Thursday, September 14, 2017

Went To See The Show Me State - KC, COMO, & St. Louis

The wife and I have talked about going to at least one away South Carolina Football game a season, but when the season rolls around we ended up not. This season I looked at the schedule early and thought the Missouri game could be interesting. I flipped over to the Cardinals site and saw that they had a home series that same weekend. I presented it as we could go to KC for a couple of BBQ filled days, then check out the Carolina game, and then over to St. Louis. Surprisingly enough she said, "Ok, look to see how much flights were." The more I looked and researched for the trip I thought, "hhmmm, I wonder if the Royals have a home series." Sure enough, they did and the wife was still game.

We flew out of our home airport and connected in Chicago where when the pilot says, "they'll be 10-15 minutes of traffic." Then you realize it car traffic because you get to drive, not fly, over the interstate.

After about 4 hours of total travel time, we touched down in KC.

We got up our first day and as we walked out of the hotel on our way to breakfast we were hit by a smell. It wasn't trash. It wasn't sewage. It was a different smell. Something that I knew well. It was the smell of smokers rolling all across town, and it was a wonderful way to start the day.

Our first breakfast was at The Big Biscuit.

She ordered the Del Rio. Which came with chorizo, tomatoes, jalapenos, onions, and cheddar and jack cheese. As small of a thing as it was, she was just excited mostly that the ingredients were distributed evenly, and not here's a bunch of goodies and now here's a bunch of plain egg. When she wasn't going on about that. She was just singing, "I love chorizo."

The biscuit was perfectly flaky and everything you'd imagine a biscuit to be from a place called "The Big Biscuit." Well, I guess theoretically, it could have been bigger.

I decided to go for the heart attack on a plate and order the Cinnamon Roll Pancakes.

I'm really not a big sugar sweet guy, but dang this was absolutely amazing. The caramelized brown sugar gave it a little bit of a crunch which made me think, "You know what would make this better? Pecans!"

The pecans added even more crunch and just took it to another level. I wish they were also covered in brown sugar, but oh well, it was just one dish in my life.

After breakfast we went to the National World War I Monument and Museum, aka Liberty Memorial. The story behind the memorial is actually really neat. Apparently, a local group got together and decided that they wanted to raise money and build a monument in honor of the soldiers from Missouri that fought in the war. Next thing they knew, they raised $2.5 million, the opening ceremony was honored with the President and the presidents of our allies, and it turned into the national museum. Talk about over shooting your target just a bit.

The museum is awesome. It's slap full goodies including medals, posters, information, uniforms, guns, cannons, planes, trucks, and motorcycles. You name is, this place has it. We were also fortunate enough that some lady also taking the tour was a huge WWI buff and knew everything about every piece in the place. I'm talking she knew the guns, cannons, and walked up to a hat and knew exactly which country the hat belong to and why they wore it versus a helmet. Ok, so we creeped around her and her friends so we could learn more.

Outside of the memorial is just as amazing as inside. From the back, you get a great view of Union Station and downtown.

I went up the monument, and from there you can see to the end of the Earth. I'm not sure if it was designed that way or not, but the front lawn resembles the National Mall in Washington D.C. but with grass instead of the pool.

At first it may seem odd that there would be Baseball fields in an area like this, but I swear Kansas City has 400 million Baseball fields. Seriously, I counted every single one. It's like everywhere you look, there's a group of Baseball fields. I would expect no less than some being in a sacred area such as this.

The museum also has 2 side exhibits up top, and in one was F. Earl Fowler. I have no clue if we're related, but we could be so here's his gun.

After the museum we got our first taste of Kansas City BBQ at Gates BBQ.

When you walk into Gates, you know you're in a BBQ restaurant. The aroma of smoked meat immediately hits you, and if you weren't hungry before, you are now.

I ordered the "Center Cut" ribs. They were good. Cooked very well, but wasn't mind blowing. The sauce did have a nice kick to it. Nothing crazy, but just enough so you knew some heat was there.

