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27 June, 2001

Running Across the Country 6/27/01 (Kansas City, MO)

Running is a great way to see the country. I have tried to run in every city we have stayed in on this trip. Each city has its unique personality. I have tried to run early in the morning before breakfast and before the students get up (which is not really hard). Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn't work. But most of the time I was able to run. I try to run about 45 minutes each day.

In Springfield Illinois, I began running at 6:15 am. The morning was cool and humid. I was surprised that there were so many people walking the streets at this time of morning. I usually don't know where I'm going so I try to stay to the main streets. They seem to be the safest. Of course, the neighborhoods in the areas where I run are not necessarily the safest. This was the case in Springfield. When I asked the front desk about where to run, they were not very helpful in directing me to the safe areas. I decided to choose an eastern loop. I ran eastward for about a mile then headed south for about a mile. I then turned west and ran for approximately 2.5 miles then turned north for a mile and back east until I reached the hotel again. The first half of the run was not pretty but after I turned westward the neighborhoods became quite nice. Along the run, I passed a café named "Wall eye Café". In the window was an orange sign with bright green letters that read "Fried Green Tomatoes". I took a double look at the sign. People actually eat fried green tomatoes!! Where was my camera when I need it?

We left St. Louis on our way to Kansas City rather early in the morning. I was unable to run then so I decided to run when the students were in their next tour. When we arrived in Independence MO, just outside of Kansas City, the temperature was hovering in the high 80's with very high humidity. Oppressive at best but I like the heat so I felt that I could handle it. I began my run along an old deserted road. A railroad track followed the road and along the track was a road cut. This road cut is where rocks have been blasted away to accommodate the railroad tracks. The type of rock found here is sedimentary. It was probably deposited by the Missouri River many eons ago. The River is close to this point. Since the rock is sedimentary, I speculated that I could find fossils. Picking up rocks is a problem for me as a runner. I am a rock jock. Unfortunately, I sometimes spend far too much time looking for rocks instead of running. I searched for a few minutes and sure enough, I found fossils of snails and small crustaceans. I always have a limit on how much I can carry when I run. I found large rocks with fossils but I couldn't run with them so I ended up finding and carrying small rocks. I wanted to go back after my run to collect more but I didn't have time. My luggage gets too heavy also.

Kansas City Missouri is one of the seminal of jazz. We made a stop at the famous 18th & Vine Historic District where the American Jazz Museum is located. This section of Kansas City was the hub of jazz music in the 1920's, 1930's and 1940's. Every bar and honky tonk along this street had live jazz during that era. Anyone who's anyone played here from Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, Louis Armstrong, and Ella Fitzgerald. This museum is interactive so we were able to hear a full array of jazz music. Attached to the museum is the famous Blue Room where Kansas City-style jazz where the best jazz artists played. Now the Blue Room attracts leading local jazz artist that play 4 nights a week.

Adjacent to the Jazz museum is the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. This museum was formed to honor the Monarchs, Kansas City's first Negro baseball team. Kansas City was where the Negro National Baseball League was formed in the 1920's. The museum honors the great Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson and Buck O'Neil as well as the many other Negro players in the NNBL. The Negro National Baseball League was formed because black men were not allowed to play in the white baseball leagues. It is so sad to see how oppressed these men were but they were able to rise above this oppression to make their mark in the sport of baseball.

We finished our day at Dick Clark's American Bandstand restaurant for dinner. This restaurant has memorabilia from Dick Clark's American Bandstand show. Many of the students do not even know who Dick Clark is. Am I getting too old? The food was pretty good anyway.

Tomorrow is going to be a long day-we're driving from Kansas City to Denver-610 miles. I wonder how the students will tolerate the trip? I wonder how I will?

Ciao, Cathi

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