Category Archives: New Year

New Year’s in Kansas City

Vivian and I spent another New Year’s Eve in Kansas City, a town we’re both growing increasingly fond of, and not just because it’s the home to our two comic friends Vort & Michelle (who actually live in Independence).

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We beat a nasty snow and ice storm and headed down a day early to stay at the Sheraton next to the decked out Country Club Plaza. We’d visited the Plaza a few times before, but we’d never seen it dressed up for Christmas. It was quite lovely to walk around in the not-quite-freezing weather and enjoy a piece of cheesecake down by the Cheesecake Factory before bedtime.

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We had a fun-filled time the next day seeing a few new sights around Kansas City, which mostly included food. After a greasy breakfast at the Waffle House, we dropped into the Better Cheddar, which is quickly becoming one of Vivian’s favorite haunts, to spend a small fortune on cheese, jellies, and various sauces. We also dropped by the World Market for more off-shore goodies before having some barbecue lunch up at Arthur Bryant’s, which was a favorite of my dad’s when we lived in Warrensburg. It was a fairly typical (albeit famous) KC barbecue joint, though Jack Stack is still going to be our favorite for some time.

Afterward, we had time to gawk at the ruins of the Wheatley Provident Hospital, which had apparently been the first black hospital built in Kansas City. We rounded out the day by visiting Union Station, KC’s old train station which has since been remodeled as a kind of large museum (not unlike the Durham). Most of the exhibits were closed, but we did drop into the Build a Dino workshop to create our very own Santa Saurus. The holidays will never be the same. ROAR!

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Our next stop was Vort and Michelle’s home down over in Independence. We had dinner and killed some time cracking up to Jeff Dunham talking to his puppets and playing Kirby’s Epic Yarn on the Wii. Once Fading Aura arrived from Colombia and then made a quick trip up to Walmart to buy ingredients to make chocolate chip cookies before midnight. We rang in the New Year with sparkling white wine and grape juice and then played a game called Outbreak as the first dark hours of 2011 unfolded before us.

P1020597On the first day of the new year, I went “geo-caching” with Fading Aura down around Watts Mill near the Indian Creek Bike Trail. Geo-caching is a bit like a treasure hunt, where you find hidden items using GPS and record it in a log book both at the site and online (mostly for bragging rights). It was sunny, windy, and unexpectedly frigid outside, but we managed to find our cache and check out the ruins of the old Watts Mill before retreating to the warmth of the car.

Among the other ruins we expected that day was the quite dead Bannister Mall up the road. It was built back in 1980 and the main structure had been torn down about two years ago. All that was left were rows and rows of vacant strip malls that looked like something out of a post-apocalyptic zombie film.

The mall wasn’t completely dead (though it is featured at deadmalls.com). There was a “GenX” clothing store still open, along with a Burlington Coat Factory that felt it was necessary to hang a banner and remind everyone “Yes, We are still open!!!” The rest of the facility was just a sad example of suburban blight, with bizarre details like boarded-up windows and bleached-white stop signs to remind us how long it had been since anyone cared about this property.

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Back at the house, Fading Aura made some of his delicious trademark waffles for a late breakfast, and then we introduced Vivian to Doctor Who by firing up the first episode of Season One (from 2005). It was much easier to follow than I expected, and we might wind up watching more.

Before we said goodbye, we headed down to the local Steak and Shake for lunch. They don’t have one of these in Omaha, and as a “burger snob” I was eager to give it a try. The chain has been around for some seventy years now and has the distinction of being both a fast-food drive-thru and a sit-down, wait-you-at-your-table restaurant. It was definitely a step above most other burger restaurants I’d visited. We spent the rest of our afternoon eating and drawing together before Vivian and I headed on back to Nebraska.

New Year’s Eve in Kansas City

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Happy new year, everybody! Vivian and I kicked off the new decade by driving down to Kansas City to visit some old friends from Comic Genesis. I was the best man at Vort and Michelle’s wedding, and they invited me and Vivian to spend the evening with them and Fading Aura to ring in the new year. We had dinner together and then toasted with red champagne as the clock struck midnight. The next day, Fading Aura made us some of his legendary waffles for breakfast.

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We wound up spending time in four states before arriving home on New Year’s Day: Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, and Nebraska. We had a fairly late Christmas dinner with Vivian’s parents, enjoying ham and potato salad before opening presents. Jack and Donna gave each other some new measuring cups, which they used to toast the new year. The next day we came back to enjoy leftovers and watch District 9, which was a much better film than Halo: The Movie, as was originally planned.

Welcome to 2008

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Welcome to 2008, everybody! Wow, I had no idea I could have so much fun with just one day off in a week. Vivian and I started off the evening by getting her hair done down at her parents’ house. Viv’s mom has been a hairdresser for decades, so she was able to pin up her bright red hair in style before we headed on to the formal dance at the Eagle’s Lodge.

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Viv and I stopped in downtown Omaha to watch the elaborate fireworks show around seven o’clock (midnight, GMT). Then we stopped at 13th street coffee to warm up with some caffeine before moving on to the Eagle’s Lodge. Most everyone was dressed up for the somewhat-formal swing dance, and we got to hear Takashi playing Bobby Darin as he sang Splish Splash.

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Before midnight, Vivian and I stole away to the Great Adventures 80s party down in the basement of the 1316 building on Jones street. It was much more fun to swing dance to some songs I knew by heart, and I was sure to request Hungry like the Wolf before the night was over. Vivian had some fun playing some mean tunes on guitar hero in the backroom before we broke out the sparkling apple juice and toasted the new year. By some amazing coincidence, the last song of the night was Something Beautiful by the Newsboys. It’s somehow become “our song.”

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After midnight, we headed on down to Troy and Merinda’s house for an extended New Year’s party with our friends. A couple of us managed to put together an ensemble band to play downstairs on the big screen, and I tried my best to sing along to a couple songs I may have heard just once in my entire life. Later upstairs we played a few rounds of Last Word, which Merinda and Becky found much more hilarious that they should have been, thanks to a little extra champagne.

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Vivian and I had the next day all to ourselves, waking up around noon and then going to get a late breakfast at Perkins. We dropped by HyVee and grabbed some toppings for a couple spicy tortilla-shell pizzas that we cooked and ate that evening. I can’t think of a better way to ring in the new year!

New Year’s Eve


Well, I’m afraid my trip to Ames, Iowa to join Legostar and his friends for a New Year’s Eve party were unfortunately cut short by a snowstorm that left most of I-80 completely impassable. I was determined to make it anyway, but when my car spun out of control just outside of Council Bluffs, I decided to call it quits. Instead, I hung out with the Omaha Jitterbugs’ party at Troy and Merinda’s house, which was quite a lot of fun as well.

Welcome to 2007!