The real star of the show was her "Burnt Ends on a Bun". This sandwich was so good. There was so much meat that she couldn't finish it all. So, once I finished my ribs, I did. The burnt ends had a crunch on them that I could have kept eating all day long. The beans weren't anything to write home about, but your old school joints focus on the meat, not the sides.

The price was also a little stout at $33. It's nowhere close to way over priced that Blue Smoke in NYC was, but just seems a little on the higher side of things.

A new tradition of our trips has become to visit the Federal Reserves. The Federal Reserve of Kansas City also included The Money Museum.

If I could have just ... ok, all of that, please.

After the Federal Reserve we went over to Crown Center and did a little shopping and ended up going to Chips Chocolate Factory for some munchies.

I had a turtle and white fudge oreo with M&Ms on top, and both were very good.

She decided against the chocolate and instead wanted to go to Smallcakes

She got the "Peanut Butter Cup Cupcake". If you know my wife, then you know "peanut butter cups" are her weakness.

Our first sporting event of the trip was to see Kansas City Royals take on the Minnesota Twins.

The park was gorgeous and I really loved the openness of the stadium. There were food vendors all over the place, and it wasn't all the same options (I'm looking at you SunTrust Park).

Former Gamecock Whit Merrifield

The view from Craft & Draft up on the 3rd base line. There wasn't a bad view in the whole stadium.

Because, everybody has tacos at a Baseball game ...

While I did the BBQ Hotdog, and it was oh so good.

Leaving Kauffman Stadium was the smoothest I have ever seen of any sport venue that I've been to. Now, it was a Thursday night game, so it was far from sold out. But, the only time I wasn't moving was the few minutes it took to get out of the parking lot section that we were in. Once we got out of there, everything flowed.

Day 2 started off at Genessee Royale Bistro. While I was hungry, I was more interested in the building across the street. Just think of all of the yummy deliciousness that has past through there.

When you walk up and a place has a smoker on the side, it's always a good sign.

I ordered the biscuits and sausage gravy with a glass of orange juice. The OJ was super fresh. The gravy had an odd texture to it. It had a little grainy feel. After a few bites, I'm pretty sure it was parmesan cheese. Once I figured that out, it was actually really good.

She decided on the waffles, and said they were "very light and fluffy" and had a nice little crunch right on the outside.

From Breakfast we headed over to the KC Zoo.

Ok, I'm going to need everyone to look at the yellow white face gibbon here. He was actually sitting on the other side of the black one, and on the edge of the rock. He was kind of slouched down with his legs crossed and his arms crossed on top of them. D was going on about how "adorable" he was and blah blah blah. We turn to walk away, and as I turn back to say something to her, dude comes flying off the rock, swings across 2 vines, and then leaps through the air to attack her, but instead runs face first into the glass. I think she about peed her pants, but I almost fell in the floor laughing. Then after all that, he swings back up and acts like nothing ever happened.

Now this bobcat is just hanging out now, but just before this some little kids were bouncing all over the place and this fella came pacing through his cage and looked like he was ready for brunch.

Rock makes good pillow.

Later we get to the Cheetah exhibit. In the long open field, there was one cheetah just laying out and he looked up when some kids were walking around yelling. Well he looked right at us instead, so I waved and said hey. We continue walking and there ends up being a glass window viewing area just around the corner. We stop for a second and the next thing you know, he comes bebopping around the side and when he sees us looking he kind of picks his head up like, "Oh, hey. Um, I totally wasn't just trying to come eat you."

After the Zoo we headed over to McLain's Bakery.

We each got a cupcake and I may or may not have gotten a pecan twist and she may or may not have gotten a snickerdoodle cookie as well.

Lunch was at Kansas City BBQ royalty. The place that started it all, Arthur Bryants. Before the trip I kept hearing people say, "Don't go to Arthur Bryants. It's not that good." And just on and on. The thing is, I'm a traditionalist, so if I have the chance to one of the holy grails of BBQ ... I'm going.

She had the brisket sandwich with fries. The fries were meh. The brisket was extremely tender. As far as I could tell, the rub was just salt and pepper, but dang was it good.

