Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Our Midwest Trip, Part 3: Kansas City

The World War I Museum was the whole reason we stopped in Kansas City.  It seems like we have many opportunities to learn about the Civil War and WWII but not WWI.    Little wonder!  The WWI Museum in Kansas City is the only WWI museum in the entire country.

Some of my favorites at the museum were the propaganda posters, shell casing art, and welcome home banners.

It's a little easier to appreciate someone else's restoration project, now.  This particular truck was ready to be sent to Europe just as the war ended.  Since it wasn't needed for the war, it was re-purposed as a truck.  Before coming to the museum, it was painstakingly restored as an ambulance by the son of an USAAS driver.

While I didn't see anyone in the "over 30 category" give this display more than a first glance, this interactive table was exactly what my kids needed to get sucked into WWI history.  The museum was busy but there just weren't many kids there at all; we had this great display all to ourselves.

We loved sitting in our own little sound booth to hear "sounds of the times."    We listened to poetry, journal entries, and music from the time.  Since we've been home, I've heard little voices around the house singing "Over there, Over there...."  We won't soon forget the songs or the poppies that represent 1,000 deaths each.

The kids and I got back to the trailer at dinner time after putting in a full day at the WWI museum. By then, Brian was done with his workday.  We grabbed a quick bit to eat at "Up Dog!"  (This is the part where you're supposed to ask:  "What's Up Dog?'")  Well, since you asked, it's a 50s-themed hotdog joint.  We sat a the counter (all the while swiveling on our stools) and scarfed our dogs.

Then, speaking of opportunities to learn about WWII,   we headed to the Harry Truman Library and Museum.   We were grateful that the Truman Library is open late on Thursdays in the summer;  that means that Brian got to go with us.   We stayed until they kicked us out at nine.

Hey!  Cut that out, kids!  I mean it!  The buck stops here!
Friday, the kids and I visited Leila's Hair Museum, the world's only hair museum.  (Yes, it's weird.)  How could we possibly pass up the opportunity though?  We moseyed around Independence, MO and grabbed a cool treat at Clinton's pharmacy.

After Brian's workday we headed to Country Club Plaza: the nation's first outdoor shopping mall built with cars in mind.  I wasn't too excited about seeing an outdoor shopping mall when the outside temperature was near 100 but I was not disappointed.  The fountains were amazing as were all of the architectural details. Come to think of it, the Anthropology store wasn't that bad either.

Saturday was another epic day of museums:

Harry Truman's house
At Truman's house we were privileged to visit the back porch, the kitchen, and the dining room. These rooms were reserved for close friends and family of the Trumans.  Visiting presidents and dignitaries were invited only into the front parlor (which was intentionally awkward and uncomfortable.)

Steamboat Arabia Museum:
In 1856 a merchant steamboat called "Arabia" sank in the Missouri river. Over the years, the shape of the Missouri river changed. In 1988 some men decided to look for the legendary "Arabia." They found it in mud 45 feet beneath a cornfield in Kansas. 

The men hunting the Arabia intended to sell its contents at an auction.  Lucky for us, they were so taken with the Arabia they decided to open a museum instead!

Rivet gawking at the Airline History Museum:
I wish I could tell you more about this place but most of the information fell out already.  This was our 6th museum in 3 days.  I think my brain was fried by the time we got here.  We still enjoyed looking at all of their great restorations and listening to the stories to go with them.
I especially loved seeing the Curtiss Wright flight trainer! 
Our intention was to stay in Kansas City for a couple of days and then head up to Des Moines, Iowa.  There are so many great things to do in the Kansas City/Independence area that we never made it to Des Moines.  We learned that Independence Missouri was the actual starting point for westward expansion.  (Don't tell that to St. Louis, Missouri!)  The Santa Fe, California, and Oregon trails all started in Independence.  We had to make one last stop before leaving Kansas City/Independence.

 So many wagons in one city left a mark.  Even after all these years you can still see the wagons ruts, called swales.  You'll just have to take my word for it, or go see for yourself, because I didn't get a very good picture of the swales. 

 Ironic that the starting place for trips to the west was almost as far west as we would make it for this trip.   This place must have some kind of pull from the past.  Being this far west just made us ache all the more to go farther.  Someday.

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