Palling Around Wichita

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Between here and there, Kansas. July 2017.

Sometimes when you are running the line between local-staycationing, dating, and travel, you come across a day that is an odd mixture of all of the above – for Ryan and I, Wichita was the near-perfect example of this. On the most basic level, the day consisted of lunch, a bookstore date, and a more traditional date – a few hours in an entertainment local.

First up, The Redrock Canyon Grill. Ryan and I decided to try something food-wise that was more local (or at least the we had never tried) and when we did an area search, Redrock popped up near the top places to try. And after our time here, I understand why. The food and service was great. The atmosphere made us feel a little bit under-dressed in t-shirts and jeans but there were a few parties dressed similarly so it wasn’t that big of a deal. I thought the prices were a bit high at first but the portions are huge, so they are actually fitting for what you get.

Our server was amazing, very sweet and, since we weren’t there at a rush, stayed by the table for a while and talked to us about our trip as well as food recommendations while we were ordering. What I loved the most, however, was a small gesture I’d never thought to ask about: when she asked if Ryan wanted his leftovers packaged, we said that we were road-tripping so couldn’t take them. Instead, she brought us ice water in to-go cups because it was hot and she knew it was a long drive ahead of us.

Again, between the food, the service, and this kind gesture, I totally recommend the Redrock Canyon Grill.

The next stop was Barnes and Nobles – in no way a local hot spot. To start, Ryan and I are both big book nerds so whenever we get a chance to hit a bookstore, we will. And, as a book nerd, I love seeing the variations even in these big chain book stores. For me, this is a great line between travel and staycations – it’s not near home, but it’s like home but different enough to want to run around and explore.

Finally, we wanted to do something very traditionally date-like but also new, so we looked for an open escape room that would be available early enough that we could still hit the road in time to get to Fort Riley before nightfall. This was impossible, but we quickly discovered Glow Golf instead. Again, this isn’t an experience you can only get in Wichita – these kind of entertainment zones are popping up all over the country.

This particular location has a lot of choices, and while not expensive, each thing costs you a little and they add up. First off, everything is blacklight so if this messes with your eyes, you may want to skip out, however, if not, jump on it! We played golf (two games for the price of one), the lazer maze (a thief-type came that we played over and over again), ping-pong, and cornhole with light-up bean bags.


Again, none of these activities really scream ‘exploring Wichita’ because they weren’t for that. Some days in travel, you need a slacking off day, and I loved our day slacking off in Wichita and wouldn’t take it back for all the explorations we could have done, especially on our time table. But more of that to come as we continue to explore Kansas.

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

Palling Around Wichita

Prairie Pines Playhouse: Murder Mystery Theatre

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Outside the Prairie Pines Playhouse, Kansas. 1 July 2017.

After the crazy debacle I talked about last week (the lost suit adventure), getting a night out and another of Ryan’s big planned dates was an amazing experience. As  I said, I focused my research more on small things to see and do – basically going through my regular travel bucket list – but Ryan looked up experiences.

This is how he stumbled upon the Prairie Pines Playhouse and their Murder Mystery Theatre – a half scripted, half improve show with audience interaction served alongside a four course meal. He was searching great activities to do around Kansas – at this point we pretty much knew that staying in one place would get boring pretty quick; I mean, I love you Kansas!! There are so many great features of this playhouse that I’m going to have to pull the experience apart piece by piece:

Clothing:

So while I talked about our crazy suit adventure last week, it turns out that there was no reason for us to freak out. This place is pretty casual – it is improv in the middle of Kansas so (and trying not to sound too judgmental)  so I feel like I should have realized this. In Ryan’s tie and slacks and my black dress and heals, we were the most dressed up people in attendance. I noticed this as soon as I stepped from the car and assessed the situation.

