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My cousin Tim and his beautiful bride Wesleigh. Both are track legends at Black Hills State University in South Dakota.
Wesleigh’s son Kaden and my cousin Katie’s daughter, Lillian, were adorable as ring bearer and flower girl.
My talented cousin Andy arranged the music for the wedding and played trumpet while also serving as a groomsman.
The tables at the reception carried a special tribute to Uncle Roger, who used to throw Hershey’s Kisses to students who answered questions correctly in his classes.
Our family with Aunt Gem before the wedding.
Mom with Joyce, Uncle Roger’s friend and fellow Cardinals fan from Bethany College.
The wedding was in my cousins’ hometown of Lindsborg, Kansas, known as Little Sweeden USA. There are Dala horses like this everywhere, and many of the homes have the family name painted on a Dala horse sign hanging from the porch.
Aunt Gem treated us to an amazing brunch the morning after the wedding at the Sweedish Crown (Sweedish crepe-pancakes with Lingonberry jam, yummmm!) It was great to see all the Bishop cousins together (including Tim!) and we got to be there when my cousin Katie announced some very exciting news to the family: Baby #2 is due on New Year’s Eve!
Before leaving Lindsborg, we visited Aunt Gem’s beautiful home. Here are a few of her St. Louis Cardinals treasures, including a replica of Uncle Roger’s brick.
We spent the night at Katie’s house where we had a blast with her daughter Lillian.
Dr. Lillian informs Matt he has marshmallows and macaroni in his ears.
Where’s Waldo, Disney Princess style
Princess Tangled is a pretty good dancer!
Katie and Travis spoiled us with a delicious taco dinner and homemade strawberry shortcake desert! I’ve never tasted anything so amazing.
The photo is of my mom with her brother Roger (Katie’s dad) as kids.
Mom was determined not to leave Indiana without a pork loin sandwich, a local fast food staple she remembered from her college days. We didn’t have a chance to stop in Indiana, but did manage to find one at this Frisch’s Big Boy restaurant in Ohio.
On the morning of my 28th birthday, we broke out ToastTite, a grilled sandwich pocket maker from my mom’s childhood. This one was filled with eggs, bacon, jack cheese and salsa. Yum!
By our final morning, we were pros at packing the car. Total miles traveled: 4,015. Total gas cost: $351.38.
Lessons learned on this trip: The long way is actually shorter, “Buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo, Buffalo buffalo” is actually a grammatically and semantically correct sentence, Kansas is windy, Colorado is beautiful, four people can comfortably live 11 days in a Prius, and despite what they say, no matter how long you stay away, you really can go home again.
When my mom was a girl, one of her family’s favorite road trip destinations was Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. They would stay in cabins for weeks at a time and go on challenging day hikes and ranger-led nature programs. In one famous story, a ranger showing them Lake Haiyaha kidded the group that “If any of you aren’t hungry yet, you might want to take a little hike around the lake before lunch.” Mom and her family missed the sarcasm and set off for a hike that had them scrambling over boulders for the next twelve hours!
Despite such stories, the Bishops loved the mountains, and none more so than my mom’s mother, Opal. Grandma Opal, Mom says, used to say you could tell which states were the good ones just by listening to the names. “Kaaansas,” she would say with a nasal accent. “Nebraaaska.” Then she would sing out, “Col-a-rado! Col-a-rado!” And it’s true — the views out our window in Colorado were a universe away from the flat, monotonous scenery we drove through in most of the Midwest. Mom says there are beach people and there are mountain people and she is definitely a mountain person. There’s no question about it: I’m a mountain person, too.
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The views as we drove west from Denver to our campsite in the Rocky Mountains were worth the trip in themselves.
I love mountains.
It was like we were in a painting.
Our campsite at Arapaho Bay Campground on Lake Granby was equally breathtaking. We had intended to visit Rocky Mountain National Park (where all the campsites were booked), but this spot, part of the Arapaho National Forest, was so perfect we ended up spending our Rocky Mountains day hiking, swimming and relaxing right where we camped.
The view from our campsite. When we reserved our site, I was disappointed that all of the campsites that appeared to be “on the water” were reserved. When we got there, it turned out we had the best spot — spacious, private, and with a great view overlooking the water.
