Midwest Tour, Day 8: Kansas City, Home of the MLB Champs!

We began our Saturday morning exploring Kansas City’s own River Market. Although we arrived a bit early, we got a head start on all of the produce, cheeses, spices, and home goods that the farmers market had to offer. The brisk morning air refreshed us after a short night of sleep and we enjoyed strolling through the different vendors, smelling the fresh flowers, appreciating the colorful produce, and tasting different foods foreign to Texas.

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With just a little over an hour to explore, we tried coffee at Quay Coffee and wandered through the shops open at the early hour. With our noses exhausted from the various smells permeating the market, we left to make it to our Segway tour reservation on time.

Led by Kelly, we hopped on the available segways like pros and began the tour of downtown Kansas City.

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We started in an area called Westport, home to bars, shops, and many a hipster. The area prides itself on preserving its history, which we observed in the established community and some of the buildings being the oldest sanding in Kansas City. Founded in 1831 by Isaac McCoy, Westport originally sat three miles south of what is today downtown Kansas City. His son, John Calvin McCoy, is credited as the “Father of Kansas City” and we observed a statue of him during the first part of our tour. We left the area of Westport to continue our tour, segwaying past pedestrians and through a few linear parks. Kansas City, known as the least dense and city with the most green space in America, is home to many beautiful parks. We had the chance to enjoy these areas, albeit, on segway. We followed Kelly along a couple creeks, walking trails, and even spotted public work out equipment along the way. We ambled upon Kauffman Memorial Garden after visiting Westport, a clear juxtaposition to the hip, bar district we had just explored.

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The garden, quiet and serene, serves as gravesite to Ewing and Muriel Kauffman, philanthropists to the city in the mid 1960s. We left the garden to continue on our tour, only after appreciating the giant chrysanthemums in the greenhouse.

Kansas City is known as the “City of Fountains,” and one of the more interesting fountains we encountered was a memorial to the Vietnam War.  It was laid out in a series of cascading waterfalls, a reference to the U.S’s cascading involvement in the war.  It culminates in two pools of water at the end, a symbol for the split in public opinion over the war.

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We spent the most time on our tour on the grounds of the Nelson-Atkins museum, avoiding photographers and muses as best we could. We even had the chance to explore grounds unfamiliar to Professor Yawn, home to sculptures by Ursula von Rydingsvard (Three Bowls), Henry Moore, and Roxy Paine (Ferment).

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We also had the chance to get off our segways and try out Robert Morris’ Glass Labyrinth, which we luckily made it out of without running into any of the glass walls.

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We left the grounds, after quite a few photo opportunities, including the chance to see a Claes Oldenburg sculpture (a shuttlecock!)….

Segway_Sculpture_Garden_Constance_Alex_Shuttlecock_Web…and an unsettling sculpture titled “Standing Figures,” which is actually a sculpture of 30 headless men standing in rows.

Segway_Sculpture_Garden_30_Men_Standing_WebMeandering through the parks, we also encountered some yoga practitioners, taking advantage of the peacefulness of the park (other than the speeding Segways, of course)…

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From there, we made it back to the Kemper Museum of Modern Art, which we had visited the evening before but had yet to observe in daylight.  We were re-acquainted with Louise Bourgeois’s “Spider”…

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…as well as Tom Otterness’s “Crying Giant.”

Segway_Kemper_Crying_Giant_WebWe had previously seen Bourgeois’s work in Iowa and in New Orleans, and we had only recently seen Otterness’s work (City Garden, in St. Louis).

That being our last stop…

…we bid adieu to Kelly and her insightful information and headed to scrounge up some lunch.

Much to the recommendation of our tour guide, we decided to eat lunch at Q39, a local Kansas City barbeque joint. We found the restaurant to be very popular and were confronted with an hour wait. With that information, Professor Yawn and Stephanie decided to let us wait and enjoy lunch while they left to grab our bags at the hotel in preparation for our departure this evening. We finally got a table, which was worth every second of the wait, once we received our appetizer of fried onion strings and meals consisting of ribs, sausage, pulled pork, and even better Kansas City barbeque sauce.

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Slightly tangy and very sweet, we enjoyed the barbeque that is so different than what we can enjoy in Texas. We left the restaurant full and ready to take on the rest of our afternoon.

We spent the first part of the rest of our afternoon exploring and learning at The National WWI Museum and Memorial. We arrived just in time to sit and watch the introductory video that left us wanting to learn more, so we ventured into the museum. We began with the WWI timeline that started with the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and led to Austria declaring war on Serbia.

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This led to an entanglement of treaties and soon after, the five Great Powers were at war.

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The museums timeline was easy to read and separated every year. The year of 1915 showed how the momentum of the war shifted to the east and highlighted the sinking of Lusitania by a German submarine. The year of 1916 on the timeline highlighted the Battle of Verdun and the Battle of the Somme. The timeline then moved on to the year of 1917, which is when Germany began to renew their unrestricted submarine warfare. One U-boat had cost American lives, which led to America severing its diplomatic relations with Germany and having to decide upon entering the war. The first American troops landed in France on June 25, 1917 and the spirits of France were renewed. The museum also features sections on Air warfare and others. As we walked through the museum we were able to watch another more interactive video about the war which then escorted us to the back portion of the museum that highlighted the America’s role in the War. The museum was very detailed and included many aspects of the war such as every branch of the military, a woman’s position in the war, civilian’s positions in the war, and an exhibit on war propaganda.

