Everything is Up-to-Date in Kansas City – Traveling in Our Fabulous Gay World

Kansas City - Donald and Ray

Kansas City, Missouri which is also called the “City of Fountains” has more fountains than any other city in the world other than Rome, Italy. With a metropolitan population of over 2 Million residents the city really does have it all, from the arts, sports, architecture, shopping and everything for tourists to do.

Kansas City - Donald and RayOur very favorite is the fabulous Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art which is one of the finest Art Museums in the country. Directer Julian Zugazagoitia began his tenure 8 years ago and has done an absolutely outstanding job of creating a magnificent, what we call, ‘ The New Nelson-Atkins Museum. He has brought in exhibits that they never had before. Everyone is so proud of his accomplishments. Visitors from all over the nation visit it yearly. They have over 33,500 items including American and English paintings and sculptors and one of the finest Oriental Collection in the country. Check them out at: https://nelson-atkins.org/

Other museums to visit are the National Toy and Miniature Museum which is known around the country for being one of the finest of it’s kind. Check them out at: http://www.toyandminiaturemuseum.org/ The National World War I Museum and Memorial was erected in 1926 and has been updated thru the years and is a must see. Check them out at: https://www.theworldwar.org/

Kansas City - Donald and RayFor dining our two favorite restaurants are Cooper’s Hawk, located in the famous Country Club Plaza area. Senior General Manager, Jonathan Jue has perfected the art of blending fine food, with food presentation, ambiance and WINE! for a perfect dining experience. Besides fine dining they also offer the finest in a ‘wine experience’ in Kansas City. Whether you stop in for some wine or for a wonderful dining experience you will enjoy it all. Thanks Jonathan Jue or making this a great place to dine and wine! Their website is: https://chwinery.com/locations/missouri/kansas-city

Kansas City - Donald and RayAnother of our favorite restaurants is CAFE TRIO, just a couple blocks north of the Plaza. Christopher and Tai have been in business for years and have an extremely loyal following simply because they know how to treat customers and giving them a fine dining experience. Their service is top -notched. Happy hours are always packed with fun and interesting people. We have dined there several times and have never had a bad dining experience. Thanks Christopher and Tai. Your certainly know how to keep your customers coming back year after year! http://www.cafetriokc.com/

Kansas City - Donald and RayFor an enjoyable evening of entertainment we always enjoy one of the live productions at the UNICORN THEATRE, https://www.unicorntheatre.org/ They have been bringing bold and interesting live theatre to the area. They do not shy away from being innovative. They must being doing something right as they are celebrating their 44th year! Cynthia Levin has always been daring in presenting the finest in great plays. THANKS Cynthia!

And check out https://www.visitkc.com/#sm.000bfmutwji1dn310ys15wwjmho4q

Don and RayAlways remember to have fun when traveling, meet new people and talk to everyone!

TRAVELING IN OUR FABULOUS GAY WORLD is written by Donald Pile and Ray Williams, Award-winning, Celebrity travel columnists who write for gay publications from coast to coast (And now legally married).

Proud members of the IGLTA. You can email them at [email protected] and visit their website at http://gaytravelersataol.blogspot.com/

Kansas City Gay Travel Resources


Kansas City Protest Kansas City ProtestOver a thousand people in greater Kansas City, MO attended a special Anti Prez Trump Inauguration Day protest today. The Rally began at the World War I Museum which is across the street from the Union Station. Several speakers spoke and then the parade went through the streets of Kansas City began and everyone walked about a mile to City Hall. A VERY heavy Police presence was on high alert on horseback, on foot and patrol cars. They even had a couple of drones to check things out. Fortunately the rally and parade were a peaceful one and without any problems at all. Kansas City ProtestThere was a very large variety of people at the rally… Mothers and Fathers with their babies, Gays and Lesbians, Jews, Blacks, Muslims and hundreds of United States citizens who are simply fed up with the new direction that the country is going. They ranged in ages from toddlers to people in their 80’s. At City Hall more speakers addressed the audience. Kansas City ProtestIt was an event that everyone was thrilled with and very glad that they attended. They had pallbearers that carried a casket in the parade representing the death of America. At some point in life, being quiet is simply NOT an option. Each of us needs to stand up and be counted. There needs to be a place at the table for EVERYONE ! Be safe and sane, but we all have to stand up for our rights. Kansas City Protest Kansas City Protest Kansas City Protest Kansas City Protest Kansas City Protest Don and RayAlways remember to have fun when traveling, meet new people and talk to everyone! TRAVELING IN OUR FABULOUS GAY WORLD is written by Donald Pile and Ray Williams, Award-winning, Celebrity travel columnists who write for gay publications from coast to coast (And now legally married). Proud members of the IGLTA. You can email them at [email protected] and visit their website at http://gaytravelersataol.blogspot.com/

