Category Archives: recreation

Meet Me In St. Louis

My friends are coming back to St. Louis for our 3rd annual girl’s weekend.  This annual convergence is proving to be the necessary kick in the ass to complete my spring cleaning.   This means cleaning out every room, closet, and drawer plus the cabinets and fridge.   Not to mention sprucing up the yard, getting the windows washed, and cleaning out the car for sightseeing trips. 

As the centrally located gal in the group (they come in from Wisconsin, New York, Pennsylvania, Florida and California) it makes sense for everyone to come here.  And, I love hosting my friends.  Along with getting my spring cleaning Totally Completed (I’m pretty much done with closet and drawer cleaning until next spring) we get to take in the awesome things there are to do in St. Louis. 

It is so true that you don’t really appreciate what you have in your own city – I was somewhere in Tuscany waiting to go into yet another church when a lady in front of me asked me where I was from.  When I said St. Louis, she immediately started raving about the Cathedral Basilica and how it was one of the most beautiful churches she had ever seen.   At the time, I had never been there even though I’d easily been to more than 100 churches in Italy (seriously – 5 trips = lots of churches!!)  So, the first girl’s weekend we went to the Basilica (and it truly is one of the most beautiful cathedrals I’ve ever been in) and walked around the park at the St. Louis Arch which I hadn’t been to since I was a kid.  

Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis

Last year, we went to the Washington University / Forest Park area of town because Michaela had been reading about the 1904 World’s Fair and wanted to see the buildings that were donated to the city after.  The architecture of the buildings was amazing (I beg you to take the virtual tour provided in the link – it takes you building by building and you can see why Michaela wanted us to go).  I used to golf every week at Forest Park and I’m embarrassed to say that I still have never been into one of the museums which are now housed in the World’s Fair buildings.  We also went back to the Arch and toured the Museum of Westward Expansion.  Walking around the area made me appreciate how very pretty the waterfront park is. 

This year the group has already made their list – it will be the Missouri Botanical Garden and the Anheuser-Busch Brewery tour.  You guessed it.  Never been to the Botanical Garden (can’t wait after looking on the Garden’s internet site) and even though I worked for A-B for years, have never gone on the brewery tour. 

Missouri Botanical Garden

So, again this year during girl’s weekend I will get to visit two more spots that visitors come to St. Louis to do but I’ve never done.  I’m thinking I need to have a lot more girl’s weekends in St. Louis as there is a lot to see and do.  Maybe we need to up the weekends to twice a year.  YIKES – that would mean spring cleaning again in the fall.  I love my friends but spring cleaning once a year is enough for me …….  

 ~ Susan

A Very Maui Christmas

I had the opportunity to take a last-minute vacation this month and decided to make my first trip to Hawaii.  The initial challenge was choosing an island.  I searched the internet and found a scorecard.  Less than ten minutes later, I was looking for flights to Maui.

Coming home from Hana

After a few days there, you forget you are in the United States.  It’s so tropical, and beautiful, and diverse.  Then, you ask for directions or suggestions and the person easily understands you; the stores don’t give change you’ll have a hard time spending.

My most memorable experience was a whale-watching trip on the first day of the breeding and birthing season.  We started out at Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ambassadors of the Environment shop where we had a brief introduction to the humpback whale, then were off in a Zodiac boat which quickly found a calf and mother with an escort!  The yearling entertained us by waving his fins while lying on his back (their fins are the largest appendage in the animal kingdom), and later leapt halfway out of the water!  He will eventually become larger than a school bus and weigh 40 tons IF he can avoid disaster, which normally comes at the hands of humans or something we have put in his way.

Being from Florida, I’ve seen my share of surfers BUT I have never seen surfers and windsurfers like in Hawaii.  Ho’okipa Beach is perfect for the sports and even has sharing rules.  Surfers have priority until 11:00 a.m. when windsurfers take over.  One morning, there were 60+ surfers visible from where we stood.  Another day, 30+ surfers and 30+ windsurfers shared the spot.  The churning waves make the water look like larimar.

There’s also great snorkeling from the side of the road.  It’s odd to lift your head from viewing healthy coral with beautiful fish and hear cars driving by.