I had Ryan roll up his sleeves, unbotton the top few buttons, and loosen his tie for a dressed down formal look which worked for a date – I wasn’t as worried about myself since a black dress, heels, and red lipstick are a pretty universal look. If you are wearing heels, just be aware that you will be walking around on gravel, grass, and other uneven  surfaces.

The Location:

If you like a good mix of beautiful and rustic, this is definitely a place for you. I decided not to bring my good camera on this trip because it was an inside show and I figured that it would be too late to do any camera work. Boy, was that a terrible plan!

The appetizer course consisted of meat, cheese, and veggie platters and was served on the patio before the show began. At this point you were encouraged to place your drink order and then grab some food to bring to the table or to walk around the grounds with until 10 to 15 minutes before the show was meant to start.

The grounds aren’t huge but lots of walking around space. There are little almost cabin looking spaces which were really cute as well as a natural rock falls into a a gorgeous pond willed with flowers. On the other side, there was another pond with a taller rock area you could climb that has a few bench swings along one side – though these didn’t seem to be used often based on the wear and spiderwebs.

Inside was just as nice – that mix of lovely and rustic. Again, this is called the Prairie Pines Playhouse for nothing – I would love to see this place in winter – another season they do plays in.

The Show:

So yes, I fell in love with the atmosphere of the place, but that would have been nothing if the show wasn’t worth the trip, however, the show was definitely worth it. The show we saw was The Altos – a murder mystery with advertised as the Sopranos: only lower. Basically, a mobster who everyone has a problem with is killed and people are gathering for his funeral. However, it turns out he isn’t dead and throughout the play, tries to figure out who is trying to kill him.

At first, some of the actors made us a little nervous – there were flubbed lines and some craziness. However, since this is a comedy and an improve show, these flubs quickly became part of the running gags and made the show more dynamic and funnier than I could ever explain.

But remember, this is also an improv show and there is audience interaction. Audience members are picked to interact with actors on and off the stage throughout the show. Ryan got picked to go up as the mobster’s son – Tony – and he seemed chomping at the bit to speak the whole time, obviously enough that he was teased about it quite a lot. He threw the actors off a bit but seemed to be a hit with the audience. Then, unexpectedly, he got tapped to go up again by one of the older ladies – she apparently missed his scene earlier in the play – to go up and play the informant. While he was funny the first time around, he was twice as sassy in the second go making a crack about the no-alive mobster’s size which resulted in a threat to put him – Ryan – in the urn instead.

So be aware when you go, no one is safe and while you aren’t forced, no one has to be as sassy as Ryan – just play along, follow the actor’s lead and do what feels right!

The Food:

The food timing was between the acts of the play and you are served by the actors, in character – we got a lot of commentary, including the priest discussing the probability that Ryan could be possessed and his interest in doing an exorcism later. In terms of the quality of the food, we had mixed feelings. Frankly, it was catered food and getting the chicken with pasta, it didn’t blow up away. However, it was good enough that we ate enough to be almost uncomfortably full and had really large portions. For the price you pay for the food, the play, and everything else (drinks were extra), we couldn’t really complain.


Overall, I highly recommend going to any event or play held at the Prairie Pines Playhouse, and if I were ever in the area again, I would definitely go back. The plays are limited and, especially the Christmas show, fills up fast, so keep an eye on this venue and and call in to reserve space early – when we went they were saying this Christmas was at least half filled already.

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

Prairie Pines Playhouse: Murder Mystery Theatre

The pros and cons of hotel jumping

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A Stop in the Middle of Nowhere, Kansas. 1 July 2017.

During my 5 days in Kansas (and Missouri), Ryan and I stayed in three different hotels in three different cities – if traveling to one place isn’t enough to drive you nuts, having to pack up your bags everyday and switch outfits between driving and dates is quite a pain in the butt.

