Millennium Mom

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Arnie's View of First Days

Arnie Here - Joanna will likely post more than me but I thought I would intersperse my own thoughts occassionally.  Ben and I took off early on Saturday to drive to Cleveland to get the RV.  We were missing the girls dance recitals but had seen the rehearsals earlier inthe week while Joanna was out of town.  The girls did great in rehearsal and would do fine in the main event.  I felt torn as I should be sorry that I was missing it but then again I wasn't.  Our girls dance stuff is really not bad.  They go once a week all year to do one 90 minute show at the end.  It is quite cute and not very intense at all.  The costumes are nice and not too expensive.  I have no complaints but I still feel bad that I felt OK about missing it.  Strange psyche!

So we get to the RV place after a 4 hour drive.  Many people asked why we choose Neff Brothers in Loraine.  OUr friend Mark Gall did all the research and found this place to be the best.  For us, we trusted him and when we picked up the RV we saw why.  It was a nice family run place.  The RV we picked up had a grand total of 727 miles on it.  It had been rented once.  As I sit here typing in central Missouri, we have already doubled the mileage.  The technician (who might also have been one of the Neff Brothers) spent more than 90 minutes going over things with us.  I had ben videotape some of it on his ipad so we could replay as necessary. Still, I finished with a bit of apprehension that I was now expected to be the expert in the vehicle.  I signed away my life and off we went.  I had expected to be able to drive around their big parking lot to pactice before getting on the road but that big parking lot simply did not exist!  On the road we went.  The good news is that it was only 2 turns needed to get on the interstate.  The bad news is that it was after 1:00 and I had promised Ben lunch at Chipotle back when I thought we were going to eat lunch prior to picking up the RV.  My iphone said there was a Chipotle at the 2nd exit.  Wow.  Not a lot of practice time.  We got off the highway and I quickly realized the big rig was not going to fit in the Chipotle parking lot.  We found a grocery store lot next door and took up about 4 spaces being sure to investigate my entry/exit strategy before commiting to a spot.  Success.  We picked up lunch and brought it back to the RV for our first meal in the big rig.  After lunch we drove to Cinci.  Ben was pumped that I was letting him sit up front  and he stayed for a little while before bouncing arund the RV.  Then the ride was pretty bouncy and it got him sleepy quickly and he ended up sleeping most of the ride home.  Luckily, my nerves would not let me get sleepy.  Instead my hands were getting tired from gripping the wheel so tight.  The last stop was for gas near the house as we were getting pretty low.  While the big Class A motorhomes have  giant tanks, ours does not seem to have it.  I drove about 260 miles and was at the 1/4 mark.  I decide the UDF near the house was the best place to stop as I could pull through it reasonably easily.  Foiled - as I pulled in, the pump i needed was out of order and I had to turn around.  I felt a little bit like Austin Powers going back and forth a bunch of times changing my angle a little bit each time but finally made it.  The pump shut down at $125 and 32 gallons nearly bringing me back to full but not quite.  That meant I was getting less than 8 miles to the gallon.  Ouch.  On to the house to begin packing, etc.!

We got home while everyone else was at Claire's recital.  The girls went crazy when they got home.  All the neighbors came by to check it out too.  We thought Emma Moulas might try to stash herself in one of the storage areas!  We got it all packed up between Saturday night and Sunday morning and only left 30 minutes past our target departure time of noon. The funny thing about leaving for six weeks and having 2 interns and a friend's family stay at the house while we are gone is that when we left, our house was cleaner than it had been in years and years.  Stuff we had been accumulating in piles was put away, kids school stuff was put away.  I doubt it will take long to get back to ints normal state once we return but it was nice to know that we can get it to look good again.

The Sunday drive to St. Louis was pretty uneventful.  I drvoe most of the way and John drove us into STL.  Joanna had found an RV park about 2.5 Miles from the Arch.  It was a pretty simple, concrete parking lot that had quite a number of RV's in it.  Many of them certainly looked like they were there for a long time.  One even was growing a garden and many had set up satellite dishes.  It was clean and convenient and we are not too picky so we were fine.  Sunday night we just hung out inthe RV and got to bed early.  

Monday was our day to explore.  We planned to go to the City Museum, the Arch, Pappy Smokehouse for Dinner and then catch the Cardinals game at Busch Stadium.  The kids and I rode our bikes about a mile or so to the City Museum while Joanna, John and Mary Ann walked.  The City Museum is not really a museum but is one of the coolest kids play places I have ever seen.  There is so much to explore and climb on and slides to ride on.  I definitely felt like a kid except for a couple of times i got myself into tight spaces not meant for 5' 10" and 47 year old men.  My yoga classes were not quite enough to help me twist and fold.  Teh other thing that was amazing about this place was that the art of it all was very unique.  It felt like they had just recovered all kinds of materials from different building sites and made art/toys out of it.  One contraption was made out of old railroad spikes.  Other things were made out of rollers that looked like they had been pulled off a conveyor line and painted.  Other sculptures were very unique.  One wall was covered in warming trays like from a buffet.  Everyone had a blast.  I highly recommend this place.   
We then rode our bikes down to the Arch while Joanna and her parents walked.  It was a beautiful, sunny afternoon and the Arch was quite magnificent.  We went in and rode it to the top for the view and then back down.  Quite a construction project that must have been.  We rode out bikes back to the RV park while Joanna and her parents took a cab.  After a little bit of rest and playing with Henry (our dog was quite awesome so far), we walked about a mile to a famous STL Bar-B-Que place - Pappy's Smokehouse.  The food was good and quick but I would certainly not rave about it.  THe thing that was amazing is the line that kept growing and growing despite how fast they took the orders and served the food.  The locals certainly love it.  We decided we like Montgomery Inn better and we like Hillbilly Willy's in a strip mall in Chattanooga, TN even better.

At the Cardinal game, I scalped tickets and got a great deal.  We had to split up in two group but we all sat in $74 tickets behind the plate on the lower level for $25.  The scalper was much more willing to deal than the scalpers in Cincinnati.  We bought the tickets right at game time and he was ready to get rid of them.  At the game, Ben and I sat next to Sugar.  He was a super nice salesman from Atlanta. He worked for an injection molding company that did a lot of specialized plastic container moldings.  He was a huge Alabama fan with two lovely daughters who also went to Alabama.  I learned a lot about him in 6 innings in between the texts he was sending to his girls.

Overall, a great day in STL and a great start to the trip.  Tuesday will be uneventful hopefully with a long drive toward Colorado.  We don't have reservations tonight anywhere but I am sure it will work out.   


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