There’s No Place Like Kansas: Part 1

Ok, so last weekend we really did it. We flew to Kansas to meet family members we never knew we had! If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, go check out my previous post on the subject.

It took a little bit of convincing to get my mother to go on the trip, and she had to promise to let me do all the planning and not stress out about it, which mostly worked. There’s so much to tell you all, that I couldn’t possibly put it into one post. So I’m breaking the trip up into multiple posts.

I hope you enjoy reading about our little adventure!

Prologue – The Night Before

It’s 11:30pm the night before our trip and I need to take out my contact lenses. I’m spending the night at my parents’ house so we can leave early in the morning. Earlier today, I told my mom to pick up some travel-sized contact lens solution. So that’s what I’m using. It says to use 2-4 drops, then run under tap water. Weird, I don’t remember having to do that before. So I try it, and oops. It looks milky! I don’t think it’s supposed to look like that. So I try to wash it off under the tap water, as directed. Nope. Definitely not. The lens starts to pucker and no longer feels smooth under my fingers. Ugh.

Squinting the non-contacted eye, I look again at the label “for rigid, gas permeable lenses only.” Great, I wear soft contacts. I also neglected to bring my backup glasses. So we decide it’s best if I drive back to my apartment and get spare lenses. What a way to start the trip!

Day 1 – Mostly Travel and Some BBQ

It’s morning, and I have hit snooze a couple of times already. So I get up to see if my mom has vacated the bathroom yet. She’s still in there, but she’s sitting fully clothed on top of the toilet lid. Just sitting there. I ask her what she’s doing and she complains about how hot it is. Hmmm. So I ask her how her blood sugar is. She can’t find her continuous glucose monitor (CGM) receiver. So we have no idea without doing a test (although I suspect she’s running on the low side). I ask her to get up and go where she can sit near a fan to cool off. She stumbles, and I have to assist her so she won’t lose her balance. Definitely low blood sugar. I grab a bottle of juice and tell her to drink some. However, this is going to take a bit to help her regain the land of the coherent, and I still need to get ready.

I tell her not to go anywhere, and I will go into the bathroom to get ready. She tells me I’m going the wrong direction, that the bathroom is the other way. It’s not. I heave a big sigh and attempt not to panic.

We finally manage to get all three of us and our luggage safely down the stairs, where we call an Uber to take us to the airport. Once we’re in the car, I feel a million times better. We’re on our way and this is going to work out just fine.

Once at the airport, we head straight to security since we don’t have to check any bags. As a bonus, we have somehow scored TSA Precheck boarding passes. I have no idea how, but I’m not looking a gift horse in the mouth. I’m feeling more calm and prepared by the minute. Of the three of us, I’m first in line at security. That was a mistake. I make it through with no problems. I look back and my mother, who is still a bit groggy from this morning’s low blood sugar episode, is struggling to get her small bag detached from her rolling luggage. My uncle has not attempted to help her, but I’m already on the other side of the metal detector. The TSA agent looks at the look I’m giving my mom and says “Do you want to go back to help her?” Oh thank goodness. So I go back through security, help her disentangle her bag and get it on the conveyor belt. However, after I go through the detector a 2nd time, I hear her set off the alarms.

The first time, she remembers to take her CGM out of her pocket. Beep.

The she takes off her watch and removes the glasses from her pocket (sigh). Beep.

At this point she thinks she doesn’t have anything left to remove so she’s just going to give it another go.

“Mom!” Says the TSA agent “It’s your shoes, mom. Try taking those off.”

I smile uncomfortably, completely embarrassed by the scene we’re creating.

Mom takes off her shoes and puts them on the conveyor belt. She makes it through.

We all get our luggage on the other side, but her shoes are stuck.

“Here they come, mom!” Says TSA agent #2.

We get her shoes, and pack up to leave.

“Bye mom!” TSA agents #1 & #2 tpgether. Oh geez.

So we get to the gate, buy some juice for mom and have a seat. I really just want to get on the plane.

We’re about an hour early, so my mom and uncle almost immediately start dozing off. They have this magical ability to fall asleep nearly anywhere, anytime. I read a book.

We board the plane and I breathe a sigh of relief. When we get to the rental car area, the ONLY company that has a line about 10 people deep is the one we need to get to, naturally. I mention to my mom that they really should have planned for more desk agents, after all it is Labor Day weekend. She reminds me that it’s Kansas, which may not be a big party weekend destination. I concede her the point.

So we get our car, which has Florida license plates, amusingly enough, and are on our way to get dinner. Hooray!

