A Quick Day in Lawrence, KS

It’s crazy to think that one week ago we were leaving Kansas after a whirlwind trip for Doug’s little brother’s graduation in the center of the state. Isn’t it crazy how quickly time goes by once you return from vacation? Anyway, the relative passage of time is neither here nor there. When we arrived at the Kansas City airport we picked up our rental car, met with a friend for lunch, and then high-tailed it to our favorite city in the Sunflower State: Lawrence. To be honest, I can’t believe I haven’t done a profile on Lawrence yet!

lawrence

One thing I’ve noticed in life is this: If you want to find the best donuts in town, find out where the senior citizen crowd goes. You certainly won’t find the most aesthetically pleasing joint, but you will find the best donuts. Start your day in Lawrence out at Munchers Bakery. The cream cheese donuts were highly recommended, but I loved my blueberry and apple fritters.

Munchers Donuts

Once your’e hopped up on sugar and caffeine, burn off some of that energy by heading over to Clinton Lake for some fresh air and pretty scenery, or take a stroll around KU–the University of Kansas.

Then, head over to the most popular part of town– Massachusets St (called Mass St). If you truly wanted to, it would be easy to spend the entire day on Mass, poking around each and every shop–varying from big chains like Gap, to antique stores, music stores, and more.

Arriving at Mass Street, you’re probably ready for lunch. Whatever you’re in the mood for, there is a great restaurant to fit the bill.

Notable shops include…

Love Garden Sounds, a music store with a wide variety of CDs and Vinyl, including some hard-to-finds. Since I’ve been visiting Lawrence the shop has been in three different locations, but the loyal customers take it all in stride. The shopfront they’re in now has a primo location so I don’t anticipate any shakeups for a while. Isn’t the deconstructed piano in their front window incredible?

Love Garden

Love Garden

Wild Man Vintage is a clothing store dealing in (you guessed it) vintage. It rules, but we’re biased because our buddy works here. But really, look at that amazing selection of vintage boots!

Wild Man Vintage

Wild Man Vintage

In the evening, catch a show at Liberty Hall, The Granada, The Bottleneck, or even Jackpot!  I’ve seen several shops at Liberty Hall and they have been some of the best ones I’ve ever been to. It’s easy to get really close to the stage!

After the show head back to your friend’s apartment–you are staying with a college buddy, right? And partake in a time-tested tradition–ordering a midnight pizza from Fat Freddy’s. Their delivery hours are insanely late: up to 3 and 4 AM!

Anyway… that’s what I’d do! ;)

One Day in Kansas City

Kansas City. Unless you’re from the area, you probably aren’t familiar with the wonders to be experienced here. It probably doesn’t register on most people’s radar as “Major US City” (it is near the bottom of the 40 largest list) but 500,000 people can’t be wrong, it’s a good place to live. Missouri must like to share, because like its other major city (St Louis), it bleeds across the state border into Kansas (especially when you take into account some of Kansas City’s nicer suburbs like Lenexa and Overland Park, which lie southwest of the city).

One of my favorite parts of KC is the Plaza, which holds several good memories for me, including the lighting of the city’s Christmas Lights the day after Thanksgiving 2005, some really good dates, and in my opinion the best Urban Outfitters clearance section I’ve ever shopped. The plaza has some of the region’s only locations for stores like Banana Republic, Restoration Hardware, and American Apparel, and restaurants like PF Chang’s. Sometimes its nice for a city slicker like me to spend a day among retail affluence (although I can’t really afford to shop in these kinds of places anyway)–its a nice break from the small-town life I now lead.

However, one interesting thing about this city (and other cities too, naturally), is how abruptly one goes from “good” neighborhood to “bad” neighborhood, back to “good” while driving in one direction without changing roads. On our way to The Plaza we experienced this shift at least five times in only a few miles.

The last thing I want to rave about is the City Market and the adjacent Steamboat Arabia museum. I was shown the City Market once on a tour but as it was the tail end of winter, it wasn’t open–all I got to see was the location and the empty stalls. Before our trip, however, I did a little more research, confirmed that it was open, and we had lunch at an Arabic restaurant. Mmmmm, schwarma ;) In addition to the Arabic restaurant and connected Arabic store and sidewalk market, there were Italian and African grocery stores and across the street two Asian Groceries (we did not make it to the Asian stores). The whole world in one city block!

The Steamboat museum came highly recommended by Doug’s parents and, contrary to my initial skepticism, it was amazing!! The story behind it was that in the 1830s a steamboat sunk and the boat and all its cargo were preserved underneath the claylike mud. Now that its been excavated, much of the cargo (an astonishing amount of stuff) is still like new! Very, very, interesting and indicative of pioneer life–literally everything that would have been sold in a fronteir general store was on this boat and has been preserved as a snapshot.

Day Trips are Still Trips

Yesterday I went to the LA area with my sister and visited a bunch of old friends. It occurred to me that this is the kind of thing I do frequently, yet there are people out there who only dream of visiting “glamorous” LA or Beverly Hills. Sure, parts of it are glamorous, even for a So Cal native like myself, but parts are pretty average, or even run-down. Its not all like you see in the movies! Also, it takes forever to get from place to place. Lots of driving! Not like Europe at all–America is so spread-out!

I did not take this photo.
I did not take this photo.

I love visiting other parts of America and seeing the subtle differences from state to state. For example, I always forget (until I visit) how important and influential the Jewish community is to Beverly Hills. I mean, even the sushi and gelato places we visited had rabbinical (I am pretty sure that’s the right word) certifications!

Speaking of seeing the good old US of A, the family and I are headed to Colorado tomorrow for about a week! We are going to see the Four Corners this weekend and probably spend a few nights in Arizona. I’m excited about returning to the wild west stompin’ grounds of my youth! Time to pack my birkenstocks and granola bars! No, but really, I will be bringing three or four books, my trusty camera (finally emptied of my Morocco pictures and ready to be refilled with gorgeous scenery) and lots of sunscreen!