Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Kansas City

Went on a little road-trip last weekend to Kansas City, to catch a soccer game. It was the first time I'd been to Kansas City, and I was pleasantly surprised at how nice of a city it is. We managed to get into town around lunchtime on Saturday, and our first stop was the Country Club Plaza. The Plaza is an interesting place, lots of neat old buildings and fountains everywhere.
Giralda Tower

Then it was off to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, which is just a few blocks away.
Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

The museum is the place where there are giant badminton shuttlecocks laying around in the sculpture garden in front of the main building. I wished that we had thought to bring along a badminton racket to use in some pictures. Then I thought that we should all pose next to the birdies and act like we were holding giant rackets that could then be photoshopped in later. I forgot about that when we got there, but on our way out we passed people posing with pictures holding badminton rackets.

And this is the view looking back out to the sculpture garden from the front of the museum...
Looking out...

The museum was interesting on the inside as well. This is the skylight of the main lobby:

The museum has a good selection of art there - a few Monets, a Carvaggio, Rembrandt, and a Van Gogh. And hey, they even had some photography there.

I was interested in seeing what photography they had, and was a little disappointed to see that it was stuck way in a back corner. But it was in a newer addition to the museum, which had some cool architecture too.

We were running low on time, since we still had to check into our hotel, so we didn't see everything there. It is a really cool art museum, and free too!
Just thinking...

On our way back to the car we stopped by the huge fountain outside of the Plaza, which was cool but the light wasn't that great for pictures...
J.C. Nichols Memorial Fountain

J.C. Nichols Memorial Fountain

J.C. Nichols Memorial Fountain

Nichols Fountain

We went to our hotel, which was across the stateline in Kansas. Luckily the hotel was right next to the stadium where we would see the game. I was excited about this because it was my first time to see a soccer game outside of Dallas. I only wish that the stadium there was better. The Kansas City Wizards are temporarily playing in a minor-league baseball stadium while they are awaiting the construction of their very own soccer stadium. The baseball stadium seemed nice, it was just badly laid out for a soccer pitch. This was our view, with a conveniently placed light pole.
Community America Ballpark

I didn't bring in my zoom lens since we were sitting so far from the field, so the pictures of the game aren't all that great.
Before the game...


We were sitting next to the Inferno, the supporter's group for FC Dallas. They spent most of the game singing, chanting, drumming and yelling. This proved to be a bit much for the people sitting around us. When the Inferno would start yelling, a few people would plug their ears and give disaproving glares. After a few minutes they started some heckling. The yells from the Dallas fans grew a bit louder when Dallas midfielder Andre Rocha scored a goal from 40 yards out in the 7th minute. Here is the Inferno celebrating:
And I was asked if the above shot could be used on the front page of 3rd Degree, a FC Dallas fan website.

Now the increased noise seemed to push those around us past the breaking point. After the Dallas goal, the Inferno chanted "We can't hear you anymore!" to the Wizards supporter's group. In response, someone behind us yelled out "we wish we couldn't hear you!" Perhaps the best moment came right after the Inferno yelled out something that had just a small bit of profanity in it. There was a family by us with a kid who was probably 10 or so. I overheard him say softly, "watch your language....douchebags," which was hilarious in that the kid would say that after being so offended by a few stray curse words.

A few pre-teen girls decided to counter the chants of the Inferno by standing next to us and yelling back at them. Which proved to be extremely annoying, and by halftime I was ready to move. We decided to move to a grassy area which was located behind one of the goals. We had a bit better view (no lightpoles in the way), and I wished that I had my zoom lens with me.
2nd half

But we did get a view of a pretty sweet sunset -
Sunset over Community America Ballpark


The game would end in a 1-1 draw. FC Dallas went down a man after a red card, and the Wizards managed to sneak a goal in during stoppage time. It was a sad way for the game to end. I was glad that they didn't lose the game, since we had driven all the way to see it.

To make up for the draw, we decided to grab a late dinner at a BBQ place near the stadium. It may have been the several beers I had finished off before and during the game, but it was good. I had been looking forward to trying some Kansas City BBQ for the weeks leading up to the game.

On Sunday morning we didn't have much time to sight-see since we had the long drive back to Arkansas looming over us. But we made one last stop at the National World War I museum, which has a tower that you can go into that provides some great views of the Kansas City skyline.
Liberty Memorial Tower

The 217 foot-tall tower was erected in 1926. You can pay just $4 to go into the tower, so they don't really shaft you on the price. The view from the skyline there is awesome. It ranks up there with the view of Chicago from the Hancock Tower as some of the best places to see a city skyline.
Liberty Tower

And the view:
Kansas City

Kansas City

Kansas City

On the elevator ride to the top, the guide told us that he saw a praying mantis on the top of the tower. We tried to spot it up there, I hoped it was sitting on the edge (so there could be a picture of it where it looked like it was attacking downtown Kansas City). We ended up seeing it on the ground, seeming like it was trying to figure out how to get out of there.
Praying Mantis on top of Kansas City

The Liberty Tower was a cool place, I'd like to go back up there at night to get some twilight shots of the skyline.
Liberty Tower

But, alas, it was time to head home. We were tempted to make a pit-stop at this town in Missouri:

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Junction Bridge

So I went out to the Junction Bridge last night, trying to get a good shot of the sunset behind the bridge. Well I managed to totally time the sunset wrong, which had me standing around the bridge for awhile waiting for it to get dark (which meant missing some good Olympics on tv).

