Category Archives: Missouri

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.

Enough of the eclipse!

I’m in Kansas City right now, where I have been since 4 p.m. Wednesday.

I am ready to get the hell out of dodge and return to the prairie.

The eclipse is now scheduled to arrive in Missouri in less than 21 hours. The hype machine has been in full gear for months, but it has been in turbo since the beginning of August.

Many in the area turned their attention away from the ecliipse for three hours last night when the Chiefs played the Bengals in an exhibition game. When the game ended shortly after 9 p.m., it was time for many to drop everything and worry about the weather for tomorrow.

It would be very funny to me if clouds blocked out the eclipse. It would really be too bad for those who spent hundreds of dollars on a hotel room for one night, thinking they would see a total eclipse. I can’t wait to see how the people react if there are clouds obscuring the sun. You know what? It’s the weather. You know what you’re getting yourself into. If you’re dumb enough to lay out exorbitant amounts of money to witness an eclipse, it’s your own fault.

If you’re spending $500 to $700 for a hotel room for one night, you have tons of money to burn AND you need to find something better to burn that money on. For $700, you should be able to take your family to a Chiefs game and still have money left over for a meal after the game.

I gave brief thought to staying over and watching with Robb and Dawn, but they’ve got too many issues in their lives. Good. Now that I think about it, I’m making the right move going home. In fact, I’m going to stay up through the night so I am fast asleep at 1 pm when the eclipse is supposed to be over the region.

Beatlemania paled in comparison to the hype for the eclipse. The Beatles were not bigger than Jesus, as John once claimed. But they were well worth the money spent on tickets. I can’t say the same about the money wasted to try to see an eclipse, which will last less than THREE MINUTES.

I will be so happy by Tuesday afternoon. The eclipse will be over, and the media will have to focus on something else.

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.