Thursday, July 8, 2010

Meet Me in St. Louis

I am a pansy when it comes to roadtrips. After five hours, I am done, done, done. However, there are instances in life that trump sitting uncomfortably in the same spot for too long. Visiting the Jensens in St. Louis, MO is one of those instances. It had to be done.
It's been almost a year since the Jensens left Dallas. They are great friends of ours, and we hadn't met Peter yet! We knew that if we didn't just go for it, the idea of visiting would continue to float in the distance. I was excited for the St. Louis part of the trip but dreading the drive. You know what? The driving part really wasn't that bad! In fact, some parts were fun. I've never been through that part of the country, and we saw some beautiful areas. Plus, when you are playing Cow Army and Name the Band, time passes faster.
It was about ten hours to St. Louis. We split the drive in two both on the way there and back.
Thursday night we took off as soon as Jake got home from work. Here's where you get a side story:
We said a family prayer in the car right before we took off. A couple blocks from our house, a man started honking at us and pointing. We pulled up next to him, and he let us know that our front passenger tire was dangerously low. I got that tire changed recently, so I knew we needed to get to Discount Tire to get it checked out. We went straight there. It was barely after six o'clock, which is when they close. They were happy to check out the situation, regardless of the time, and got us taken care of and on the road with a new tire in less than ten minutes. Gratitude, gratitude, gratitude! The thought of being stranded with two little ones on a dark road in Nowhere, Oklahoma.......shudder.
We arrived at our hotel in Joplin, MO some time after 11pm. In the morning we took it easy and were in St. Louis by afternoon. Yay!
Here are the two boys. So cerebral.
We got settled in and took over the living room of their cute apartment. Since it was lovely outside, we had a barbeque in the backyard. After dinner Jake and Alan took off for the Cardinals game. It's been a life goal of Jake's to go to a St. Louis Cardinals game in St. Louis. We were lucky enough to have one going on while we were there. What's even better is that Alan got the tickets for free and surprised Jake with awesome seats. Jake was shooting out rays of sunshine when he was telling me about the game and showing me pictures. Busch stadium really is impressive. Look at all that red!
Dianna and I stayed back and were able to get those tired kids down to sleep so we could talk, which many of you know is one of my favorite activities. It was so nice to catch up.
The next day, we got up and ready for the St. Louis Zoo after playing around a bit. Cole and Peter are already familiar with the "I Want What He's Got" game. Tessa is still a pro at that one.
I loved watching them play together.

It was a hot day at the zoo, but I'm really glad we went. It was worth seeing. I know you can't tell in this picture, but Tessa is standing in front of a hippo smashed against the glass in his swimming pool with fish feeding off the algae on his hippo hairs. Tessa informed me that the fish were "kissing the hippo". I've seen a lot of hippos in my day (I love them), but I have never seen them this close up and especially underwater. There was another hippo behind this one looking toward us. He had some serious whiskers.
Another favorite, was the butterfly wing of the insect exhibit. Dianna told me that they import cacoons from all over the world all year long to put in this flower and foliage area where they flutter all around you. So cool.
There's one on Dianna's visor! I didn't even notice until I posted the picture.

I didn't get a picture of the penguin area, but that was another favorite. They were diving and splashing and very close to us.
We had lunch at the zoo, and when it was time for the kids to have a nap, we headed back to the apartment.
The kids slept, and I'm pretty sure I got a snooze somewhere in there, too. ...and a popsicle....and a cookie.
That night there was an Independence Day celebration going on in downtown St. Louis. We had dinner, went to get icecream at a cute icecream parlour, and then were on our way to the train station. We got out at the Busch Stadium stop, so I got to see the stadium. I wish I would have taken a picture of the open fence area where you can see the crowd and the game going on from the street. So fun. Here we are strolling:

Here is our family by the arch. Live music was playing while we bopped through the crowd toward the river.
Our illustrious hosts:
Happy Independence Day!
The gateway to the west:
Peter was waving that flag like he meant it!
Waiting for the fireworks to start:

We were on some stairs behind and underneath the arch facing the Mississippi River....and Illinois. A barge made it's way in front of us in the middle of the river which is where they let off the fireworks. And what fireworks! I saw fireworks I've never seen before. This was an amazing show, and I oooohhhed, aaaaahhhed, and whooped with the best of them. All of the kids loved it. Cole leaned back on me and stared into the sky. What a great place and way to celebrate our country.
With any big city celebration, getting out and home is an adventure. So it was with us --tired kids (but really good) and a ton of people. It worked out well, and we wouldn't have wanted to spend our holiday anywhere else.
The next morning we got ourselves ready for church, ate a wonderful meal when we got back, and then procrastinated leaving.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, Jensens! Love to you!
It was back to Joplin that night. However, we weren't going to let the opportunity to see the LARGEST ROCKING CHAIR IN THE WORLD pass us by! You'd have to be crazy! Thank you, Missouri.
Tessa is greeting those passing by on Route 66.

When the sun went down that night, we had some great firework shows to watch while driving! We really took it easy the next morning, so easy, in fact, that we didn't pay enough attention to the route home and took a way that cost more on the toll roads and was about 45 minutes longer. Oh, well. Another experience saved the day and turned it all around. Behold, the Muskogee Castle:
You tell me that you could pass by a sign pointing to the "Muskogee Castle", and then when you get to said castle, that you could avoid going in when you discover it's filled with discount fireworks! That's right.
Awesome. Cackling was in order.
We ate lunch at a not so tasty place in Small Town, OK, but whatareyagonnado? We later learned that the small town was where Carrie Underwood was born. Ooooooooh.
When we finally got home sometime before 7pm, we walked into a 90 degree house. The AC had stopped working again. Thankfully, we've got good AC guys, and they sent someone out in the next hour to get it going again. Phew!
We hope you all had a happy Independence Day. We live in an amazing country, and I thank God for the opportunities we have simply by being American.
Now to find a place to let off those castle fireworks. I learned today our city/county doesn't allow it. Yes, I know I should have looked into that earlier, but I didn't. They aren't big ones, so I didn't think about it. And now I'm searching for a place closer than Oklahoma. :)


Angie said...

You're so great about taking pictures. And, YES, we will find a place to fire off those fireworks...I'm determined.

Jennie Gee said...

What a fun trip. Glad you guys had a good time.