I set the camera on the tripod and waited and waited for it to get dark. To pass the time, I ended up tossing the lens cap into the air and trying to catch it. This was a fun game until I missed it, and the lens cap managed to shoot directly into a small hole in the ground, all hole-in-one Tiger Woods style. Now, this hole was something I never noticed the whole time I was out there, and I was amazed that the cap managed to fall directly down there, like magic. I reached my hand into the hole, nervous that it was the home of some sort of snake or a rabid raccoon. The lens cap was out of reach, so I found a stick nearby to try to fish the cap out, eventually managing to get the now dirt-covered lens cap out of the depths of the earth.

To make matters more interesting, a few minutes later I was standing by the camera when I felt something wet hit my arm. I looked down to discover that...yeah, a bird just crapped on me. Good times!

The sunset never really turned out, but there was some nice color in the sky anyways. So here's a shot of the bridge:
Junction Bridge

I tried to find another viewpoint on the bridge, and got this:
Another Junction Bridge shot

I went across the river to try to get some shots from the north shore. I was too late to try to get any good views of the skyline with some evening light, but managed to get this view of the skyline from NLR:

Here's another little time-lapse video of dusk settling in at the Junction Bridge. Sorry that it jumps around some, I decided to move the camera a bit halfway through. But stay tuned to the end to see the Arkansas Queen riverboat float through and dock on the north shore...

Monday, August 11, 2008

Big Dam Fog

I think I might be one of the few people who loves it when it rains on the weekend. Usually because it means better waterfall weather, but this weekend meant it was only in the 80's instead of being about 100 degrees out like usual.

Both Saturday and Sunday were filled with a nice steady and light rain. We got a few inches of rain here. I didn't think it would be enough to get waterfalls up and running, so I didn't attempt any adventures anywhere. But on Sunday night I was driving home and noticed that a fog or a bunch of low clouds were hanging over the river, so I grabbed the camera and headed back out to the Big Dam Bridge. The fog wasn't that thick over the bridge, but there was some fog drifting along the river at the base of the dam.
Big Dam Bridge

This was taken at my favorite spot to get pictures of the bridge. It's a concrete slab that shoots out in the river, which gives you some great views of the bridge. Of course the river has been so high lately that this little spot has been under water the last few times I'd been out there. It's a bit tricky to get there, however. You have to make your way down the riverbank, which is littered with large and pointy rocks. Since it had been raining all weekend, they were also slick. I only managed to slip and fall once. Luckily for me I didn't manage to fall on my camera in the process. And along with the rocks, there is a lot of tall grass, which my imagination led me to believe was filled with all sorts of poisonous snakes. Luckily they weren't out and about that night.

After I finished taking the picture above, I noticed a puddle along the concrete, and tried to get a shot of the bridge's reflection there.
Big Dam Puddle

Next I made my way back up the riverbank, managing to not fall again. I got a few more shots of the bridge before the camera battery ran out...
Big Dam Bridge, again...

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Hot night at Dickey-Stephens

I've gotten behind in posting new pictures, so here is a post with some pictures from last weekend. On Saturday, my brother was in town and we decided to check out an Arkansas Travelers minor-league baseball game. My brother hadn't been to the new stadium here yet, and was interested in seeing a game there and to compare it to the old Ray Winder Field, where the Travs used to play.

It probably wasn't the best of ideas to go to a game, since it was 103 degrees outside at the start of the game. And of course, our seats were in the sun.
Keep him in, take him out...

The Travs were playing the Northwest Arkansas Naturals, who play out of Springdale. This might have been a problem for my brother, who to cheer for? We both grew up in Little Rock and used to go to tons of Travs games. But he has since moved off to Northwest Arkansas, so he might be more for the NWA team instead. He decided to cheer for the home team, which ended up losing 5-2.

My brother has been to a few Naturals games at their new stadium in Springdale, and was pleased to see that beer is much cheaper at Dickey-Stephens. It did help battle the heat.

Our seats were along the third-base line, so I had the camera ready to try to get any action around third base. Didn't really catch much though.

It got dark, so all the shots turned out to be really grainy. A Travs player would end up sliding into third later on, but the shot was mixture of blurry and grainy pixels so it doesn't really look as awesome as I hoped. Oh well.

And finally here is a view of the skyline from our seats. The stadium does have a great location...
View from Dickey-Stephens