The KC Dream

KCMO

As a senior studying accounting and international business at Northwest Missouri State University, this summer was devoted to gaining experience in my field prior to my graduation. This experience came in the form of a logistics internship with Scarbrough International in Kansas City, Missouri. Although I had no idea what I was getting myself into, I learned a lot about international business through the internship as I learned a lot about myself as I explored a new city.

From the first day I set foot in the office, I realized that a cubicle is not the place for me. Maybe I chose the wrong or maybe I haven’t learned how to “think outside the box” (pardon the pun). Although I was stuck in a small, windowless office all day, I gained a network that I wouldn’t trade for the world. The men and women with whom I worked taught me a lot through their daily actions. Although working in the customs brokerage industry can be stressful and complicated, I saw innovation daily. If a truck broke down or shipment was stuck in a port, the employees worked tirelessly to discover new ways to move freight. Though I wasn’t passionate about the work I did, I now know one more thing which I don’t want to do. And I gained friendships with people who will help me in anything I decide to pursue.

Although I’m a native of Omaha, Nebraska and visited KC often, I wanted to experience the city for an entire summer. Initially, I looked on Craigslist for housing in the area, but finally settled in a former roommate’s parents’ basement. Living in Northland (as residents refer to the northern KC area) allowed me to explore the historic downtown Parkville but also gave me easy access to downtown KC.

Because I began training for the KC Marathon this summer, I spent a lot of time running around English Landing and the Nature Sanctuary in Parkville. Following my runs, I would often stop for a cup of hometown roasted coffee at the Parkville Coffeehouse. Provided with excellent service and a wonderful environment, the Coffeehouse became one of my favorites during my stay.

Most weekends and some evenings, I drove twenty-five minutes to the Midtown area to visit friends who lived downtown. Here, many of my favorite memories were made with both new and old friends. Living in the city always provided something to do (especially in the summer). First Fridays, sand volleyball, concerts, and farmer’s markets were among some of my favorite things.

KC is a vibrant city many people might not expect from the Midwest. With images of corn, cattle, and cowboys branded into their brains, people from outside the region may not expect to see towering skyscrapers, hear top bands, taste delicious BBQ (the pride of KC), and smell the fragrances of an open market. But this city has that and so much more to offer the traveler or student just passing through. To experience both the Midwest disposition and the fast-pace of a big city, everyone should have the opportunity to live the KC Dream!

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Life in the ‘Burbs

Chicago

Usually, when traveling, I like to see how ordinary people live their lives. Although it’s fun to sight see while exploring a new city, I am most happy when I can escape the hordes of tourists and see “real life” of ordinary people. For me, Chicago was no different. Instead of bending my neck to stare at skyscrapers, taking the typical selfie with “The Bean” in Millennium Park, or catching a baseball game, I headed to the Northern suburbs to visit a good friend from college.

My trip began in December when I purchased round trip bus tickets from Omaha to Chicago with Megabus for only $6.80. After finding such a bargain, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to travel. Boarding the bus on Friday morning, I scored a seat on top of the double-decker bus for the eight hour journey to Chi-Town. Stopping in Des Moines and Iowa City before finally reaching Chicago in the evening, I took in the Windy City’s beautiful skyline at dusk before being deposited at Union Station to meet my friend.

After briefly seeing the city, we headed to the suburbs for the weekend. The remainder of my time in the Second City was filled with deep dish pizza, chatting, cafes, walking, shopping, meeting new friends, drinks, and laughter. Too soon, I was boarding the bus on my way back to Omaha. As I watched the Midwestern plains fly by the window, I reflected on the past couple days. Though I love seeing different places, tasting new food, and experiencing diverse cultures, the people I meet while traveling are the most important. In the end, the most beautiful places or the most delicious food cannot substitute for the new friends I’ve made while travelling. Without someone with whom you can share the experience, what is a new adventure?

Taos, New Mexico

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On Tuesday, we woke up, packed, and drove to Taos to experience the beautiful Sangre de Cristo Mountains in north-central New Mexico. About two hours driving from Albuquerque and one from Santa Fe, it’s a perfect weekend escape from the urban life. Although we visited during the off season (the snow on the slopes was beginning to melt and the wildflowers had not yet appeared), the landscape was no less stunning. Sharp, snow covered peaks rose above dry, barren desert in a dramatic contrast.

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After spending the afternoon browsing the shops, cafes, and restaurants in Taos, we drove another twenty minutes to our hostel near the Taos Ski Valley. The Abominable Snowmansion was located in the village of Arroyo Secco just outside the Carson National Forest. Perfect for travelers with a budget, especially youth, the Abominable Snowmansion is a great base for skiing, hiking, or simply enjoying the outdoors. With reasonable priced dorms, private rooms, cabins, and tipis and friendly staff, it provided splendid mountain accommodations. While there are not very many restaurants in Arroyo Secco, AQEC Restaurant provided a wonderful atmosphere, delicious (slightly over-priced) food, and a friendly staff. However, the staff at the Abominable Snowmansion serves an inexpensive dinner in the evening and there are many dining options nearby in Taos.

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We explored the Taos Ski Valley before returning to our hostel for an evening of pool, wine, and new friends. Although my pool skills are lacking, I had enjoyable time laughing with old and new friends. After pool, we retired to the summer room and continued to drink. A new friend from New Orleans played some music and we had a little party. It was a close to a perfect day in the mountains.

Five States

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After being snowed in Kansas City, Missouri on Sunday, I finally hit the road to New Mexico. Most of the day, I followed the Historic Route 66 from Kansas City to Albuquerque. Although driving through Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, and New Mexico may not sound pleasant, I found the drive rather enjoyable. With the tunes blaring, coffee in hand, and wonderful thoughts of Spring Break, I managed to pass the time alone in the car.

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Of the states I passed through, Oklahoma, Texas, and New Mexico were new ones for the listing, making the count thirty-one out of fifty. Soon enough, I will have visited all fifty. In this vast country, I am excited to meet the locals who carry the traditions, stories, and lore that make this country so unique. From thirty-one to fifty, the lessons I will learn along the way excite me.

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