Monday, August 1, 2016

Excursions and Diversions

This past weekend, my daughter came back from a mission trip to Northern Ireland. To return, she had to fly from Dublin through New Jersey to Seattle, then from Seattle back to St. Louis, when she lives in the Memphis area.

Talk about confused paths!

In a brief explanation, her missions organization, YMI, is based out of Seattle. It was a direct flight from there to St. Louis, so rather than have her change planes and gates alone on her return journey, we thought we'd drive up to St. Louis, and pick her up there. At midnight.


While there, we were going to see Six Flags and the Arch. We decided to go as a family, and take my oldest and her son (my grandson) along. That's a total of 7 people, which is too many for our Sentra, but just right for Bertha.

There was some discussion about whether Bertha, the antique Dodge Grand Caravan I drive now, would make the trip. She's been a great blessing, and should be good for a road trip. She made the distance to and from Awana Camp (a distance of almost 600 mi round trip) with no problems, so in mind she was good to go.

But, Bertha had other plans. She must not have wanted to go. On the way home from work the day before leaving, it started to rain. I turned on the windshield wipers, and Bertha, with a bang and clatter, threw the wipers off the windshield onto the side view mirrors.

Here's a picture of the wiper off on the side. I drove home in a torrential downpour with no wipers. It's amazing how slow you have to drive in the rain on the expressway, when the wipers don't work...

I had Thursday off, so I took the morning and tried to figure out why she wasn't wiping any more. A quick disassemble showed that some plastic bushings holding the wiper assembly together were gone. I tried to fashion a replacement out of black rubber using a Dremel and a lot of patience, but she tossed her blades again, and I ordered some replacement parts.

Bertha's seen a lot of miles, so if she wanted to sit this trip out, I wasn't going to deny her the chance to rest and relax. So, we chose to caravan with the Sentra and my son's Taurus.

While Bertha didn't want to travel, Bean Bun was insistent that he come with. While I was packing my travel bag with clothes, he climbed on top of it and tried to get inside. I was wise to his tricks, and told him, no pets allowed in the hotel.

He didn't get the memo, so I zipped up the bag to keep him out. That didn't keep him from climbing on top and hoping he'd be hidden amongst all that black canvas. Good camouflage, I must say...

Sorry, Bean Bun. No dice, you can't come.

We caravanned to St. Louis and dropped the rest of the family off at the hotel across from Six Flags, and my wife and I headed to the airport for a late night pickup.

While waiting at the airport I decided to see what Pokemon Go had to say about the place, and found out it was a Gym and Resource Center. Just showing up there allowed me to score a new bag full of Poke Balls and pick up another Eevee, cute little guy.

We made it back to the hotel with my little missionary and crashed. The next morning after reading a chapter of Proverbs from Blue Letter Bible, we headed downstairs for a breakfast of champions at the hotel restaurant.

My ADD family couldn't quite get it all together, so my oldest and I left with my youngest and the grandson, and had breakfast.

My wife and the other two came down a bit later, and descended on the all you can eat breakfast buffet.

Here my son Justin is with the all-American standard breakfast food of choice - Bacon. Note, no cereal, no eggs, no toast, just... Bacon.

I gotta admit, it was amazing to finally be all together again as a family, with all four kids, after having one married off and one back and forth six hours away at college, and one on the mission field, even if that was for only a couple weeks.

Something I can't get used to, as Rachel will be headed off to college in another couple weeks, and Justin won't be long behind her, heading back down to Hattiesburg in about a year.

We spent the day at Six Flags, enjoying our time with Bugs and the Gang, and only got losted a few times, when John or the parents would wander off while somebody was riding a ride. The weather was decent for the trip, it never rained, and didn't really get too hot for this time of year. It may have gotten to 90 once but we had sunscreen and Six Flags has a waterpark.

Which, unfortunately, was maxxed out on capacity, and tended to make hunting for your lost ADD kids a little difficult. Note to self, next time put them in Dayglo Orange from head to toe, to make them easy to find.

Thankfully, everyone knew how to get back to the hotel via the hotel bus, so there were no police reports that needed to be filed and no milk cartons had to wear one of our happy faces.

But Justin did have to find out where the building for Lost Parents resided, since we seemed to have lost ourselves.

On the way back, we went to the Arch. Note, I did NOT say, we went THROUGH the arch. It was intended to be an educational homeschool adventure, as John had just been studying Lewis and Clark, so a trip through the Arch museum seemed an intelligent thing to do, and we had time to do it. John was looking forward to it.

But when we got there, Siri invented an exit# that wasn't in the city, and since the exit number didn't exist (except maybe in Percy Jackson's dimension) we tried to get to the Arch on our own.

Last time we went, about eight years ago, there was a parking lot for the attraction, but this time, there were construction barricades everywhere, and the picture here is as close as we could get. There was a parking garage that would have allowed us to only walk a mile to get there, but it was full up, and so Dad got upset and we headed home instead.

Big Mistake. Disappointment found a new octave in our car, but it only solidified our resolve NOT to go to the Arch, since the city seemed so intent on keeping us out. I remember reading how Percy Jackson destroyed the top of it, so I expected they were still repairing it.

Maybe we'll be back that way in a few years when they get done with their repairs, and take a ride to the top.