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Friends, Family and Fun

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I've enjoyed reading a number of recent BLOGs from fellow travelers. It is good to see so many continuing stories. We each have different stories that illustrate the joy of traveling in a motor home. For our part, we have been "stuck" in one spot for two months now with just a short trip for a break. Stuck really isn't the proper word. We are at my daughter's home in Foristell, in eastern Missouri. We have attended my son's wedding, tended my mother after a fall in her home, returned to Texas for three weeks of construction on our new home and done babysitting duties at my daughter's home. Through all this our motor home has set motionless, parked, waiting for our command to roll forth on our next adventure.

Last week we spontaneously put together a week trip around the area. I called my son and we joined him his new wife and two of our grandchildren for a float trip on a central Missouri stream. They drove to Ozark Outdoors Campground Friday morning, taking a tour of Onondoga Cave on the way to the campground. We left in the late afternoon after leaving my orthopedist's office about 2:30 p.m. We arrived in the campground at dark and hooked up water and electric before hitting the sack.

Our float trip on Saturday was the first for our grandchildren and Jeff's new wife Melissa (and her two dogs). Our float trips normally occur in the spring or fall when temperatures are cooler and the crowds are smaller. This was a completely different trip. The wildlife we saw on this trip were in rafts sipping from aluminum cans of brewed beverages. It wasn't really that rowdy, just not the usual quiet trips we're used to where we see an occasional deer, a constant parade of ducks and herons, turtles, snakes and other living things.

Jeff and family left after the float trip, we elected to stay in the campground overnight and depart Sunday morning. Without television (too many trees) or Internet (too far from the interstate), we had a quiet evening and retired early for a good night's sleep. The next morning we were off to join friends near Lake of the Ozarks in central Missouri. Tommy and Terry are friends we met at our Texas winter retreat. They farm a sizable piece of land, some owned and some rented, in a valley near Montreal, Missouri. We arrived to find our friends Bill and Laura (also friends we met at our Texas park) hooked up to full utilities and there was a similar site for us on the opposite side of the driveway!

Tommy and Terry are both serious enthusiasts of horseback riding. Tommy has been pursuing roping in the last few years and we enjoyed roping his metal "calf" in the front yard. Our friends Bill and Laura had been staying with Tommy and Terry for several days and they joined us Monday morning for a horseback ride. Tommy saddled up horses for all of us and we set out for a four hour ride. I said he was serious - horses, saddles and tack for six - no problem.

I drew a very well trained horse for the ride. Fred was probably the best horse I've ever ridden. We reached a near instant understanding, I would let Fred know what I wanted to do and he would do it, all the time giving me the illusion that I was in control. We could stop, turn, stand still to take a picture, then rejoin the rest of the riders. Fred would even back up when I wanted! We rode to a cave so large that we could ride the horses into the cave entry for at least 100 feet. We rode past several old barns from the 20's and 30's and one farm house from that era. They are now so far off the road that no one lives in or uses them. In an age past, a long stretch of rough gravel and dirt roads was no inhibition to living in a location. People were simply more self reliant, less dependent on their community for food and supplies.

We returned before an afternoon thunderstorm swept across the valley. From the vantage point of their home on a hillside overlooking the valley, the progress of the thunderstorm was an awesome sight. Then there was food, lots of food. Terry made it her mission to destroy any diets! We laughed, visited, shared pictures and generally had a good time. Terry would go to the hospital early Tuesday morning for gall bladder surgery. We would depart somewhat later on our way to the St. Louis area with our friends Bill and Laura.

In St. Louis we camped at Babler State Park near Chesterfield, Missouri. The sites are just large enough for our motor homes and we will have 50A electric to keep us cool in the very hot summer weather. Upon our arrival, Louise and I head for our "last" doctors appointment for this visit. I pass the dermatologist's inspection, no skin problems. Louise has one suspect spot on her leg and a biopsy is taken. In one moment, our visit has been extended two weeks to wait for results and possibly longer for treatment. There is one more stop at a chiropractor's office to seek treatment for Louise's stiff neck. The doctor examines Louise and takes x-rays. A follow up visit is scheduled for the next day. We return to the state park discussing our changing plans.

Wednesday, Bill and I played 18 holes of golf at a fine Gary Player golf course, Tapawingo. It was really hot and humid but we enjoyed playing golf together on a beautiful course. Louise and Laura went to the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis and enjoyed their visit. On their way home they stopped at the chiropractor to get results of the x-rays. Louise called to discuss the chiropractor's plan for two weeks of visits. Since we were staying for several weeks more anyway, this worked right into our tentative plans.

We BBQ'd steaks and played cards into the night. Thursday would be our last day together as Bill and Laura had to return home. We started the day with a trip to the chiropractor, Louise got her second treatment, noticing some improvement in her neck pain and mobility. We picked up Bill and Laura and headed for a St. Louis landmark, the Anheuser Busch Brewery. Almost 64 years old and a life-long resident of the area, I had never toured the brewery. We all enjoyed the tour. The brewery is an old structure which has been meticulously cared for. There are ornate features inside and out on many of the buildings.

From there we headed to Laclede's Landing on the currently bank full Mississippi River. In fact the river covered the cobblestone parking lots which are normally accessible along the river front. Hannigan's Restaurant served up a fine lunch and we set out to walk the grounds of the Gateway Arch. From there we visited the Old Cathedral just to the south of the Arch grounds. We had tickets for a Cardinal's baseball game and spent a little bar time downtown near the stadium before the game. We all enjoyed wonderful tickets behind home plate (a gift from a season ticket holder to my sister). We all enjoyed watching the Cardinals put runs on the scoreboard and win the first game of a series against the visiting Los Angeles Dodgers.

Friday morning we depart, returning to our berth in my daughter's driveway. Bill and Laura head on to Kansas City for a visit with his brother before heading home. Once more our motor home has given us a fine adventure. Family and friends, adventures and sightseeing, and sporting events all in a single week. Louise just got word from the dermatologist that the suspect spot is benign. We will head west to Colorado as soon as her chiropractor releases her.

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