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Jen Houston got word back in January that Kansas City International airport was announcing its first-ever nonstop transatlantic flight.

"While I didn't know where it would be going, I knew that I would be on it. So when the announcement was made January 9, I booked my ticket," Houston says.

Segment 1: How does weather shape Kansas culture?

It's that time of year when tornado sirens ring out their eerie sound and crazy weather hits the plains. Inspired by a photography exhibit of Kansas tornado sirens, we explore how the weather affects our lives and communities.

Usually making a travel list is a good thing for a city, state or country — but Missouri is now on Fodor's 'No List' of places to avoid in 2018. 

Among a list of destinations to avoid for reasons like high murder rates (Honduras), ethnic cleansing (Myanmar) and the environmental threats of tourism (Thailand), Missouri makes the list for apparent racism. 

There's no question the state made national headlines last year.

Icelandair

For the first time ever, Kansas City will have a regularly scheduled flight across the Atlantic Ocean. 

Starting May 26, Kansas City International airport will offer direct flights to Reykjavik, Iceland on Icelandair.

Deputy aviation director Justin Meyer says the new flight will bring down European fares, and allow for easy connections to other parts of Europe. 

The flight will be offered seasonally, from May to September three days a week. 

Helvetiq / Flickr - CC

Rarely do public places and spaces in the U.S. cater to the needs of people with dementia. Today, we find out how advocates in Kansas City are creating social events and activities to help reduce the stigma surrounding the condition, and make the world an easier place for folks with dementia to navigate. Then, we learn what other drivers might think about you because of the stickers you put on your car. The messages they send may be different from what you intend.

Russell Watkins / Flickr - CC

Even though the winds and rain have subsided, the carnage wrought by Hurricanes Maria and Irma have left parts of the Caribbean without power and everyday necessities. Today, we find out how recovery efforts in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are progressing from two Kansas City relief workers who saw the devastation firsthand. Then, learn interesting facts, folk-wisdom, and oddities of the Show-Me State, via a brand new Missouri Almanac.

Bill Anderson / KCUR 89.3

From Mexico to Montreal, the migration of the monarch butterfly is truly Odyssean in nature. Today, we visit with a Kansas City cyclist who is pedaling the butterflies' 10,000-mile voyage to raise awareness for their declining population. Then, we hear stories of America's deported veterans and learn how the practice is affecting the families and communities expelled service members leave behind.

The NAACP of Missouri has issued its first-ever travel advisory for the state, warning of harassment and discrimination. A look at whether Missouri is safe for people of color ... and whether safety related to race, religion, gender identity or sexual orientation is something that people think about when planning their travels.

FHKE / Flickr -- CC

There's been a lot of talk about the future of Kansas City International Airport. We take a step back from that debate and explore what KCI says about us as a city.

Guests:

PAUL ANDREWS / WWW.PAULANDREWSPHOTOGRAPHY.COM

William Least Heat-Moon takes us on a trip across America's forgotten rural routes, through history, away from our digital devices and into the universe.

 

Subscribe on Apple PodcastsGoogle Play and Stitcher.

 

Rene Ehrhardt / Flickr - CC

Should doctors and judges be able to decide on an infant's end-of-life care, even if it goes against the wishes of the child's parents? Does a presidential adviser owe his or her personal loyalty to their boss?

The New York Times calls him "one of the most acclaimed travel writers of his time." In this encore presentation, a chat with William Least Heat-Moon about his Kansas City roots, his new novel and how he got his name.

Guest:

  • William Least Heat-Moon

Julie Denesha / KCUR

There's a new proposal from architecture firm Burns & McDonnell that would use private money to fund construction of a new terminal to replace existing facilities at Kansas City International Airport.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Cycling 10,000 miles would be plenty of work for anyone. For Sara Dykman it's a labor of love.

The Johnson County native is pedaling her way from the mountains of Central Mexico all the way up to Southern Ontario, Canada, following the migratory pattern of millions of monarch butterflies.

"I love animals," Dykman says. "I like the underdogs — and lots of insects are ignored — but there is this one beautiful butterfly that everyone can get behind."

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

The monarch butterfly migration is one of the most beautiful phenomena in nature. Today, we speak with an Overland Park native who is following the migration on her bike, a 10,000-mile trip. Then, we shine a spotlight on Angel Flight Central, a Kansas City charity staffed by volunteer pilots who fly patients in need to essential medical care.

polarworld.co.uk

An explorer's sketchbook is more than a window into an unknown frontier — it's an intimate look into their everyday life. We visit with the author of a new book detailing the drawings, photos and scribblings of the various trailblazers who made them. Also, it's National Poetry Month and two poets tell how they and dozens of other participants will gather for this weekend's Kansas City Poetry Throwdown.

