The next destination on my great journey was a bit out of the way. I was driving seven plus hours in a southwesterly direction. The day was hot and the sun beating down through the driver’s side window. All my windows were in their lowest possible position so I could stay as cool as the cross wind would allow me. My left arm started to feel hot and I realized I was getting trucker arm from the sunlight. No, I was not wearing any sunscreen! I stopped for an extended rest well into Illinois. Upon awakening, I wasn’t sure how long I’d slept and the confusion only got worse as I got on the road. Apparently I was quite close to a junction but misinterpreted the directions: The western light was dipping low enough that I could not see the exit signs until I had nearly passed them. And, I got confused when I saw an exit 7a instead of just 7. So, I was going up and down the highway for a good half hour before I finally figured out that I needed to wait until I got to Missouri, a good 28 miles, before I would reach the exit I was looking for! Not a happy travel day!
But then I found the RV park in St. Charles, where my next hosts were staying. I have long been fascinated by the Weeds and their adventures. They are a family of five who live year round in an RV and travel around the US, staying for months in one location while Papa Weed supervises building stores and other constructions. The three boys of varying ages from seven to sixteen are homeschooled by Tara, Mama Weed, who went to college with me. The youngest son ran out to meet me with his mom when I arrived and had drawn a welcome sign for me in chalk on the walkway near the RV along with foot outlines pointing toward the door of the RV. Asher decided immediately that I was his friend, and wanted to chat equally as much as his mom wanted to catch up on news with me but not before he gave me a very thorough tour of the RV with all its compartments and cool hidden features. After the rest of the fellows arrived home with a deep dish veggie pizza, and we sat together at the booth table with a smaller table and stools extending the eating surface, I got to listen to the second son, Colton, play a Brahms tune on his violin with confident musicality. Impressive! When it was bedtime, the couch was pulled out into a curved bed and I slept most comfortable in the dip on top of my sleeping bag.
The next day, I had some refrigerator oatmeal prepared the night before by Tara: steel cut Irish oatmeal with cocoa powder, cranberries and milk or milk substitute. Turned out to be quite yummy! Another of our classmates from college who resides in St. Louis pulled up in the afternoon and we drove together in the sweltering humidity a few minutes into St. Charles’ cute downtown area. We had lunch at the Bike Stop Café and talked of many things, with several phone/text interruptions from the males in Tara and Christine’s lives. Time passed too quickly and we had to say goodbye to Christine before too long. Tara and I walked back to the RV site, partly on the bike path near the Missouri River and partly along the brick laden buildings of St. Charles’ old streets.
After an yummy Greek dish of lentils and feta on a bed of spinach, the Weeds and I piled into the huge truck (more like a rig!) and bounced our way into St. Louis on our way to Forest Lake where we visited the free art museum to view impressionistic and modern works as well as ancient crossbows and armor. It was a speed tour as we had about an hour before the museum closed. Then we headed to downtown St. Louis to sample some gelato – very nice! – and trucked on back home. The next morning, I got up early, drank some Chai and ate some granola bars with Asher clinging to me like a little monkey urging me not to go. It was tough to say good-bye, but finally I made my escape and headed out, this time north, towards Madison, WI.