Saturday, July 12, 2014

Headed to Missouri

At the end of June I packed up the car and headed to Missouri to visit a wonderful and awesome friend, via Janesville and then ending via Milwaukee!  It is a HIKE down there- a 5 hour drive to Janesville and then a 6 hour trip down to her house WAAAAYYYY to the southern part of Missouri.  I had never been to that fine state before, so after a little discussion, I decided I would drive there this summer.

The silver tree on the grounds of the St. Louis Art Museum

Missouri is just beautiful and I very much enjoyed seeing the countryside, as I had an hour of driving after crossing over the Mississippi River south of St. Louis.  I was anxious to get there and am glad that we headed back to St. Louis twice and I got to really see the land as I was riding.

My dear friend Cheri lives to the southwest of St. Louis and she and her wonderful husband were such gracious hosts.  I had a marvelous time visiting- we spent 2 days traveling all over the city and then spent one day hanging bopping around her neck of the proverbial woods.
Botanical Gardens
Chihuly Gate at the Missouri Botanical Gardens

I loved all the touring and driving and eating and  seeing that I did, but the best part I think was relaxing at her house in the mornings, drinking coffee and enjoying ourselves in a leisurely way.  It was a great way to start off each day.  I was treated like a princess and I felt totally spoiled and certainly didn't want to leave!!

The funky eye sculpture at the Sculpture Park

The "Womb" sculpture

Butterflies from the Butterfly house


Monday we spent time going to some lovely outdoor venues- the St. Louis Sculpture Garden, the Butterfly House,  The Botanical Gardens, trying to see the Basilica which closed at 5, and then had my first sushi at the Drunken Fish!  I met Cheri's super nice son and his gf, who joined us for dinner. The Sculpture Garden was fun, as was the Butterfly house, but the Gardens were outstanding!!  And then the sushi was super- we had such a sweet waiter, he was so patient and attentive!!  Later we walked around that area and then did some gawking at really awesome houses, plus scoped out somethings for the next day and had a grand time driving back home to her house.  It was a long and energizing day and I got some great shots.  I will say, I tried to take lots of photos, but I ended up taking many with my phone, because sometimes I just didn't want to interrupt what I was seeing by being hidden behind the camera.  Weird, but true.

Botanical Gardens
Botanical Gardens
Chihuly installation at the Botanical Gardens
Veggie sushi with Mango  

Tuesday, we headed up to the city again, armed with a plan and a lot of coffee and water, and went straight to the Basilica of St. Louis.  It is an absolutely astounding piece of architecture and the mosaic that decorate the entirety of the interior is beyond words.  When you look at the size of the pieces of the mosaic, they must be 1/2 - 3/4 inch, it is mind-boggling.  Amazing place to visit, no matter what your beliefs.

Basilica of St. Louis
Basilica interior

Unedited details (oops)
A better example of the brilliant color of the mosaic
After a lovely lunch at the Boathouse (another of several yummy meals!!) we headed over to the St. Louis zoo for a walk.  We went around the whole thing, but because it was so hot, not a lot of animals were too active.  It is a really nice place, but we needed to get OUT of the heat and so we walked up the hill to the St. Louis Art Museum!  There was an Impressionism show there plus the work of Mark Rothko was on special exhibit as well.  It was a really good time!  Dinner that night was a HUGE concrete shake at Ted Drewes, and then we went on to see the ARCH!  Now, I will say that many people thought I was crazy for not going up in the arch since I was there, but my own son told me not to.  I have a serious issue with claustrophobia, which was exacerbated by being stuck in a small bathroom once many years ago when a lock on a door failed.  So, he knew that I would not do well jammed into a small place like that.  I have no problem not having gone up in it, and I think Cheri was fine with that too!  (on a weird side note, heights sort of bother me too, but that wouldn't keep me from going on a hot air balloon ride or helicopter ride- just sayin').  The Arch was a lot of fun to see, we went underneath of it and saw the little "town" that is there, with food, information and even a movie theater (and some really nice bathrooms- lol!)  We went and sat on the steps looking over the Mississippi and Cheri told me some stories about her growing up in the area.  Before we got to the arch (and it was interesting getting there, too, between Cheri, Siri and I, we managed to find a free place to park and get in a several mile walk too.)  Before we got to the arch we visited the park where the Worlds Fair was and BallPark Village and just looked at the beautiful buildings and views of this old part of St. Louis.  We did a lot of walking around and looking at things....
Lovely heron hanging out on the dock at the Boat House

I don't even remember what this crazy guy is called- St. Louis Zoo animal
I am a fan of flamingos for some reason.  Lol

The arch is beautiful
A Modigliano and a  fuzzy shot of a Picasso at the St. Louis Art Museum 

Throughout the time we were in St. Louis, we saw LOTS of these fun birthday cakes.  St. Louis is 250 years old and along the lines of the painted cows and the like seen in other cities, here there were birthday cakes that artists decorated- 250 of them apparently.  We must have seen 15 of them around the city where we were.  It was entertaining to see and I just read that there is an app to find all 250 of them.  I think it was more fun to discover them!
One of 250 birthday cakes to celebrate St. Louis Birthday

After all of this, we swung by Cheri's daughter's house where I met their little family!  What a lovely day that was- we got back late again and planned the next day's events.

It was great to be in the city, but we wanted to stay closer to her home Wednesday, so we took our time getting ready and we went into her favorite coffee shop for an early lunch and I met one of her lovely friends.  We did some shopping and then went to the little farmers market and went to look at some of the BEAUTIFUL wineries in southern Missouri - the one we stopped at was the Chaumette winery 

Lol this is a bit of an awkward shot at the winery- why I am standing half on a stone I am not sure

Beautiful land around the winery.

We had a lot of coffee!  YUM!
But the wine was VERY enjoyable! To think we went to yoga after this!

View of the lovely Missouri countryside

We finished off the last full day of my visit with a lovely dinner with Cheri and her hubby.  It was a perfect end to a perfect trip..... oh wait, there was one more thing we did that night.

Wine in a hot tub??  why yes, thank you

I left the next day with a lump in my throat and a mind swirling with wonderful memories.  I had the best time enjoying the company of my dear friend and really love the state of Missouri.  It is just beautiful.
I had such a good time with Cheri and Mike and Coach!!  

This certainly is one of the best trips I have taken!  Cheri is one of the best joy-givers I know.  I hope your life is full of them too!
From the Botanical Gardens

Debi and Cheri at the Butterfly Garden

Looking at the arch through the park and fountain

I left out soooo many little things that we shared but that is ok, those are the things that we will remember and make sense to us, probably not to others who were not there.  The walking and seeing and laughing and getting almost lost in the city and driving and eating and relaxing added up to a wonderful adventure for me.  Bookended on the weekends with seeing my boys and my Sarahs and my grandkiddos made it on more layer of rich and complete.

Thank you doesn't even begin to cover it!  But, thank you Cheri for a most wonderful stay.

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