Thursday, July 1, 2010

Kansas City then Heading Home

We checked in at the Jackson County, Fleming Park, Blue Springs Lake Campground on Sunday. If you try to locate this park on a GPS it just isn’t listed. We booked this campground 3 years ago and had to get the driving directions from the Parks & Recreation Office after getting lost. Apparently the locals all know about this very nice park and we make reservations early to get our favorite spot, #51.  We had just gotten set up and Jennifer & Jamie drove in. They unloaded their stuff and we went to the Salty Iguana, one of our favorite Mexican restaurants in the area, for a late lunch.




When driving into Kansas City we passed this very interesting vehicle. They patrol the highways and have all the tools and equipment needed to assist motorists. We wish we would see more of these on our travels.



We started our SkillsUSA week on Tuesday with the check-in of the Job Interview contestants.  After rearranging the chairs and drapes on the 4th floor of the Municipal Hall, we were ready at noon. We had about 26 Post-Secondary and 44 Secondary students. Other than one oversight on my part in not pulling extra PS student numbers everything went great. We went across the street to Bartle Hall, an enormous convention center with 388,800 square feet of contiguous, column-free space, Bartle Hall’s main exhibition hall covers an area the size of eight football fields! We definitely got our walking workout when going to the SkillsUSA Shop to buy a couple of shirts. Then we found a nifty clearance table and bought a couple of more shirts.

We went to the local Bandana’s restaurant and loved it. Jenny bought about 6 bottles of BBQ sauce and the cute server guy gave us a handful of BBQ sauce packets that have really come in handy in sprucing up our sandwiches.

Wednesday was our first day of judging. We had a wonderful group of volunteer judges from Lowes, Kohl's, Costco and state SKillsUSA staff. Tom was the Secondary receptionist judge. The next day we judged the 8 Post-Secondary finalists and 12 Secondary finalists. I was able to be a PS judge. These contestants are the cream of the crop. One of my fellow judges from Lowe’s said she would like to hire one of these students right on the spot.

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Tom went over to Kemper Arena to see the Team Build contest. That contest builds a small room (service porch), over the coarse of 3 days starting from a presentation of how the team of a carpenter, plumber, electrician and bricklayer will schedule their build. 


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After finishing the finals for Job Interview, we walked over to the enormous Bartle Hall to see what contests were still running. Boy, some got done real early.




We ran into Jeff Sheline from Woodland HS watching his student in the carpentry contest (that we later found would win a Bronze medal). Also there was Chuck Felice from Salinas watching his Cabinetmaking student. Alas, no medal for him.  We are always amazed at the diversity of the contests at the National SkillsUSA Competition. Anyone reading this who has the opportunity to be near Kansas City the 3rd week in June should really try to see our nation’s best in over 90 competitions.

kansas-cityOn our way back to the rig we wanted to try the restaurant,  Jack Stack, that was recommended. Well, you just never know where your GPS will bring you when you put in a destination. Our GPS, Mildred, is very literal. She took us to the closest Jack Stacks which was their corporate headquarters. But we found this mistake to be so interesting. We found ourselves in a very unique underground storage facility, Thermopolis. We thought we have found a secret bunker of some sort. Thankfully they put lots of signage underground and we were able to get out safely. Huge 18-wheelers were going in and out of this ‘cave’. Amazing.  The security guard just outside the ‘cave’ told us his favorite BBQ was just down the road at the Casino, Arthur Bryant’s. It had huge portions, but I personally liked the sauces at Bandana’s.

Friday was a free day so we all went to the WWI museum. This new part of the museum which is under the column was completed 3 years ago and is the only WWI National Museum in the US. It is truly amazing. One of the most interesting facts to me was the total collapse into war in just one week.

CIMG6501 1914, July 29 Austria-Hungary declares war on Serbia

1914, July 30 Russia mobilizes its troops in support of Serbia   

1914, Aug 1 Germany declares war on Russia

1914, Aug 1 France mobilizes in support of its Russian ally

1914, Aug 3 Germany declares war on France

1914, Aug 3 Germany invades Belgium

1914, Aug 4 Great Britten declares war on Germany

1914, Aug 6 Austria-Hungary declares war on Russia

1914, Aug 6 Serbia declares war on Germany

One week, like a house of cards, Europe is at war.


There is an interesting display where you can design a mural using the icons on the outside of the museum and then send it to any email. I sent one to Mom, myself and Golden Spikers, the Prices.


This is Jamie looking at one of the light pen activated interactive boards. One of the board was the mural display, another was Kansas City during the war, another was an interactive machine gun display. In addition to the usual museum pieces there are private rooms where you can listen to personal stories, poems, prose and music from WWI.

Two movies help to explain the uniqueness of this war: airplanes, trenches, world involvement.






This year we were there early enough to go up in the tower for a view of Kansas City, Union Station, and the beautiful skyline.  It was a warm ride in the elevator that held 7 people not counting the museum volunteer. We only stayed long enough to take pictures. The humidity was so high we thought we needed gills.


We also were able to visit the two original museums that sit on top on either side of the column. Before the new museum was built these buildings were just crammed with WWI ‘stuff’. After the new museum was built people have donated many important pieces. The mural is worth the trip. It has been shorted from the original and many famous Americans have been added to the piece which you can enlarge via a digital display in front of the mural.





That night was the Award Ceremony and Jennifer and Tom hung medals on the Job Interview Gold, Silver and Bronze Secondary & Post-Secondary winners.  Job Interview was quite late in the program and when we left California had 2 Gold and 9 Silver & Bronze medals. To put that in perspective: 90 contests, 3 medals per Secondary & Post-Secondary = 640 medals. California does not have contestants in all contests. Even so we were somewhat disappointed when we are one of the most populous states.


The next day Jennifer and Jamie left for Fresno and we went sight seeing and a little geocaching.  We tried to go to the Botanical Gardens, but they had a special event going on so we detoured over to the Truman Farm.  We noticed there was a geocache just the other side of the fence so we drove around.  There was a barricade across the old road, but because we were not going far we drove the Jeep over the curb, and across the field.  We were busy looking for Tru MAN nano when don’t you know 2 police cars drive up to the barricade. They got out and sauntered over. We greeting them with, “Have you ever heard of Geocaching?”. NO. They were just so nice when we explained, gave them our card, a card that helps them get started caching, and then they helped find the cache. What a cool experience. I guess not all police are like the one Nick ran into the other day.

On our way back to the park we tried to see the Missouri 1855 Town Museum, a living history outdoor display within Fleming Park. There are even Bison and Elk in the park. We were too late to see the 1855 Town but decided to get up early and see it in the morning. The next morning the weather had cooled just a little and it was quite pleasant walking the town.


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We left Kansas City on Sunday and drove to OK, TX, NM, & AZ on our way home to California.  As I write this we are in the Mojave Desert 3 hours from Fresno. We will be glad to see our family!!!

Thanks for coming along as we On the Road Again, Caching Places We’ve Never Been.

Hugs, Tom, Barbara & Pansy