8.10.2007

Summer Vacation in Time: Part II ... Back in town

... So a couple weeks ago, Kates and I returned to one of my favorite childhood vacation spots. A spot I hadn't visited in nearly 20 years ...

This weekend, Kates and I took Part II of our shortened summer vacation. We are back in the place I consider home. Kansas City ... for my 10-year high school reunion.

Truthfully, I only spent six full years living here, on the Kansas side that is, before going across statelines into Missouri to attend college and then eventually joining my parents and Kates in the northwoods. But it was, in many ways, the most memorable, most enduring, most educational and important (and innocent and fun and rewarding ...) six years of my life ... to this point at least.

We had a smooth flight into KCI this afternoon, picked up our charcoal-colored 2007 Chevy Malibu from the rental lot (I'm still deciding whether I like it ... It's a smooth, luxurious ride, but it's a boat ...) and the moment our wheels sped onto I-435 was a rush like no other. Like going home.

... And the best part of all? I knew exactly where I was going. I've never been known for my sense of direction, but this is one of the few places I don't have to ask Kates for advice on where we're heading. "Baby, this is the one time I don't need you!" I told her when she asked if I needed any help ... which is kind of a mean thing to say to your wife in retrospect. But she laughed and knew what I was getting at ...
We checked into our hotel and the memories continued flooding my memory. It's been at least two years since the last time I was down here. And sadly, a lot more has changed than I'd expected. The metro area is exploding; there's no denying that and it's good to see ... But across the street from our hotel, the American Bandstand -- a jem of a bar & grill where I spent numerous memorable evenings hanging out and gabbing with friends; I took a few dates there too -- appears to be closed and falling apart. There's barely a car in the parking lot ... And this afternoon, Kates and I ventured out to the Metcalf Mall to get some things for tomorrow night. I remember several trips to that mall with my parents for clothes and appliances and probably some Christmas presents too. Heck, I remember watching the first half of the Buffalo Bills miraculous comeback against Houston in that AFC playoff game on a TV in the Sears store there, and then listening to it on the radio with my family during the car ride home. This afternoon it was evident it had seen better days. Now, all the stores in the mall have been cleaned out and only the Sears store remains open. And the service was awful ...

Tonight we went up to one place that is still open. Kauffman Stadium. (... though it appears to be changing soon. In the concourse, a group of huge banners depicted some aggressive and fascinating renovation plans for the stadium. Very cool! It's enough to make sure I'm back in a couple more years ...)

Royals-Blue Jays. Yeah, the Royals stink, but the Blue Jays aren't bad (I admire Frank Thomas and Troy Glaus ...) ... It's worth it for me just to take in the stadium and the outfield fountains once more. And c'mon, it's baseball ... I bought the tickets just last week, and Kates and I landed on the lower level, just a couple dozen rows from home plate, a little bit down the third base side. I was pleased ...

Kates and I walked the entire diameter of the stadium -- something I didn't do much during all my years of attending Royals games here because my friends and I usually just went for the cheap seats in left field. We took some time to study the 1985 World Series trophy, walked through the Royals Hall of Fame and I bought a nylon Royals flag at a sidewalk/clearance sale outside the stadium store ...

At game time, it was sunny and clear. A sweltering 94 degrees. A precocious little 10-year-old sang "O Canada" and the National Anthem ...

And the pitcher's duel began. Gil Meche shut the Blue Jays out for five innings before giving up two runs in the sixth. Frank Thomas singled and walked while going 1-for-3. Troy Glaus went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts ...

The story of the game, though, was Shaun Marcum, who carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning with two outs. But it ended when Billy Butler hit a hard grounder up the middle and the shortstop, John McDonald, made a diving stop on it, but he couldn't get off a throw. In fact, as McDonald started his throwing motion, the ball flopped out of his glove almost purposefully, as though he was trying to induce an error and keep the no-hitter intact. And immediatedly afterward, the trainer and manager were out to get Marcum, who appeared to have been battling some kind of injury throughout the night ...

Then things really started getting exciting in the bottom of the eighth. Alex Gordon led off with a double for the Royals and then scored on what looked like a hit-and-run single by Joey Gathright. Then Tony Pena Jr. singled, but the Blue Jays got out of it on a double play ball ... In the ninth Mark Teahan got the crowd to its feet when he launched a ball to the left field wall, but Reed Johnson made a leeping grab on it. And Butler singled after fouling off what must've been a dozen pitches, but the Royals went down on the next at-bat.

Blue Jays win, 2-1.

And then, bring on the fireworks. I had forgotten about the Royals long-standing tradition of Friday night fireworks ... They were even more impressive than I remembered, and for Kates it was the highlight of the night. She even called tonight's fireworks better than the Fourth of July display we saw this year. I couldn't argue, either. Watching fireworks over Lake Michigan is one thing. Watching them shoot over a darkened baseball stadium with the foutains glowing beneath, that's pretty cool ...

1 comment:

E&K said...

So good to see you last weekend! It was great to reconnect. You should have gone for Oak Park Mall over Metcalf : )