Part III: Is there a doctor on the train?
We left the Plaza and returned to the hotel where I briefly stopped to see if there was anything of interest in the ConShop. There wasn’t. We had a couple hours to kill so I collapsed on the bed and semi-watched “Nanny McPhee.” Wow, was that crap. What was Emma Thompson thinking? I hope she bought something really nice for herself with the money. I can’t believe that was successful enough to warrant a sequel.
There was going to be a big Memorial Day concert and fireworks show down by Union Station that night, so once again we traipsed through The Link back to the train house. Quite a crowd had assembled on the grassy hill across the way. By this time we were pretty hungry but decided against the food they were hawking in tents in the heat and wound up eating at Harvey’s in the station. Pretty good grub.
It turned into quite a mob. Apparently Kansas City people like free stuff as much as St. Louisans.
The Kansas City Symphony was supposed to play at 7:30, but a couple of TV people — or maybe they were radio people — came out at 7 to welcome us and do introductions. This was followed by a speech from the symphony conductor. This was followed by a speech from someone from Union Station. This was followed by a speech by someone from Bank of America (one of the scum from the previous night’s movie, but they were funding the fireworks so we let it pass). This was followed by a speech by someone from the local PBS station.
As the fourth dignitary was speaking, I muttered to The Wife, “Please let The Mayor be here. Please let The Mayor be here.”
The next speaker: The Mayor of Kansas City.
AAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!! I did not get on a train and ride for five hours and sit down in the grass to sit here and listen to people talk. Especially predictable, boring, repetitive, speech talk. Important people of PBS, Union Station, the Symphony, Bank of America, and the Mayor’s office — we don’t care what you have to say. Yes, we all love Kansas City. Yes we all love the veterans. Yes we all love Kansas City some more. Yes, we all love the troops. Get off the stage. We are here for two things: John Phillip Sousa and Stuff Blowing Up.
At some point the speeches stop and they introduce the singer for the evening, some guy who I guess is semi-famous in Kansas City. He had the annoying habit of always going for the high note at the end of a song. Even when most songs don’t require that. Nobody sings last word of the “Star Spangled Banner” by going up an octave. It did become funny after a while.
The symphony finally opened with the classic “Strike Up The Band,” then some other guy who I guess is semi-famous in Kansas City comes out to be the narrator for the evening. I guess it’s not going to be all John Phillip Sousa and fireworks. The guy starts talking about Vietnam and the symphony is playing the haunting music from “Platoon” and I’m looking around me watching the kids play and the adults drink wine and beer and the group to the right playing Uno and I wonder if the people on stage have any idea that most people aren’t paying attention to them.
After that some cellist comes out and they play a couple of tunes that seem a bit avant-garde for the venue but The Wife enjoyed them and no one else is paying attention anyway. Eventually they do play some patriotic classics and the cannons go off up on the WWI Memorial and the fireworks go off and all turns out well.
Amtrak gave us two options for going home: early in the morning or late afternoon. We went with the afternoon option. We got up and hit the breakfast buffet, checked out and put our luggage in storage, then hit the only remaining place to go that we hadn’t been to that was in walking distance: the National World War I Memorial and Museum. Being as it was Memorial Day it seemed appropriate.
It’s a pretty impressive monolith with some other nice stone sphinx-like things and several buildings that we didn’t take the time to explore. There was a bus in the parking lot that had a traveling WWI exhibit which The Wife checked out, and a collection of antique military vehicles in the back yard that we examined. A decent way to kill a few hours.
When we finally boarded the train we managed to get seats in the front row. Unlimited leg room! I was also excited about the possibility that by being in the front of the car we wouldn’t have to put up with kids constantly going back and forth down the aisle, as was the case on the ride to KC. Parents, if you have small children, sit in the back of the train car.
Of course, it turned out that didn’t quite work out either. There was a trash can in the front of the car and one small boy kept coming up to put things in the trash can repeatedly. Then other kids started doing it. What is it with kids? Why can’t they all just stare out the window and be still like mine?
The train left on time. Train travel is awesome. The conductor is a bit too chatty over the loudspeaker, but after a few stops you just tune him out. We were perfectly on schedule to get to Kirkwood by 9 p.m. Once again we had skipped lunch but I figured I could hold out until we got home. Things are going well until we get to the other side of Jefferson City and the train stops for no reason in the middle of nowhere.
“Is there a doctor or paramedic on the train?”
You have got to be kidding me. I don’t know why they’re asking for medical assistance because the conductor — who had been oh, so chatty up ’til now — doesn’t want to tell us what’s going on. We sit. I look out the window. An old, large building has the words “Bonnots Mill Hotel” on the side. I’m guessing the hotel hasn’t seen much action in a while. It’s also clear there is no physician staying at the Bonnots Mill Hotel.
TWENTY MINUTES LATER, an Osage County ambulance arrives. TEN MINUTES AFTER THAT, an EMT vehicle arrives. Forty minutes after they stopped the train, some poor soul is carted out the train and into the ambulance.
I tell you this story not to complain about being 40 minutes late getting home because somebody almost died on the train. I’m not that insensitive. I’m telling you this story because I care about you and I want to keep you safe. Listen to me carefully: DO NOT HAVE A HEART ATTACK IN BONNOTS MILL. Unless you figure you can hang in there for a half-hour while medical emergency teams arrive.
The train finally took off and the conductor never bothered to tell us what happened. We eventually reach Kirkwood at 9:40 and I’m still hungry but at least I’m not in some hospital somewhere in Osage County.
The Wife declares the trip a success and is already planning a return engagement around Christmas. I plan on bringing my suitcases with wheels next time. And my own defibrillators.