Just Guess.

As part of our “kid day”, we decided to have our picture drawn. Either that or take an old-fashioned photo, which I was really tempted to do only because of an Onion article I read. Click here to read it.

[I need to pause here and request that you read the Onion article. It actually made me laugh out loud.]

So, anyway, we plop down and wait for the artist to shine his 5000 watt bulb onto our faces. He looks up to study us for only half-second increments and I wonder if the drawing will even resemble us. Just when I’m certain he doesn’t even know our skin color, he comments, “So, I see you’re getting gray hair.” This kid has looked at me for a total of 1.5 seconds and has already deduced that I’m aging at a increasingly rapid pace. It made me laugh, but in the back of my head I was already figuring out what expenditure I could cut out of my life to allow monthly hair-dyes.

Before he began, we had asked him to hold nothing back. And so he grossly exaggerated some of our features. I’ll give you a hint. For R: it’s not his eyebrows. For Me: if you knew me before and after puberty, you already noticed.

This is going above our fireplace.

Six Flags – St. Louis

My brother-in-law wanted to act like a kid at Oceans of Fun for his birthday. I thought that was a great idea, and decided to go to Six Flags with the same agenda.

Grease + Sugar + Twirly Rides – Recovery Time Between Said Twirly Rides = I’m getting old.

Never to disappoint, my impetuous side decided that the rainiest weekend in September would be a great time for roller coasters. We headed out early Saturday morning and could barely see the road ahead of us. I waffled between being overly optimistic about a break in the clouds [“surely the clouds will fork around Six Flags, meeting back up at the other side of the park, right??”] to verging on Chevy Chase insanity. I pictured myself holding someone at gunpoint, forcing him to open the park and ride everything with us. That’s definitely worth 10-15 years. I could just picture the conversation.

Prisoner: “What’re ya in for?”
Me: “Feet-dangly roller coasters. Back off.”

Exiting Kansas City
This was taken literally after the first pic. How does he do it?
The only bad luck we did have.
And then, all of a sudden, we saw a break in the clouds and you could just barely see the sun. It was glorious. What I didn’t expect was the onslaught of humidity once we stepped out of the car 4 hours later. I wore jeans and a short sleeved shirt and R. wisely wore shorts. In line for our first ride, it became abundantly clear that I was not cut out for the Amazing Race (which is why I probably would make the show. Speaking of the Amazing Race, my mom likes to remind me that if I do ever make the show, to never mention my maiden name.) I understand her reasoning, though. I was stuck in an enclosed humid, cramped stairwell with 15 other people waiting our turn on the ride. Suddenly, everything started to go blurry, my pants felt tighter than ever, and I wAs StaRting tO LoSe mY BrEAth..AND WHY WON’T THAT LADY QUIT TALKING ABOUT HER KID’S TALENT SHOW LAST WEEKEND, I NEED OUT!

Luckily, the weather soon cooled off and ended up being a fairly nice day. The best (and worst) part was the lack of lines. This caused a problem after our 3rd ride in a row on a larger than life tilt-a-whirl.

How often do you have the choice of any seat, every time?
One of our favorite rides had to be Scooby Doo’s scary swamp. Why is it always a kid’s game that draws us in? You ride in a little boat and shoot at monsters throughout the cave. It was Bass Pro Shop on steriods (or LSD — see third pic down).

Honestly, is this how I hold a gun? Me versus a robber, who do you have your money on?

All in all, a good, long, tiring day of fun. We rode rides non-stop for six hours and then crashed and burned at the hotel. Ironically, they had a National Lampoon Vacation marathon all night which kept me entertained…and self-conscious.

More posts to come, one of which celebrates the ability to laugh at one’s self. Oh, and this guy.

Laugh it up at your Library

My mom has a bright turquoise t-shirt that says “Laugh it Up at your Library!” in big cartoonish letters. We usually end up just laughing at her and it instead of the library, but we like when the shirt makes an appearance all the same. You may recall in my earlier post my new-found object of affection, the Kansas City downtown library. Well, it drew me back only two days later. (I was never one to play it cool.)

