My sister from Arizona is working on a book about our family roots for a master’s degree. Her advisor highly suggested that she go visit the background places where our ancestors worked and lived so she could more accurately describe the look and feel of the scenery and the times she would be writing about. The professor also told her to find as much factual information as she could from the Internet, the local Historical Societies, the local libraries and even personal interviews and photographs from any of the older family members.
When my sister decided on her itinerary, she suggested I meet her in Missouri as she visited with our relatives. I decided a “road trip” might be a fun way to do it.
My daughter from Austin, TX had not had much time off since her 20-month-old was born, so I invited her and Serena to join me. Her husband agreed to stay home and chauffeur the school-age girls and feed their dogs and I figured between the two of us we would be able to handle a baby.
First, she had to make the four-hour-trip to Tyler. By the time she got to our house on Monday afternoon, she was “fit-to-be-tied” (an old expression from my mother) because she thought Serena would take her afternoon nap in the car. That baby was not “in” on that plan, and was so excited, that she chattered and probably even did a little whining on the way. Candace was so upset with her that she threatened to turn around and go back home rather than go on our trip.
However, peace prevailed and we packed the car on Tuesday morning and started out.
My sister had flown into St. Louis on Sunday to begin her research. She rented a car and visited with our 90-year-old Uncle in St. Louis and then stopped at various towns on her way to Springfield, where we met her on Tuesday evening.
Our drive on that Tuesday was 10-hours and Serena never slept. Obviously, we have come to the conclusion that she is not a kid that goes to sleep in the car. But, she was so good and fun. She totally entertained us most of the way.
I had boiled five-pounds of potatoes and put them in the cooler along with grapes, carrot sticks and crackers for snacking. Serena is a healthy eater who loves potatoes and rice and will also eat many fruits and vegetables. About noon we stopped in McAlister, Oklahoma for lunch at a Chinese restaurant and Serena ordered, “rice.” She also ate some of the vegetables off of my plate and drank her water.
When we arrived at my Aunt Kathryn’s house about 6:30 PM, she had the best time looking around and “talking” to all the relatives. We finally found a Peruvian restaurant about 7:30 and she again ordered her “rice.” By this time she was getting tired and a little fussy. Her “fussy” is not really too bad, as if someone will take her outside where she can step up and down on some steps, she is totally fine again.
Finally got to our hotel at 8:30, unloaded the car, set up her bed, and she crashed.
Wednesday morning we again visited my Aunt Kathryn and went on a tour of her childhood homes within the city, heard family stories and looked at more pictures. Aunt Kathryn will be 90 in August and is spry, perky and fun.
After meeting one of my high school classmates for lunch at a Lebanese restaurant, we were on the road again, headed for Joplin.
In Joplin, we visited with our cousin, Elaine, and reminisced about our mothers and our childhoods and looked at old pictures.
After that visit, we went to see our Aunt Carol who lives in an “independent” living facility. We got there right at dinner time and she really wanted us to stay and eat with her. She is “only” 88, but still in great shape, lively and fun. She has kept family records over the years, and Kay had already gotten copies of much of her information, so we just listened to the stories she told.
On Thursday morning, we visited the town of Neosho, where our family had lived for five years – and where I went to high school. The beautiful Big Spring Park looked just the same and Serena enjoyed sticking her hands in the cold water spilling over the dam and beneath the bridge.
At lunch we met a group of my high school classmates and reminisced for awhile.
Thursday afternoon we visited the cemetery at Seneca where we found the marker for a great, great grandfather, an abolitionist during the Civil War, who was murdered by a marauding gang of soldiers. His wife and four children were forced to dig a grave and pull his body out of Lost Creek to bury him.
After lunch, Kay and Candace went off to more Historical Societies and Libraries while Serena and I played outside the hotel.
That night we went back to Joplin to meet a college friend for dinner at a Japanese restaurant.
Friday morning it was time for us to leave. Kay headed back to St. Louis, with some planned stops along the way.
Since, Neosho is closer to Texas, our drive home only took seven hours.
Serena did fall asleep for 20 minutes, before “Siri” woke her up with some directions for me. She and her mother spent the night in Tyler, and left this morning to go back to Austin. It was a tiring, but a really nice trip. We were busy the whole time, but most of it was visiting with friends, relatives and each other, so this “busyness” really brought us closer together. Too often we are busy, but everyone is going their separate ways and we don’t have time to just be together and enjoy one another.