Today we had our first hard freeze of the fall season and our first snowfall. We didn’t get much snow, but just 15 miles north of us, Troy had about an inch of it. It was definitely cold and blustery today with a low temperature of 30 degrees and a high of 37. The wind chill was in the low 20s. Tomorrow’s forecast: 53 degrees and sunny. Much better.

The only places our snow was visible was on the cold lawn furniture. You can even see a little bit of snow on the table top.

The fireplace end of our family room is dark because the eight-foot window wall is at the opposite end of the room, beside the kitchen. As a result, our family portrait tends to be shadowed, especially in the evening. Today, we had an art light installed in the family room to highlight the portrait of our wonderful family so we can enjoy it when we sit in the family room.

Before (in daylight):

After (in the evening) :

It’s fall, so once again, I’m enjoying some little traditions in the neighborhood.

Our sugar maple tree becomes a colorful lawn ornament.
Our neighbor’s maple tree does its three-stage process. First the top turns color. When the upper leaves begin to fall (they’re doing it now), the middle band turns color. When they fall, the lower third turns color (it’s still greenish at the bottom). When the bottom leaves fall, the tree is ready for winter.
Every fall, Kari and Ted wax her car together. They just finished, and the van’s paint is protected for the winter.

Ted and I want to take a St. Louis-themed hostess gift to our Australian friends when we visit them in January 2020. Of course, the iconic symbol of St. Louis is the Gateway Arch, and the Gateway Arch gift shop has the best selection of model arches, so we spent the afternoon exploring the new visitors’ center.

The Gateway Arch underwent a five-year makeover from 2013-2018 at a cost of $380 million. The tram and parts of the visitors’ center were open during construction and could be accessed by temporary paths bordered by plywood walls. The entire facility re-opened on July 3, 2018. Over 100 acres of the grounds were updated and now include more access paths to the Arch; a viewing platform overlooking the Arch grounds and the Mississippi River was added; and a land bridge was built over I-44 to provide safer pedestrian access to the Arch from the downtown area. The makeover also added 46,000 additional square feet of space for the visitors’ center, including a major expansion and update of the Arch museum. The Gateway Arch was upgraded from a National Memorial to a National Park in 2018. Woo-ee! Ted and I have not been to the Arch since the work was completed, so we explored it today.

We approached the Arch from the north, which gave us the opportunity to check out the Arch and the river from the new viewing platform.
From the viewing platform, we could see the Eads Bridge, a National Historic Landmark.* We could also see how unusually high the Mississippi River is for this time of year. There’s a parking lot beside the visible street all along the downtown riverfront, but it’s entirely under water now.

*The Eads Bridge was a construction marvel when it opened in 1874. It was the first bridge to cross the Mississippi River south of the Missouri River; its central arch was the longest rigid span ever built (520 feet); it had the deepest underwater foundations of any bridge in the world (100 feet below the water surface); and it was the first large-scale application of steel as a structural material.

All of the park grounds had a makeover. It’s a pretty park with lots of shade for the summer.
From the viewing platform, we approached the visitors’ center from behind. It’s underneath the Arch (not visible here) beneath the grassy hill in the photo foreground.
Here’s the visitors’ center from the front. Seating is abundant–maybe not for the summer crowds, but there’s lots of grass to sit on when the benches are full. There’s also a walkway that goes around and over the visitor’s center, with nice views of the river and the city skyline. Check out that good-looking guy on the bench.
Getting into the Arch is now just like passing through airport security except we could keep our shoes on–no belts or jackets, empty pockets, all electronics in the bin, etc. It’s not the heavy tourist season, but we had to weave back and forth six times to get through the line. Our goal is the far background of the photo.
The inside view from the lobby windows nicely frames the Old Courthouse–the site of the Dred Scott decision in 1857.
The terrazzo floor of the mezzanine is covered with a map of the United States, showing major rivers (blue lines) and the westward exploration trails (dotted lines) that began in St. Louis (yellow circle) and literally made the city the “Gateway to the West.” The map is the mezzanine floor so, yes, you can walk on it.
Before leaving, I took a picture of the Poplar Street Bridge, which has a flood gauge (white painted rectangle) on one of its piles. The bottom of the white rectangle is flood level. Notice how close the river is to flood level this year, when it’s usually very low in fall and winter.
I found this picture of the Arch visitors’ center online. Isn’t it pretty from above?