As we have talked about, I am the kind of traveler that (first) likes to take her time when exploring new places – you don’t get a lot of this when you are traveling between two states in 5 days – and (second) likes to settle into the places I am staying – I pack in such a way that I can live out of my suitcase if I need to, but it is nicer when I don’t (toiletries have their place, separating clean and dirty clothes, and hanging up dresses because I get to unpack, is absolutely lovely). Again, you don’t get to do this a lot when you are moving from place to place.

Still, when you know that you will be moving from place to place – even if you do plan on staying for more than two days –  if you unpack or not, you must always triple check every hotel room you stay in, because, in all likelihood, you will not be coming back for anything. And honestly, the more hotel room jumps you make, the more likely it is that you are going to misplace a thing or two along the way.

Luckily for me, on our journey from Kansas City, Missouri to Wichita, Kansas, I didn’t forget anything. However, Ryan left his dress clothes either hanging in the closet or laying on the bed for the play we had in Wichita that night.

Basically, due to the late night at the Starlight Theater and my slight jet lag, we got up a little later than we expected, but with an 11 am checkout time, I wasn’t to worried about us being late. However, with me showering and doing my basic bathroom routines (that I need the sink for) then him showering and doing all his business (while I folded both our random bits of clothes – mostly his since he had the room before I came into town – and finished getting ready), the time did slowly ebb away until I was knocking on the door giving him 15 minute updates.

Once we were both ready to go – after I had reminded him about his suit which he may or may not have moved – I double checked my stuff and we headed down to the car. I will admit that we may have been distracted by one another even as we were walking down the hall – new couple who hadn’t seen each other in about a month: yep. Also, Ryan was more interested in fighting over who carried my bag than double checking himself.

I talked about the stuff we did in Kansas City in my last few posts, which was followed by the almost three hour drive to Wichita. We chatted, sang, watched videos, and snapped pictures – basically having a gay old time. Then, about 30 minutes from getting to the hotel (that he booked earlier as we left Kansas City) which was a tiny bit out of the way of the actual city, but really convenient for a night stop over, he looked over his shoulder and burst out laughing. At my confused look, he told me to look out the window and pay attention to both the completely unblocked back windows – no suit.

We were still 30 minutes or so from our hotel (which was not located near stores) and probably had another hour and 15 minutes before we were supposed to get to the playhouse, which would be another 30 minutes away (give or take). It was time to reevaluate and arrange accordingly. Ryan jumped on the phone and canceled our reservation, looked up any local department store that we could pick up some nice clothes at, and locate a hotel close to both the store and the playhouse so we could have time to breathe and get ready before heading back out.

And somehow, he managed it.

We did the quickest run through a department store – being a good shopper with a good sense of direction within stores finally paid off – to pick up a tie, button up, slacks, and a belt (replacing all the slightly nicer but missing items –  he had had the old ones fitted and dry cleaned, while the new ones didn’t even have time to be ironed) and then crossed the street and check-in to the new hotel.

So yep, hotel jumping is hard and you should always, always send someone to do a final run through check after you get everyone and everything else out of the room – you never know what you may have missed! If you did forget something and aren’t too far away – ie, Ryan lives a few hours away – you should also definitely call the hotel and see if they can send you your lost items.

However, as always, when it comes to misadventures, sometimes the unexpected become great adventures and great stories for later.

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

The pros and cons of hotel jumping

Book Nerd: Kansas City Public Library

… Kind of…

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The Community Bookshelf. Kansas City Public Library, Central Branch. Kansas City, Missouri. 1 July 2017.

Welcome back, my lovely book nerds and tack another quick stop (if only to enjoy some time with pictures) into your Global book nerd to-do list. For those following along as more than book nerds – ie. the current Kansas saga or my life and travels in general – this is a continuation of my odd-date involving Ryan driving me around Kansas City and following me around odd places, like this book wall.

The first thing you ought to know is that you need to research which branch you are visiting within Kansas City. This book wall is located at the central branch, but we accidentally hit another before we made it there, but the branches are relatively close by car so if you get a little turned around, it’s not too bad.

