as children we fully understand what our parents have gone through until we experience it ourselves. 

It is well known that I did not make the move to Indiana on my parents any easier, and it was not until I went away to college, which was really the first time I had left home that I think I began to understand how scary that move must have been for them. Still when I went to Indiana University I was only three hours away. My Mom came down to take care of me when I had pneumonia. My parents brought me home to deal with my wisdom teeth extraction, and later on my turbinate reduction (nasal) surgery. My parents helped me move everywhere, they even moved me to Denver. This is especially impressive considering they had just moved my sister out there earlier that same year.

I don't think I truly felt on my own until I moved to Denver. I even had to move myself, but I discovered the beauty of paying for movers (also worth every penny). I was now a plane ride or a really long, boring drive away from my parents and sisters (fortunately Denise and John came back to the mountains). Yet, people make that boring drive or take a plane ride to come see us with regularity. My Mom made that trip when I had a fundoplication (surgery for pronounced reflux), both my parents came to help me pick out a wedding dress, my family will be with me when I graduate in April, my grandparents got on a plane for the first time in over 20 years to come see what Colorado has to offer. My Dad attends my work place's educational offerings. Danny's parents have made the awful drive, but his Mom wised up and opted for a plane this past summer. The list goes on and on (and on). Danny and I had more than half of our wedding guests travel from all over the country to be with us. Do you think I could have lived in Denver for nine years and Danny for five without that

The other reason we have built a wonderful life here is because we have set roots of our own down here. We have been blessed through the development of a community. My fantastic sister and brother-in-law are also here, which helps tremendously because sometimes you just need your family. But you also build a family - those people who will drop what they're doing to help you. Those people who will see your hidden "bat-signal" that says, hey I just came back to town after visiting "home" and I need to know that I am loved here too. So they take you to lunch or ask you out on a girls' date. They are the people who invite you into their homes for the holidays so that you know you're not ever alone.

Nevertheless, things are not always rosy when you let your wings take you away. You miss things. A couple Christmases ago there was a scary family medical situation that I was working with my sister on via text. Danny had to stop me from driving east in the snow and hoping for the best. Or when Danny's parents have major medical surgery, and you can't be there to care for them the way you wish. Sometimes you also have to fight the attitude of "if you lived closer we would do more for you," which really just feels like "I don't support your decision to live away from here/us." There are also times where people tell you that they don't have the money to visit you, but in the same breath tell you about the 72" television that now hangs on their living room wall. It really sucks to not feel like a priority. It is also hard to know you have "x" amount of vacation time, and a finite amount of income. All this requires a balancing act of all the places you want to go with the strong desire to be with the people you love and miss terribly. Thus, you do the best you can, and prioritize those who make you a priority. You also give special kudos to people who say things like, "you're really brave" or "I am proud of you as building a life somewhere is not easy."

I think that is the biggest lesson I have learned in the last (almost) nine years: being an adult is about determining priorities. The older I get (crap, how did 34 get here so quickly) the more I have come to reciprocate prioritization. When I first started making trips "home" I tried to see everyone, do everything I wanted, and eat everything that I can't get in Denver (hello lemon rice soup and a solid gyro). Then I realized well darn, I can't do it all. I will never make it to all the places I want to go, nor will I ever be able to make everyone happy. It's just not possible. 

Shortly after my grandfather passed away my grieving process took me down the path of discernment regarding our living situation. Danny and I are a package deal now, so I don't get to make that decision alone anymore. Then I realized that even if we moved back to Indiana that I would never have everyone around me. I would miss my sister and brother-in-law in Denver, as well as our many friends, and my grandmother would always be in Pennsylvania, and aunts/uncles/cousins in Baltimore, Dallas, Phoenix, Bogota, etc. It is also complicated by the fact that Danny's family lives in a different part of Indiana as well as Ohio. There will never be just "one place" that will make me or "us" as a married couple

Home is where the heart is
And that will never change.

So months later, I am ready to say my home is Colorado, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Ohio, Hawaii, Texas, Arizona, and all the places where so many people who have made an impact on my life currently reside. I now believe that if you choose to let yourself acknowledge it, you can in fact have everything, most especially "roots and wings."

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Kansas City: A "Three Brewery" Tour

Please note the Spike Photobomb


Sing along with me as I work to share the tale of the Labor Day weekend road trip to Kansas City to the tune of the Gilligan's Island Theme Song. In case you need a refresher, click here. If it is stuck in your head until mid-January, 2016 please forgive me.

Just sit right back
And you'll here a tale
A tale of a (beer-filled) trip,
That started from (drive in CO)
Aboard this (Rav-4)
The mate was a mighty (drivin' woman)
The Skipper brave and sure,
(Just two passengers) set (out) that day,
For a three (brewery) tour,
A three (brewery) tour.

Just like Gilligan and his friends, it was supposed to be a three brewery tour. Of course, the picture of the beer that came home with us, you can see our adventure took a detour. Let's start from the beginning. Danny and I had long talked about taking a road trip to Kansas City, and the fact that my White Sox were playing the Royals that weekend felt as though the stars aligned telling us to go. So I purchased the tickets, booked a room in Independence, Missouri, and started exploring things to do in Kansas City on Trip Advisor. As an aside, a resolution for 2016 is to contribute to Trip Advisor as I have become an avid consumer; if nothing else it sure is a fascinating sociological experience. I digress. Anyway, Trip Advisor listed three breweries in Kansas City, so those were added to our list of places to visit.

