From the Penthouse to the Outhouse
In A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens' wrote in his opening line that "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." That was the way it was for me last weekend. First, the best of times.
I picked up my son Will in Seward, the home town of his wife Erica, and then let him drive us to Kansas City. The drive was pleasant and seemed short because we had a lot to talk about. It was early afternoon when we got there and since I hadn't eaten anything yet, I was pretty hungry. I've been to Kansas City several times but have never had their world famous barbeque and that's what I wanted.
The best barbeque joint in Kansas City as listed by several publications included Zagat, is Joe's Kansas City Bar-B-Que, located in an old gas station on West 47th street. Will had eaten there before and said that the line waiting to get in was long and it was no different on Saturday. The line meandered around the building and we stood in it for an hour before we got inside. Once inside, the line continued to snake to the back of the building so we were in line for another 30 minutes before we finally got to place our order. After that you move down the line to pay and then wait on your meal. Will and I both had the barbeque ribs. He chose French fries and baked beans as side dishes while I got the Cole slaw and onion rings. The onion rings were an additional $5.35 but reviews said they were delicious so I ordered them.
Was Joe's worthy of its number one ranking? Here's how I looked at it. NO barbecue is worth standing in line for an hour and a half and Joe's barbecue wasn't either. The ribs were good, the Cole slaw was average and the onion rings were just okay. Add to that the din of noise that was constant because the line never went down so the overall experience was certainly not the most pleasant I've ever had. Will said there were other top rated barbecue places in Kansas City that had NO lines and were cordial and friendly to their customers and I wish we had chosen one of them instead. I wanted to eat at Joe's because of its top ranking so I'm glad I did but I won't again.
After lunch, we checked into our favorite hotel, The Embassy Suites, went to our room and freshened up and then went down to happy hour. Our room number, by the way, was 1007 which is my birthday and the first street address we lived at in Russellville, Arkansas when we moved there so I knew it was going to be a good day. We used Uber to get to the concert hall which was about a mile and a half away from the hotel and, once again, it was a positive experience, as it was when we used it in Denver. The charge was only $4.14 and the driver said it was against Uber policy to accept tips. I don't know why everyone doesn't use them.
My worry about our tickets not working was unfounded and we got in without any difficulty at all. Since we had VIP tickets, we got a Boz Scaggs monogrammed beach bag at the VIP gift center containing a monogrammed cork screw, a large also monogrammed black beach towel, a heavy key chain and an autographed copy of the latest song he's written, Hell to Pay. With our free gifts in hand, we made it to our front row seats. The woman sitting next to me was named Sherry and she told me Boz Scaggs was her and her husband's favorite artist. They got front row seats for the concert as soon as they became available but three weeks ago her husband unexpectedly died. So there was only one empty seat on the front row and it was his. She cried all the way through the concert because almost every song Boz Scaggs sings has to do with unrequited love.
The opening act was Booker T, formerly called Booker T and the MG's, but now just Booker T and his band. His son was the lead guitar player and Booker beamed the whole set at his son's artistry on his instrument. They played familiar songs and were a great warmup for Boz. As soon as the stage changes were made, Boz walked out in his typical unassuming way and simply started singing.
I've been to a lot of concerts in my life but this was the best. There were no pyro-technics, no dancers and no distractions; just Boz, his one backup singer who was incredible in her own right and a band that was as tight as any I've ever heard. The time just flew by and the whole sell-out crowd was wanting more when the concert finally ended. Will and I took Uber back to the hotel, had a couple of nightcaps and went to bed because I was facing a six hour drive the next day, this time by myself.
We got up the next morning, enjoyed the complimentary breakfast the hotel always serves and then I headed back to McCook while Will waited on his wife to pick him up so they could go back to Arkansas. The drive across Kansas is pretty boring and I was happy to get to the turnoff at Grainfield in order to head north towards McCook. As I got closer and closer to Oberlin, I saw a storm brewing to the north so I pulled off at one of the gas stations and convenience stores at the main intersection, turned on the radio and also activated the radar on my cellphone. Sure enough, there was a severe thunderstorm warning for southern Red Willow County and northern Decatur County where Oberlin is located so I just sat in my car and waited for the storm to pass because I didn't want to take the chance of my new Mustang getting hailed on. Several minutes later, Rich Barnett said that the severe thunderstorm warning had been cancelled so I headed north. Just south of Cedar Bluffs, I ran into heavy rain with some thunder and lightning but no hail so I continued northbound. Then I saw a flash out of the corner of my eye and when I turned to see what it was, all I saw was a deer's head crashing into my side view mirror. He was evidently running across the highway at full bore when he ran into me. It shook the whole car and afterwards I was amazed that the car didn't either hydroplane or that I didn't lose control of it but neither bad thing happened so I drove on home.
When I pulled up in front of my apartment and got out, I was sick to my stomach. The deer had caused major damage to the whole driver's side of my car and this was suddenly the worst of times. I filed an accident report as soon as I saw the amount of damage and took it in for an estimate the next day which turned out being just a little short of $10,000.
But the car can be fixed and maybe I couldn't have been so even though it WAS the worst of times, it wasn't as bad as it could have been.