Friday, October 02, 2009

A Great Adventure!!

Have you ever had one of those great days? A day where everything seems to be going your way, one of those days that feels like an adventure? I had one of those on Wednesday this week.

A few weeks ago I bought a ticket to the Dave Matthews Band concert in Kansas City for this past Wednesday. If you didn't know, I'm kind of a DMB fanatic, I've been to a lot of his concerts but the reason I wanted to go to this one specifically was because Willie Nelson and The Family Band were going to open up for him. I've never really followed Willie Nelson but he seems like one of those guys that you have to see before you die (or before he dies), so I thought this would be a perfect excuse to check that off my bucket list. I was going by myself because it was a school night - that didn't bother me though - I was looking at the day as an adventure! It's amazing how things work out when you really don't care how the day goes. As far as I was concerned, as long as I made it to the concert, I'd be happy.

I took a mid-morning flight down to Kansas City and the nice people at Northwest (in Delta uniforms) put me in a first class seat. After a short nap and a television show on my iPhone, I arrived in Kansas City. It was one of those beautiful days where the weather can't quite figure out if it's summer or fall yet, so it's somewhere in between - just perfect, 68 degrees, and not a cloud in the sky. I hopped on the rental car bus and went to go pick up my car.

The people at Budget were all out of the sub-compact clown cars that I had requested......so they gave me a red 2-door, Mitsubishi Eclipse convertible! When the girl working at the rental-car counter asked if a convertible for the same price would be okay, I only had to think about it for 1/2 second. I said, "Yeah, I guess that'd be okay." Inside I was doing cartwheels like a 8 year old would do when he finds out he's going to Disney Land instead of school.

I got outside to the car, put the top down, and the adventure began! I stopped by the hotel to drop off my bags and get checked in. I decided since it was such a nice day and I had a great car for cruising, I might as well go for a cruise. It's been a long time since I went for a drive with no particular place to go. I left the hotel and headed west. There's something refreshing about just driving with the top down on a beautiful day! There was no schedule, no traffic, no worries and nothing but me and the open highway! After an hour or so of cruising through the Kansas countryside, I ended up in Lawrence, KS. I stopped to get a sandwich for lunch, cruised through the University of Kansas campus, and then found another country road that would take me back to Kansas City.

I arrived back in Kansas City after a beautiful afternoon of driving and thought I'd find my great-grandparents house. My great-grandparents have been deceased since I was young but they used to live in a great neighborhood called Mission Hills, KS - a few miles south of downtown. They actually lived on State Line Road, their house was in Kansas, across the street was Missouri. I always thought that was kind of neat. After I found their house, I drove around and checked out some of the other houses in their neighborhood and then headed downtown for the evening!

I headed into the Power and Light District, which was right across the street from where the concert would be held. I found a place for dinner and saddled up to the bar. Within a few minutes a gentleman sat down next to me. As it turned out, he was going to the concert by himself as well. He's a school teacher from a Kansas City suburb, we had a great conversation and eventually a couple of his friends showed up as well. The four of us hung out for a couple hours and before I knew it, the show was about to begin. We headed into the Sprint Center and parted ways.

As I found my seat (on the floor about 20 rows back from the stage), the lights dimmed and out came Willie Nelson! Like I said, I haven't followed Willie Nelson much so I don't know many of his songs but there were a few I recognized; "Ain't It Funny (How Time Slips Away)" and "On the Road Again" were two of my favorites. After about 45 minutes, he finished his set and they started setting up for Dave Matthews. The auditorium was almost full by now and there was an indescribable excitement in the air.

As soon as the lights dimmed again, the crowd let out a deafening roar! The Dave Matthews Band came out and within minutes the concert was rocking at full volume! Their latest album, "Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King", is a tribute to their former saxophone player LeRoi Moore. LeRoi passed away last summer, due to injuries received while riding an ATV. After his passing, the band became much stronger after they realized what they lost and what a unique friendship they all have. This is possibly one of their best albums ever.

Two and a half hours later, when they'd exhausted their set list which consisted of long jam sessions and plenty of songs, both old and new, they said their goodbyes and left the stage. Traditionally their drummer, Carter Beauford will throw drumsticks into the crowd after the show. Wednesday night was no different and I rushed closer to the front to see if I could grab one. A few got close but after about 20 sticks had been thrown, he left the stage. Although I left the auditorium empty handed, I had some great memories!

I headed back across the street and thought I'd see what was happening at the Power and Light District. I found a guy named Ryan Patrick Imming performing outside one of the bars. I got a drink and sat down to listen to him play! This guy was amazing, he plays guitar, bass guitar, drums, and harmonica! He mixes it all together live and gets some great music out of it! While I was watching him, I recognized another guy that was there with some friends. I had seen him on YouTube several times doing Dave Matthews covers and I have to say, he is probably as good, if not better than Dave Matthews! We had written back and forth a couple times so I knew what his name was. When I asked him if his name was Drew, he looked a little shocked. I told him that I recognized him from YouTube and that we had written a couple times. We hung out for a while and then I decided it was getting late and I needed to head back.

I drove back to my hotel in the rain, which I thought would make for some great sleeping weather. I was right, I was exhausted and slept great! The next morning I returned my car and caught a flight back home!

Sometimes life hands you an adventure when you least expect it, Wednesday was one of those days! A great drive through the Kansas countryside in a cool convertible, dinner and drinks with some high school teachers, a great concert, and hanging out on a patio listening to some more great music until the wee hours of the morning! It doesn't get much better than that!

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