I had another cousin from St.Louis that was down in Hilton Head with her family and we were able to coordinate a meet up at the Angel Oak tree....aka the oldest tree east of the Mississippi River! This massive live oak tree has been standing for 400-500 years!! It was a tree before USA was well, USA!
Afterwards, we went blueberry picking (a yummy treat we don't get to do very often overseas) and then out to lunch. It was great catching up with them. Richard's brother and sister-in-law took us out on their boat. Clarissa had the chance to drive before being pushed overboard! We joked and said it would be like swimming in kava (since it looked like muddy water compared to the Fiji crystal clear waters we were used to).
Clarissa was able to catch up with her oldest friend (from 2 year old preschool) and we also met a friend of mine who just had a baby at local park....for some reason the baby didn't want to play in the fountain with Clarissa...lol.
Finally, we had a little situation to deal with....Clarissa is 8 and never been to a Cardinals game! It was completely unacceptable!! So we took a trip to St. Louis! Since there were no direct flights, we opted for the connection in Houston....where we picked Mason up on the way there! Perfect timing!! Some of the highlights included going to the arch again...why? Right before our trip, we kept seeing all the morning talk shows coming to us from the St. Louis Arch...huh?!? Well apparently, the Arch had been closed for renovations and a complete overhaul of the museum. So we had to go check it out.
I think the thing I liked most about the renovations was they replaced the glass windows you see at the top of the arch (sorry for the random people in the photo). The last time I had been (pre-renovations) the windows were all scratched up from 50 years worth of people pointing out and touching them. Now it is so clear and sharp!! Check out this photo of the Busch Stadium from the top of the Arch!!
Afterwards, we walked over to the Old St.Louis Courthouse (Richard likes history stuff). They were displaying a huge 33-star American Flag. We were guessing this was the flag when Missouri became a state, but a little research tells me Missouri was the 24th state....so I don't quite know the significance other than it was the flag when Abe Lincoln was president and this was the court house where the Dred Scott case started.
Richard has heard stories of my brothers eating bowls of Polish Kielbasa at Christmas (as in there was the community bowl, Bob's bowl, and my cousin Matt's bowl). So we had a special request for this trip....would my grandmother/aunt please make some kielbasa for Richard....
They did!! My grandmother is almost 100 (lol by the time I get this finished and published she probably will be 100!), so my aunt helped a good bit....but the kielbasa was enjoyed by all (non-vegetarians that is...)! Richard really enjoyed it and now understands the hype!!
It was great for Mason and Clarissa to hang out with their cousins (and my besties kids....uh, you know I was seeing her all the time!!). They shared social media contact info of course....
Have to post the family in front of the fireplace photos! Busia (Polish for grandmother...a name she adopted when she became a great-grandmother). Here she is with her great-grandkids! Fun fact, the one in black (you remember honey-bunny) is carrying Busia's first great-great grandkid! That's what 100 years gets you!!
That evening, Richard took Mason (along with my Bestie taking her girls) to his first concert! Fiji was not exactly a hot spot for concert tours. Imagine Dragons (Mason's favorite band) was in town and we were able to make it work. Apparently shadow photos are all the rage now! That way everyone knows you were there but can't prove it was you?!? (Clarissa and I opted to stay behind and get haircuts from my cousin and catch up on the family happenings).
So being that we were doing everything St. Louis, we went the Missouri museum (I may have been as a child, but I don't recall). They have a new kids section....what did Clarissa choose to play with....the 1904 World's Fair International Cafe...of course.....
We had some Imo's Pizza for lunch and then headed to Anhesuer-Busch for a brewery tour! Clarissa was super excited for the eagle....her house at school in Fiji was Eagles.
Not seeing American TV commercials very much, we really didn't understand the whole Dilly Dilly thing (lots of attire in the gift shop)! The kids did enjoy playing in the little prison set up. Afterwards, since we just happened to be in the area, I had to introduce Richard to Ted Drews! He enjoyed it a lot!
That evening, my bestie and her girls came over to swim in the hotel pool. We then headed out for a some dinner for those that were hungry (and more bestie time).
The next day was sadly our last in St. Louis. We headed out to Illinois to catch up with my older brother and his family. We had a great lunch!! Clarissa was a bit aloof to him (maybe worried he was Santa undercover?!?).
Mason has passed one uncle in height!!
After lunch, we headed over to Cahokia Mounds...sneaking in some more history this summer break!! They were having a special art show, Mason ended up chatting with this Native American gentleman from a tribe in Texas near Houston.
Another bonus to Cahokia Mounds, it put us directly across the river from the ball stadium. So we didn't have to worry about traffic. When the museum closed, we headed downtown. My Dad and group of his buddies bought a paver brick when the stadium was being re-done back in 2004. So we got downtown a little before the game to find his brick....which we did!!
Yes - it says 'Old Fart's Club' and then lists the members (including my dad)!
It was cowboy hat night at the game....so once through the gates and geared up in our cowboy hats, we found fun things like giant pigs and huge bobble heads!
We eventually made the long, long, long trek up to the nose bleed section (but we had an awesome angle of home plate). Man it was HOT! The air was stagent and I think we all sweat buckets!
Clarissa asked lots of questions about what was going on. She really enjoyed doing the cheers (Let's Go Cardinals, Let's Go...clap clap, clap clap clap) and the wave came by two times! So exposing Clarissa (and Mason again) to proper major league baseball - check!
The next day, we flew back to Charleston. We got to the airport a bit early (not knowing how long rental car return/shuttle might take), so the kids had the chance to play in this awesome play area designed like a mini airport! There was baggage screening, loading it on the plane....
Then I caught Clarissa doing the safety briefing (she could likely do it by heart) and pointing out all the emergency exits on the plane!
We had a couple more days in Charleston, a few more doctors appointments, some cousin time, lots of laundry time, and of course the final packing of our suitcases before flying out.
So that's it for our time in the States....next blog post, we will be en route to our new home....coming soon!