Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Kansas trip, part 4

Okay, so this is getting really long and drawn out. Okay, okay, yes I said I would post yesterday and didn't...sorry!

So we're up to Monday. We did a little of this and that before heading over to Brad and Bob's for lunch. Brad had invited my mom to lunch because she was anxious to see them and the remodeling, and he also invited his mom and her husband to lunch. In all the years I've known them (hmm...that would be about 28 years!) our moms had never met, and Brad thought that would be a fun day, which it was. We had good conversation and great food that Brad made, again, that boy can cook like nobody's business. It was a great afternoon. After lunch, we took my mom over to the mall to Waldenbooks so she could pick up a copy of Eat, Pray, Love, which Brad's mom had recommended to my mom as reading for her flight home. Then we dropped her at her car and she drove back to her brother's, while we went back to Brad and Bob's and decided on where to eat dinner.

We wanted to eat a good steak while in Kansas, because there just isn't anything like Kansas beef. We settled on Ted's Montana Grill, which Bob had recommended. It's a chain of about 50 restaurants owned by Ted Turner, and surprise, Ted knows his steak. I had a Filet Mignon, and it was one of the best steaks I'd eaten in years. The margarita was kick-but delicious, too. The service was terrific. I would definitely go back. As we exited the restaurant, we looked to the east and the sky was purple-black. There was a strong wind and huge drops of rain began to pelt us on our way to the car. We sprinted and jumped in, and the storm gave chase as we drove the circular around the north side of the city.

The storm caught up with us, beating us with heavy, almost blinding, rain. We continued on, but the storm was nasty. At one point, we encountered a small bit of hail, but it didn't last long. I was worried that there would be tornadoes. There were tornadoes further back in the storm, but not by where we were.

We dropped the guys off and decided it would be better to go back to the room. It poured as we entered the parking garage. When we got up to the room, it was beating hard against the windows. The lightning was everywhere, and the thunder was close behind. It was a pretty spectacular show. At one point, there was a 20-minute span where the sky never darkened because the lightning was continuously striking. I am not exaggerating, it did not stop for 20 minutes and it was going all directions: cloud to cloud, cloud to ground, all over the place. I wish we had had a video camera.

Tuesday was also fun. We went to an old favorite, La Galette, a french patisserie and sandwich shop in the Delano area, and then made a drive to Karg Art Glass Gallery in Kechi. They have a gorgeous selection of gallery-quality handmade glass that they create on the premises. It's always fun to shop there. Last trip, we bought a nice piece that we have displayed in our front room as a nice reminder of Wichita. (Mark Thaut, if you're still reading this blog, you need to visit their web site!) After the gallery, we spent some time in the pool. It was blazing that day and the concrete around the pool was so hot it hurt to stand on it for more than 10 or 15 seconds.

For dinner, we went to yet another new place to me, but a longtime Wichita staple, Felipe's, which is a Mexican food place. The food was good (I had carne asada tacos) and the margaritas were fabulous, and for $7 each, I was in heaven. You can't get a $7 margarita in New York, that's for sure. There was way too much food on that plate, and I left feeling like a stuffed pig.

On the way home from dinner, we stopped at one of my favorite stores anywhere, Dillard's, one of the few non-Macy's stores left in the country. I have always loved Dillard's and dearly missed it when I moved from Kansas. After I moved from Atlanta, that's when they got a Dillard's there. Every trip back, I try to make a stop in. I bought a couple of shirts there that I have received a number of compliments on when worn. Definitely worth the stop.

As we drove back to Brad and Bob's, I phoned a friend of mine whom I recently renewed contact with when I learned that her husband passed away. She has been in poor health and I wanted to see her on this trip because I don't know if I'll get to see her again. You know how sometimes when you change jobs or move or both, you lose track of people? Well, I had lost track of Dorothy for almost 30 years, but thought about her often. We used to work together at Beechcraft (yes, the plane-maker) and I often drove her home when we had to work overtime, since her husband usually drove her to work in the morning. At the time, we only lived a mile or so from each other. She was a good friend and a good cook, and no one told funnier jokes than she.

So when I had re-established contact, she had mentioned she was in poor health and it was sometimes difficult for her to breathe or walk. Since that time, she's had to move from her 3-bedroom home of 50 years into a studio in a assisted living facility, and she has told me she thinks she will have to move into more of a nursing home setting soon because she is needing medical care more and more often.

We've had a number of nice phone conversations since re-establishing contact, but I wanted to see her in person and had called her at the beginning of the trip to see if it could happen. Unfortunately, it wasn't a great time for her as she was having a lot of tests over the weekend. I called her two different days and both days, it wasn't going to work for her. But magically, on this our last night of the trip, I called and she said she was up for visitors. It was a 25-minute drive and we only got to spend about 20-25 minutes with her, but it was 25 minutes I will treasure for the rest of my life. I am so glad I got to see her again, and she was glad to see me and meet Jess.

She called me on July 4 to see how I was doing and we had a nice chat. It's time for me to call her.

On Wednesday morning, we had breakfast in the hotel and headed for the airport for the trip home. It had been a lovely trip with lots of memories rekindled and new memories made. A trip I wasn't exactly thinking I was going to love turned out to be one of my nicest in a long, long time.


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