(The driving was windy)
The (Rav) was tossed,
If not for the courage of the fearless (ha!) crew
The (corn would get us)
The (corn would get us)

The (Rav arrived in Independence)
Of this uncharted area
With (Laurie)
And (Danny too)
No Millionaire (though that would be nice)
(Or) his wife
(Definitely no) movie star 
The professor was missed and (so was) Marry Ann
Here in (Kansas City).



We arrived in Kansas City on Saturday evening with just enough time to change and head to Kauffman Stadium, arriving for the bottom of the first inning. I am fairly certain a beer was consumed at the game, but the real ridiculousness started on Sunday morning. Being Labor Day weekend we had to cram a lot in to Sunday as many things were going closed on Labor Day (i.e. the Wizard of Oz Winery). More on that momentarily. 

The original itinerary went something like this: BBQ for lunch (because when in Rome...); National World War I Museum and Memorial; Negro Leagues Baseball Museum; Boulevard Brewing Company; 75th Street Brewery; Kansas City Bier Company; Truman Presidential Library. When I spell it out, I think we accomplished about half of those things. Here's a more accurate (read: actual) itinerary, and you'll see why we were as ridiculous as Gilligan and his fellow castaways:
  • The place we were told (by a local) to go for BBQ was closed on Sunday, which led us to turn to Yelp, which suggested Fiorella's Jack Stack BBQ. Excellent food AND happened to be located across the way from Union Station. So their traveling exhibit from the National Football Hall of Fame replaced the WWI Museum.
  • Next while driving to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum (fascinating and well done) we stumbled upon Double Shift Brewing Company and Border Brewing Company. During this stop I was able to watch the Sox SWEEP the Royals (!!!) Those two breweries replaced Boulevard Brewing as that one is easy to get in Colorado. Then we drove to 75th Street Brewery and Kansas City Bier Company. Now this is when things got silly, and truth be told it was my fault. Just call me Gilligan...
While in the bathroom at Kansas City Bier Company I saw an advertisement for an upcoming event that included a brewery called Flying Monkey Brewery. Again the idea of "when in Rome" felt applicable. Well I became a little possessed and determined that Danny was going to try this beer. Apparently they do not have a tap room, they only distribute, which of course meant I had to find it at a liquor store. After dinner we (read I) was on a mission that I thought would be simple. There was a nice looking liquor store not too far from the KC Bier Company, so we stopped there, and they were sold out. Still the first two beers (starting from the left) came from that store. The second one from the left is actually from Nebraska (the horror!). After that the liquor stores were going down hill in quality - the last one of which was probably not the safest place to be, and included a proprietor who thought I was asking about Rum. I shook my head and gave up (for the night).

The next morning we started home, but not without stopping at the Truman Library. I even met a Truman impersonator! The Library was fascinating as it included all kinds of documentation around the decision to use the Atomic Bomb in WWII. After having visited Hiroshima, I found particularly interesting. One will never know if it was the right decision, but having the background helped understand the decision a bit better.



Driving through Kansas we had seen signs for the Eisenhower Library, and decided to stop there on our return trip. Of course just before crossing into Kansas (from Missouri) we did another liquor store search. This one yielded the middle bottle of beer, but still no Flying Monkey to be found. So our trek /quest continued. Now would be the time to mention that I try to get a shot glass for a dear friend on my travels, but decided that she probably already had a shot glass from Kansas City. So I wanted to get her a bottle of wine from the Wizard of Oz Winery in Wamego instead. Much to my dismay, the town of Wamego, literally the whole town, had shut down for the holiday. While there, we regrouped and did yet another liquor store search. This led us to a liquor store called, "The Library" in Manhattan Kansas (home to Kansas State University). I called and much to my delight they carried the beer! So to Manhattan we went. This liquor store produced the three beers to the right, as well as Kansas City Royals wine for Beth. Apparently the wine was sub-par, but the cork was fantastic!


If either of us had had a "library card" that would have yielded a discount. This exchange alone may have been enough to make the whole escapade worthwhile as the Flying Monkey beer was only so-so. I felt the same way about Eisenhower's Presidential Library as he was a very reluctant President. Much of the exhibits were dedicated to his time as a General in WWII. While I am not diminishing those accomplishments, it was just an interesting in comparison to other museums I have visited. Although I do have President Eisenhower to thank for the interstate highway system, which I use quite frequently.
Eisenhower's Electric Car

So this is the tale of our (road trip)
(We were there for not such a long time)
(We sure made the best of thing)
(Not such an uphill climb)

I hope this proves a couple things: first, the beer escapades are not all Danny's fault, and I do get mine. The history lover in me really enjoyed this trip, and I am grateful that Danny goes without protest. We have an unspoken agreement: I don't complain about beer, he doesn't complain about meeting my various cultural needs.

Next trip though, I want to find that millionaire! Please join me in 2016 as I hope to re-engage in my blogging adventures/tales of ridiculousness. Never a dull moment here in the Pechie household, except perhaps on NYE where the two sickies will be lucky to make it to 10:00 PM (Mountain Time).



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