WWI_Propoganda_Alex_WebWe entered a reflections box where we were able to listen to voices from the War. We then took an elevator up to the Memorial where the tower commemorating the fallen soldiers stands. After enjoying the view, we walked back over the glass bridge hanging over the poppies that represent the fallen soldiers of the War.

We left the National World War I Museum to stroll down the hill in front of it, capturing the beautiful fall afternoon with a few photographs.

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We loved feeling the breeze and seeing the burgundy leaves fly through the air off the trees preparing for the first winter frost.

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We walked across the street, following the museum, to enter Union Station in search of the temporary Da Vinci exhibit that the train station holds.  We found the exhibit on the bottom floor of the station and proceeded to get in line, thrilled with the anticipation of learning about one of history’s most prominent inventors and scholars. We entered the exhibit and watched an introductory video about the Renaissance man. Following, we left the compression of the video space and were awed by the expansion of the rest of the exhibit, full of Da Vinci’s inventions.

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We had the chance to read about his work in military science, flying machines, scientific diagrams about the human body, civil engineering, and inventions that would make everyday work easier and more efficient. We always knew about the inventor’s paintings, “Mona Lisa”…

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…and “The Last Supper,”

Da_Vinci_Exhibit_Last_Supper_Alex_Web…but it was even more compelling to learn about all the musings that were found in his journals ranging from thoughts about poetry to the making of the ideal city. We even had the chance to touch multiple replicas of his inventions, like a pulley and a lock system.

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Following the section about his inventions, we had the opportunity to read about his artwork, which about fifteen have survived to this day due to the precariousness of Da Vinci’s experiments with new techniques. It was interesting to read about his work with the golden ration, which can be seen in his paintings and in his drawing of the Vitruvian Man. We left the exhibit awed by a man that we knew very little about before and inspired to expand our horizons just as he did during his lifetime.

We also had a chance to return to the Nelson-Atkins and see the special Thomas Hart Benton exhibit.  The theme was Thomas Hart Benton and the Hollywood epic, highlighting styles that tied in with epic films, as well as the time that Benton spent working in Hollywood.

Nelson_Atkins_Benton_Exhibit_WebWhile in the Museum, we took an opportunity to see some of the pieces we had missed the day before, such as the beautiful gardens…

Segway_Sculpture_Garden_Thinker_Web…Rodin’s “Thinker” up close…

Nelson_Atkins_Thinker_Web…and the strange, intriguing folk art of Philip Haas…

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Before leaving KC, we returned to Union Station to grab a few souvenirs before beginning the drive out of town.

After a while on the road we stopped at Pie Five Pizza Co., in Topeka, KS, for a quick dinner. Constance and I shared the biggest Greek salad that I had ever seen and a pesto chicken Alfredo pizza that was delicious. We left the restaurant, and took advantage of our stop in Topeka to see the state’s capitol and other sites.

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We stopped at the capitol building, standing majestically in the middle of town. We weren’t able to go into the Capitol because it was late, but we did capture a few photos. Before getting back on the road we had to make one more stop. We stopped at the Brown V. Board of Education National Historic Site. Sadly it was closed by the time we arrived, but we were able to have a glimpse inside provided by the glass doors.

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In the building we saw the labels “White” and “Color” that segregated the school. Even though we were not able to go inside, it was still a very sobering experience.

We hopped back in the van, en route to our last stop for the night, Wichita, to sleep before getting back on the road in the morning for the long trek back to Huntsville.

A Last Day in Dallas

After a roller-coaster weekend at UNT Law, we had a half of a day left in Dallas before returning to SHSU.  We decided to use it by having a little fun and enjoying good food.

We could have had both in Klyde Warren Park, one of Dallas’s newest success stories.  Known as the “front lawn of the arts district: for its proximity to the arts district, the park provides an interesting 5-acre public space for families to enjoy a morning or afternoon.  It also has a ring of food trucks, offering fare of every kind, making it a great place for a group as diverse as ours to go.  But because we like to explore, we had our fun at Klyde Warren Park, before moving elsewhere for lunch.

There are large green spaces at Klyde Warren, with a .45-mile walking trail around it.  Along the trail or mini-recreation areas: a kids’ park, a board-game station, a reading library station,

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a putting green, a Foosball table, and an amphitheater.  The amphitheater can be used for bands and such at night, but is used for yoga at 10am daily.  The day we were there, almost 100 people were participating in the yoga relaxation/exercise techniques.

But our primary purpose was to throw the frisbee around, and we soon learned who could catch.

Austin_Frisbee_2_WebAustin, for example, can catch.  In the picture above, notice the Jordanesque-shadow. Of course, he played college football until this year, so we expected him to be athletic.