R. & I headed out early last evening. It was a clear, mid-80s night. Absolutely perfect. We wandered around the 5 floors looking at various antique hutches and benches, and then came upon the children’s room. Oh, to be a child in an invigoratingly imaginative room. On either side of the entry way were pages of a book. As you walk in, you run into a sitting area with a felt tree that reaches the ceiling and little mushroom stools. I had to keep myself in check and not look under a stool for the Alice in Wonderland caterpillar. How I wanted to grab a book, lean against that man made patchwork tree, and read the day away. The ironic thing is that the only child in there was on the computer playing solitaire. So many friends around (albeit imaginative) and solitaire is the pastime of choice. To each their own.

After wishing I could turn back life’s clock, we wandered down to the basement. And to our delight, came across a tiny movie theatre located in the old vault. It was cleverly named “The Vault”. How have I not come across this in all of our cinematic travels? Don’t beat yourself up this late in the game, Carrie. Look to the future.

But, my most favorite morsel was on the top floor balcony… The life size chessboard. When I first saw it, memories of 5th grade came flooding back. My beau and I would sit in the back of the room everyday discussing hammerhead sharks while his knight flirted with my bishop. We later had a very serious break-up after our recess touch-football team lost to the 6th graders due to his tactical error. We almost had ’em. It still makes me upset.
Before playing, R. and I placed ourselves in the position of the piece we most embodied. He chose the pawn and slumped his shoulders. I chose the Queen. And not because I looked like a drag queen for senior prom, but because she has no direction. She just kind of wanders all over the board. The King & I got to know each other and like all of my relationships, it ended up being either hot or cold. One minute, we were snuggling up with each other…

..and the next I was yelling at him to clean up the bathroom, for god’s sake.

Even though I was content with my game board balcony…at one point during the match, I glanced around and saw an even higher rooftop with potted greenery. What was up there. Was there an even bigger chess game? Or even better, did it house a life size Connect Four?? What am I missing out on??? At that moment, R. yelled Checkmate….

…and this is what I saw. The board after our first game. Notice how many total pieces were captured and placed on the sideline. No, your eyes aren’t fooling you. There’s only one. That’s my pawn, who selflessly died protecting his king. Needless to say, I wasn’t laughing it up. But R. was.

The Road More Traveled, Please.

Sorry Frost, sometimes you have to make decisions in order to survive. R. & I went to Cave Springs Nature Center today. It had been an absolutely beautiful day…no humidity and the temperature was in the high 70s. So we took advantage and decided to go on a not too strenuous hike. I, of course, packed as if we were headed to the Himalayas, with 4 bottles of water and printed maps of the hiking trails. We went to the wrong nature center first and ran into a couple who openly chuckled at my print-outs after we asked if we were at the right site. I laughed too (maybe a little too loudly) and then sheepishly folded & put them away.

Don’t look at what’s in my right hand. It’s nothing.

Cave Springs was so sweet & wonderful. Hidden gems scattered throughout…including spider webs (which I wouldn’t really consider gems, but they were definitely hidden). At one point, we came upon a fork in the path and, on a whim, decided to go right. A few yards in, we stopped at an impasse created by a spider web four times the size of my head. Or so it seemed after I came-to.

R. ducked under and waited for me to come. Now, at this point, two thoughts went through my head. Well, three actually. First, the romantic side of my brain suggested that due to the size of this web, no one had actually hiked this path for months, maybe even years. Who knew what lay beyond. An important piece of history that no one has uncovered until now? An indigenous Indian tribe undiscovered for 600 years that has no idea how technologically advanced we are? Maybe. And then on the heels of that thought was Robert Frost gently urging me to move forward in my exploration.

My last thought (and ultimately, my final one) was of my brain’s arachnophobic/paranoid side. Did the descendants of the ‘Granddaddy Spider’ plot this entrapment? He was the eight-legged fiend who lived in my basement bedroom in college. Granddaddy was so large & hairy, that when the arch of my foot landed on him while putting away clothes, I actually thought I had stepped on a sock. But surely he didn’t have enough time to spread word to his relatives of the human-monster hovering over him during his final moments. I mean, I saw him die. right. there. in front of me. Has his family been tracking me? Waiting until I had a blissful, cerebral moment with nature to catch me off guard? The answer is…

Of course they were. And I’m sure R. was proud to have such a cunningly smart wife to have deduced that. We doubled back on the trail while he sarcastically mumbled something about me needing to apply for the FBI.

