Our Free Vacation!!!

July 7th, 2008

First you load up in the van at 8:30 AM the morning after the Fourth of July.
No one will be very happy about this ridiculously early departure on the heels of such a late night, except for the Country Doctor who loves suffering in all of it’s various forms.

Next, you drive to Lawrence and have breakfast at Wheatfields in Lawrence, Kansas.   

The breakfast is not free. 
It also does not cause suffering.
This caustic lack of suffering accompanied by real maple syrup and a side of bacon will make the Country Doctor a little grumpy… 
To compensate… he will order only a small bowl of fruit.
Next you will drive out to April’s Pig Farm, to pick up Seth.
Then on to…  
Kansas City.
Your first mission, upon arrival in KC is to try and find the original Fritz’s hamburger joint and have lunch.  And yes, you did just have breakfast and no, no one is very hungry, but that is not the point.  
The point is that you use a phone from your table to call in your orders…


And then this happens…
Oh dear!  
Fritz’s is also not free…
Fear not…
We are getting to the free part.
Relatively soon…

But first you must go to the Kansas City Union Station, which is very beautiful and also very grand and also very tall, and makes you wish you were born a hundred years ago and had a trim navy suit with a feather in your hat and gloves, and silk stockings, and a collection of small suitcases at your feet, one of them round, and you were being helped aboard a train, bound for California to meet the man of your dreams…

But you are not.

Instead you are noticing that all the attractions (except the weird fake horse) are very expensive.  So you use the bathroom (free) and you get back in the van and head to Liberty Memorial just across the way…

You are considering going to the WWI museum which is underneath the Liberty Memorial, but just as  you drive up to the Memorial, you get kind of creeped out about going to a windowless, underground WWI museum on such a gorgeous summer day, so instead you head south to the Plaza.

And you decide to wander around the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art which is  full of large sculptures made out of old tires and huge paintings of  red circles on a black background, and videos of a strange wolf like creature painting eyeballs on it’s hands.  

This museum is wonderfully free.

Next you will wander across a shady residential street to the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art.
Where these massive shuttlecocks grace the vast green lawn.

Did you know that the husband and wife team of Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen designed and installed these sculptures while the Country Doctor was living in Kansas City and attending Medical School?   

In fact, the Country Doctor and his very stunning, young wife were living just a hefty stones throw from the museum itself!

The newlyweds, while very intent on each other, were occasionally distracted by news of the city which surrounded them, being engulfed in a frothy brou ha ha over the installation of these “birdie” sculptures.   Many Kansas Citians felt that the shuttlecocks were simply not important enough to warrant placement on the majestic, sweeping lawn of The Nelson.

Claes and Coosje also had incredibly difficult first and last names and no one knew how to say them or spell them and this added to everyone’s consternation…

Finally, Claes explained in a tired, yet noble manner, that in his visits to Kansas City he was continually stunned by the city’s mortality. Every grandiose structure (including the Nelson itself) was a war memorial, and he felt it was time for the city to have itself a little fun.

So he and his wife threw a party on the city’s biggest lawn.

And people have been partying there ever since.

Then Jack found a big stick.

Which he carried (or more likely had someone carry for him) the rest of the day.

Whereupon,  you will walk to the Plaza, go to Restoration Hardware, and sample the outdoor furniture collections.   
Which are not in any way, shape, or form…
even close to being free.

Then ice cream.
 (not free)…

And fountain…

And shower…

And architectural eye candy for the mom…

And finally… The Shakespeare Festival in the Park which is adjacent to The Plaza, The Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art AND  The Nelson…
(also marvelously free…)

Grumpy self portraits – free…

Happy self portraits… also free…

Wonderful day in the city….

almost priceless…

Tomorrow - 
Othello the Puppet.


  • noble pig:

    OMG you are so funny and you know what you are FREE to read…yeah for me.