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Kansas City: Country Club Plaza

Country Club Plaza Country Club PlazaOne of the hi-lights of our recent visits to Kansas City was the trip to Country Club Plaza – a lovely, historic shopping center about four miles south of Downtown. Country Club PlazaKansas City is known for its many beautiful fountains – supposedly the most in any US city – and many of them are in Country Club Plaza. There is also some great art throughout the center. Originally built in 1922 on what was once a dumping ground and hog farm, the Plaza sits on 55 acres that were acquired, parcel by parcel, by JC Nichols. Country Club PlazaWhat Nichols built there was revolutionary. The first master-planned outdoor shopping center designed to accommodate a new invention – the automobile. Built with a Spanish theme, the architecture of Country Club Plaza recalls both the US Southwest and some of Europe’s most beautiful capitals. It’s an unexpected but welcome surprise in a city in the Midwest. After a flood in the 1970’s, the Plaza was revamped, and an influx of chain stores came into the center. Country Club PlazaThat was the main problem we had with this beautiful center – the architecture is amazing, and the location by Brush Creek makes for some great photo opportunities. But the stores are the same stores you’ll find in any mall in any part of the country. We were hoping for some great local shops where we could purchase something to take home as a momento. But most of what we saw were stores like Banana Republic, Tiffany and Williams-Sonoma. There was one stand-out exception. Near the Western end of the Plaza, we found a little place called Phoenix Gallery. The store had a great and eclectic selection of art and knick knacks, much of it moderately priced, and we found a beautiful watercolor print of the center there that we ended up having shipped home. Country Club Plaza jack-stack-barbequeAnother stand-out – Jack’s Stack Barbecue. If you’ve never tried Kansas City BBQ, you should, and this is a great place to do it. It’s on thie Eastern end of the Plaza. It’s got that dark steakhouse thing going on – a little heavy on the “ambiance – but the food was amazing. We had the BBQ chicken, and then I enjoyed the bread pudding with a creamy rum sauce. Put this place on your agenda for your next trip. Country Club Plaza is well worth a look, if only for the amazing architecture and a few stand-out stores.

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Kansas City – Union Station

Union Station - Kansas City Union Station - Kansas CityMany cities have Union Stations, but Kansas City’s is particularly beautiful. The station opened in 1914, an impressive stone edifice accommodating hundreds of thousands of passengers a year. It was even the site of a massacre – mobster Frank Nash was shot and killed, along with four law enforcement officers who were escorting him, in 1933, just outside the building. Union Station - Kansas CityThe station was closed down in the 1980’s, and sat empty for years, slowly deteriorating. Then in 1996, voters in Missouri and Kansas passed an initiative to fund the restoration of the beautiful building. Union Station - Kansas CityAnd it’s now an amazing jewel in the city’s crown. Housing several restaurants (including one of our favorites from the trip, Harvey’s), the station also has a museum that’s now hosting an exhibit on Pompeii. Union Station - Kansas CityThere’s also an ongoing rail exhibit, a planetarium, and an interactive science center. And you can even still catch a train there – it’s a regular Amtrak stop. You can also catch the city’s new light rail train that runs to and from downtown, just outside the station. Standing inside, it’s fun to try to imagine what it was like a hundred years ago. From some of the old photos, the two story Harvey’s looks like it was probably the ticket windows. And as you can see from the photo below, the station practically thrummed with life. Union Station - Kansas City If you’re visiting Kansas City, try to find time to see this beautiful station, and grab a bite at Harvey’s. Union Station - Kansas City Union Station - Kansas City Union Station - Kansas City Union Station - Kansas City Union Station - Kansas City]]>

