#Merica Tour, Stories from the Road, Segment 7
(For links to previous segments, scroll to the bottom)

Time Before TimeBrent and I arrive at Boulevard Brewing Company in Kansas City at 11 a.m., ready for some breakfast beer, rather than bypass the brewery altogether due to timing because there’s no concept of time when you’re on a road trip, anyway. Okay, there is, but we stopped living by time a couple states ago.

Time Before TimeIn the Boulevard tasting room, we share a flight of mini beers of our choice, deciding the Black Pale Ale (my choice) and the Farmhouse Ale (Brent’s) to be the best, and then we hit the gift shop for t-shirts and magnets and how-do-I-look-in-this-hat time.

When we get back in the car, we cross from Kansas City, Missouri into Kansas City, Kansas, and drive west toward lunch with dinosaurs—truly, a restaurant in the suburbs dedicated to giant food portions and animatronic dinosaurs. Time Before Time(For you Mall of America Minnesotans out there, think Rainforest Café but with dinosaurs and an erupting volcano.) We feast, take pictures of ourselves hanging in prehistoria (mostly of Brent trying to get eaten by every dinosaur we approach–you can imagine the people who came today merely to eat lunch are glad to get out of our way), Time Before Timeand stealthily follow the dino footprints through the T-Rex Café gift shop trying to sneak up on each other. I’m not super sneaky at this point—I nicked my foot with the glass door on the way in and have developed a bit of a limp. Time Before TimeRemembering the O’Malley’s girls in Weston who gave me a napkin of gin to rub on my numerous bug bite welts, I tell Brent that I need some emergency gin for my toe. He laughs at me. There’s no gin in the gift shop, so I opt instead for a dinosaur backpack for my nephew.

Back on the road again, we head toward a giant teepee (isn’t everyone who’s on the road these days??), and we find it—though we have no idea why it’s here. Time Before TimeA side door along the fence has a sign with a phone number on it should we want to rent it out—that door is locked. The front door to the teepee itself has a curtain pulled across it so you can’t see in too well. Clearly they don’t want people looking in, so we approach the teepee and try. The best we can see is a case of Pepsi on the floor a few inches from the front door. We back away to discuss getting in to this teepee.

Time Before TimeMeanwhile, cars stop and gawk at the teepee as they turn around in its dirt parking lot, and Brent and I stand there goading each other to try the door. We’re the only ones standing there—no one else even gets out of their cars.

“Just open the door,” I tell Brent.

“You do it,” he says. “I think someone lives there.”

“That’s why you should do it,” I say. Minutes of reasons and excuses later, a plan is set as to how to apologize if we walk in on someone’s living room. It’s my plan, set for Brent to act out, but somehow the plan gets twisted and now I have to do it. I set my face and start marching toward the front door of the teepee. Halfway there, I turn around and stick my tongue out at Brent, but he’s cued and ready with his camera phone to get the footage of my awkward apology. Great. YouTube and a police station, here I come.

I continue to the glass door that looks like it belongs on a gas station rather than a teepee, slowly reach out my hand, grasp the metal handle, and pull. It’s locked. Brent laughs.

Thus, we take more pictures and hop back in the car. “Who locks a teepee?” I ask as we head back onto the road toward our next adventure.

We laugh and realize we’re both starting to like Kansas. And we’re only just getting started. Where we’re headed next, we’ll be invited inside. And we won’t emerge the same again.

(For previous Stories from the Road, click here: Segment 6, Segment 5, Segment 4, Segment 3, Segment 2, Segment 1)

Jody Brown is the author of Upside Down Kingdom, and is a blogger, poet, and traveler.