Friday, July 25, 2008

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The St. Louis Cardinal

Everyone slept in until 6:15. Whoo hoo! We were on the road at 7:50 am—hot and sunny!

Our first glimpse of the Arch in St Louis was from Illinois and the kids all thought it was cool! Even Sunshine “found” it and oohed over it, copying his siblings.

We pulled into the Arch parking at 8:48 and qualified for Early Bird parking: $4 instead of $6. I had forgotten how big and how small the arch seems all at once.Can you see them? They're pretty tiny!

Pepper makes friends with the Arch

The line was short and after clearing security, Mr. GT bought our tram tickets to the top.

We rode in two groups, Mr. GT with the big 4 and I with Sunshine in a different tram car. When he and I got to the top, the big kids were already pasted to the windows, discovering the views below. “Mommy! Look how little the people are! They’re like ants! Look at the little cars! See the tiny boat! Look at all the logs against the pier in the river!” Sunshine just lay on the window seat and gazed and gazed down.

On the town side, they were fascinated by the pools on the hotel roofs.

After getting our fill of the view, we rode back down the other side of the arch.

The museum of Westward Expansion was pretty cool. They had a stuffed buffalo, horse, beaver, robotic people who told their stories about the settling of the west. The coolest displays, in my opinion, were a series of collections of belongings of the full variety of people who lived in the west. In each collection, they had the person’s footwear, hat, saddle, blanket, cooking gear, weapon and a picture of their beast of burden. So an Indian had moccasins, no hat, a simple saddle, an Indian blanket, a bow and arrow and a horse. The gold miner had boots, a wide hat, a more sophisticated saddle, a tin mess kit, a rifle and a mule. You get the idea. What was neat was that they compiled about 15 collections of different kinds of people who lived in the West, from Indians, to cowboys, to soldiers, to ranchers, to farmers, pioneers and so on.

At the arch, there were also movies about Lewis & Clark and about the building of the arch, but we skipped those.

Sunshine was much better behaved today and enjoyed this adventure. He was so good in the tram and sat very still in his seat, watching out the window in the door as we went up, up, up! He only touched each of the people with us in the car twice. Fortunately, they thought he was cute, and didn’t mind.

Once we left the inner sanctum of the arch, we were steaming again. It was very hot and fairly muggy. The only saving grace was a hot wind blowing. We walked up the hill to stand in the shadow of the arch and then back to the car by 11:30 or so.

Next stop was the Missouri Botanical Gardens. I cannot recommend this place highly enough. It was stupendous, even in the heat! We ate lunch in the parking lot before going in.

The admission was $8 per adult and $3 for each of the kids (all five) and well worth it. The place is overflowing with fountains of all designs, ponds, and plants. Coming from their Green Thumb background, they had a comment for almost every plant. The sycamore tree (hey, that’s what Zaccheus climbed!). The Skunk plant (That stinks!) Catnip (Spider would love it here!) The giant water lily (I wish I could sit on that! It’s so cool!) They even loved the sculptures all over the gardens, some of which they could climb on.
Hey, does anyone have any floss???

The Children’s Garden was awesome! Just before the entrance was a fountain which was a flat brick area with water shooting out from the ground in sprays. Other kids had brought swimsuits and were playing in it. It was so hot, when the kids looked at me with pleading eyes, I just said, go ahead! They came out in various stages of damp from Sunshine and Mr. GT (damp) to Daisy (wringing out her dress!). It was hilarious!

In the Children’s Garden were the promised rope bridges and treehouses, lots of things to climb and explore. There were more water play areas, including a miniature lock and dam to investigate, a music area, an invasive plant jail, little streams, a bee garden (with a giant hive you could enter and inside the hive---giant honeycomb (fake) and it smelled like honey inside the hive!) I wish we lived in St. Louis and it was really the very best choice for our family of all the things to do here.