Also, while this wall is lovely (and I loved playing around with it), there have been changes since the pictures that pop up on Google were posted and, truthfully, the book-wall is not actually part of the library, but the parking lot located next to the library. The trees have grown a lot which means there is a lot of shade, but the view of this amazing wall is really obstructed, especially in whole. Still, I loved looking at these large spines and the staircases into the parking garage – usually overlooked – which are a pile of stone books (yes, I definitely took pictures on them – I am a nerd), even if it had nothing to do with physical books or reading.

This being said, I will never say no to popping into the actual library when you are here – every place like this deserves all the love they can get.

Again, this is a quick stop and a quick post, but if you are in the area, stop by and enjoy yourself!

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

Book Nerd: Kansas City Public Library

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City.

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The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri. 1 July 2017.

So here we go through part one of day 2 (or the first full day) in the whirlwind trip through Kansas (even if we were really in Missouri). While Ryan was in charge of the big ticket item dates, I put my time and research into smaller places that I would want to visit on one of my normal travel expeditions. And this, of course, leads us to The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.

If you know my background – an MA in Cultural and Creative Industries (which is a fancy way of saying I studied things like museums, publishing, social heritage, media, and international business movement and technology across entertainment fields – basically a wide range of topics) – you know that I love museums. I have a brief insight into how individual galleries are curated and then how things move through the whole of the museums from this degree and, alongside my collected knowledge from my college art history class, this makes exploring so much more fun, especially when I have an audience who doesn’t mind hearing all about it.

With this background and my love of photography, this pick was absolutely fantastic.

First off, the museum itself is lovely – built with classical architecture and rooms upon rooms of art and a sculpture garden that is sparse enough to feel like a park while still calling itself part of an exhibit.

This is the part of the museum that we actually came out to see. I absolutely loved all the Shuttlecocks sculptures and understand how these became the statement piece and symbol of the whole museum. The sculptures are scattered throughout the garden in patches and across levels which is great for both pictures and picnics while surrounded by all kinds of art. Outside, the sculptures fall into the modern art classifications, but has a range that makes it interesting enough to keep running around – I loved the maze (but walk slow because I have seen many slam into the clear walls), the metallic tree, and (I must mention again) all of the different Shuttlecocks. Even if you aren’t looking for a museum day, this is a lovely areas just to come and have some lunch if you are in the area.

We didn’t spend much time inside, except for lunch, but we did run through the impressionist gallery, and, if this is any indication of the rest of the museum, every gallery would be worth stepping into if only for the unorthodox set up. Again, we were in the impressionist gallery, but throughout there were other types of art – furniture pieces and small scale sculptures which used an interesting juxtaposition. For me, if a gallery had a Degas ballerina sculpture (which this did), I am more than happy.

But onto lunch: as with all museums, food here isn’t cheap, however, unlike other places, the portions were rather generous. The staff was friendly and efficient and the room was lovely – hanging lights and natural daylight, with black iron tables surrounding a fountain. We had sandwiches and soup (I had half portions of both) and a blondie for dessert, plus infused water and every bit of it was fantastic. It is all freshly made in front of you so if you don’t want a specific spread or veg on your sandwich, they can make it without, without any extra work. Again, the portions were really generous and I was happily full on the half portions! Also, if you can agree on the type of sandwich, you can split the whole for cheaper than buying two halves.

I’ll end it here without going over and over my strange, nerdy discussions over curation and storytelling through the placement choices, but I will say, if you visit Kansas City, go see this museum. It’s beautiful, full of so much to see, has a full itinerary of events going on all the time, and, as someone who loves the arts, visit and make a small donation for the upkeep because your trip (minus parking, food, and special exhibits) doesn’t cost you anything!

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City.

Starlight Theater, Kansas City.

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Starlight Theater, Kansas City. 30 June 2017.

So this is Kansas: day one – and really day one. I got off the plane, picked up my bags, found Ryan’s car, and we headed straight over to Starlight Theater – these plans definitely contributed to my airplane dress code.

