Friday, April 01, 2011

#44 - Touring the Universe

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Photo by Joe Sands (My favorite from the day!)


Well, now that 7 Days is done for the spring round, normal blog posting can commence and you can see less of my mug. Ok, maybe a couple more shots of my mug now and then, but just a couple today with the back drop of Union Station to distract you. (And taken by Joe, so that's better!) Just look at that stunning Beaux-Arts 1900's architecture. Wow.


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Photo by Joe Sands


But let me get back to why we were out at this lovely building on a cloudy gray Sunday in the first place. Two weeks ago now, Joe and I spent an historical and interplanetary afternoon bumming around Union Station. #44 on the Bravely Obey in Action list just happens to be "Attend a show at a local planetarium." So we did. And we also spent a solid hour just wandering around and taking photographs of this spectacularly renovated Kansas City classic.

Visiting the Arvin Gottlieb Planetarium and taking in a show was exactly what I wanted and expected. The planetarium experience is pretty terrific. I have always been a stargazing kind of girl. Fascinated by the mythology of the constellations, curious about the sparkling dark sky and yet entirely lacking in the necessary passion for math required to pass an astronomy course. One of my favorite high school science memories was crawling through the tunnel of the inflatable planetarium dome that traveled from school to school. It sat, enormous and gray, pulsating lightly with the air that kept it standing upright, plopped in the middle of the library. We climbed down the short tunnel, sat in a circle or leaned back on our elbows in the pitch black until the image of the night sky was suddenly projected all around us. It was mesmerizing. And the Gottlieb show was even more so. The screen was enormous, 360 degrees with 155 seats, all tilted back and filled with an eager audience. We took the 45 minute Solar System tour, fascinating, detailed and yet general enough to not overwhelm young viewers. My eyes were a bit overwhelmed though, I kept trying to process all of the movement on the edge of my vision and it made me slightly nauseous. I had to keep stopping myself from trying to see everything, because it's impossible. We traveled to every planet, moons, and just beyond our vast solar system. And tried to ignore the teenage couple sitting two seats over who seemed to be devouring each others' faces during the entire show. Young galactic love.

I really enjoyed the show and it was totally worth the $6 ticket price. But it was short. Too short. And sadly at this point I've gotten spoiled by the sharp detail of our high def TV and I'm used to seeing everything with this clarity that would have shocked me ten years ago. So it makes the planetarium show slightly less stunning because of the fuzzy quality of the film. Not bad or distracting, it just left me wishing I could see the whole thing in perfect HD. And then what did I stumble upon on my one of my favorite sites? This glorious photographic animation of Saturn. Try to picture this on an immense 360 degree screen. Ah.







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Photo by Joe Sands


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Photo by Joe Sands


After our 45 minute tour of the universe, we took ourselves on a little local photographic tour. Each of us armed with a camera, we wandered and shot and gazed and lingered and had a great slow afternoon spent appreciating this building. Union Station opened in 1914 and was a bustling hub of travelers and activity until the late 1950's. Troops shipping off for WWII, travelers visiting friends and family all over the US, even gun battles during Kansas City's wild Pendergast era in the 1930's, Union Station was a vital part of the Kansas City area. And then the interstate highway system and car travel took over and train travel began to diminish. And by the late 1970's, Union Station was a relic. During my childhood in the 1980's, Union Station was a dilapidated eye sore, with a leaking roof and empty, abandoned facade. Ownership of the building changed hands repeatedly, plans were begun and halted and then finally in the late 1990's renovations began.

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Photo by Joe Sands


Union Station is a gorgeous place, replete with history, charming period details, creamy marble and plenty of weekend traffic. Though it has struggled with finding the right mix of museum events, tourist attractions, shopping, dining and touring shows to attract enough visitors, Union Station seems to be thriving. I highly recommend taking the time to visit. Go see the traveling Princess Diana or toy train show, visit Science City, grab dinner at Harvey's or Pierponts, or just bring a camera and a friend and take some time to look at door knobs and ceiling tiles, columns and chandeliers. Take a moment to pretend you are off to visit your soldier fiance who has just returned home from serving in Germany, you are wearing your smart white gloves and sweet little hat, carrying your travel case and grabbing a quick sandwich and cup of joe at the lunch counter before you miss your train! Take yourself back to a time before iPhones and SUV's, satellite radio and $4 a gallon gas. Stow your luggage, grab a seat and sit back and watch the scenery fly by as you ride the rails.




Railing
Photo actually by me, photoshop help from Joe


Visiting Union Station, we traveled through time, space and history. Spending time wrapped in the stoic elegance of this building makes me feel like a true Kansas Citian. This is a building that I have known since I was a little girl and every opportunity to see it refreshed and invigorated is a joy. So glance at the rest of our pictures and take your own tour if you get a chance.

I crossed off #44 on my list, so time to pick the next task! Maybe even for this weekend. What are you up to this weekend? Planetary travel? Laundry? Sleeping in?


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Photo by Joe Sands

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Photo by Joe Sands

Elegant lady
Photo actually by me, photoshop help from Joe

Door Knob
Photo actually by me

Photographer at Work
Photo actually by me

Stone Leaves
Photo actually by me

Chandelier
Photo actually by me


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Photo by Joe Sands

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Photo by Joe Sands

1 comment:

Nae said...

What a beautifully written post, I felt transported there - in my white gloves and all. Great photography by the both of you! When I was last there I was with the 'speedy' brigade, and a slow afternoon there hunting for photographs sounds more totally my speed. If ya'll make it there near Christmas time I was mesmerized by their toy train installation (perfect for adults and kids alike) and I don't even like trains! Thank you for sharing such a wonderful part of KC history!