Missing family...the viewing was Monday, the service is today (Wednesday). I am writing this on day 7 of my journey but I'll still blog about today later because the location you see in this picture was truly wonderful...
Day 5 I got to my camp spot in St. Louis then went downtown to see the arch. I am getting quite efficient at dumping tanks (and loading up to travel...I can connect my truck and get wheels up in less than an hour now...first time (in San Francisco) took 3 hours. Ha ha. I was a bit sleep deprived on that trip so I'll attribute the slow moving and extra checks that I did of everything to that.
At the arch I parked in historic downtown. The roads are cobblestone... the buildings and streets were empty, it was bizarre. I wondered if I was in someplace I shouldn't be... but my spidey senses weren't tingling so I walked down the quiet streets. I got to the arch and - after taking several photos - I went inside and straight to the ticket counter to get a ride to the top. You see, we brought the kids here 15 years ago (I think it was 15) and my ex and ex- mother-in-law didn't want to wait for the many hours we would've had to wait to ride. It has bugged me ever since. SO, this time there was no line... in fact, my ride was going up in about 10 minutes.
Giddy with expectation I wandered down the walkway of the South tram. You first go 50 ft underground to board a space age looking pod before the 4 minute ride to the top, 630 ft. in the air. I rode with a young family - mom claustrophobic and dad afraid of heights... showing their children how to conquer their fears. The little boy may have been claustrophobic as well because he started getting a little freaked out in our pod... said "I can't breathe" and started to tear up. I distracted him with some fantastic tale of magical pods.
The top was glorious. The air was clear so we were able to see miles and miles and miles. Once you get to the top, you can stay there as long as you want. I spent almost an hour, staring out the windows, snapping photos, just enjoying the fact that this is my life... I'm doing things I've always wanted to do. I am limitless. I teared up a few times as my heart swelled with gratitude.
Eventually, I boarded the North tram - because duh...I have to ride the WHOLE arch and you can board either tram from the top. The ride down is 3 minutes. A young man from Salt Lake City was in my pod. We chatted a bit. He was in town for a conference. Seemed quite lonely but I didn't feel interested in touring St. Louis with him... I suggested places I had heard about and said "have fun!"
The gift shop...
I walked in and found myself guided to the back. When I was a child, my family would gather frequently at a pizza place in Nampa-or Caldwell...I don't remember. What I do remember is that Grandpa would buy us those old fashioned candy sticks. We looked forward to it every time. What do I find in the back of the St. Louis arch gift shop but those candies. I started crying... right there... in front of the candy. I was there, as my family was gathering for my Grandpa's viewing back in Idaho. What I didn't know was they were talking about this candy at about the same time that I found it. Grandpa made sure I found it, just to say hello and let me know he was with me. I'm crying a bit as I type this. Mainly because, right now, my family is gathering for his service... but also because I miss him so much already. I miss all my grandparents. The rest of this existence will be quiet without them present in human form... but I know they're with me. Visiting often through signs.
My guy that I left behind in ID said I should try some St. Louis bbq... SOOOO I found a place called The Shaved Duck which also had live music every night. No question, that was where I'd have dinner. Oh my, it was delicious! And the music was wonderful... and there was a trumpet player from Utah visiting his friend (the saxophone player). Weird...2 Utah peeps in town for different reasons and I meet them. I may need to pay attention to Utah. Anyway, the guitarist, an old gentleman by the name of Randy Bahr, struck up a conversation with me because: 1. I was sitting at the bar; and, 2. I was the only person clapping as they completed their songs. I don't understand that but... anyway, they were interesting fellows and I gained at least 2 new fans.
I returned home and slept soundly. Day 6 I thought I was on my way to Nashville....WELL, thankfully I looked at my reservation. Apparently it didn't start until today (Wed.). I swear I looked recently and saw the 15th-21st... but it's the 16th-20th. So I pull into a truck stop thinking I'd find a Harvest Host... there's NO spot for me to park at this truck stop... their parking lot was all sorts of screwy. After topping off my tank, I head down the road thinking I'll just pull off an exit somewhere.
A few miles down the road, there's a rest area. PERFECT, I think to myself. And it was. A very cool rest area next to a lake with walking paths, picnic tables and dogs running around with their owners. Very picturesque. An old couple walking by the lake catches my attention, they remind me of my grandparents. Finally, they are together again... and Grandma is herself again (she had slowly faded away into dementia the final decade of her life). I go inside, there's a whole bunch of vending machines, including one with Starbucks coffee...I look at the other ones and find Grandma saying hello.
I don't remember eating the Keebler Sugar Wafer cookies with Grandma. Sometime earlier this year, I was driving near Marsing (where my grandparents lived) and a ghost smell filled the car as I was thinking about Grandma. It took several miles before I realized what it was... those cookies. I go to the gas station near Lake Lowell and find them there. I send a picture to my aunt Cindy and ask if Grandma liked the cookies. She told me Grandma usually kept them around for us kids.
Right there, in this vending machine somewhere in Illinois, I find the cookies. I sat by the lake, found my spot I'd stop at for the night, and ate my cookies from Grandma.
You are never truly alone. All you have to do is pay attention. Your loved ones who have passed want you to know they're ok... they want you to know that they love you. Watch for the signs!
Well, I'm going to go thank my hosts and hit the road. Love you all! Have a beautiful day! You are so loved.
I had a dream that I was traveling all over the world. In less than 6 months, I sold almost everything I own...bought a Toy Hauler (the "garage" is my art studio) and am now living wherever, whenever...just me, my art, and my cats.