Kansas City, MO #fbf

Yay for Flashback Fridays!

Well, I'm going to take a momentary break from the road trip, in light of the road trip and the day we spent with Whit in Kansas City, to share with you some adventures from a couple years ago — 2014 (technically landing in 2013 and then ringing in the new year there) — when I visited Whitney in Kansas City, MO for the first time. 

It was winter, so the weather was a little different than what I experienced when I visited her in the fall on the Route 66 trip, but funny enough, the time that I came to visit her was a result of changed plans from the original Route 66 trip we were going to go on. 

Looking back, I'm glad that I went on the Route 66 trip in the summer/fall and not at the end of December when it's cold in most places, and that I got to visit Whitney in her hometown instead.

In addition to what I showed in the previous post, here's a breakdown of some of my other favorite things I did in Kansas City the first time around.

Starting with food. Because, as I realized the first time I visited, they have some of the best food I've ever tasted.

Places we ate:

Things we experienced:

Short trips we took from KC:

See below for photos and details...

To start, I landed in Kansas City — the MISSOURI side, NOT the Kansas side (the distinction is important I found out — there's a huge rivalry between Missouri and Kansas that apparently goes back to the Civil War) on December 30th at approximately 11:30pm. We had a layover in Denver that lasted two and half hours longer than anticipated. Apparently a volcano erupted somewhere in South America and it threw off the flight schedule — I've definitely never heard that one before.

With that, welcome to my trip to Kansas City, Missouri!

The Food

Whitney and I were kind of in an absurd awe of how much we gained in the couple weeks we were together. She had visited me in Los Angeles a week prior and then we flew together to KC for another week. There was just so much festivity and cookies and cake when she stayed with me, and then when I stayed with her there were so many good places to go to, BBQ to try etc. It was never-ending. I think weight is so fluctuating though, and I really don't regret one bite of anything I had. Except for the white chocolate dipped marshmallow — that I could have done without. But everything else? Simply ...delicious ;)

So if you're ever in Kansas City, MO or Springfield, MO here are the top must-go-to places:

  • Jackstack BBQ: located in Overland Park, KS, I would suggest not leaving without trying their Hickory Pit Bean dish. That could have, maybe should have, been my entire meal. 
  • Jerusalem Cafe: located in Kansas City, MO, I got their vegetarian platter. I kept saying it was "different" because I'm not used to authentic Mediterranean food, but it was really great quality and I would definitely get their baklava! I guess they have a pretty swanky hooka hangout upstairs during certain hours if you're looking for that.
  • Blanc Burgers and Bottles: Located in Kansas City, MO. I got their Bison Burger and we all shared their french fries which comes out in a mini grocery cart and includes their homemade ketchup. One of the best burgers I've ever had. Seriously.


  • Stroud's: Located in Kansas City, MO. They made an old house into a restaurant. They apparently "choke their own chickens" as it says on their shirts (a little sad to hear but I guess it's as fresh as they get?) and serve huge portions in the best way possible. I love the feel of this place. It was like an authentic hominess that Los Angeles tries to replicate from time to time, but this is real deal: snow outside, log cabin, Christmas lights, garland, close eating quarters. And DO NOT LEAVE without having one of their homemade cinnamon rolls. It's like eating the best part of the cinnamon roll — the center — but as the whole cinnamon roll if that makes sense? Basically, just eat it.
  • Aviary: I saved the best for last. This is a little farther away — located in Springfield, MO. This is really, out of all the places, my favorite. Although Stroud's is a close runner-up. Any of their dinner crepes are a sure bet of goodness. And their dessert crepes too. Actually anything here is amazing. Whitney worked here for years while she went to school and so I've heard about this place forever and it lived up to my high expectations. After trying to decide which dessert crepe to get, we settled on the salted caramel a la mode (with ice cream). Whitney laughed when she saw me take the first bite. I think it was a mixture of shock at how truly delicious it was and pure satisfaction. We chose correctly.

The Experiences

Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

We walked around the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art (free admission by the way) analyzing and discussing an array of contemporary art. I liked the outside the best. It included four ginormous shuttlecocks as if landing from a live-action badminton game. According to this article:

"You know the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art’s famous “Shuttlecocks.” But did you know that the museum is intended to be the net in the oversized game of badminton? That’s why there are three shuttlecocks on the south lawn and one on the north lawn. One sailed over the net!"

Fun, right? And a little random. But I bet that's the only museum in the world to feature that. (Disclaimer: I may be wrong).

I also was surprised at the collection. The modern art collection included several Andy Warhol paintings, they had an amazing photography collection, and their art collection also included a Caravaggio painting, and Monet's Water Lilies. I loved seeing the painting of Rome.

I was also taken aback by a security officer who was strategically placed in a corner of the modern art collection. I thought he was real, and when Whitney questioned his human authenticity, I almost felt bad thinking he heard her. It was upon further inspection and some awkward stares later that I realized she was right — he was a wax figure!  

Historic Downtown Parkville

I spent part of the last day of 2013 in a little coffee shop in Historic Downtown Parkville. I had to do some freelance work so I grabbed a hot chocolate and situated myself on a stool in front of one of their large store windows overlooking the street. The bell would chime every time the door swung open and a small cold breeze would let itself in. A train came through on my left, passing by the little town. Sometimes it felt so surreal, as if I was playing an extra in a live-action movie.

