October 24, 2011

Today our friends from this area drove us to the gorgeous Cades Cove Park in the Appalachian Mountains.  The leaves are turning color now and it’s so beautiful.  There are usually lots of bear and deer in the park, but today, of course, they were all hiding.  Never mind - the view was worth the trip!  For my birthday Randy got me a new toy - a Nikon D3100.  This is the best camera I’ve ever had and I LOVE it!!  And Cades Cove Park was a great place to practice with it.  The camera has a lot of functions that I’m not comfortable with yet, but I will get there.  

After spending several wonderful hours seeing the park, we came back to Clinton and had dinner at the Golden Girl Cafe.  Then, because our friends felt bad that we didn’t see wildlife in the park, they drove us out to a nearby dam where there are usually deer.  It was after dark but there sure were lots of deer, just off the side of the road.  We had to watch carefully to make sure they weren’t crossing the road at the same time we were using it!

October 23, 2011

We decided to leave St. Louis on Saturday because Sunday there’s a big race that will close some of the major roads.  It was hard to leave - so many good people at the St. Louis RV Park, and we’ll miss them all.  But it’s time.
I noticed that I tend to write about sunshine and rainbows, grand vistas and great people.  All true, but this might give the impression that RVing is all fun and joy.  So to balance the reporting, here’s what happened yesterday.
We’d been on the road a few hours and it was getting dark outside but we wanted to make it to Lexington, KY before stopping. 
  1. We started smelling something bad.  I checked the soles of our shoes (you never know what you will step in when you take the dogs outside) but found nothing.  So I started checking the rest of the RV and made a horrifying discovery - the black water tank was overflowing into the RV!!  RVers know exactly what that terrible phrase means, but for the others, just picture a full toilet overflowing.  Very Bad News!  Randy pulled over right away and stopped the mess while I cleaned it up as best I could, but that’s a major cleanup job that can’t be handled ad-hoc, so after doing the best I could with two rolls of paper towels and a bunch of cleaning rags, we had no choice but to hit the road again. 
  2. I gave Randy a wrong direction, which meant he was driving a 38 foot RV with a Jeep in tow down a badly-lit street.
  3. We had to unhook the jeep to get turned around.
  4. The cat threw up on the bed. 
That’s a lot to handle in one evening and I have to admit that in the confusion, voices were raised.  Just a little.  Just a tad.  At the end of the day I cleaned the floor as best I could, spread Nature’s Miracle around liberally to fix what I couldn’t clean, hand-washed the bedspread, and we spent the night in a Walmart parking lot.
But things always look better in the morning.  Now we are parked in Hieskell, Tennessee and spending time with some good friends we had met in Nova Scotia.  We just finished a great spaghetti dinner (in their RV, not ours!), and life is bearable again.  But I’m going to need to find a powerful carpet cleaner real soon!

October 22, 2011

Today we took Sugarbaby in for his post-dental checkup.  He's doing so good - he's gained almost a pound (which is a lot for a little dog like him) and he's full of energy.   His lower jaw has a weak spot in the center but the vet said that since he's eating well and thriving, there isn't any benefit in shoring it up with wire.  So he's got the green light for our next trip, which will be to Florida.

Since my job search in St. Louis hasn't been successful yet, Randy has found a position in Florida.  He will be working in a restaurant in Okeechobee.  He's really looking forward to being in the kitchen again, and I can continue to look for an IT job via the internet and Skipe - gotta love the technology that lets us be so mobile!  We will leave tomorrow, headed south to warmer weather.

October 21, 2011

I am still catching up on visiting people; I finally got to spend some time with Dezina.  In fact, after we talked for hours, I spent the night there, then headed to Washington in the morning to celebrate my birthday with Mom.  Mom really likes us to get together to celebrate birthdays; since I started RVing I usually disappoint her, but this time I made it.

I'm back home today, and for those of you in the St. Louis area (if you don't already know this), if  you register your birthday with Houlihan's online, they email you a birthday certificate for a $15 entree.  Sure beats getting a birthday song!