It was fun to spend a sunny fall day exploring the “new” Gateway Arch, and yes, we found a model Arch to take to our Australian friends.

Kari and I have talked about taking some bike rides together. I’d like to ride around her neighborhood for a change of scene, and she wants to try some of the new greenways closer to our house. Today was the day. I think we biked every loop along the Dardenne Creek Greenway and put on about ten miles before it was time for Kari to leave for home. Ted and I had some more time to bike, so we went a little farther in the other direction along the connected Cottleville trail before going home. I learned from a sign along the trail that Cottleville was named for Captain Lorenzo Cottle, an early settler and a veteran of the Black Hawk War and the Seminole Wars.

As always, it’s wonderful to bike on the greenways where there is no automobile traffic.

One member of our biking trio had to take the picture, but you can see my bike. I (kiddingly) asked Kari if she was embarrassed to be seen biking with her Mom and Dad and she (kiddingly) said no, none of her friends could see her on the greenway. When I’m out with her, we almost always meet one of her friends, but she was right–none of her friends was on this trail today.
Someone arranged a pretty fall display along the Cottleville trail.

It was a dark and rainy night. . . . Ted and I went out for dinner and this is what we saw at the table beside ours.

Who would have an umbrella like this? Why, a lady with flowered pink pants and a pink band on her hat, of course.

The flamingo turned around. I think it’s hungry and ready to eat.

I needed some spices from the Spice Shop on Historic Main Street in St. Charles. What a pleasant surprise to find the street and stores decorated for the Legends and Lanterns Hallowe’en celebrations this month. Every weekend in October features Hallowe’en-themed entertainment and activities.

After walking down the street and enjoying the decorations, we stopped at Kilwin’s and bought some chocolate. Yum!

About two weeks ago, Ted and I went biking on the Busch Greenway through the Busch Wildlife area and the Missouri Research Park (past the National Weather Service Office), then continued along the Katy Trail* for several miles. It was another beautiful ride.

*The Katy Trail State Park follows the railroad bed of the M-K-T Railroad for 240 miles across Missouri. It is the longest recreational rail trail in the United States.

Ted and I weren’t the only ones biking on a Monday afternoon. We’ve learned that bicyclists love to chat about the trails and their bikes. That’s Ted talking with the man who parked beside our car.
The Busch Greenway has an underpass so we can ride beneath MO Hwy 94.
Along the MO Research Park stretch of the Busch Greenway, there’s a path around a small lake.
The hills and curves through the MO Research Park were interesting and pretty as they took us to the Katy Trail.
What I don’t like about the Katy Trail: Flat all the way and too many stretches hemmed in by trees.
What I do like about the Katy Trail: Bluffs above the Missouri River.
River views along the Katy are beautiful, but too often hidden by trees. The water is unusually high for this time of year due to all the rainfall here and north on the Missouri River.
Near the NWS office, there’s a trail rest area with information about the NWS, its Doppler radar, and severe weather. Here’s our weatherman checking it out.

We biked 22 miles on these trails and I want to go again soon.

This boggles my mind. Why would I want strawberry-flavored cranberries? Logically, I’d choose either strawberries or cranberries, wouldn’t I?

I shared a two-story, three-bedroom house with five other girls during my senior year in college. We had so much fun together back then that we’ve started having occasional reunions. We meet in Madison because it’s central for all of us–especially for Leila, who lives there. Last year, we decided we’re still having so much fun together, we need to meet every year. This year’s date was October 5.

As long as we were going to be in Madison, Ted and I decided to include visits to my Aunt Ruth and Uncle Ken; to Ted’s sister, Mutzie, and his niece and nephew-in-law, Lisa and Doug; and to Kathy and Annette. The most remarkable thing we experienced on this trip was a huge weather shift. Due to a strong cold front, the temperature dropped over 40 degrees between the time we left home and when we arrived at our motel in Beloit, WI seven hours later. I think summer is over.

Most of the trees “up north” were still green, but some were changing to their fall colors. I love all the white paper birch in Wisconsin.