Austin_Frisbee_WebAs it turns out, though, Kaitlyn Tyra can also catch, and she may be a dark-horse for our Spring 2015 Charity Football game.

Professor Yawn is getting up there in age, but we let him play because he grades us.

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We think Megan can catch,  but we aren’t really sure.  She had a strict rule to only move one step in any direction, which earned her the name “One-Step Chapa.”  Here she is impersonating a stork.

Megan_Frisbee_WebBut the day wasn’t particularly intense for any of us.

Park_Frisbee_WebNotice the halo over Professor Yawn’s head.

Following some more fun, we had to call it a day at the park…

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…and return to the hotel.  As we preparing to check out, the hotel went dark.  The electricity went out.  The LEAP Center Ambassadors pride themselves on adaptability, but this was difficult for Constance Gabel, who was stuck in the hotel elevator.  The fire department was called…

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…and Constance was extricated from the hotel elevator.

Just in time for us to eat at Twisted Root, a restaurant that specializes in burgers and root beer.  Their burgers are wonderful, and their root beer is interesting.  The flavor of the day was “Irish Creme Root Beer,” which was better than the root beer from the last time we were there: Grape Root Beer.  Of course, that was better than their “Coconut Root Beer.”  Their regular root beer is excellent.  And their burgers are great.

Twisted_Root_Burger_WebOne of the interesting aspects of their restaurant is that, when you order, they provide you with a name from popular culture as your signal that your burger is ready.  In our group, we had Eva Mendes (Kaitlyn), Serena Williams (Beatriz), Apollo Creed (Austin, of course), Matlock (Yawn), Mike Modano (Brian Aldaco), and others.  It was interesting to see who knew which references, a process that led Austin to say, “Son, you need to watch more television” to one of the newer members.

With a general consensus that Twisted Root is a good place to lunch, we allowed Constance one more groupie for the weekend…

Groupie_Twisted_Root…and headed home.

But not for rest and relaxation!  The week ahead involved our weekly meeting (Monday), a law-school application workshop (Wednesday), a Moot Court Practice (Thursday), a volunteer meeting (Thursday), the showing of Nosferatu (Thursday, whew), a Mock LSAT (Saturday), and a volunteer event (Saturday).

More to come!

 

 

Moot Court Scrimmage: Aftermath

After an intense 24 hour period competing and observing Moot Court proceedings, the LEAP Ambassadors, Moot Court participants, and members of the pre-law cohort decided to relax a bit, explore the history of Dallas on a Segway, and fill their bellies.

The relaxation involved some downtime at the hotel, followed by an ice-cream treat.
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Shortly thereafter, another treat was in order.  We stopped by Segway Nation for a tour of Dallas on a segway.

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It was a beautiful time of day, what movie-makers call “magic hour,” and we made the most of it with pictures.

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But, of course, with it turning a bit dark, Austin felt he need to serve as a protector of the group, and adopted a secret-service/tough guy look.

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At first, not everyone felt totally relaxed…

Segway_Alex_Close_Up_Web…but eventually everyone got the hang of it, and we headed off to see Dallas.

The segway tour took us to Pioneer Plaza, a large outdoor sculpture that consists of 49 bronze steers and 3 riders created by sculptor Robert Sommers.  Note that it appears that Alex is saluting when, in fact, that it is a longhorn projecting in front of her face.

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The tour, led by excellent guides Doug and Jack, also took us by I. M. Pei’s Dallas City Hall, where we were able to turn and see the beautiful Dallas skyline which, according to our guides, is regularly listed as one of the five most beautiful in the US.

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The tour also took us by the Kennedy assassination site on Elm Street.  The students had a chance to get off the segways and walk to the “X” spots, which mark where the Oswald’s shots hit Kennedy.

JFK_Elm_Students_WebWe also entered the Kennedy Memorial, designed by Philip Johnson, one of the great architects of the 20th Century.

Kennedy_Memorial_Student_WebSpeaking of Johnson, we were also able to go to Thanksgiving Square, a public space he designed in the 1970s as a means of racial and cultural healing.  With a replication of Rockwell’s “Golden Rule” painting…

…and the “Ring of Thanks,” where visitors are encouraged to stand and offer thanks.  From the center of the ring, the sound reverberates, symbolically echoing the many things for which we are thankful.  In our group, thanks went to family, opportunities, school, and even the LEAP Center.

Thanksgiving Square also has a spiral chapel adorned with one of the largest stained glass assemblages in the world.  The glass, designed by Gabriel Loire of France, is designed to become brighter as it ascends and moves to the center.

In the midst of such beauty, it was easy to be thankful.

And with that, we returned to the segway base, where we shed our helmets and headed to Hoffbrau Steaks (thanks for the recommendation, Doug!) and enjoyed a robust end-of-the-day dinner.

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But before heading out we gave a few more thanks: to our LEAP Ambassadors, who came to Dallas to cheer on their Moot Court friends; to the Pre-Law cohort, who came to check out the action and consider joining the team for next year; for Kristyn, who decided to stick with the “team” rather than go home; and to our coach, Jean Loveall, who spent a lot of time teaching us the finer points of law.