Category Archives: Kansas

Motorcycles more important than a pandemic? Maybe in Missouri

Yesterday was the 50th anniversary of a day Boston sports fans treasure…and St. Louis sports fans want to forget.

On Mothers’ Day 1970, the Bruins won the Stanley Cup for the first time since 1941 by completing a four-game sweep of the Blues in the Finals. Boston clinched the Cup when Bobby Orr, probably the greatest defenseman (defenceman for the Canadians) to ever lace up a pair of skates, scored 40 seconds into overtime of the fourth game.

The game-winning goal wrapped up a phenomenal season for the 22-year old, who became the first defenseman to win the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL’s leading scorer (goals and assists), then took home the Norris (best defenseman), Hart (Most Valuable Player) and Conn Smythe (playoff MVP) trophies, becoming the first player to win four major awards in one season.

Orr’s backhand beat one of the game’s greatest goaltenders, Glenn Hall, but what was more memorable was the photo captured a split second after the goal. It shows Orr suspended in flight after he was tripped by the Blues’ Noel Picard. It is the most iconic photo in NHL history, and certainly one of the best-known photos in North American sport.

It took the Blues 49 years, one month and two days to even the score. Right now, the Blues should be defending the Cup in the playoffs, but of course, COVID-19 has put life as we know it on hold. If the NHL cannot complete the regular season and playoffs, will the Blues keep the Cup, or will the NHL require it go back to the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto? The hope of commissioner Gary Bettman and every hockey player, coach and fan is the season is completed one way or another.

For once, I agree with Gary Bettman. Mark it down.

Speaking of St. Louis, your lazy blogger got up at 04:45 today and departed 1224 North Brooks at 05:30 for a trip to the far side of Missouri. This comes exactly three weeks after I left Russell for Kansas City.

My parents know nothing of where I am. They know I left this morning, but that’s it. Peggy knows where I am. Larry knows where I am after I just texted him. Crista will know tomorrow at 14:00.

After farting around in Kansas City for an hour filling up my gas tank, buying bread at Hen House in Leawood and purchasing treatment for scars left over from a grease burn at Target in Martin City, I was on my way to the opposite side of the Show-Me State.

One major difference between how Kansas and Missouri have responded to COVID-19 can be seen in the electronic road signs along Interstate 70.

In Kansas, all signs have now been targeted towards reducing the spread of the disease. Signs read “Wash Hands, Cover Mouth, Save Lives”; “If Fever Strikes, Stay Home” and other ominous messages.

Some of the signs say “Stay Home”, but I’m ignoring those. It has nothing to do with my parents. Seriously. It’s all me. They need a break from me every so often. EVERYONE needs a break from me every so often: Peggy, Caitlyn, Crista, Dr. Jones, Dr. Custer, Robb, Larry, Liz, Brenda…whomever. I can only be tolerated in small doses. It’s not their fault. They do their best to put up with me. All of them deserve sainthood.

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly went too far too fast by calling off the remainder of the 2019-20 school year when she did. She could have waited a couple of weeks like most states, including the three which border Kansas. I’m surprised Kelly did not extend the stay-at-home order, which expired last Monday.

You would never know there’s a pandemic if you read the road signs on I-70 in Missouri, at least from Blue Springs to Wentzville.

None of this business about washing hands. None of this business about staying home. Instead, the Missouri Department of Transportation reminds drivers constantly to be alert for motorcycles and to share the road with Harleys and Kawasakis.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson has been raked over the coals by the Kansas City Star and St. Louis Post-Dispatch for what they see as a lackadaisical response. The Star has praised Kelly while pounding Parson, and the same is true of the Post-Dispatch comparing Parson to Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker., whose state is still under severe restrictions; however, if you took the Chicago area out of the equation, Illinois would be much closer to Kansas and Missouri in terms of cases and deaths.

Speaking of Illinois, it is forbidden for Kansans like myself, unless I want to quarantine for 14 days when I return to Russell. Believe me, there is absolutely nothing I want or need in Illinois, although it would have been nice to have the option to zip through on I-64 heading towards Louisville and Lexington.