On the way out we visited the Climatron—one of those big geodesic domes all tropical inside. They loved discovering familiar things in their natural planty state: limes on the tree, bananas growing in a bunch, a coffee bush, dates on a date palm, bromeliads, a bamboo grove (that’s bamboo???!). My personal favorite plant was a curry leaf (tree? bush?) I forgot what they’re called, but I want my own curry leaf plant!

Even hot, sweaty and “zausted,” as Banana Boy kept reminding us, they found more things to look at on the way back to the visitor center. Sunshine fell asleep immediately upon being put in the backpack and missed the whole Climatron.

Back in the van, Sunshine continued his nap and Pepper and Banana Boy joined him. Daisy read the new books I’d bought at the gift shop and Rose Bud rested her eyes.

The drive to the cabin was surprisingly easy. I expected “the middle of nowhere” to be much harder to get to, but it was 4 lane highway much of the way. Even the last stretch, which in the directions was promised as “curvy and hilly—you might want Dramamine,” was not nearly as curvy and hilly as the roads around home! Driving to the land is a much sicker ride.

The cabin is beautiful! They were still cleaning it when we arrived so we just wandered around the yard. At first the kids were really disappointed by the tiny creek—it’s barely 9-12” across in most places. On the website it looked like a small river.

Then they discovered the cat.

Cats make everything better. Tame cats make everything wonderful. As soon as they found out she had no name, they dubbed her Oreo.

Finding out the cat has kittens: Priceless. Hopefully, we’ll get to see (hold, pet, love) the kittens at some point. They are over in the horse barn and I think they’re still pretty small.

The second discovery was the playhouse. Rose Bud about exploded with joy when she walked in. It’s a rustic 8x8’ wood cabin with a half-door and open windows. Scattered all over the floor were bowls and pans and buckets, a school desk, a few utensils. The girls were utterly in heaven! “Daddy! You should build us a house like this! Daddy! Can’t you build us a playhouse???? Daddy, please??” They right away set to work cleaning the place up from its last little inhabitants. Pepper found a broom and started sweeping. Rose Bud organized and arranged the pots and pans. I’m not sure what Daisy was doing.

When Rose Bud walked down to the creek to get water for cleaning, she started screaming, “Crayfish! There are crayfish!!” The other kids came pouring out of the playhouse and down the creek bank to see. They are tiny—maybe only 1 1/2” but crayfish they are.

Then she saw the minnows. More excitement and screaming from everyone.

The cabin was finally clean and I was just as excited to see what a nice place this is. You never really know what you’re going to get when you book a cabin for a week. It could smell musty, be leaking, falling apart, have ratty old furniture and a skuzzy kitchen.

This place is a palace! It’s clean and it’s decorated so cute. (cutely? That’s not a word. See, Word even says it’s not.) She has a lot of antique food packages and spice containers all over and big heavy old furniture. It’s very nice.

Here is where we are staying: Koinania Cottage, Black, MO

The kids started bringing their stuff in and claiming beds. We brought Banana Boy in with his eyes closed to surprise him with the top bunk in his room. And Mr. GT informed me that NO children were sleeping in our room. Sunshine is sound asleep in the bottom bunk as we speak. We’ll see how long that lasts.

There was much exclaiming over the rooms and the beds and the bathrooms (2) and the kitchen.

And then they found the dress-up closet. Oh, my. Here is a fashion show for you.
"Hey, Pardner! Don' mess wi' my sister!"

Have you seen the Kit movie? This is County.

We made spaghetti for supper, all the kids went out to play with the cat and Mr. GT went for a walk.

After supper the kids got into jammies and the girls discovered The Bookshelf. More joy. You can never have too many new books to read or reread your old favorites often enough. Daisy is deep in the Boxcar Children Woodshed Mystery, Rose Bud read all the Dennis the Menace books (a new cartoon for her) and Pepper is enjoying her tried and true old friends, The Family Circus.

And I’m ‘zausted. It’s time for bed.

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