This is an amazing arena style theater (similar to the Hollywood Bowl for Los Angeles readers) with all outdoor seating and large screens for anyone who struggles to see from further seats. The atmosphere with a lot of twinkle lights, seating areas, shops, a show happening while sunset and twilight settled around us, and lots of red brick, this was also a lovely spot to have our official first date.

I missed a local LA production to fly out to Kansas so Ryan got us tickets to see Jersey Boys here and the production was fantastic. I actually had never seen Jersey Boys before and, while I know the Four Seasons, I never realized how many of their songs I grew up listening to (at least covers if not the real deal).

In terms of cost, like more attractions, you will pay for everything, but, luckily, this theater offers a military discount. However, you are require to purchase the tickets with this discount on the day of, at the box office which means seat choices are more limited. Still, we ended up getting relatively good seats and the production was phenomenal as this seems to be one of the main theater stops for major tours.

The theater preforms in all weather conditions (yep, rain or shine), so you don’t have to be worried about shows being cancel on you, however, you may need to be prepared for said weather or purchase a poncho at concession stands. Speaking of concessions, there are many food options from bringing something from home, your normal concessions like hot dogs and popcorn, to fancier buffet style dining. We chose that latter and, as a non-member, it cost about $30 each but the food was so good and, since we got to eat all we wanted (including ice cream) it was well worth it.

You also have to pay for parking but you get to choices: Lot or Grass. We chose grass parking (since it was a little cheaper) which was an easy walk in and, as long as you don’t mind navigating normal grass hill issues (like inclines) this is an easy option. Just remember to bring your cash!

If you are a Kansas City local, the membership seems well worth the price for all the shows and perks you have access to. If we were in the area again, we would definitely check out the line up and return.

The theater is also just outside the Zoo so if you have more time, you can also decide to send the day out here, fist at the zoo followed by a show at The Starlight! Just remember your sweater because even in the sweltering summer, it does cool down considerably. Also if you get here early and like to take pictures, bring in your camera because it really is a beautiful area and well worth a night out if you are in Kansas City!

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

 

Starlight Theater, Kansas City.

Using the LAX Flyaway…

So, I’m back! And as such I have quite a lot to talk about as time (and posts) go on, but first things first, a little from Los Angeles.

Whether you are from the greater Los Angeles area or visiting, there is something about driving to The Los Angeles International Airport that causes a headache. If you are from out of town, the traffic – dealing with the LA driving style more than anything – and stress caused by traveling alone is enough to make people avoid this city. And as a local, driving around LAX with people who don’t understand LA driving and the fierce, crazy taxis, we generally avoid it as well.

This is why for years my parents have relied on the amazing service provided by LAX Flyaway. This bus service gives quick, reliable and cheap round-trip or single fare options for getting to LAX from a variety of locations – Van Nuys (our usual drop off location), Hollywood, Westwood, Union Station, or Long Beach. This not only makes traveling to and from LAX easier but makes flying into the city easier.  While we may make the drive for long term travel or international destinations – for sentimental reasons – the fact that you can really only pick up and drop off at LAX means there really are no reasons to drive into the chaos especially for quicker trips, ie Kansas.

Of course, if you aren’t looking to go into the city and have other options – like Burbank, if you are more valley-bound – you can avoid the whole mess. However, I have to caution (as always) to research locations. My brother-in-law had an out-of-town guest who didn’t pay attention to this and, thinking the Long Beach airport was closer as well as cheaper, booked a flight there only to need a pickup an hour away with no traffic.

If you are from out of town, this is a great service that can get you to Union Station which can then get you all over the city and beyond.

I know this isn’t about Kansas – but trust me, you will hear plenty about that in the weeks to come – and a little disjointed, but I am still a bit travel-lagged and promise that this service is well worth talking about. But for now,

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

Using the LAX Flyaway…