Kansas City – The Steamboat Arabia

steamboat-arabia-01 We just recently returned from a trip to Kansas City, Missouri, and we’re sharing some of the things we experienced there. We saw two museums – the World War I Museum, which was Mark’s favorite, and The treasures of the Steamboat Arabia, which was mine. steamboat-arabia-02The story of the Arabia takes place against the backdrop of manifest destiny and the rush to the West. In 1856, just before the civil war, the states were evenly divided, north and south, an agreement that had held the country together in an uneasy alliance. States were opened up one in the south and one in the north, together, so as not to shatter this pact. When the US government broke this alliance by opening up both Kansas and Nebraska at the same time, they agreed to let the states choose their own alliance based on who settled there, and the race was on. steamboat-arabia-08The Steamboat Arabia set off down the Missouri River in early September, 1856, loaded down with supplies to open ten general stores in new townships. The Missouri River banks had been heavily logged to provide enough wood to power the steamships, and the resulting stumps fell into the fiver as the banks eroded, floating downriver and eventually sinking and creating upstream facing snags, making the downstream passage for boats very dangerous. steamboat-arabia-14The Steamboat Arabia hit one of these snags and sank. Its sinking was slow enough that everyone aboard escaped alive except for one mule who was tied to the ship. The ship eventually reached the bottom of the river and sunk into the silt there, with almost all of its cargo. Flash forward to the 1980’s, when a representative of an air conditioning company was talking with a client who had a map of the estimated locations of sunken steamships. The man went home to his family and said “we could find one of these.” They did tons of research, and finally thought they had located one of the ships, in a field about a mile and a half from the current banks of the Missouri River. The family contacted the farmer, who said he would allow them to search, but thought they would come up empty, as others had before them. steamboat-arabia-03They used a powerful metal detector that could “see” far underground. And they got a hit. And another. And another. Sinking rods down into the soil like a real-life version game of Battleship, they outlined what lay under the soil. A steamship. steamboat-arabia-04The family waited until winter when the soil would be harder, and then started to dig. The boat lay below the level of the water table, so six huge pumps were needed to keep the dig above water. The family had planned to sell off the treasures, if found, to make a mint and presumably retire early. But when they found and opened the first barrel and pulled out a beautiful piece of undamaged fine china, they realized it would be a crime to split up this collection. steamboat-arabia-06They had one more barrier to surmount. The farmer who had permitted them to dig on his land was due 15% of their profits. They approached him and he surprised them. He agreed that it should be kept together, and instead of 15%, asked only for 15 items of his own choosing. And so the museum was born. The family used their cold storage facilities to keep the artifacts safe until they could figure out the best way to restore them. steamboat-arabia-05One more challenge – they cut off the rear section of the boat, but if it was allowed to dry, the wood would crumble into splinters. So they kept it soaked for a year and a half until they discovered a technique that would fill the wood with a substance – I want to say polyurethane? – that would push the water out and hold the wood together. That took another two years of daily sprays. steamboat-arabia-10The museum is a wonder. It has opened a window into a period of time from which we have few relics in good condition. The chill and the water preserved the treasures so well that one of the guys who dug up the boat ate one of the pickles – from 1856 – and said it tasted as fresh as if it had just been bottled. What boggles the mind about this museum is the sheer quantity of the goods. They have tens or hundreds of EVERYTHING, and almost all of it looks like it was made yesterday. More photos below. It’s truly an amazing experience – if you are in KC, make time to go see this little time capsule of American history.

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Kansas City: The World War One Museum

World War One Museum We just recently got back from a trip to Kansas City, Missouri. We’d never been there before – it’s a beautiful city, with some great surprises in store for the traveler. World War One MuseumThe first of these we’re sharing is the World War I Museum. It sits on a grassy hillside in the middle of midtown, an impressive structure topped by a beautiful tower and a pair of giant sphinxes. I’ll admit, I don’t know much about World War I. I’m sure I learned about it back in high school, but boy is there a lot to learn and see. World War One MuseumThe museum has a number of parts – the main museum, accessed from the southern side of the structure, is a museum in the round, with several films to show you what life was like at the time, and many galleries leading you through the war year by year. World War One MuseumAs you enter, you see a glass bridge over a muddy field filled with poppies – an eerie sight – especially when you find out that there are 9,000 of them, and that each one represents 1,000 soldiers who died during the war. It turns out that poppies are one of the only things that will grow on a battlefield, because they thrive on the minerals in bones and explosives. World War One MuseumThere are also big guns, military vehicles, scale models of airplanes, and tons and tons of war paraphernalia. World War One MuseumOutside, there are two additional galleries, and the tower itself, which you can enter and climb to the top via elevator for some amazing views of Kansas City. There’s also another gallery below ground that shows the war from the German point of view. World War One Museum world-war-one-museum-10One of the things I learned (or relearned) – the US entered the war in 1917 after the British discovered a cable (message) to Mexico from Germany, encouraging Mexico to attack the US if the US entered the war, and promising to give Mexico the states if Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. It never came to pass, and in fact gave the President the impetus to bring the country into the war. But my childhood could have been quite a bit different. This is an amazing museum. You can spend a whole day here if you want, but allow at least 2-3 hours to explore. World War One Museum

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