October 19, 2011

Sure enough, the good weather is gone!  Today it's about 45 outside and windy.  Feels like Chicago!  This week we will make a decision about where to winter.

October 17, 2011

We’ve seen a lot of St. Louis recently, so Sunday we drove across the river to Alton.  Had a very relaxing day checking out the Lock and Dam, Robert Wadlow’s statue, and some of the beautiful Victorian houses.  For dinner we wanted to do something different.  Friday was Imo’s Pizza, and Saturday was Guido’s on the Hill, so Sunday Randy made dinner - BBQ shrimp and cheese grits, Lambert style. 
And today Clyde and Nancy are on their way,  We have enjoyed their company so much that we hate to see them go; and besides, it looks like they are taking the great weather with them!  All of a sudden the 80 degree weather is gone and it’s chilly and rainy.  Hello, winter!
But the good news is that Sugarbaby is feeling better.  Thursday we took him to the vet to get his teeth cleaned and that went well, but the vet had to pull a few of his teeth.  Not unexpected, but we have to give him some pain meds and antibiotics.  The first night he felt pretty bad, but by Saturday he was feeling OK.  Now he is more active than he’s been in quite a while, which is wonderful.  Although I'm guessing that now his tongue won’t stay in at all.

Our job as St. Louis Tour Guides

On Thursday we started our day as tour guides for our friends by picking up breakfast at World’s Fair Doughnuts, where they make their great doughnuts by hand.  Our next stop was the Basilica.  I almost hate to describe it because it’s always such a joy to introduce people to it when they visit.  Suffice it to say that the Basilica is a gorgeous cathedral and well worth visiting.
For lunch we went to the Everest Cafe, which just might be Randy’s favorite restaurant in this area.  They serve a unique combination of Nepalese, Korean and Indian food.  I am not known for my adventurous spirit when it comes to food, but this food beguiles me every time.  We recommend it to everyone.
Of course we had to go to the Arch, but on the way we visited the Old Cathedral.  Inside it’s all clean lines with pale blue walls and polished pewter. After visiting churches in the Boston, I would say this cathedral has more in common with their style than with the French St. Louis style.
Fortunately it wasn’t too busy at the Arch so we were able to visit the museum, see the film and still go up to the top of the Arch.  What a fabulous view!
We didn’t go into the City Museum, just drove by it.  But one of my favorite parts is the fence, which looks like it was designed by Tim Burton.
Next day we started at Soulards; most people have been to a Farmer’s Market, but not like Soulards!   Then we got some Gus’s Pretzels and Dad’s Original Scotch Oatmeal Cookies.  Having primed our appetites, we went to Carl’s Deli for lunch.  And to walk off all that food, we went to the Zoo for a few hours.  I was there last week but always enjoy it because I always see something new.  This time I surprised myself by checking out the insects.  I can guarantee that if there wasn’t glass between me and the tarantula, my thumb would not be next to it - I HATE spiders!

October 14, 2011

This week I visited with my mom and 2 sisters.  Randy had ordered some TV Ears for Mom, and when they arrived I drove to Washington, IL to show her how to use them.  At this point it looks like they will help her hear her beloved old movies (which don’t have closed captions), and that’s the main thing.  We have a routine we follow when I visit Mom - a trip to the Goodwill, a trip to Walmart, and a trip to Dairy Queen.  This time we beat our personal record by going to Walmart 3 times in 2 days!  Mom is a huge fan of the photo copier at Walmart - she goes through all of her old photos (and they go back to my great-grandparents) and makes copies for the family.  Unfortunately Walmart recently updated their photo copiers, so now she has to get used to a new machine.  And to date she is still using film, but film is getting harder to find so she recently got a digital camera.  She's not quite comfortable with it yet but she loves taking photos, so it won't be long before she gets the hang of it.  When she learns that you can take as many digital photos as you want and then select which ones you want to print, there will be no stopping her!
Some friends from our days in Arizona City have come to visit us here in St. Louis, so we get to play tour guide for them.  They were wonderful tour guides for us when we visited them in Albuquerque, so the bar is set pretty high.  We will do our best!  

