Being a Tourist, Traveling

Gravity is Weirder and Scarier in Kansas City

Kansas City is one of my favorite US cities. Because it’s a fun-filled land, my boyfriend, Ben, and I decided to visit it over the holidays. We stayed there for a week and had a lot of adventures that centered around:

-developing my coffee addiction at coffee shops like Parisi, Quay, and the Roasterie
-sailing the high seas of fine cuisine at restaurants like Cooper’s Hawk, Joe’s Kansas City Barbecue, Thai Place, and Gram & Dun
-getting our smarts on by touring the Boulevard brewery, the National World War I museum, the Nelson-Atkins art museum, and the Science City museum.

As you can see, there are lots of great things to do and see in Kansas City. One important thing you may not realize about this town, though, is that there are some spots where gravity exerts its will on you in strange and terrifying ways. This sounds frightening, but lucky for you, Ben and I have located most of these locations, and I am here now to tell you where they are so you can beware.

IKEA is the first of these places where you should watch out for weird gravity. In IKEA, you will find a world of wonder and magic and inexpensive home goods, but you may also find danger! At first whiff, you might think that the danger lies in the scent of hot cinnamon rolls that fills IKEA and the four-mile circumference around it. They call out to you and say, “Buy me in bulk and put me in your belly and then groan in stuffed misery forevermore!” But, as it turns out, it is possible to resist these siren rolls.

Ben will be the first to say that you will have a much harder time avoiding the real hazards: IKEA’s curbs. These monsters are in cahoots with gravity, and they have combined their evil forces in an attempt to destroy you. If you don’t stay on your guard and keep your hands away from packs of gum, these curbs will trip you up so fast that your body will be horizontal in the air and your face will be one foot away from the concrete sidewalk before you even have time to ponder the physics of free-falling objects accelerating through the air at 9.8 meters per second squared. If you are watching this horizontalization from the sidelines, like I was, you will actually see the person’s life flash before your eyes. Ben, let me tell you that your life is shaped like an apple and filled with billions of bike rides and coffee beans and home brewed beer. It is also narrated by Carl Sagan.

The other place to be mindful of gravity’s tricks is the Science City museum. At first glance, this place seems like your average children’s museum. There are games about DNA, light-up floor tiles, and even LIVE CHAMELEONS. But once you reach the heart of the building, you will realize that you have found a place where gravity will have its mind-bending way with you if you let it.

The center of the museum has an exhibit called Skybike, which is a bike with a 200-pound counterweight underneath it. This counterweighted bike is attached to a one-inch cable twenty feet above the ground. It sounds simple enough, but when you actually strap yourself onto the Skybike and pedal out onto the one-inch cable twenty feet above the ground, you will be reminded of how much you love the good solid terra firma that you just left behind. The whole point of the exhibit is to learn about counterweights, so you are supposed to wibble wobble your way along the cable, letting the counterweight of 200 pounds worth of bricks interact with your own pounds worth of body mass and rock you back and forth.

My problem with the Skybike was that my brain bubbled over with fear, overheated, and shut down the entire time I was out on the cable. This did not put me in a good position to science. Therefore, instead of wibble wobbling, I rode that bike as if I were on a tight wire, keeping my spine, the bike, and its pile-of-bricks counterweight as upright as an airplane seat during takeoff and landing.

After my straight-laced dance with the Skybike’s center of gravity, Ben tried it out too, and told gravity that it wasn’t gonna play cruel tricks on him again, oh no not this time. He rocked and swayed and had a jolly old time, showing me that gravity has a kinder side too if you trust it just the right amount. But all the while that I watched his merry counterweight dance, I knew the truth: gravity felt bad for nearly splatting him into non-existence the day before and wanted to be friends again. What a capricious friend we have in gravity!

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Behold the stately wibble wobble of the counterweight. Trust it as much as you dare.

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3 thoughts on “Gravity is Weirder and Scarier in Kansas City

  1. Johnny Wink says:

    Dear Frogmartian —

    This rollicking essay supplied me with sentences aplenty for my first week’s worth of TD’s. Thank you! If you’re ever in these parts, please come see me.

    Your Friend and Fan,

    Senex

    p.s. Thanks especially for “horizontalization”!

  2. Senex!

    You make my day every time you comment on my blog. Feel free to keep reading and commenting and making my day. I would love to come visit you asap. Maybe sometime this semester or early in the summer? Let me know if there is a specific time in the year that works for you, and I will try to coordinate my schedule.

    Here’s another question for you: what are TD’s? I feel like I should know what this abbreviation stands for, but I don’t!

    Looking forward to hearing from you soon,

    Frogmartian

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