Another curious park feature are the ruins of old homes that used to be in the area. Apparently, Harry Truman picnicked here quite a bit in his teens and also, a country club complete with a golf course, homes, and a lake were built in the 30s & 40s. The lake is now dry, however an algae-covered pond remains.

Personally, I love how this pond looks. At first glance, you almost miss it…or you think it’s a field or something. And then you see the thin layer of algae on top. You never think about how many shades of green (or any color, for that matter) there are, until you see it presented in nature.

It wasn’t until we were almost out of the park when we noticed a peculiar looking plant growing on all sides of the trails. Could this possibly be poison oak? Yet another attempt to bring havoc onto my life by Granddaddy Spider IV, foiled. I’ll squash you like I did him, just you wait. Just. You. Wait.

Biking and Breakfasting

Okay, so instead of writing the obligatory “why am I starting a blog” post, I’m just gonna dive in and make it seem like I’ve been blogging my entire life (which I kind of have — just verbally).

This past weekend R & I went to Rocheport, MO to celebrate keeping up on our laundry throughout the week. Every time I go east from Kansas City, I drive by Rocheport and solemnly vow to stay at a Bed & Breakfast there. That has been circulating in my head for the past 5 years and finally I just upped and booked a room with a few days notice (and if any of you know me, that’s about 165 days too late).

This is where we stayed. The Schoolhouse B&B. You can’t see our window because we were all the way in the attic (Miss Edna’s room). We had to use a tiny skeleton key to open the attic door which resembled the door in Willy Wonka.. you know, the part when you were kinda grossed out at witnessing an old man going to town on snozberry wallpaper, but then were rewarded for your courage when the door opens to a land of huge gummy cinnamon bears? Or were you too busy getting your pink floyd cd to work.

On the way up to the room, we passed by little touches that the owners placed throughout the house. An antique sink full of misc shampoos, conditioners, lotions; a (now empty) cake stand that was once full of home baked cookies; and small antique furnishings strategically placed to make me gasp and squeal after every step. After the third “oh my gosh, look at the [insert noun here — spider, beautiful flower, antique fan, car that’s about to hit us]”, R was ready to go home.

And my favorite part of the room, our little claw foot (“ONE PERSON AT A TIME”, says the owner) bathtub, complete with a wooden screen and two waffle robes.

After dropping off our things, we went to the local winery for a couple glasses before dinner. Halfway down the pebbled path, I realized with shrieking horror that I forgot my wallet at home. Instantly I was transported back to freshman year in college trying to sneak into hole-in-the-wall bars. I mean, maybe if i part my hair in the middle to show off my grayness or.. if i take off my sunglasses to show my eye wrinkles, won’t they *know* that I’m over 21?? Palms sweaty, we find a little table overlooking the bluffs.

R scurried away to buy a bottle of wine and I tried to maneuver onto a picnic table in a mini jean skirt while still upholding our good name. What not to do: step over the bench with one leg and sit down straddling it, thinking you can slyly pull the other leg over the bench and then under the table. Doesn’t work. Everyone is watching you and wondering why you wore granny panties. Meanwhile R returns with a bottle of white and only one wine glass. “You have to be carded to get a glass”. Quickly, i thought of two options: I can drink from the glass and R can drink from the bottle….or I can drink from the glass while R watches me finish the bottle. I opted for neither and we ended up sharing the glass, while I glanced nervously about for the “people who are suspiciously sharing one glass” patrol.

After a wonderful dinner at a quirky bistro (we got to sit on a comfy leather couch to eat– divine!) and an even better breakfast at the B&B, R & I packed up our things and headed for the Katy Trail. An old railroad track that was ripped out and turned into a biking trail. Beauty, beauty, beauty surrounded us as we passed by the MO river and through old train tunnels that now house pigeons & owls. The morning hours went by way too quickly, and soon we returned our bikes and headed home.