Monday, October 27, 2008

Food & Friends

I don't have any pictures to share from today but it was a day worth remembering. I was invited to join the downtown lunch bunch for their monthly gathering. This is a group for anyone from Pine Ridge that works downtown to meet for lunch once a month to get to know others in their church family. My friend, Mark, is coordinating it so he invited me to join them. We were planning to meet at the Hereford House but apparently somebody bombed it so we met at Jack Stack BBQ instead. I walked into the restaurant and asked the manager if he could tell me where Pine Ridge was seated. I immediately knew that I recognized him (the manager) but I couldn't place him - until I said, "I know you..." and he said, "Carla..." almost at the same time. Immediately I knew who he was! It was my friend, Chris, that I worked with many times when I was at Village. His kids were in the youth group and he served as a youth advisor and cooked for many fundraisers! We even led a boundary waters trip together which I will never forget! I hadn't seen him in years and it was so great to run into him again! The lunch was fabulous and I enjoyed visiting with the ones I knew - and even getting to know ones I didn't. Thanks, Mark, for inviting me to join you! It was truly a gift.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Biking the Katy Trail

I have always wanted to bike the Katy trail - at least as long as I can remember! When I got my new bike, I mentioned it to my friend, Rich, and he informed me that he also wanted to bike the trail - and for the next six weeks, we kept saying, "yea, we need to do that." When the weather started to turn cooler, I knew if we didn't do it soon, it would be too late - so we picked Saturday, October 25 for the great bike ride across Missouri. :) It turned out to be a GORGEOUS day!
We started out at 9am and drove to Rocheport, MO where we unloaded the bikes and hit the trail. We started out going east and it was a beautiful ride. The trail followed the river with plenty of scenic places to stop and rest. We went as far as Katfish Katy's Campground Store in Huntsdale, MO (6.6 miles) before we turned around and headed back to Rocheport.
On the way back we noticed a sign we had missed the first time. It was the Lewis & Clark campsite from June 6, 1804. I have become intriqued with Lewis & Clark since my sabbatical journey in the northwest in August so I was excited to stand in the very place they camped 204 years ago!! After I complete the entire Katy Trail, my next adventure will be to follow the Lewis & Clark route from start to finish! Now THAT would be fun!

We made it back to Rocheport still feeling good so we headed the other direction. The route going west was not as scenic - we were surrounded by farmland! However, the sun was shining and I was about as happy as I think I could be. The trail going west was obviously less appealing because we only saw a handful of other bikers. It was a little eerie! At one point, Rich turned around to look back and lost control of his bike so instead of running into me, he took a dive into the ditch. He's so thoughtful! I was just grateful he wasn't hurt - I'm not sure my car would fit on the Katy Trail but I would have tried. :) We stopped at an old silo for a bit of a rest and then continued on to Franklin where I have never been so happy to find a restroom in my life! It was only three more miles to Booneville and Rich really wanted to ride over the old train bridge - so we pushed ourselves a little further than we should have. Much to our disappointment, the trail actually joins the highway to go over the bridge so we turned around and headed back. The last 7 miles of our ride were pretty tough - but we made it. Our muscles were sore and we were quite exhausted but it was a fabulous ride!! It was about 6pm so we stopped for some supper on the way home. We decided we could eat anything we wanted after the day we'd had! With the exception of sore muscles, it was a perfect day.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Susan's visit to KC

I love it when friends come to visit! It gives me a good excuse to get out there and enjoy all that Kansas City has to offer!! Susan arrived on Thursday and I picked her up at the airport and checked her in to her hotel on the plaza and then we went biking around Shawnee Mission Park. It was fabulous!! The ride was hilly so it was a good workout but the traffic was light so we could visit while we rode. We even climbed to the top of this tower that overlooked the park and even some of KC. It was a perfect day for a ride! We hung out with our friend, Lesa, for the rest of the evening. Lesa's daughter, Alex, made us a scrumptious dinner of lasagna, salad and garlic bread. She even made me my very own low sodium lasagna. I've never tasted anything so yummy!

