One of the guiding principles of travel, we think, is to get out and explore wherever you are. Whether in a town of 5,000 or a city of 5 million, there is always something to be gained by getting out and exploring your surroundings rather than sitting in a hotel room waiting for the next planned activity.
This has been the collective theory during an annual spring/summer trip with friends to see various baseball games. We call it “The Great Baseball Road Trip,” and we have been traveling to various destinations every year since 2000. This past weekend brought us to Kansas City, where the exploration instincts kicked in again.
After watching the Royals get pummeled by the Angels in a relatively quickly played game Saturday — sorry, Kansas City, but it appears that once again this is not your year — we arrived at our hotel around 4:30 p.m. There was nothing definitively planned the rest of the day. So naturally, after sitting for about 30 minutes, we immediately had that wanderlust again.
The decision was made: Do some quick online research, find a place where average golfers could squeeze in nine holes, then try to find a place to watch the final two periods of Game 5 of Red Wings/Blackhawks. The first part was surprisingly easy. The second part was surprisingly hard — until it became amusingly easy.
After a temporary betrayal by our navigational system, we found the golf course. It was an absolutely gorgeous night, and the course was wide open. But the best was yet to come.
The starter at the course greeted us when we were at least 20 feet away. It was almost certainly too far away for him to notice one member of our group’s Carolina Hurricanes golf bag — quite possibly the only one in circulation within a wide radius of Kansas City — but honestly, this is what he said: “Are you guys hockey fans?”
Those were the first words out of his mouth. In Kansas City, which has no NHL team — and in which prominent bars were showing a pay-per-view UFC bout Saturday, thus making difficult our attempt to scout out a location to watch the hockey game.
Maybe we looked like hockey fans, since obviously we didn’t look like golfers. But the guy, who had just moved from Detroit, had some great news for us. Like a hockey angel sent specifically to watch over our viewing needs, he told us of a place he had just discovered called the Blue Line — a hockey bar in the middle of Kansas City.
We went, of course. And it was glorious, of course — from the obscure jerseys on the wall to the playoff game on every TV to the bubble hockey game that was only 25 cents per game (yes, we played a best-of-seven series, and yes we prevailed in six).
More important, it was another reminder that new experiences lead to other new experiences in ways that standing still can never match.