We split the beans which were better than Gates, but again, nothing amazing.

Surprise, I did a combo with the pulled pork and sausage. When they gave me the tray I wasn't sure what they gave me with the pork. I asked the guy like 5 times and he goes "that is the sausage. Here!" and sliced me another piece and handed it to me. I almost fell down in the line. The pork ok. I mean, you don't go to KC for pork. You come to the Carolinas for that.

I add the Sweet Heat to the sausage for just a little extra, but it didn't need anything. This sausage sandwich is hands down the best thing I had the entire trip. It may be the best thing I've had all year. I don't know what all you nah sayers are having other places, but I can't imagine too much is better than this sausage.

After I was miserably full, we headed over to the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame with the College Basketball Experience.

You got to go to different stations to see how you stack up compared to past players. Wow, my height confirms that I could be a short white guy on the court. Got it.

"You know what they say about guys with big feet don't you? They spend more for shoes." - Shaq

They had a court you should shoot on, and a bunch of "situational" interactive shooting sections.

Showing off at the free throw line. Missed the record by 2.

Throwing it down, but apparently I'm so lightening fast, the camera can't keep up.
(Note: do not compare my height on the ground to that of the goal)

Next up we checked out Westport for some drinks and looking around.

While we were there, we stepped into Westport Ice Cream Bakery

If you look past the big lick spot at the front, she had the Blueberry Gram.

Hers was really good she said, but my Cookie Monster was AMAZING! I don't tend to venture out from chocolate, but this was too good to pass up with the 4 different kinds of cookies infused. The only bad part about any of it was that the cones were bought and not made fresh.

We may or may not have also stopped at Doughnut Lounge also for some snacks for the drive to COMO on Saturday. She actually said no to the S'mores and went for the Blueberry Cake instead. So I got the S'mores. These doughnuts are super fluffy and just so good.

We changed dinner plans last minute, so I allowed the wifey to search and find a new spot. She came across McCoy's Public House. We've been eating our way through KC, so we decided to go a little lighter. She got a ceasar salad and chili.

Oh, I said we were eating light ... well, I got the Mac Daddy with blackened chicken. Pasta with 4 cheeses is probably not considered light, but it was definitely good, and that's all I cared about. I probably should have gotten the regular grilled chicken instead of the blackened, but it was still good.

Saturday started with breakfast at eggtc where I had the Spicy Italian omelet and she had the Turkey Sausage and Egg biscuits.

Before we leave Kansas City, I feel like something needs to be addressed. While I appreciate the smoother roads than we have in South Carolina. I want to know who's idea it was to use sticky notes as lane indicators? Not sure what that means? Well, just imagine driving on a 3 lane road that you're not familiar with, with no white lines to show the end of the road and the "dotted lines" aren't there. It's just these little somewhat reflective markers that seriously look like someone painted sticky notes with reflective paint and stuck them on the road. Just a plain black road with some dots here and there.

Ok, lets get back to it.

Part of the reason I was wanting to go to the Royals game was to potentially get to Whit Merrifield and have him sign a Gamecock National Championship hat. I met Jackie Bradley Jr a few years ago and had him sign it, but thought it'd be really neat if I had the guy who had the walk off hit to win our first national title and the guy that made the catch to win the second title on the same hat.

Well Saturday after breakfast and the gym, we decided to run to one more store that had closed before we could get to it the day before. As we turn down one of the roads there was a group of people just standing on the sidewalk chatting, and it hit me ... "OH MY GAH, THAT'S WHIT MERRIFIELD!" D goes "well, do you want to pull over and see if he'll sign it now?" I said no and drove on down the road. About 2 blocks later there was a parking garage, so I whipped it in real quick, hopped out of the car and then went on the search. I felt like a creeper stalking him down, but it was successful.

If you've seen any of my cooks, then you know I'm a big fan of Plowboys Yardbird Rub. It's pretty much my #1 go-to rub to use. So, I couldn't go to KC and ignore my guys, so we stopped at Plowboys restaurant on our way out to Columbia, Missouri (COMO).