How can we arrive in Kansas City and NOT have barbeque at some point? Inconceivable! So I looked up yelp reviews and found Joe’s Kansas City Bar-b-que. It has rave reviews and a warning that the wait will be like an hour, but it’s worth it. So I plug the address into the GPS and off we go. As it turns out, Joe’s is located at…a gas station. Weird. But we know we’re in the right place because the line is out the door and down the sidewalk.20150904_191727

I feel like all my Disneyland training prepared me for this exact moment. You see, the line also continued just as long once you got INSIDE the doors. As we waited, the group of college students in front of me was busy getting caught up on all their friends’ plans both past and future. As I listen to them, it starts to feel like home.


“Jenny’s in Sweden right now. She met this guy while we were in Spain, and I guess he invited her to come to Sweden for a couple weeks.” Uh huh, cause everyone from Iowa (where she’s apparently from) has enough money to visit a near-stranger in Sweden for 2 weeks? She is also apparently heading back to Spain for her upcoming honeymoon, because her fiancé hasn’t been yet. I glance down at her ring, yep, huge. I was half expecting her to say that she was buying a Mercedes and moving to Newport Beach.

We make it to the front of the line, order a pulled pork sandwich and two of their supposedly famous Z-man sandwiches. Which is thinly sliced brisket, provolone cheese, onion rings, and house made bbq sauce. I wish I could tell you I savored every bite as if it were my last, but the truth is that by the time we reached the front I was hangry.


I wolfed that sucker down, but it was truly delicious. Even the onion rings, which I don’t normally like, had me stealing off my mom’s plate.


So we get back in the car and prepare for a 90 minute ride to our home for the weekend, which I found through Airbnb. Once in the car though, I hear a strange sound and I ask my mom if she’s ok. She doesn’t answer, so I turn to look at the back seat and she’s trying not to gag and can’t really answer me. So I’m panicking. I yell at my uncle to help her get out of the car before she throws up or help her stop choking, or both. Once she gets out of the car, she’s fine. She tried to swallow two Advil and they stuck together and got lodged in her throat.

At this point I feel like we’re having National Lampoon’s Trip to Kansas. #wtfamily indeed.


On the way to Emporia, (where we’re staying because Reading is very small and doesn’t have hotels) we mostly talk about how much nothing there is. Highway 35 goes from Kansas City to many different towns, according to the signs, but we couldn’t figure out where most of these towns were. There were no lights accompanying the signs that indicated to exit for a particular town. Just more trees and blackness.

When we arrived, I opened the car door and was immediately assaulted by the cacophony of tens of thousands of crickets and other assorted sound-making insects. To me, it sounded loud enough that I needed to raise my voice slightly. I’m used to an ambient noise level of nearly zero in my neighborhood. If it’s louder than the gentle hum of a freeway that’s a half mile away, it seems loud. Also, how many crickets can one neighborhood HAVE? Holy moly.

But the house itself is beautiful. We stayed at a 1920’s 3-story home. Thank goodness it’s been updated to include central air because 95 degrees and 50+% humidity is not fun. The house is all wood flooring inside, has a front and back stair case, and a maid’s quarters. Aside from the couple who lives here, there are three bedrooms and two bathrooms that we will be using for the next couple of days. It’s a very charming and quaint house in a gorgeous, tree-lined neighborhood with streets lined with brick (insert Wizard of Oz joke here). I’m already loving it.





We get a brief tour of the house and then start chatting with our host and hostess. They are a super sweet couple who has traveled around the world for work and somehow ended up here for now. They may move to Italy next, who knows? They ask us what we’re doing in town and we tell them the whole story of how we got invited to a family reunion full of people we’ve never met before in a place we’ve never been. They’re fascinated and we end up talking about that and other things until nearly midnight.

After I’ve taken my contacts off and put my headphones on for some nice relaxing piano music, I quickly fall asleep. I wake up at some point in the middle of the night and I don’t know why. I know it’s been more than an hour because my music is no longer playing (I set a timer on it). Then I hear pitterpatterpitterpatter….pitterpatterpitterpatterpitterpatter.

Ok, what the heck is that?

It’s pitch black, I’m staying in a room that is basically the attic with lots of strange little doors and cubbies and it sounds like there’s something IN my room. I’m officially freaking myself out.

But because I’m basically blind without my contacts, and because on some level I’d rather not know if there’s something in the room with me…I decide it would be better just to try to go back to sleep. Yeah, that’s it.


Stay tuned for day 2!


2 comments on “There’s No Place Like Kansas: Part 1

  1. This is great. Love to read your blog. Have to love the midwest.

  2. […] Be sure to catch up on the reason for this trip as well as day 1. […]

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