As we arrived at our campsite, Matt pointed out the car window at a mountain peak and wondered how long it would take to climb it. Mom and Dad laughed and said it was much bigger and farther away than it looked and would probably take five hours just to hike to the base of it. Matt didn’t believe them, and the next morning, after lots of warnings about rock slides and getting lost, outfitted with a mirror for signaling, he set out to try it. Half an hour later, he called to say he was on his way up the mountain, and sure enough, Dad spotted him with his binoculars about a quarter of the way up. Two hours after he left, he was at the top of the mountain, having basically climbed straight up, free-climbing in places. On his cell phone talking to Dad, he wondered out loud if a helicopter would come pick him up if he told them he was dehydrated. But he hung in there and made it down in another hour with great photos and a rock souvenir.
Matt sent me this photo he took from the top of the mountain looking down at Lake Granby.
While Matt was summiting his mountain, I went for a run on the trails, going partly up one side of a mountain and then back down to run along the beach and cool off with a dip in the icy lake.
This was the lake near our campsite where we swam. It was chilly with the wind blowing, but beautiful to be out in the middle of that clear, blue water with fluffy clouds overhead and mountains surrounding you in all directions — nearby, green hills on two sides and big snow capped peaks on the others.
We cooked foil packet dinners our first night at the campsite and fish the second night.
Doesn’t Mom and Dad’s bed look cozy?
We were at our campsite in the Rockies on the longest day of the year, which also happened to fall during a brilliant full moon. We barely needed headlamps.
- The Beautiful Rockies (theresamclark.wordpress.com)
After leaving St. Louis, we continued west on the path of US 40/I-70 across Missouri and Kansas to Aurora, Colorado (near Denver), my first home and a place of which I have a total of zero memories. The place felt foreign to my parents as well, having grown dramatically in the 27 years since they had been there, but as they hunted down the places where they lived, the grocery stores where they shopped, the paths my Mom walked with me in a carrier as a baby, I was gradually able to attach images to the places in the oft-repeated stories and also glean background about their early life together that I had never known before. Click the photo thumbnails to come along for the tour.
This is the famed Rosecrantz Apartments, where my mom and dad first lived in when they were married. They lived in a tiny one-bedroom apartment with my brother Chris. Kids were not allowed, but the owner decided Chris, then about 12, counted as an adult. When telling me this, Mom and Dad both cracked up and Mom asked, “Are you thinking about what I’m thinking about?” Apparently while they lived there my mom’s brother and his wife came to visit with their four kids, and the owner walked in to find five kids and four adults in an apartment meant for one person. The kids camped out on the balcony.
We were able to go inside the apartments (the door, marked with a sign saying “please close the door for security” was ajar, so we ventured upstairs and found the door to their old apartment also ajar. Here Mom is explaining how Dad built a partition complete with doors to divide the apartment into additional rooms. Mr. Rosecrantz came in one day to find the apartment unrecognizable, must have been thinking “well, there’s one security deposit I’ll get to keep.” But he didn’t know my dad — when they moved out, everything was restored to exactly the way it was when they moved in.
Here, Mom and Dad are standing in the parking lot of their first apartment, and the building behind them across the street is the church where they were married. The day of their wedding, they were both very sick, and they walked across the street for a simple wedding attended only by Chris and a work colleague of Dad’s who had agreed to serve as a witness.
This is the hospital in Denver where I was born.
Because Rosecrantz didn’t allow kids, my parents moved to this nearby apartment complex shortly before I was born.
I believe there is a photo somewhere of me as a baby on this same stoop. The story goes that I, not quite 1, said “hi” (my first word) to neighbors passing by.
Tonight is our last night on the road (also my last night being 27). It’s been an incredible trip, everything I had hoped and more. I have great stories and photos to share about visiting the places my parents lived near Denver, our breathtaking campsite in the Rockies, a beautiful wedding and fun times with cousins. For now, I’m going to close my eyes and hope the grunting snorting rustling chewing sounds outside my hammock do not come any closer! Goodnight everyone, and so long 27!
Above: During our 13 hours of driving today, we passed the time with games like Scriblus, a cross between telephone and pictionary. Can you guess the sentence I was illustrating? Hint: it was not “sliced cheese is greater than the US Capital building,” which is what it turned into after several iterations of drawing and captioning interpretations.
5. Go to the restrooms at night. Come out, wander around for minimum of 20 minutes looking for campsite.
4. Walk down eerie deserted road to outhouse at night. Flashlight illuminates glowing eyes in trees. Power walk back to camp and pee in woods instead.
3. Forgot to leave a midnight snack out for your raccoon guests? No worries, this new package of fire starter sticks looks quite tasty.
2. That tarp you left covering all your gear during a downpour? Fun fact! It’s actually not waterproof! Hope you like sleeping sitting up in a stuffy car!
1. Ah, everything’s dry tonight, time to climb into your hammock and crawl into your comfy sleeping bag. As you step in you pull the covers back and — cockroach!