Susan was actually here for work so she managed to squeeze in some of her conference between our outings. :) Friday night Rich, Lesa and I picked her up as soon as her conference ended at 8:30 and walked around the plaza. Her friend, Pam, joined us, as well. It was a beautiful evening and good to get out and walk.
The Penguin Courtyard has always been one of my favorite spots on the plaza. I used to work in the building directly behind us (when it was the Gap) and I loved walking by my penguins on the way to and from work.
We ended our evening with a nightcap at Skies - another one of my favorites in KC. I've been going there since I was in college just to sit in the lounge and take in the night lights of Kansa City. It's a peaceful place to be - and particularly special with friends. We were seated next to the piano player which made it a little tough to visit but we managed.
On Saturday, Lesa and I took Susan for some traditional Kansas City Barbecue - and where better than Arthur Bryants? It's not my favorite KC BBQ (I prefer sweet over spicy) but it is a landmark in KC and certainly a place someone visiting our fair city should experience. Past Presidents have even been there!
The rest of the evening was spent enjoying all the new places in the Power & Light District. We started at Lucky Strike - an upscale bowling alley/club - for a drink. It is an expensive place to actually bowl but it was fun to just hang out and watch. We checked out the Shark Bar which is a fun new retro club but apparently we were too early for dancing.
We left as it started to fill up and made our way to PBR Big Sky where we danced the night away. When we arrived the dance floor was empty but we didn't care - we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and the band even came down from the stage and danced with us. I felt like a rock star! We danced so much that my legs were sore the next day. It was awesome!
On Sunday, Rich, Susan and I had lunch at O'Dowds before Susan had to get to the airport. It was so much fun having her here and it was sad to see her go - but I know we will be together again soon. We always find a way!

Friday, October 03, 2008

Happy Hour

I've always heard it said, "if it seems to good to be true - it probably is." Well, that was NOT the case regarding an email I received saying that I "won" a happy hour for me and 100 of my closest friends at Howl at the Moon which is a dualing piano bar here in town. I was skeptical but I couldn't see that I would be out anything for doing it so I sent an email out to my closest friends - and it turned out to be fabulous! We not only got in for free but they had a free buffet with ribs, potato salad, baked beans, veggies, etc. Certainly more than I expected for a free buffet!

First to arrive were Rich - my Red Cross buddy that I met in Biloxi after hurricane Katrina, Shaunda - my college friend, Kristi -my camp staff buddy and her husband, Mark. These friends are more like family - whether I've known them only a few years or over a couple of decades! I have no idea who came next but it was so much fun to have so many wonderful people in the same place - and getting a chance to know one another.

Another college friend, Meri Ann, brought her friend, Karen. They work together at DST - along with Britt who is a friend from Parkville Pres that I met through presbytery youth activities. I didn't even know they knew one another so it was fun to see how our friendship circles intertwine.

My buddy Brian - a friend through the presbytery but probably better known as my baseball buddy. He has taken me to MANY Royals games and took me to a Mariners game this summer when we were both in Seattle. We love baseball - even when they stink!
My fellow youth director, Mich, is another one that I have known since we were on the staff of the presbyterian camp. She'll be quick to point out that she was a camper when I started on staff but she wasn't that far behind me! She's a wonderful colleague in ministry and has helped me out a lot over the years.
Celia, Ted, Mark and Kim. Kim is a sorority sister from college and I met Celia & Ted through her. Mark is one of my friends from church! He volunteers with our youth - teaching sunday school and going on mission trips!

Troy and I became friends several years ago but I feel like I've known him forever. Meg moved to KC recently but I actually met her when she and her husband, Jarrett, were the rec leaders for the Montreat West Youth Conference. They are fabulous and Heartland Presbytery improved ever so much when they came to town.

I'm not sure Jan will ever accept another invitation from me - but she and her husband, Brian, were great sports when the "piano man" made them come up on stage and do the hokey pokey. They were fabulous! Jan and I worked together at the dentist office when I was just out of college and we've been great friends ever since.

Shaunda and Brian are two of my fellow London classmates in '88. Shaunda and I have kept in touch but we recently reconnected with Brian through the gift of facebook! I LOVE FACEBOOK!

Meg and Jarrett may be fairly new friends - but Mackenzie & Helene are even newer! They moved in to the house next door to me while I was gone this summer and I'm so excited to have fun neighbors! I was thrilled that they came by and were able to meet some other folks in the area.

I'm sorry to discover that I missed getting a picture of my friend, Anita, (also a sorority sister from college) and her husband, Bryce. The best I can do is the backs of their heads and I don't think they would appreciate that too much. Sorry, Anita!

It truly was too good to be true - and I'm very blessed to have so many wonderful friends!