I got up this morning and made coffee, eggs over easy and half a smoked trout. I spent way too long posting about the previous days travels, having to crank the engine twice to produce enough electrons to finish the darn post.
As I was finally getting on the road, I thought that I should visit the Isle of Capri so that I could keep my-bucket-use count at zero. It then seemed only sporting to provide business to the establishment, so I went and put another fiver into a slot machine. Yes, slot machines have crappy odds, but they do not require any skill, thought, or interacting with humans. I played my five bucks worth of spins and lo! ended up eight dollars ahead. This was especially good news as the ice I bought, at $1.50 for SIX pounds seemed quite extravagant.
I stuck with my friends Lewis and Clark until one point when their route went back east. These guys were apparently idiots and had no freaking idea where Kansas City was. I got disgusted, took my own aimless route for a while, decided I was too far north, headed south and when I next turned onto something that looked like it was going west, found that I’d joined them again.
At about 2:30 I’d made it into Kansas City, stopped at some park that I’d apparently “starred” in Google maps, and on a whim, typed “brewery” into my map app. It turned out that Boulevard Brewing Company was less than two miles away. Thinking that I could sit in a nice air conditioned brewpub for the afternoon, I headed on over there.
It turned out that there’s no pub, it’s a real brewery. They do have tours, but they require reservations. The door was open, so I walked on in. There were a bunch of people in a little store selling brewery swag. I asked the woman who appeared to be in charge, and I pray that her name was Anne, as I promised that I’d say what an awesome guide she was. Anne, if I got your name wrong, you can leave a comment or send an email or whatever, and I promise I’ll fix your name. I asked when the next tour was, she asked if I was a party of one, I said that I was. I turned out that the tour started in five minutes.
It’s a beautiful brewery, a cool tour, and there’s free beer at the end. If you’re planning a trip to Kansas City I recommend that you go
now to their web site to make a reservation, especially if you have friends. A couple of guys I talked to said they’d been on the waiting list for four months.
Speaking of talking to people, one of the things I’ve been wondering about is how I can actually interact with humans on this trip on the sections between visits to people I know. If you know me as a teacher, professor, or head counselor, you might think that I’m gregarious and self-confident. Well, I’m not. When you saw me, it was my job to talk to you and make it seem like whatever we were doing together was fun. If you know me as a member of some club, formal or informal, you might think the same thing, but there again, it was easy to welcome strangers into a community I’m a part of because you liked me. Since you liked me, it was easy to talk to the new people because if I found out they didn’t like me, I could just go back to talking to you. When I moved to Knoxville, I made prodigious efforts to meet people, but it was an insane amount of work, and it was an investment in moving to a new town. Now, I’m in a new town virtually all of the time.
Living in a van I have none of those things. Talking to strangers is work and I don’t really feel like I have any tools. I talked on the phone last night to a friend who gave me some hope that I could interact with humans that I do not know. One of her tips was that if you go places where people who are by themselves are, chances are they want to talk to someone too. Yes, to me, this most-obvious advice sounded sage.
On the brewery tour, I noticed another person who seemed to be traveling alone. When the drinking part of the tour commenced, I managed to ask something really clever like “How’s the beer?” And from that, I was able to learn that she was visiting town this week doing some kind of quality assurance gig and lived with her boyfriend somewhere on the eastern seaboard. She got samples of the porter and the stout, which she hated, so I was able to sample those without wasting one of my four drink tickets. And then she left.
I packed up my camera, followed her outside, and asked what she was doing next, since she had obviously done more research about what to do here than I had. With the angst of an eighth grader asking a girl to the prom I cautiously asked whether I could join her for dinner, and she said “Of course!”
There was some Popsicle that she’d read about that she wanted to try, so we went and checked that out. Then we headed to dinner at some place in the “power and light” district. She’d found some sushi place. I questioned the wisdom of eating sushi in the midwest, especially for one who lives on a coast. We went for a walk, but then remembered the stifling heat, and ended up at The Flying Saucer, where I got a cute little snifter glass of Parabola, an imperial porter.
It’s hot in Kansas City. It’s almost midnight and it’s still 85 Fahrenheit. When the evening was winding down, what I really wanted was to invite my new friend to sleep in the camper so that I could sleep in her air conditioned hotel room. I couldn’t figure out a way to suggest that, though, so I typed “casino” into the map app and found a Isle of Capri only ten minutes away.
I parked, used the facilities, put five dollars in a slot machine, lost it all, and headed back to Walden. I’m parked among several dozen tractor trailers, most of which have their engines running. And it’s hot. And muggy. I found a little battery-powered fan that came with the camper and pulled batteries out of a flashlight to make it go. I don’t like the hot. I’m planning to get up early and see if I can get across Kansas to find some higher elevations in Colorado. I’m through with Lewis and Clark.