Friday, June 7, 1991...

With my week's vacation winding down, I had to prioritize. I chose history over tacky roadside culture, regretfully bypassing the Prairie Dog Town in Oakley, Kansas in favor of Abilene's Eisenhower National Historic Site. But in passing Oakley, I noted that two of the town's motels are called the Price Right Inn and the Free Breakfast Inn, a nice change from the standardized chains.

Sitting room, Eisenhower home, Abilene, KS

The Eisenhower stuff was well presented. The Eisenhower Center complex was constructed around the Eisenhower family home, which remains on its original site and is open for tours. The Center also includes the Eisenhower Museum, highlighting the General's career in World War II and as President and giving a good general overview of the mid-20th century; and a visitor center. Ike and his wife are buried in the "Place of Meditation" on the site, a sort of nondenominational chapel; I was especially pleased to see that one of the quotes on the wall above the graves was Eisenhower's warning that an arms race only took money away from the poor. The museum fairly presented his entire career, including pre-WWII, his service as Allied commander and his Presidency.

Had hoped to see his predecessor's sights in Independence, Missouri, but by the time I got there it was too late for the Truman library/museum. In addition to the Kansas City traffic, when I reached Independence I discovered that route from the Interstate to the Truman sights contains three of the ugliest miles of suburbia anywhere: car dealers, strip shopping centers, etc. to rival Central Avenue in Yonkers.

Independence's method of marking its historic sights left a lot to be desired, too. Each sign pointed the way to three or four different places, each identified in letters so small as to be unreadable from a distance. Finally found the Truman Museum at 5:45...only to discover that it, like the old-trails museum a few miles away, closed at 5:00 sharp. This left me a choice: rest up, drive to historic St. Joseph, or attend a Royals game at the ballpark three miles from my motel?

Mid-game groundskeeping, Royals Stadium, Kansas City, MO

I opted for the game. Royals Stadium is every bit as attractive in person as it appears on the TV. Just off the Interstate; excellent parking and access roads; spotless stadium and field; small enough not to be overwhelming. The two major drawbacks were artificial turf and a seating pattern which sacrifices closeness to keep the overall height of the stadium low. I got seats in the first row of "plaza reserved" seats behind home plate, just behind the field boxes, for $8.00, yet the seats still seemed pretty far away. In addition, the mesh netting used to stop foul balls was thick enough to serve as a serious obstacle to watching the action. The Royals market to a large area: during the game, scoreboard announcements welcomed groups from Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois and Arkansas. All in all a pleasant way to spend my next-to-last night on the road.

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