This is a day-off in K.C… the first time from any kind of work related to “Beer on a Roll.” My host, Ven gave us a tour of K.C. and then unfortunately we received some very sad news…
So Ven is one of the coolest dudes you’ll ever meet. He has a full and rich life. He is 32 yrs old, a Quaker, worked at a church for six years, then a school for troubled youths, and is now a parole officer. In his current role, he told us about how much you can get it away with in Kansas City. For example, stealing a car is just considered “tampering” and no one ever goes to jail for it. I’ll keep that in mind at the end of my travels to stop by K.C. as I do need a new car (heh, heh).
Ven is also a musician and has created his own recording label. He has about eight bands that are signed with him, two of them as far away as L.A. and Montana. I asked if this was a hobby or a second source of income, to which Ven replied that he was signing them and promoting them for free, but would like to make a living from it. He played a few sample tracks from his bands, and they were pretty good. Ven also *loves* beer and has such an incredibly deep knowledge. He also knows the city quite well and many of the proprietors of the local businesses. Ven took Michal, Terry, out for breakfast at a place called the Filling Station, where he knows the owner. As busy as Ven is, he told me, “We don’t make elaborate plans on the weekends. We just do whatever comes up.”
Breakfast at the Filling Station was, um… filling. We all went back to the house, where we dropped off Michal as she was going to meet up with a friend. Ven took Terry and I out for a grand tour of Kansas City and its neighborhoods. Ven explained how K.C. is laid out in linear shape, starting with the downtown at the top of the line, and going south you have a various districts and neighborhoods. One very cool neighborhood that was about a 20-minute walk from his home was called Westport. It had many independent businesses: restaurants, cafes, pubs, small stores, etc. It was an excellent walking area, and on this nice sunny—but not at all hot–day, there were scores of people enjoying their Saturday. We became a bit thirsty and hungry, so Ven walked us to a place that one of his friends owned called, “Burgers and Beer”. Gotta love that name, as it’s straight to the point. I ordered a burger, fries, and a beer — just what the cardiac doctor ordered. Good stuff.
We decided to go back to the house, take an hour break, and then go out again. Taking a break was a good idea and I lay in the guest bed for a few minutes. I heard Ven talking on the phone with one of his friends, and then I heard him say something to Terry. Not often at all does it happen that I am genuinely shocked and rattled, but this did happen. Ven said that Diane, who was with us at the house last night, was just killed in a motorcycle accident. As I’m writing this, I just felt a pang in my stomach. It’s still a shock. She was riding her motorcycle, came around a corner, lost control—going off the road and crashed into a tree. Justin was on his motorcycle in front of her. He went back to find her, called the ambulance, but she died on the way to the hospital. Diane was only 36. How tragic. My thoughts are with Diane’s family and friends.
It was a solemn remainder of the day, but Ven, Michal, and I decided to continue our tour of K.C., as there was nothing we could do at the moment. Just sitting in the house would be difficult…we needed to move around. We decided to visit Union Station, a massive train station that dates back to 1914 and is located in the downtown area. It reminded me of the old black and white gangster movies where there were scenes of the train stations, similar to the ones in Chicago and New York. In fact in the 1930’s there was a massive shoot-out between FBI agents and gangsters at the K.C. Union Station. You can still view bullet holes from that confrontation on one of the walls outside the station. We also walked past the WWI museum, and had time to visit the Missouri River, and see where it all began for K.C. Back in the 1830’s it was a small riverside town. Over time it has flourished to become what it is today.
We went back to the house, picked up Terry and we all went out for some K.C. BBQ, as Ven said it would be crazy to come here and not try it. Game on! So we went to an old, almost diner-like, BBQ establishment called Arthur Bryant’s. I had a beef sandwich, and I’ve never seen a sandwich piled so high with meat. It reminded me of Texas BBQ brisket… damn good dinner. Then we went to the Bier Station to finish off the evening. It was a beer pub developed in the same fashion as a beer bar you will find at a train station in Germany. In fact this one was modeled after one in Munich, and it served plenty of Bavarian beers. This was a nice way to end the day. However, the shock from Diane’s death still hit me from time-to-time.
We went back to the house and called it a night. Tomorrow morning Terry and I would be heading out, back down to the TransAmerica trail, and continue the biking. Ven and Michal would meet with friends and go visit Justin.