If Kansas were still governed by Sam Brownback, or worse, Kris Kobach were governor, I can only imagine just how bad it might be in the Sunflower State. I’m guessing neither Brownback nor Kobach would have issued a stay-at-home order, and Kobach might have made it much worse by threatening to sue—or actually suing—the federal government. Notice I didn’t mention Jeff Colyer, who became governor after Brownback became an ambassador in 2017, because Colyer is far more level-headed than Brownback or Kobach and would have done something to head off the virus at the pass.

I don’t particularly like most of Kelly’s stances (I didn’t vote for any of the three major candidates for governor in 2018), and while I wish she would have waited a little longer to close schools—it probably would have happened regardless—her course was probably as balanced an approach as there could be.

The White Castle in Columbia provided a great caper.

I attempted to place an order for pickup before leaving Kansas City. However, I kept getting an error stating the restaurant would not be open at that hour. I was trying to place an order for shortly after noon. I used the app on both my phone and tablet, and then tried to order from the regular website as well, but nothing. I did, however, place a 16:45 order for the O’Fallon location.

I pulled off I-70 at a rest stop and e-mailed White Castle technical support, explaining I was getting a message that the location was closed. When I arrived in Columbia, there were numerous cars in the drive-thru lane at White Castle. I then called their customer support hotline to explain the online ordering snafu. I chose not to wait any longer, and instead got back on the road.

It turned out I was the one with the snafu.

The Columbia location—the farthest west in the United States as far as I know—is now closed on Monday and Tuesday. I received a reply from White Castle headquarters in Cincinnati which mentioned it, but gave no explanation.

I then shot back that there were cars in the drive-thru, but the representative told me the closure was true.

D’oh!

The good news? Wentzville was only 80 miles away. If I waited seven hours of driving (well, seven hours after leaving home; there was a lot of wasted time in Kansas City and at that rest stop 70 miles west of Columbia), I could make it 80 more miles.

Wentzville, a booming town in western St. Charles County 40 miles west of downtown St. Louis, provided me a good laugh or two.

The QuikTrip was one piece good news, two pieces bad.

The good: I could buy a fountain drink! I could not at any Kansas City location during my trip last month, nor could I purchase one today in Overland Park. However, I walked right up to the fountain like the pre-COVID-19 days in Wentzville. The differences: no styrofoam cups and no refills, so I had to buy a new cup and pour it into my black mug.

The bad…

First, the restroom was incredibly dirty. I have never seen a QuikTrip restroom that filthy. Never. And I have been frequenting QuikTrips for 14 years in Wichita, Kansas City, St. Louis, Omaha and (once) Tulsa.

Second, NOBODY was wearing a mask other than the boob from Russell. I’ve made the mistake of not wearing a mask at times, although when I nearly entered the QuikTrip in Overland Park, I caught myself and went back to my car to get it.

On to White Castle, and only the boob from Russell was wearing a mask. St. Charles County has greatly loosened its restrictions, so patrons can go into a restaurant to pick up food, although there is no seating. Six employees, no mask. Four other guests, no masks.

I put the maskless people behind me, because I was damn hungry. White Castle never tasted better.

The Schnucks in Lake St. Louis was almost the complete opposite of the QuikTrip and White Castle in Wentzville. Every employee had a mask on, and nearly every customer did, too. However, at the White Castle in O’Fallon, only the boob from Russell wore one, although no other customers entered during the 10 minutes I waited.

The outlet mall in Chesterfield is a ghost town. That’s because St. Louis County still hasn’t loosened its restrictions. But as long as White Castle, Schnucks and Dierberg’s are doing business, I’m a happy camper.

I’ve crossed the Missouri River on I-64 three times already. Over/under is 14 for this trip, which will go until at least Friday, maybe longer. My yellow rain slicker will get a workout. The weathermen and ladies are expecting a lot of rain in the Gateway City this week.