I loved every part of this area. It felt like home. We ran into some of Whitney's friends and it was strange realizing that this was her home. That she actually grew up here and this is a place she's known her whole life. That's what I really loved about this trip in general — a lot of it involved meeting Whitney's friends and seeing places that she's talked about for the last six years of our friendship. I could finally put real people to names and pictures to places! 

Building a Snowman

All week, I lovingly sang to Whitney what became our trip anthem: "Do you want to build a snowmaaaann??". And she finally succumbed. Here is our process, in all it's glory: 

Actually, I had started with a small mound and was just about to stick some sticks in it, put some stones as eyes and call it done, check it off the list, but Whitney's snowman standards are higher than mine. She was the one who persevered. She got the shovel out and started dispensing shovelful after shovelful. The trick, I learned, is to build a high mound and then to shape it. So I sat, layered up in the one degree Fahrenheit of warmth we had, knees in snow, packing the snow as it fell. I also made sure to sing some snowman songs while we did it.

He was a success. Born of our warm hearts in the cold winter. 

We named him Jerry, gave him a pickle nose and grape buttons. He sort of looked like a fat slug (and I can imagine he really became one as he melted). But that doesn't mean he wasn't beautiful. And glorious. 

Then Whitney showed me the best way to make a snow angel. So, for good measure, we did that too.

When I was asked what was one of my favorite things I did on this trip, I said this moment: building Jerry. Whitney jokingly replied that that was a little sad. But to me, it really was and is my favorite memory. I loved being out in the snow and building something together. Taking the time and just enjoying the process. It was the best, and I'm so happy that Whit was on board and loves me enough to go out into the cold long enough to do that!

Short Trips

Springfield, MO

Springfield, MO has a sort of picturesque small-town vibe. Especially with the snow. It's got so many treasure-nook stores everywhere.  

We went on the first Friday of the month which meant a fun little art walk where art galleries stayed open later, including one of Whitney's friend's galleries who was also celebrating her birthday that night. 

We also happened upon a glass-blowing shop that showed their process. I was thankful for all the late open shops because it was really cold that night and we were pretty much running from shop to shop to avoid the wind chill (that wind will really get you).

One of the best parts of this visit was eating at Aviary, which I described above, but just to reiterate — it was SO GOOD, and somewhere you really should go if you're in town. The food is amazing, but the decor is equally as good. Whitney accurately described it as being in some kind of snow-globe since it sits on a corner with windows around. It's one of the many little treasures of this town.


Butterfly Palace!!!! <— lives up to it's name

Whitney sort of cringed when Branson came up. From what I can understand, it's like the Las Vegas of the Midwest and is filled with lots of shows and gambling. When Whitney was describing how tacky it is, how there are shows with horses and people standing up on them riding through some stadium she saw how excited I was getting and accordingly stopped talking about it so I wouldn't force her to go.

We ended up going anyways! Not to the main street part, but to Butterfly Palace & Rainforest Adventure. I opted to get my face painted with a butterfly and then we were on our way to explore! We journeyed into their collection of rainforest creatures before heading into the hall of mirrors where you navigated through a path trying to not run into your reflection. It was very tricky. 

And then we set off to venture into the butterfly habitat! You watch a little 3D movie beforehand that tells you how the butterfly evolves from a caterpillar and it's life-cycle and then you walk into this garden-like area where they just float around. It was seriously everything you could imagine a butterfly sanctuary would be like — minus an open ceiling. I mean, there was even a guy playing a harp on a butterfly chair when we walked in. 

The butterflies just seemed to float by on their way to drinking the sweet nectar. Whit and I just walked around and tried to take everything in.

We had the lead lady put a butterfly on each of us (they'll usually just land on you, but you can't touch them either way). The one she put on me clung onto my hair and just sat in front of my eye like a patch. It tickled when they flew away. Magical.

LDS Temple & Liberty Jail

The history of Mormons in Missouri is not entirely favorable. On either side. At the time the Mormons moved into the Missouri territory, there were many frontier people settled there that saw the Mormons as a threat — and understandably so. Mormons came and established themselves, looking for refuge, and if they found a place to be peaceful, more people came throwing off the balance of voting etc. in favor of what the majority wanted. In addition to other things. [This site gives a great background.]

There was a lot of violence that occurred, many awful stories, and it wasn't even until the 1970's that a law was noticed and removed making it legal to kill a Mormon in Missouri.

Missouri is also the location of Liberty Jail, where the prophet Joseph Smith and four other companions stayed for four months — December through April. I was so appreciative for Carrie and Whitney who took me to look at the relatively new temple — completed in 2013 — and then to see this space, the renovated jail where Joseph Smith stayed. On this tour, I was able to affirm the things I had thought about the history of the Mormons in Missouri, and to learn more information about their relations and their journey in trying to find a place to settle.

And just to be clear about the Mormon/Missouri relationship today — I received nothing but respect and love when I said I was a Mormon. Thank you Missouri for being so welcoming. 

After learning and pondering about the jail and what it meant, we switched gears and went around the town. Carrie is actually on the police force in Liberty so he took us on a small tour of the little town which included a look through the window of a bank where the first day-light robbery took place.

I feel like there's so much more to Liberty and Kansas City that I want to go back and explore.