Platte County never looks better to me than when I’m gazing through the windshield as I drive out of the Economy Parking Lot at the Kansas City International Airport after a long trip. Travel is fun, however, getting home sure feels good. I see things haven’t dried out much since I’ve been gone. The rain gauge filled up once again. It felt just like home last Friday as the rain poured down in Knoxville, Tenn. On other days, every place there had the air conditioning cranked up so the temperature stayed down. People from some parts of the U.S. attending this professional conference sat shivering. “It’s really humid down here in Tennessee,” the locals told them. “Humidity gets to you if you don’t stay cool.”
My reply was, “Well, you don’t have anything up on western Missouri this summer when it comes to humidity.”
Travel is nice for giving you fresh perspectives and comparisons.
Downtown Knoxville has a Market Square area with a vintage architectural style and attractive landscaping and art. It’s similar to what our Kansas City City Market and Westport areas would look like if crammed together with a few tall buildings sprinkled in. This was a hangout place at night with eateries and bars.
But the square was just as active in daytime.
I was reminded of old downtown Parkville and Weston.
Both places have long drawn visitors (customers and cash) from the metro and beyond because people like that old style look as a change of pace. Voters, property owners and city officials valued the history and color in those towns and have put a lot of work into saving them.
Be thankful, even those of us who just pass through on a visit now and then benefit.
Dearborn and Edgerton have seen some efforts in their small surviving business districts. They’re small and making investments pay there, with the maintenance that goes with old buildings, has to be tough. But I hope the enjoyment that people tied to modern suburbs feel from visiting “old town” does make them pay in time.
Camden Point is the sleeper. Tiny, but a lot of Platte County history tied in.
Old style trolley cars are big in Knoxville, heavily used and a major part of the city’s downtown transportation. I spent time trying to capture decent images of them for a photo scavenger hunt. We have them in Kansas City, too, but south of the river.
While likely not viable now, I wonder if they will be some day on a route that picks up Riverside, Parkville and Zona Rosa?
The old style city grows on you after four days getting your bearings.
But then, the drive to the airport takes you back out past the numbing sameness of boring strip shopping centers and fast food shops. The thrill goes away going back to that reality.
I guess the market drives growth.
But I was reminded that for a relatively new development, I think Zona Rosa deserves points for extra effort in avoiding that sameness. We’re lucky it was built in the heart of our county.
This trip gave me a chance to add a couple of new airports to my travel resume and compare them with KCI. Of course, we all compare terminals now because KCI’s will someday get a remodel or replacement.
Knoxville’s terminal wasn’t too bad as big boxes go. However, that’s a smaller market than what we have in the KC metro, and I’ll give kudos to KCI, Kansas City and the Missouri Highway and Transportation Department for providing good signage for how to get to places.
I saw more of Knoxville’s suburbs than I planned on thanks to weak signage. Their airport roads were also a bit twisty to a stranger.
I had to make connections home to KCI through Philadelphia’s airport. I survived. What a mess. Let’s hope our airport never gets that big and sprawled out.
KCI’s terminals do need a redo. That’s clear.
Although some of the cramping is due to not all of the available terminal space being utilized. Air travel is far more strained and stressed than in decades long past. That’s due to profit motives by airlines and the industry, and our necessary precautions against terrorism.
Anybody here ever get through TSA security and then realize that they forgot to leave the rental car keys in the drop box? I’ll raise my hand.
But we keep moving across America at amazing speed thanks to air travel. It’s a wonder our ancestors would marvel at. Still, the very best part is coming home.
Bill Graham, who lives in the Platte City area with his family, may be reached by e-mail at email@example.com.