I’m not as tired as I could be after a long day. But it’s time for me to stop blogging for tonight.

Hard for me to get up

If you have not seen my Instagram or Facebook accounts in the last 30 hours, you may not know I stopped on top of Interstate 435 at the Kansas-Missouri state line yesterday between Wyandotte County and Platte County.

Here are a couple of pictures I took:

It took a bit of courage for me to get out of my car and take those photos. I am afraid of heights.

Very afraid.

There were so many things I missed out on when I was a child because I was too scared to go up.

Now I did ride a gondola suspended over the Mississippi River with my father and brother during the 1984 Louisiana World Exposition in New Orleans. How I convinced myself to go, I still don’t know. Of course, the only cameras around back in 1984 used film, and most were quite bulky, so it wasn’t practical to take photos. Too bad, because they would have been breathtaking.

A few months after hovering over the Mississippi, my family made the infamous trip to Disney World, one which I’ve discussed ad nauseam in this blog. I had no desire to go on any roller coasters or other dangerous rides, even though I met the height requirement.

Four years later, the Steinle family went to Astroworld in Houston. My father and brother went on a few high-rise rides, but my mother and I wussed out and stayed on the ground.

In 1992, again, my father and brother went to the top of the Gateway Arch in St. Louis. My mother and I were not having it. I was very tempted to go up in the Arch when I was in the area for Lisa’s wedding last October, but since I was staying in St. Peters, 35 miles west of downtown, I didn’t do it. If Lisa and Jeff would like to take me up in the arch, I’m game.

I could not stand sitting in high seats at outdoor sports stadiums. I was just fine sitting at the top of the Superdome, simply because there was a roof and I had no idea the sky was above. But outdoors? Forget it.

In 1992, my father, brother and I went to two St. Louis Cardinals games at the old Busch Stadium. The first night, we sat in the outfield bleachers, about 440 feet from home plate. The second night, my father bought tickets in the upper deck behind home plate. I couldn’t do it. I walked around the concourse all night while my brother watched the game. My father stayed with me much of the time, and I feel terrible. Really terrible.

My fear of heights was a reason we sat in the ridiculously hot bleachers at the Texas Rangers’ old Arlington Stadium instead of the upper deck behind home plate. I feel bad for making my family accommodate my fear of heights.

I am very glad I never sat in the upper decks of LSU’s football stadium. I went up there one Saturday morning a few hours before a game, but I got scared. Really scared. I ran down the ramps as fast as I could.

Some of the high school football stadiums I covered games were harrowing.

University High, a laboratory school on the east side of the LSU campus, played its home games on one of the fields at LSU’s practice facility when I was covering games in Baton Rouge. The “press box” was actually an open-air shelter which was only accessible by a rickety old ladder. While some could climb the thing in 30 seconds, it took me more than one minute, sometimes two or three, to make it all the way up there. I was shaking like a leaf every time I was up there.

If I had to do it all over again, I would have covered the games from the field. I proved I could do it just fine when I moved to Kansas, writing down the information then feeding it to the computer. But I was on a deadline in Baton Rouge, and doing stuff on the field would have cost me 20-30 minutes, which could have been very bad if a game ran late.

Today, University High plays at a modern stadium with a real press box nowhere near as high.

Memorial Stadium is Baton Rouge’s largest high school stadium, seating over 20,000. It was once a home for Southern University’s football team, and hosted many small college bowl games and playoffs. It was once home to numerous teams in Baton Rouge, but now only a handful of teams use it, since the rental fees charged by the Baton Rouge Recreation Commission (BREC) are too high for most schools to afford. Many of the public schools, especially those in more economically depressed areas, can’t make enough off ticket sales to pay the rent, plus officials and security.

In November 1999, I covered a high school football playoff game at Memorial Stadium between Eunice and Capitol, which is about a mile from Memorial Stadium. I was also asked by the local cable company to provide color commentary for its tape-delayed broadcast in place of Rob Musemeche, the usual color man who could not be there that night due to a family commitment.