She got one of the most massive BBQ baked potatoes I've ever seen. She got about half way through and tapped out.

I went for the simple pulled pork sandwich with mac and cheese. It was good, but I think I do a better job with their product (that's a challenge if you ever see this).

This smokers just chilling outside.

We made it to COMO and headed downtown for Football and a few drinks and food before the game. I look up and D is reading a book on her phone. Her answer was, "Well, you're going to be watching all the games, and I don't care about any of them." I guess she makes a good point.

It's Game Time!

This is not to talk trash or throw any jabs across the way, but I can't express how shocked I was that the Missouri crowd vanished the way they did. I understand that at that point in the game it was pretty much in the bag, but the players deserve better than this with 4 minutes to play. Crazier things have happened in College Football.

The final bell rang, and the Gamecocks took the victory 31-13.

Heading back to the car and I spotted this bad boy. Luckily for the owner I didn't have my truck, or this may have been coming back to SC.

I will also add. The Missouri fans were all very nice that we met. We met a good number at the bar, and even on our way in and out of the stadium, everyone was very nice. Good luck the rest of the season.

After the game we headed to our hotel in Warrenton which was about the halfway point between COMO and St. Louis. Sunday we got up and finished the trip on to St. Louis.

After the Arch, we headed over to Anheuser-Bush for the free tour. We actually stepped out a little early so we'd be able to make it to the game on time.

The Clydesdales live a more lavish life than probably any of us do.

The dogs even have their own place.

Ok, so maybe we didn't go straight to the game when we cut out. I couldn't leave without having a Bud Light at it's home. She of course had the Wolf Pup IPA and said it was delicious too.

A sight that I have been waiting to see for a very long time. I love the game of Baseball, so I kind of "pull for" a number of teams. However, the St. Louis Cardinals have been my #1 most of my life. When Tommy Lasorta and Mark McGwire left Oakland and became Cardinals, I followed. Then Albert Pujols could be my all-time favorite player (from this era).

Just absolute beauty.

When I ordered the tickets to the games, I made one request. That I wanted as close to the game as absolutely possible. D being the amazing woman that she is, agreed.

Big Mac Land

Really cool that they had this scoreboard (although not accurate for the time) inside the corridor.

Everyone had these amazing looking nachos, so that's what she went with. She couldn't have been happier ... until the people sitting beside me came back with nachos and BBQ all over them.

Double cheeseburger with tots ... because, tots.

What better way to end an amazing trip that with a Yadier Molina led (Home Run with 5 RBI) victory for the Cards!

From the game we headed to the airport to start the journey home. Which is where my only knock on Busch Stadium comes. We weren't in a huge hurry, so we hung out a little while and checked out the shops. The traffic was an absolute nightmare. There was no directing traffic, it was just use the red lights and fend for yourself. Oh, 3 cars just blocked the intersection and now nobody anywhere can move? Sorry!

While at the airport we stopped at the Pizza Studio for their handmade pizzas. It may be airport food, but it was so good. Which, I guess it's hard to mess up meat and cheese on dough.

Overall, we had an absolute great time. Kansas City was like a Greenville/Asheville/Charlotte/Atlanta all mixed into one. It had sections of small town with a section of big city, but it was just that, sections. If you wanted to stay away from the big city feel, you very easily could. St. Louis had a bit of a Charleston feel to it in areas with the stone roads and ample spranged ankle opportunities mixed with the older buildings. We both agreed that we look forward to returning sometime in the future.

Kansas City 

The Big Biscuit

National World War I Museum

Gates BBQ

Federal Reserve of Kansas City "The Money Museum"

Chips Chocolate Factory


Kauffman Stadium

Genessee Royale Bistrio

Kansas City Zoo

McLain's Bakery

Arthur Bryants

College Basketball Hall of Fame/Experience

Westport Ice Cream Bakery

Doughnut Lounge

McCoy's Public House



Faurot Field

Busch Stadium