You can visit black sand beaches, which I didn’t realize are made of black pebbles of varying sizes.  My favorite was at Wainapanapa State Park.  We found it on the ‘road to Hana’ which we luckily drove clockwise so we were against the mountain rather than the cliff when meeting cars on blind turns.  That road also took us to Coconut Glen’s roadside stand, which offers tasty diversions.  Glen sold my goodies to me, and his humble demeanor didn’t give away his secret.  Turns out he was an actual chef who found his paradise selling incredible ice cream and coconut candy on a mountain in Maui.

The road to Hana leads to beautiful sunsets, such as the one above from our drive or those seen from the Sea House, where we had multiple meals.  But, the restaurant we frequented most was Maui Brewing Company’s brew-pub.  They have wonderful craft brews (and unique cycling shirts – men’s sizes only).  My favorites were Old Chinwig and Island Hopped Red, which are occasional brews.  Their staple brews are available daily and even sold at other outlets.

Obviously, I’m not the only one that finds Maui awe-inspiring.  This is easily demonstrated by the property prices.  I could tell Makena Beach was a nice area and my smart phone quickly proved just how high a price beautiful views can demand.  Check out this house for $19.5 million or this one for a mere $3 million.

Thankfully, there are homes or hotels that are more in reach.  And, the great views are always a short drive or walk away.  That means normal people like me can share the beauty of Maui and have a very Maui Christmas!

~ Lori

My kind of theme park

Was That My Turn?

I’m geographically challenged.  I don’t know how people are born with absolutely NO sense of direction, but I’m proof that you can survive this affliction.  Even if I do know where we’re going, you don’t want to rely on me for  directions if you’re driving, because I’ll forget to tell you.  It’s like the passenger seat automatically disengages the little part of my brain dedicated to navigation. But, sometimes good things come out of missing a turn.

Recently, my friend was driving us somewhere new in my town.  True to form, I forgot to say where to go and we wound up detouring through an area near my paternal grandparents’ house that triggered childhood memories.  Then, wait, did you see that sign that said ‘Bold City Brewery’?  And did that store next to it say ‘Just Brew It’?  My friend always wanted to try brewing and Saint Louis made me a fan of microbrews (Square One is a favorite!).

After keeping the store clerk open late answering our questions, we were trying to fit a brewing kit and a large glass carboy into a tiny trunk (the one disadvantage of detours is being ill-prepared).   The next day brought the aroma of hops to the kitchen and left us pondering names for breweries and beer labels.

A few evenings later I’m home alone and hear a bang!  Luckily, it wasn’t too late or too dark, so I didn’t panic when I couldn’t identify the sound.  Later I opened
the pantry door to put something away and saw tiny glass shards and brown liquid all over the floor.  A beer bottle had broken.  Just slight annoyance while I cleaned it up.  A couple of hours later, a BANG!  Really, another bottle broken?  A little more annoyance now as I clean up the second time.  When the third bottle exploded, I was officially perturbed and called my friend to let him know
about it.  I found a storage bin just the right size for 45 bottles of beer and counted each time another bottle lost its battle and marveled at how glass shards got out of the container.

The next day, he asked me to release some of the pressure from the remaining bottles.  But someone who happened to be with me suggested I could really be hurt.  So…  I found safety goggles, donned a heavy sweater and garden gloves and before opening bottles with the bin lid protecting my face.  The first bottle spewed beer into the air a foot or so.  The next, and last, bottle that I tried to
save spewed brown, sticky liquid nearly four feet into the air and onto three
different shelves of pantry contents.  Now, I’m worried AND aggravated.  I put the lid back on, gingerly carried the bin outside, and placed an old DVR and four bags of mulch on top of it so the sun’s affect wouldn’t force more shards out of the bin.

Turns out, there was some miscommunication about the bottling process.  Now, we are a few batches into the new hobby and the beer stays controlled.  It actually tastes good and we’re having fun trying different kits.

Sometimes a wrong turn can lead to new hobbies, some interesting moments, and a few laughs.  Next time I wind up on a detour, I’ll be certain to keep my eyes open for unexpected benefits!

~ Lori