Monday, August 13, 2007

St. Louis - 2007

Friday, August 10 - Creve Coeur, Missouri

For the record: I must become more disciplined about writing in this journal if it is going to make any sense in the future. Discipline however, has been sorely lacking in our retirement, acting like two kids in a playground with no adult supervision.

Since the last entry:

Kat’s mom sold her house in Palmyra and moved to Short Pump, about ½ hour from where we live. It is good having her closer.

Summer has been mostly hot and dry validating our decision to include a pool when we built the house. The three kids, spouses, and 8 grand kids came down to Virginia for my 60th birthday and we had a great time. Kat was wonderful organizing the little kids, all of them involved in a conspiracy to surprise me on my birthday. The plotting and planning paid off and I was completely taken unaware that in fact I was a year older. I am very fortunate and I know it.

Edward & Alicia are engaged to be married in mid September and they asked us to accompany them to France/Italy following the wedding.

Back to the present:

My sister Gloria lives in St. Louis, Missouri and is married to a great guy named Paul. She escaped New England shortly after high school and from what I can tell doesn't miss it. Her daughter Rachel is marrying a young man from Illinois, which of course is only "over the bridge", whatever that means. I do know they have a pretty big river around here somewhere.

The flight from Richmond to St. Louis covered about 1000 miles of really interesting geography. The Appalachians that form the western spine of Virginia yield to the flat lands of green and gold. It’s been hot and humid and no change is expected for the next few days.

Family functions are a mixed bag. The function puts a lot of pressure on the family and there hardly seems enough time to really visit. To that end, after arriving in St. Louis, we rented a car, checked into our hotel (where Gloria and Paul had left a wine basket for us) and to the local casino where we won enough to have dinner. We decided that we liked St. Louis.

Saturday, August 11

After talking to Gloria this morning and with the family tied up in all the pre-wedding hoopla, we decided to drive over to Springfield, Illinois to sight see and visit Lincoln’s museum.

Here's what our take on the Midwest so far is:

1. There is a lot of corn.
2. The coffee is very weak.
3. The people are nice and very polite.
4. The drivers don’t seem very aware of the fact that there are others on the road. (We followed a woman from Springfield to St. Louis (about 70 miles) who had no clue that we were behind her, and that we might like to pass. In some states it is illegal to pass on the right, so I kept looking to see if she would at least glance in her rear-view mirror and discover us. Never happened. I mentioned this phenomenon to a number of locals and their response was, Why did you want to pass her?. I yield.)

Regarding Springfield: It is a nice well kept clean town. Everything (naturally) is Lincoln, some tacky, some well done.We spent a couple of hours in the museum, had lunch at “Robbies” across from the old state house and a couple of doors down from the old Lincoln/Herndon law office. It was about an hour and 45 minute drive and we got back JUST in time to shower and dress for the wedding.

The shower was necessary, the dress was optional as it turned out as the style was eclectic, casual to formal. My desire (overruled) to not pack a suit, shirt, tie, shoes, etc. was prescient, although I elected not to point that out to my darling wife.

The church was 45 minutes away, and “across the river” in Valmeyer, a relocated town (due to the 1993 flood – who knew?). The bride was beautiful, the groom handsome and the church was young and sparkling. The service was warm and friendly and we really liked the priest. The reception was at Andre’s restaurant on this “side of the river.”

Typical with weddings it was lively with no real chance to have a conversation. The seating arrangement was questionable both before and after Gloria arrived (about 7:45) however we ended up with Gloria and Paul, Shawn and Sofia and Aeofa? (Eff-Ah) their kid, Paul’s parents, Leo and Allyson and Emma at a table for 8. Cozy, fun and all family so it was cool. Kat was her usual beautiful, classy self, and I was well - just me. It worked out fine.

Sunday, August 12 - Creve Coeur (or Creeve Coor as the locals say)

Beautiful day after the wedding. Today we have the traditional "opening of the presents" at Greg and Ginny's (Fred & Ginger’s - the groom’s parents) house at 3:00 for “beer and brat”, a St. Louis tradition. I'm still not sure which is the tradition, but we're going! As I’ve said before on this trip – who knew?

Just in case, and since I don't eat meat and drink small amounts of beer, we lunched at Macaroni Grill before meeting Lee & Alison at Andre’s for the 30 mile ride to Waterloo, again on “the other side” of the river. Cole’s aunt and uncle are bikers (he is the postmaster of the Dupo post office … their very own Kay Beasley of Studley post office fame)and charming people. We really felt like part of the family out on the south porch, chatting on a Sunday afternoon.

Hijacking Gloria, we sat in the loft and spent most of our time there chatting and catching up on the latest comings and goings. She seems content and happy with both kids married. The bride and groom opened their presents, (we could hear the oohs, and aahs from above), while most of the rest of the relatives were engaged in a poker game at the kitchen table. They didn’t seem to miss us.

Leo and Allyson are a trip. Nice, nice people, and their kid is adorable.

We drove back to Paul and Gloria’s house, an 80 year old brick with character, an interesting yard with a huge sycamore plane tree and lots of flowers. Beautifully done, obviously with care and love. Gloria certainly inherited the green thumb and it shows. It felt like we finally got a chance to just visit, which was great. As I said, she and Paul are welcoming and warm, and it was fun.

Monday - August 13

After an uneventful (best kind) flight back to Richmond we are left with fond memories and a real sense of connection. Good trip.

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