Making Tracks

At the end of my last post I was departing Atlanta after a visit with my good friends Eddie Tapp and Judy Host. Eddie was out of town when I arrived at their place, and I delayed my departure by a couple days in order to see him before continuing up the highway. From there I had only two and a half days to make it to Kansas City airport in time to pick up my daughter, Elissa, who was joining me for a little time on my journey.

My dear friend Kathleen Kelly suggested a short side trip to Sewanee TN, where she lived in the 70s, so of course I took it! 🙂 Nice town. I saw what I could from the cockpit of The Beast, and then drove a little too far out the highway before realizing that I had no place to turn around… for several more miles, until I reached the town of Cowan. But look what I found at one little turn off while driving down a sizable hill… a breathtaking overlook between rain showers! Sometimes the unintended “road less traveled” can lead to something special. Kathleen’s comment when I told her about my little side trip was, “I can’t believe you drove your RV down that hill!”

That evening I had the pleasure of overnighting with some new friends, Shanna and Loyd Owen, just north of Nashville. Although we met as children, Shanna and I had never really known each other as friends. It was through my brother Andrew, that we connected on Facebook, and seeing that I was headed in her direction, Shanna graciously offered up a place to stay with plenty of room for my RV. We made plans to trailer her horses to a park in Nashville for an evening ride, but alas… more storms. Literally the minute I parked my RV in her driveway the clouds and thunder and lightening rolled in. You’ve got to know I was terribly disappointed, especially when the following day dawned beautifully and I had no choice but to move on up the highway.

Shanna and Loyd did take me for a drive through their local countryside just before sunset that evening. Beautiful area and as one might expect of the deep south… much history. I’m determined to pay them another visit one day!

Shanna and her two dogs (and Jazzy). shot on iPhone

My destination for the next evening was Saint Louis. It’s seldom I choose to overnight in a big city unless I know someone there, but I’d never been there, and it sat right on my route halfway between Nashville and Kansas City. It’s even less likely that I’ll intentionally pick an RV park that is literally a large parking lot with “hook ups”, but it was advertised as being walking distance to the waterfront and Arch and I was only there for the night. I have to say that anyone expecting a short stroll to see the Arch would be greatly disappointed to find it was at least two miles away. Worked for me though. After several hours on the road, the girls and I are always up for a long walk. Our brisk walk took us through a disturbingly quiet part of town, but the closer we got to the waterfront the more activity we saw… lots of outdoor cafes, businesses and hotels, and lots of people enjoying the pleasant evening. The Arch, of course, was pretty spectacular. Closed for the evening when I got there, but I was really more interested in viewing it from the outside anyway.

Very near The Arch, on the riverfront, I found the catholic church my Mother tells me my Great Grandfather was baptized in… The Basilica of Saint Louis, King of France. Formerly the Cathedral of Saint Louis, it was consecrated in 1834, and was the first cathedral west of the Mississippi.

What can I say! It’s a horse! 🙂

The following day I arrived at the Kansas City Airport just as Elissa’s flight arrived. She was a little embarrassed at the prospect of me picking her up in the RV, but there was really no convenient place near the airport where I could leave it and drive the car around the loop to get her. Having been there a few times I knew it would be an easy drive through, with no low hanging obstacles or tight turns to worry about, so my thought was that she’d just have to grin and bear it. I wish I could show you the look on the faces of those standing near her when I pulled up. The expressions were a mix of awe and envy I think, as they watched her board while they stood waiting for shuttles to whisk them off to some stuffy hotel or conference room.

Our first stop together was Olathe Kansas where my dear friend (and fellow photographer) Muffet Petrehn was literally standing in the street upon our arrival.

Photo by Muffet Petrehn

With our good friend Muffet Petrehn

The next morning we made time to stop in Lawrence KS to visit another friend and Brooks Institute classmate of mine, Barry Frank. After a bite of lunch Barry took us on a quick tour of the KU campus. I think Elissa was impressed!

With my friend and fellow Brooks Institute classmate, Barry Frank

We also took time that day to stop in Topeka to visit Elissa’s paternal grandparents, and then again in Russell Kansas to stop at the gravesite of her Great Grandmother Nano, who passed away only a few months ago and will undoubtedly be missed by all who knew her. She was one of those women you couldn’t help but love for her kind, gentle spirit and delightful sense of humor.

The trip between Georgia and Colorado took four days, but went by in a flash. Elissa helped me add the new states to my map, and once again… while I was pondering how much ground I’ve covered and diverse beauty I’ve seen so far on my journey, she was completely transfixed on two obvious states I’ve missed… Nevada and Arkansas. I would think after the long trek through Kansas and eastern Colorado (not to mention the stops for gas along the way) she’d understand a little better why it’s not as easy as the map makes it look! 🙂  

After making fast tracks across two-thirds of the country I was glad to land in Colorado for some much needed time with my girl. Stay tuned for some fun moments and breathtaking scenery!

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