Refurnished Thoughts

Discover Vintage America - NOVEMBER 2017

Loving our national parks to death

My wife and I had visitors from Portland, OR a few weeks ago; and since they stayed with us for nearly a week, it took some planning to make sure they were entertained. One had never visited the Midwest before, so I was feeling challenged to make sure he had an authentic experience. So I put my tour guide hat on and went to town – literally.

The Kauffman Memorial Gardens.

One of the benefits of entertaining people from out of town is that it gives you a chance to become a tourist in your own community. It's one thing to live in a town that has a lot of attractions for visitors; and another thing altogether to take advantage of them while living here.

Since our friends arrived just on the first weekend of the month, we took them to Kansas City's West Bottoms on "First Friday" to prowl through several of the antique and vintage venues located there. I figured we would cruise in for an hour or so and then move on. Three hours and several purchases later we finally found our way back to the car.

The next day we took the streetcar from Union Station to the City Market, along the way taking in the beauty of the station. Of course, we didn't have to jockey for a parking space at the market. We hit the Steamboat Arabia Museum, where the Hawley and Mackey families continue to make progress in cleaning and displaying the treasures recovered from the 1856 steamboat wreck, a truly impressive display and a compelling story about the recovery of the Arabia.

Our friends were particularly impressed with the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, where we took a quick overview tour, which lasted all afternoon. Later that day we discovered many Monarch butterflies visiting the Kauffmann Memorial Gardens.

Later in the week we visited the National World War I museum at the Liberty Memorial, truly one of the best history museums in the country.

Our friends returned to the West Coast with a new appreciation that civilization does, indeed, exist in America's Heartland. Which is all to say that as autumn reaches its ultimate glory this month, there is still plenty of time to get out and enjoy the bounty of the Midwest, whether at a farmer's market, community harvest festival, historic home, art show, and naturally, at your local antique mall. Many dealers are planning holiday open houses in the next several weeks and will have their welcome mats out. Fall and antiquing go together like hand and glove. Now is the time!

Leigh Elmore can be contacted at
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