My road trip this past week ended up being perfectly timed - I needed to sort a few things out, and nature (and the car over MANY miles) is a good way to do it. The end of the year came so fast that I got caught up in just moving forward, swimming with the tide; I didn't have time (or energy) to evaluate if I was moving in the right direction. But God is good, and I feel at peace where I am (metaphorically speaking) now.
So many adventures...let's start at the beginning... (Please forgive me for so many photos!):
Stop 1: St. Louis - We spent the afternoon and evening at the Shakespeare Glen (right by the art museum) paddle boating and then seeing "A Winter's Tale" (but only the first half because it rained at intermission and wouldn't stop) - our friend works for the Shakespeare company down there.
The following day we caught up with one of my old roommates who recently moved to St. Louis and enjoyed Ted Drewe's famous frozen custard - yum!
Stop 2: Cape Girardeau/SE Missouri - Before getting to our destination in SE MO, we stopped at the Trail of Tears state park for a hike by the creek, Pickle Creek to be exact! It was a sunny afternoon, but we had a lot of shade from the trees...
We then made it Cape Girardeau, where, it turns out, my uncle played football for SEMO quite some time ago. As luck would have it, we decided to dine at a cute Mexican restaurant right across from the stadium! The following day we found another hiking trail, a couple of wineries, and a free concert downtown.
Stop 3: En Route to the Ozarks - We had a brochure advertising Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal Shrine about 30 minutes from our hotel, so we decided to head there on our way to the Ozarks (after running into a pretty large biker "fair"/festival on our way for coffee), but the Shrine had just closed for renovations, so we didn't make it inside. We did, however, get to browse the gift shop, where the nice clerk gave me 44 blessed miraculous medals to share with my students next year.
We then continued on our way, stopping off at Laura Ingalls Wilder's house/museum - she's the author of the "Little House on the Prairie" books. It was neat to tour the house(s) and see some of her things!
Stop 4: The Ozarks! (and a side trip to Oklahoma) - We got up before dawn on our first day in the Ozarks, and in the dark we navigated some VERY bumpy and curvy gravel roads. (Poor car...) There was a TON of fog and also signs for bears (ah!), but we made it. And it was beautiful!
Then, it was time for Mass. We took a wrong turn at some point, but we got to the church right on time. It was a pretty small parish, offering only one Mass (9 a.m.) and advertising only 47 people in the town.
It was supposed to rain later in the day, so we took a mid-day break before heading to Oklahoma to visit the Tahlequah Bathtub Rocks and eat some BBQ. We may or may not have also stopped at a Cracker Barrel for dessert...
The following day we squeezed in two hikes before driving to our final destination. The hikes were shaded, and by that time I had gotten mostly over my unrealistic fear of the black bears. There was a small waterfall, which we walked a ways to try to find the source for (but never did), and some beautiful overlooks.
Stop 5: Kansas City - My sister spent her ACE days in Kansas City (the KS side), but there's nothing to do in Kansas, so we hit up Missouri, including one of the ACE house's favorite spots: Sol Cantina. Best chicken nachos ever. Mmm...tasted just like 7 years ago...(wow, that long, huh?) We did make it into Kansas to take a drive by Marisa's old school, and then we cleaned up before going to the Power and Light District in downtown KC (MO side).
On our way home... We found cows. No big deal...
Now I am home sweet home (for just about one week), and then it will be time to head out for one month of grad school. Here goes nothing...