Our first night’s dinner restaurant was the Stone Eagle in Rockford, IL. It was unusual, to say the least. We were attracted to it by the large number of cars in the parking lot and by the sign that declared “This is not a chain restaurant.” Indoors, it looked like someone bought out every flea market in town for a year and found a place for each item in the restaurant. Our server told us they have a guidebook that lists each item with information about it. I felt like we were looking for the hidden pictures, such as “Can you find the money jammed into the ceiling planks?” The food was delicious and we’ll stop in again if we’re in Rockford at mealtime.

The stained glass window sits on the fireplace mantel. The cougar beside it is wearing a safari hat. Don’t overlook the model train that circles the ceiling.
Where do you get a zebra pelt? Does someone here hunt big game? There’s a Harley-Davidson motorcycle hanging on the right wall . . .
. . . and an Indian motorcycle on the opposite wall. Check the monkey’s backside. Gross!

Our first family stop was in Holmen, WI (near LaCrosse) to visit with Ruth and Ken. They just moved into this new house two months ago. The subdivision is so new, the internet cables are not yet laid on Ruth and Ken’s side of the street. Ruth is a big fan of forwarding goofy emails she finds on the internet, so she’s in a bit of withdrawal and has to use her granddaughter’s internet.

Our next destination was Madison for my roommate reunion. Only four of the six of us were able to come. Barb didn’t want to leave her husband alone after his recent surgery and Carol had to be in Illinois this weekend. We had lots of fun–again!–and have already set our date for next year: August 29.

Next stop: Grand Island, NE. Mutzie continues to improve since her fall and serious injuries last April. Physically, she is fine, and her cognitive skills keep improving noticeably as her brain continues to heal. She is better at recognizing faces than remembering names, and she easily participates in conversations.

Mutzie and her little brother, as she calls Ted. (He’s five years younger than she is.)

We took Mutzie out for a full day, including lunch, dinner, and some walking exercise outdoors and in the mall. When we asked if she’d like to go back to her rooms (she has a suite), she said, “Oh, no–let’s sit at your hotel. I see my room all the time.” So we did. I forgot to take a picture the night before when Doug joined us for dinner, so there’s only Ted, me, Lisa, and Mutzie in this photo.

From Grand Island, we headed for Kirksville, MO where we planned to meet Kathy and Annette for dinner before driving home to St. Peters. When we drove home from Grand Island in June, Iowa and Nebraska had standing water everywhere from the over-abundant spring rains. It didn’t look much different this time, except that I-29 was open instead of under the extended Missouri River. These “inland lakes” still cover the farmland along I-29 in northwest Missouri.

The strip of land and trees in the background is a county road–the only area above water as far as we could see.
There were hundreds of white pelicans migrating. They are the only pelicans that migrate through the Midwest, and they nest and raise their young in the upper Midwest and Canada.
The water is deep enough here for whitecaps to form in the wind.

We arrived in Kirksville about an hour earlier than we’d planned, so Kathy and Annette were still at work. After driving so many hours, Ted and I were ready for some exercise and decided to take a walk. We’ve never walked to the A. T. Still University campus where Kathy works, so we headed that way. We had no idea which building Kathy works in, but just when we reached the point at which we’d decided to turn back, Kathy emerged from the building in front of us, ready to walk home. Instead, she gave us a tour of her workplace and introduced us to several co-workers who were still present. Now we can picture her setting when she talks about work and some of the people who work with her. Every one of the people we met raved to us about how much they like Kathy and what a great job she does with the Student Patient (SP) program. That’s just what proud parents love to hear.

Here’s a typical room in which one of Kathy’s SPs presents a health care issue (pre-assigned by Kathy) to an aspiring student doctor. The student doctor is then evaluated on his work (demeanor, examination, diagnosis, and prescribed treatment) with the “patient.”
Here’s Kathy’s workstation. The monitors on the right are used by observers who watch the SP/doctor interactions for evaluation.
We could only look through the window in the door of Kathy’s office because the offices were already locked. I recognize her sweater hanging over the chair.

After dinner with Kathy and Annette, Ted and I drove home. We had a week of good times with friends and family members.

The next day, I hung a decorative quilt on our bedroom wall. It was a gift from Mutzie, the Quilting Queen, through her daughter Lisa during our visit to Grand Island.