I arrived by air on Friday, early afternoon, and without trouble claimed by bag, picked up a rental car, and checked into my hotel. It was hot in Kansas City (ninety-seven degrees!) and humid too!
A short while later, I drove to nearby Leavenworth, Kansas, where my cousin Greg, his wife Melissa, and their thirteen-month-old daughter, Ava, make their home. Leavenworth is where they make their new home, I should add – they just moved there three weeks ago. Melissa gave me the tour of their house, a comfortable two-bedroom on a quiet street, and then Greg and Ava returned from a grocery store run.
|Ava and Greg|
I helped Greg distract Ava (out in the backyard, see the picture) while Melissa finished dinner, and then we all sat down to eat chicken tacos from the crockpot. I enjoyed the chance to see them all for a few hours and hear about their settling into their new home. I headed back to my hotel for the evening, taking a few minutes to visit the hotel pool before turning in for the night.
The following day was the wedding day, but not until four, so I took the morning to explore Kansas City. As I was staying at one of the official wedding hotels, I had been given on arrival a gift bag from Jon and Natalie (his bride) containing a few snacks and a welcome letter indicating some of their favorite tourist spots and restaurants in the area. As I said above, this was my first visit to Kansas City, so I took advantage of their suggestions.
My first stop was Loose Park, a large urban park with extensive gardens and walking paths. My only exercise in the last forty-eight hours had been a few laps in the pool, so I took a stroll on one of those paths, circling the park’s perimeter. The path led me past a few Civil War-era markers (Kansas City being an active location during that conflict).
|Jacob Loose, the park's namesake|
|A view of Loose Park paths and some Civil War markers|
Lunch was at a burger place in the Westport area of Kansas City, also recommended by the bride and groom, and then I headed to the one place in Kansas City of which I had previous knowledge – the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. Though I love Chicago, one thing it does not have is a municipal performing arts center, so it is something I only get to see when I visit other cities. I spent a few minutes at Kauffman, taking pictures and taking in the grandeur of the relatively new facility.
I drove back to my hotel, changed, and headed to the wedding, held in a church not far from the hotel. I was almost immediately greeted by another good friend from college, Nathaniel Olson, who was serving as an usher.
|My old roommate, Nathaniel, ushering|
Given that both the bride and groom are professional musicians, I was not surprised at the quality and quantity of music that Jon and Natalie included in their service. They were successfully wedded, and exited the church to a shower of bubbles.
All of us guests made our way to a nearby country club for the reception. I found my table with several other Wheaton grads, with an excellent view of the bridal party’s introduction. It was a fun party – good food, a DJ who may have been having the most fun of anyone, and a photo booth. It was also really fun to see some of those Wheaton friends for the first time in over a year in some cases.
|THIS GUY IS MARRIED!|
As things were winding down, I said goodbye to my friends and headed back to my hotel, tired but refreshed by all the day’s activity. The following day I again without trouble checked out, returned my car, and flew home to Chicago. It had been a most refreshing weekend.