About 45 minutes prior to kickoff, the play-by-play man, Dennis McCain, and myself went to the top of Memorial Stadium’s press box.

I did not fare well.

I was very unsteady, and I could feel my knees quaking. Dennis was very patient with me and helped me a lot, and we made it through the opening spiel before returning to the press box for the game.

I wish I had a camera to take a picture from the top of the Memorial Stadium press box. You can get a great shot of the Louisiana capitol, the tallest in the United States, as well as traffic flowing on nearby Interstate 110 and other state government buildings.

My biggest fear of driving in Louisiana was breaking down and/or getting into an accident on one of the numerous bridges over the Mississippi River between New Orleans and Baton Rouge. The I-435 bridge in western Kansas City is high, yes, but nowhere near as high as the structures in Louisiana, most of which are more than 100 feet over “Old Man River”.

I would like to stop on the Kit Bond Bridge in Kansas City and get a shot, but there is too much traffic to do it safely.

As for high places in Kansas City, I have gone to the top of Kauffman Stadium to take pictures. I have considered watching a game from there.

We all have our fears. Maybe I need to conquer some. Heck, I’m going to be 42 later this year. Gotta start sometime.

Is there an immunization for eclipse fever? Sign me up!

Eclipse fever has overtaken Kansas City.

Check that, eclipse fever overtook Kansas City months ago. Eclipse fever is now raging throughout much of Missouri, especially along the western edge of the state from Kansas City to the far corner where the state borders Iowa and Nebraska.

You cannot turn on any of the four local network stations and not hear something about the eclipse, which occurs Monday. Most of northern Missouri is in the path of totality, with St. Joseph scheduled to be in totality for two minutes, 38 seconds.

There are estimates of over one million people flocking to Kansas City, St. Joseph and countless small towns in the far northern reaches of the state to view the eclipse, which is dangerous for the human eye unless proper eclipse glasses are worn. Regular sunglasses won’t work. And certainly do not try taking picutres or videos of the eclipse. Anyone who does will go blind and not know it.

In Kansas City, only areas north of the Missouri River–Platte and Clay counties–will have totality, and it won’t be as long as it will be farther north. I’m guessing there will be gigantic traffic jams on Interstate 29 with people stopping to watch. I’ve suggested Missouri Western State University, where the Chiefs hold training camp, open its stadium to let people watch.

Elaine Mercer, one of my supervisors at work, is going to watch from Carrollton, where she and Frank used to live (and still own the newspaper, the Carrollton Democrat). Carrollton is scheduled to have totality for two and a half minutes, too.

The only place in Kansas in the path of totality will be Doniphan County, the farthest county northeast in the state. Russell and Hays will be in the 93 percent range. I’m not watching. NO.

I don’t see what the big fuss is. I saw an eclipse in 1984 when I was finishing second grade. I want to be able to see, even if I’m blind without my contact lenses or glasses.

It reminds me of all those who went crazy over Haley’s Comet being visible in early 1986. It’s not that big a deal to me. I’m not into astronomy. I only know what I learned in school (and playing Buzztime trivia). That’s it. I don’t own a telescope, I don’t look at the horoscope, and I never got attached to watching the space shuttle launch and land, except when I watched it in school. The only time I can remember watching a shuttle launch was in seventh grade at Arabi Park Middle, mostly because it was the first one after the Challenger explosion.

Hotels in Kansas City and St. Joseph are absolutely gouging people who are coming to the area to view the eclipse.

If you thought hotel rates in the area were outrageous for the two NASCAR weekends at Kansas Speedway, you haven’t looked at the rates for this Sunday night.

The “budget” hotels in the area are charging at least $250. Some of the classier hotels downtwon are charging up to $750.

Seven hundred fifty bucks. And that’s not for a hotel in the path of totality.

Someone who is paying over $800 to stay in a hotel and then go watch an eclipse has money to burn. Still, it’s a gigantic waste of money. That person would be better off buying Chiefs tickets.

I’ll be so happy Tuesday when the eclipse is over and people have to start talking about something else.