Don’t Fear the Reaper…Do Fear the Squirrels

Stories from the road

Note: This piece was originally posted elsewhere on 2nd November.

Don’t fear the reaper…Do fear the squirrels.

A squirrel update will follow, but first:

Baseball in Kansas City

The Royals are one win away from clinching their first World Series title since 1985. This could happen as early as tonight in New York, which would mean that my tickets for Games 6 & 7 would not be needed.

If my Game 2 experience is to be it, what is World Series baseball like in Kansas City?

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Imagine going to a picnic with 40,000 members of your extended family.
You’re all there to celebrate your great aunt Ethel’s 90th birthday.
Everyone is relaxed, friendly, familiar.
Then, after a few beers, one of your uncles (and a couple of cousins that nobody talks about) commandeer the stereo so that it pumps out nothing but ACDC and Van Halen for the next 4 hours.
In the midst of all this a baseball game breaks out.
Win, lose or draw, everybody goes home having had a good time.

Lessons for the AFL

Things I liked about baseball at the ‘K’ more than football at the ‘G’:

– With my ticket I could enter the ground at any gate. ANY gate!
– Once inside I could walk the concourse the entire way around the field. In either direction. As many times as I liked.
– The area around the outfield bleachers is home to fountains, outdoor bars and family play areas.
– The ground staff were sooooooo friendly. Greeted with a smile and a hello, it took less than 2 minutes to enter the stadium, even though every spectator was checked with hand held metal detectors. The same staff were at the gates when leaving (with another smile) to wish everybody a safe trip home and a “hope to see you again soon”.

It made a nice change from the steel barriers and segregation of the MCG.

Fun Fact: Since 2011 the mayor of Kansas City has been a guy named Sly James. If his administration is ever toppled as a result of a corruption scandal, nobody should be surprised. Its right there in the name people!

All hail our tyrannical squirrel overlords!!!

I’ve written previously about the incalculable number of squirrels that inhabit Independence, MO. Turns out that it is much worse than I first feared.

As near as I can tell, squirrels are the dominant species in the local ecosystem.
They are organised into gangs that control entire neighbourhoods.
Each house within the operating zone is allocated a minimum of three squirrels.
You simply cannot walk by a front yard without seeing them at work (i.e. frolicking).

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Why is this a problem?

I’m glad you asked.
Aside from the ever present threat of nut shortages, the squirrels are responsible for:

– bombarding parked vehicles with unwanted food and plant matter
– causing road accidents by gleefully prancing in front of traffic
– lost productivity by enticing passers-by to stay and watch their antics, thus delaying vital economic activity (hey…it happened to me)

From an outsider’s perspective, it is clear that the resident human population lives in constant fear. However, after discussions with a number of locals, it seems that they remain largely ignorant to the oppressive rule of their tyrannical squirrel overlords.

Its amazing what you can get away with if you are cute and cuddly.

fbc4998dafefb23d7e0f2de2db85c072  evil-squirrel

muscle-squirrel

More to come.

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From the Road…

I recently had cause to make a last minute trip to the US to watch my beloved Kansas City Royals win their first World Series title in 30 years, which as it happens is precisely the length of time that I’ve been following them.

Whilst I was very much looking forward to seeing live baseball and exploring Kansas City (a city I’d never visited before), I had no idea the breadth of people and experiences that I would enjoy on my first trip to the US in more than 20 years.

Over the coming days I will reproduce the travel updates that I sent back home, from my adventures on the road…

Stories from the road

Note: This piece was originally posted elsewhere on 28th October.

From the road…

After an epic transit (even for me) I am settled safely in Kansas City for Game 1 of the 2015 World Series. No, I’m not at Kauffman Stadium watching live – I wasn’t certain that I’d arrive on time so didn’t buy a ticket – that will have to wait for Game 2 tomorrow.

The Transit

50 hours.
Nuts.
That’s what you get when you’re organising on the fly at the last minute. Summary:

14 hour flight…
3 hour layover…
15 hour flight…
3 hours to clear US immigration and make it across town for a…
12 hour bus ride, including a 2.5 hour layover in St Louis before catching my connection to Kansas City, which departed at…2:50 AM.

Fact: You witness some very strange behaviour when hanging out at a Greyhound Bus Terminal at 2 in the morning.

Greenland Arctic 2
Over Greenland, during flight from Dubai to Chicago

The People

On the flights, there weren’t any.
Both legs were < 1/3 full leaving lots of room to stretch out.
Appreciated.

Shout Out #1 goes to the Emirates ground staff in Dubai (name unknown) who allowed me to complete my US visa waiver registration at the boarding gate…using her iPhone. Thank you!
(I knew I forgot to do something before I left home.)

Shout Out #2 goes to Stava, a Russian-born taxi driver – living in Chicago for 15 years – who got me to my bus on time. When asked, Stava was proud to say that Vladimir Putin is a good President for Russia. He is from Crimea and has a lot of family that is still there. They all love Vlad. “Crimea should always be a part of Russia”, said Stava. “Kruschev was an idiot to give it away.”

Shout Out #3 goes to Rob, a 50 yo black guy who was my travel companion from Chicago to St Louis. The son of a baptist minister, Rob had just spent 48 hrs on a train from Seattle on his way to St Louis to visit his sisters. It took 5 minutes to work out that we were likeminded souls; we spent the next 5 hours swapping stories.

Shout Out #4 is for Jabar, my taxi driver on a rainy first morning in KC. Jabar is from Afghanistan, but has been living in KC for 32 years. He came here in 1983 with his brother and uncle. His father was killed in the war following the Russian invasion in ’79. He thought it was really cool that someone would travel all the way from Australia to watch the Royals play in the World Series. “You’ve made my day” he said. Actually, he made mine…by dropping me off at the nearest Dennys. I was famished!

Fact: People are people wherever you go. They like to tell their story…and sometimes they’re interested in yours.

All that before I’d even made it to my accommodation.
More to come.

Greenland Arctic 1
Above Greenland
Greenland Arctic 5
Somewhere over Canada