Drenaline / Wikimedia Commons

It's a long haul from Kansas City, Kansas, to Kanorado, but driving west on Interstate 70 doesn't have to be boring. Today, we learn about some of the quirky sights and stops to enjoy while traveling the highway's 424 miles in Kansas.

Then, coming out as gay is hard enough, but it can be even more difficult for older men in rural settings. We hear the story of an Iowa psychiatrist who came out after 18 years of heterosexual marriage.

Doug Kerr / Flickr -- CC

It runs from Baltimore to Provo, Utah, and the 1985 World Series was nicknamed after it. And did you know that they started building the very first stretch of it in Missouri, but the first section to be completed was in Kansas? A look at how Kansas and Missouri have been shaped by I-70.

Plus, we hear from a woman who has driven a stretch of I-70 so much that she wrote a song about it.

 

Guests:

Paul Andrews / www.paulandrewsphotography.com

On March 20, 1978, William Least Heat-Moon left Columbia, Missouri in a Ford van. The van, which he named Ghost Dancing, would be his home for the next three months.

He was 38 years old. His marriage was falling apart. He'd lost his teaching job due to staffing cutbacks. His decision to get behind the wheel in search of America's stories was part dream, part desperation.

Now that the van is a literary artifact, he has to visit it in a museum. And he's careful not to get behind the wheel. Sitting back in that driver's seat makes him misty eyed.

lidiasitaly.com

Chef Lidia Bastianich has been bringing Italian food to public television viewers since 1998. Now, she's bringing the tastes of Carnevale di Venezia to her Kansas City restaurant. Then, President Trump's executive order suspending entry of refugees and citizens from seven predominately-Muslim countries has been met with controversy.

elisfkc / Flickr--CC

An estimated 40,000 travelers will pass through Kansas City International Airport Tuesday. Airport officials expect about 12 percent more passengers this holiday season compared to 2015.

They’ve seen 31 consecutive months of growth.

“We’re really busy, not only with folks traveling home after spending the Christmas weekend with family, but also those that are ready to depart on a winter break vacation, maybe a ski trip,” airport spokesman Justin Meyer says.

In this episode, Suzanne sifts through legend and superstition to find the true story behind the Black Angel in Iowa City, Iowa. 

Greg Lam Pak Ng / Flickr - CC

When US Airways Flight 1549 took off from La Guardia airport on January 15, 2009, no one expected it to come to rest minutes later in the middle of the Hudson River. A movie released this month recalls the incident and the quick thinking of pilot, Chesley Sullenberger. Sully recounted that experience with host Steve Kraske in October 2009.

ivabalk / Pixabay / Public Domain

While some passengers may find the additional fees for carry-on bags to be an annoying part of traveling, a group of economists led by a University of Kansas professor found that these fees have actually had a positive impact on the flying experience as a whole.

Mazhar Arikan, who teaches at KU's School of Business, published the findings in this study

It's a familiar sight in airplanes today: hordes of people, trying to avoid the checked baggage fee, struggling to shove their wheelie suitcases in an overhead compartment.

But a KU professor says that checked baggage fees not only are improving an airline's bottom line — they also make the flying experience better.

Guest:

It was a conversation with his father when he was only seven years old that laid out the direction of author Andrew Solomon's life. Now, Solomon has chronicled his travels in a new book of essays, Far & Away: Reporting from the Brink of Change: Seven Continents, 25 Years.

We check in with two local artists who, about a year ago, quit their jobs to travel the country in a 16-foot Airstream trailer.

Guests:

Frank Morris / KCUR 89.3

On average, about 10,000 Americans retire every day, and rather than “aging in place,” retirees increasingly are doing just the opposite.  

Take Diane Herynk, president of the Working Sams RV club. “Sams” is short for Samaritans. Good Samaritans is a national camping group with hundreds of local chapters. The Working Sams group is based in Topeka, Kansas.

“Once upon a time when this was a brand new club, everyone worked," recalls Herynk. “And no one could go camping until they got off work. But, now everyone is retired, but we’re still Working Sams.”

Kansas City-native Sara Dykman just completed a 3,500 mile, 13-state adventure that took her and her crew from Glacier National Park, to a series of creeks and rivers, to the Missouri River and eventually to the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico — all by canoe.

Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR

Imagine swapping your cubicle for a beach.

For Kansas City-native Shawn Hansen, that’s not a dream — it’s real life. Sometimes that beach is Rio, sometimes it's Mexico — it doesn’t really matter where, as long as he has his laptop and a decent Wi-Fi signal.

Hansen gave up his permanent residence in Kansas City in January 2014, opting instead to travel the world doing freelance writing, technical consulting and teaching English.

There’s a term for people who leverage technology in order to travel freely around the globe: digital nomads.

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