All this traveling and not one mile spent in the motorhome. This was our longest road trip without the motorhome since we started full timing eight months ago. The trip was filled with sadness and joy. We originally planned to travel to Indiana to pick up a new puppy and then head to St. Louis for a holiday visit with my family. However, the death of my grandmother caused an unexpected detour.
It was with sadness and heavy hearts that we left the motorhome in Florida and traveled to Fort Smith, Arkansas. The trip made me realize that sometimes we take family and friends for granted. It had been over eight years since I had visited Fort Smith and spent time with my grandmother, aunts, uncles, cousins, and other extended family. The void of time was much too long. Fond childhood memories remain in my heart and mind but cannot be recaptured in space and time. Luckily, there are always new memories to be made. Upon saying goodbye to family in Arkansas, we vowed to plug Fort Smith into the GPS so we can spend time exploring the beautiful mountains and forests that flank the city, and definitely, spend time with family.
|A replica of the 1886 gallows stands ominously on the grounds. (NPS photo.)|
Our stop in St. Louis was enriched by a visit from Betsy’s brother Mark (the hard working Inn Keeper who is on his well-deserved winter break; see our previous post about the Maples Inn: Inn-keeping 101 ) and getting to spend more time with my family. Mark and I decided to spend one rainy day at the St. Louis Art Museum. My mom’s jaw fell on the floor when I said I wanted to go to the museum. After all, I was the teenager who refused to see the artistic wonders displayed in the Louvre when my parents took me there. I opted for sitting on a bench in the entryway rather than staring into the eyes of the Mona Lisa. Yes, I went to the Louvre and never left the bench by the front door. Mark’s immense knowledge and appreciation of art opened my eyes to color, space, depth, and lines that are the foundations of treasured works of art created by classical and contemporary artists. Mark and I are in agreement that the contemporary works by Rothko are our favorite. After the museum, I took Mark to a St. Louis culinary institution – Ted Drewes Frozen Custard (well known for their “concretes”). We eagerly ruined our dinner appetites by indulging in pumpkin pie and caramel apple sundae concretes.
Soon we were leaving St. Louis and heading towards Indianapolis where we would pick up our new bundle of joy…a seven-week old black labrador retriever. When our dog Otter died last summer, we felt a void (see an earlier post: One Less Passenger). We contacted Otter’s breeder about another lab. Our inquiry was timely as another litter of black labs was on the way. We watched the litter grow up on Facebook and YouTube and checked for updates constantly. Betsy picked the name for our new dog, “Otter’s Spirit.” We call her “Spirit” and she is adorably sweet. Thanks to Dale Brummett of Black Rock Labradors for another wonderful pup that has melted our hearts.
|Spirit after being on the road 850 miles, three hotels, 7 interstate rest areas, and being kissed|
countless numbers of times.
|Nancy, Spirit, and Betsy in Indiana at Black Rock Labradors. (Dale Brummett photo.)|
|Relaxing in the butterfly garden, Watercolor, Florida.|
Our last stop took us to southern Mississippi for a brief visit with our friends Sandy and Kim. We thank them for a relaxing time and the chance to get caught up over a bottle (or two, or three,) of wine. Another dear friend, Ann, joined us and we sat around their wonderful house talking, laughing, fishing and watching Spirit explore her big new world. We are already making plans for future visits and can't wait!
We love our vagabond lifestyle and enjoy making new friends at campgrounds, but we realize how much we miss family and friends.
|Enjoying a glass of wine at Sandy and Kim's lake house.|
|Thank goodness for a sleepy puppy!|
|One of Spirit's favorite toys is a blowing leaf.|
|The motorhome has been turned into a dog nursery.|