Sunday, October 8 2011

Today, just a quiet day at home.  I spent part of the day creating ivory jewelry again.  I haven't worked on that for a few months so, with all the reorganization we've done, my equipment was tucked away in several different places.  This ivory, which is between 500 and 2,000 years old, is so beautiful!

October 8, 2011

We did not visit any great St. Louis landmark today, but this evening we went to help some friends celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary.  Congratulations to Gene and Jan Helmkamp, some of the nicest people ever!  It is a privilege and a joy to be able to call them friends.

October 7, 2011

Today we went to G&W Meats for some brots.  G&W is another “must” on our St. Louis list.  Not only do they have great fresh German meats and cheeses, but if there is a long line of customers, they hand out free beer to help you relax while you wait.  Consequently, they are the only place where people actually HOPE there is a long line.
To continue the theme of German food and beer we went to the opening night of Soulard’s Octoberfest, which is apparently now the 3rd largest Octoberfest in the country.  They had the biggest TV screen ever set up in the park, with the Cardinal baseball game on so that nobody had to stay home to watch it.  Good thinking!
And St. Louis has an advantage over other towns; Octoberfest is held in the park right next to Budweiser.  And although Budweiser isn’t owned by Americans any more, it still has one thing that St. Louis (and the rest of the country) really loves - the famous Budweiser Clydesdales.  And for the first time they were at Octoberfest.  It was quite a show - the full hitch team pulled a wagon full of beer right up to the stage, with the dalmatian riding on top!  Those beautiful horses are the only thing that could get a bigger cheer than free beer.  There are just no words for how gorgeous they are, and St. Louisians are so proud that this is their home
We saw the Alpine horns but missed hearing them, and I’m really sorry about that.  They are amazing-looking, and I’ll bet they have an unusual sound.

Here’s a question - why did German men, at some point in time, decide that shorts with suspenders and knee socks was a cool “look”?  ‘Cause it’s not….

October 6, 2011

To celebrate being in St. Louis we went to Carl’s Deli (of course!) and to Soulard’s Farmers Market.  If you get to St. Louis, you MUST do both of these things.  Right now Sourlard’s is a great place to get beautiful fall pumpkins and gourds.
Yesterday Randy and I were giving some tourist advise to a couple visiting St. Louis for the first time and I realized that I hadn’t kept up on the sights and places I was recommending.  So I’m going to start visiting or re-visiting some of the St. Louis highlights.  For starters, this afternoon we went to the Zoo.  St. Louis has one of the best zoos in the country, and to top it all off, admission is free!  If you are lucky enough to find free parking on the street, as we did, it’s that much better.
Truthfully, I am usually a bit of a pain when we go somewhere where there are animals; I act like I’m on special assignment for National Geographic and they are counting on me to get the perfect picture.  This time I just went to relax and enjoy the sights.  We saw a rhino mamma with her big baby . . .
and an elephant mamma with her even bigger baby.
There were some lovely Thompson’s gazelles there; they are on the menu of so many of the big cats that we think of as the “Fast Food of the Serengeti".  Camels sat quietly, looking just like the big rocks in their enclosure.  The Grizzly bear decided the only way to handle the un-seasonal heat was to sit in her pool, chin on the edge, and watch the tourists.  The penguins were being fed while we were there; we were surprised at how polite they were, waiting for the keeper to get to each of them.

I always thought the giraffe was the most graceful animal, but now I have to give that distinction to the hippo.  Four of these huge, bulky animals were playing in the pool, and the clear side panel gave us an amazing view.  They danced on their toes, doing leisurely pirouettes and slow-moving leaps through the water.   And while I know that the best zoo can not match a life in the wild, these hippos really seemed to be enjoying themselves.