  • Jenni:

    Thanks for the free vacation. It was also very relaxing to go on a trip while sitting here with my coffee. I think I would like to make that trip in person sometime, though. Gotta go to Fritz’s! That looks like such fun. We went to Eskimo Joe’s yesterday. I’ve always wanted to go there. Unfortunately we were in a hurry and had to snarf our food and could not shop for T-shirts, but I’ve got to go back in 12 days to pick up the child I left behind.

  • Elizabeth:

    VERY funny !!! and yes free fun for us in readerland. Fritz’s looks like a blast. I’ve been to burger joints that used phone ordering, and I’ve been to ones that have trains, but never both at once AND both part of the ordering process.Nice tour of K.C. – thanks~~

  • Sarah H.:

    That WWI museum, although not free, is very, very good. File it away for a nice wintertime activity. I am in suspense over the puppet Othello.

  • Sarah H.:

    That WWI museum, although not free, is very, very good. File it away for a nice wintertime activity. I am in suspense over the puppet Othello.

  • Restyled Home:

    You make me laugh! There definitely would not be enough free stuff in that day to make my hubby happy. He is notoriously frugal…

  • Anonymous:

    I miss KC! I lived there while I too was in college. It was the best…..

  • Margaret in SC:

    FREE almost always = fun in my vacation book.Looks as though you had a nice family day.

  • Suzanne:

    That looked like it was a very busy weekend. At least I hope this was spread out over a weekend and not crammed into one day!!!I love Fritz’s. I’ve added it to my Top 1,000 Places to Eat Before I Die.- Suzanne, the Farmer’s Wife

  • Anonymous:

    I lived in KC for 12 yrs + 4 in Atchison. All my nieces and nephews that came to visit had to go to Fritz’s. Lots of fun! My daughter wants to go back to KC just for that!Thanks for the tour, it makes me miss KC.T

  • StitchinByTheLake:

    What a wonderful almost free vacation! I have a niece in KC – I’ll have to ask for Fritz’s next time I go see her. :) Blessings, marlene

  • Junebug:

    That little truck delivery at the hamburger joint was great. And Union Station’s everywhere seem to be the most beautiful pieces of architecture. And it does make me also want to have lived and traveled at that era. I like your happy faces the best.

  • Heidi Ashworth:

    I really enjoy reading your blog, you are listed as one of my favorites–I was recently in Kansas City and didn’t see any of those things–I guess we can blame the tornado warning that made us Californians want to hover inside. Heidi, dunhavenplace

  • Anonymous:

    Claes and Coosje stopped up here in Lincoln and left a big metal notebook with a page sort of torn out. Lots of people thought it was a bit weird. It is just south of UNL so hey even though we are living in the age of the lap top and cell phone – folks need to get in touch with actually writing on paper!It is hard to read the words on the paper tho…Kathy

  • Donna Boucher:

    I love the pictures of you and The Country Doctor.I also love that Jack found and was delighted with the stick.Katie always ends up with some piece of nature to fiddle with.

  • Anonymous:

    This post reminds me of all of my family vacations when I was growing up with four siblings. My parents, teachers, always took us to educational and FREE things, too. Only, we had lunch from a cooler in the back of our stationwagon instead of eating at a cool restaurant. When my three boys are older, I look forward to these types of trips. nancy in alaska

  • Mom2BJM(Amy):

    I think my kids would love Fritz’s, except we are not in that part of the country. I do love the shuttlecocks on the lawn – awesome!

  • Anonymous:

    I’ll have to tell my children about Fritz’s. Ideas which include the word free are especially good for them. I’ll pass them on – thanks! (I will probably advise them to stay away from Othello after your description!!)Mrs. I : )

  • Lotta:

    I love those shuttlecocks! If I lived near there I would be forced to get an “I love cocks” bumper sticker.

  • Marilyn:

    What an absolutely awesome day! Fritz’s AND Plaza AND Nelson? And WheatFields?This was mighty ambitious. And you were two blocks away. If you’d called, I would have made you scones for the road. And they would have been free.