I can’t explain why, but I love every bit of it. Wouldn’t have it any other way.
Days 3 and 4 of our trip were spent exploring St. Louis, where my mom grew up and where we lived from just after my first birthday (1986) to the summer I turned 8 and Matt was 1 and a half (1993). This was the first time Mom, Dad or Matt had been back in 20 years. My last visit was in 1997 to see my friend London.
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The night we got to the St. Louis area, it was pouring rain, so we went out for pizza at a “St. Louis Style Pizza” restaurant — not something I remembered from our time living there, but still a neat experience. St. Louis style pizza, it turns out, has thin crust and provolone cheese — ironically, something I associate with Maryland because of Ledo’s; In St. Louis, we normally got Domino’s.
We also went to a Schnucks — our favorite St. Louis grocery store chain — our first night.
We had a great campsite at Babler State Park west of St. Louis for our three nights in the St. Louis area.
Delicious camp breakfast complete with coffee.
This is Fielding Road, the street where we lived most of our time in St. Louis (technically Ladue, which I learned is a separate city from St. Louis, one of the dozens of municipalities that make up St. Louis County). The sign is the same one that was there in my childhood.
This is the site where Mom’s old house stood. Her old house was torn down after we sold it and this million dollar mansion built in its place.
This is what the old house looked like (the house faced the back yard and you took the driveway down a hill and around back to get to this side). The house was built in 1948. My mom’s parents hired their friend and neighbor Hari VanHoefen — an architect who, like many in that era, was inspired by the minimalist, modern style of Frank Lloyd Wright — to design the house. Mom still has a clipping of the newspaper article that was written about the house when it was built.
We think the tree behind me is the little pin oak sapling my mom planted in the back yard when I was little that I called “baby tree.” Not so little any more!
This is the Old Bonhomme Village apartment building where we lived for our last year in St. Louis. I was the luckiest kid in the world: Not long after we moved in, my best friend London moved into the same complex. There was a pool and a little creek that ran through the complex and a gazebo and other kids to play with.
Here is London with Matt in 1993 shortly before we moved out to move to South Carolina.
Matt and me in front of the same door 20 years later.
Dad says Matt used to play “soccer ball” in this grassy field behind our building. Matt would wait at the wall and Dad would walk around to lift him down.
Pretty flowers at the apartment complex.
This is Conway Elementary, where Mom went for kindergarten through 7th grade (a bonus year because of construction at the junior high) and where I went for kindergarten, first and second. We had the same kindergarten classroom!
The side door to the recess area.
I played many a game of kickball on this blacktop. I also remember water fun days when we got to “paint” the sidewalk with water.
When Mom was a baby, she and her parents lived in an apartment in the upstairs of this building — then a drug store and now a Starbucks.
At the top of the St. Louis Arch!
Matt in the arch
The view of Busch Stadium from the arch
It was raining ridiculously hard when we went to the Arch. We walked there from our car in ponchos as my phone blared alerts about flood warnings, and from the top, we could see the Mississippi about the rise over this street. Then, on our way out, my GPS wanted to take us onto that street (eek!)
The doors to the tram cars that took you up and down the arch were decorated with images from the plans for the arch.
At the new Busch Stadium, there is a brick dedicated to my mom’s brother Roger, who died in 2005. Uncle Roger, a professor at Bethany College in Kansas, was such a Cardinals fan that legend has it he gave extra credit points to students who could answer bonus questions about the team on tests.
Me and Matt with Uncle Roger’s brick.
We went to Cardinals games both nights we were in St. Louis. The Cardinals played the Cubs both nights, which was fun because it is a local rivalry and a lot of Cubs fans go to the Cardinals games. We saw lots of couples attending with one person in Cardinals gear and the other in Cubs. The cardinals won the first night and lost the second, but not before an exciting ninth-inning rally that got everyone on their feet screaming.
“Best fans in baseball”
This morning, we packed up for the 13-hour drive to Denver, making one last stop before we left to find out why “Saint Louis Bread Co.” looks so much like Panara. Sure enough, it turns out Panera originated in St. Louis. It was a great experience — I ordered a cinnamon crunch bagel, then decided I ought to eat something more healthy and changed my order. When it was ready, the cashier brought our bags over for us and said “and here’s an extra surprise for you.” Inside was the cinnamon crunch bagel. 🙂
Our second day of driving included two stops that opened a window to my parents’ lives before I was born: In Dayton, we started our day at the National Museum of the US Airforce where we saw a B-52 that my dad flew in Vietnam, and in Indiana, we made a side trip to DePauw University, where my mom went for the first two years of college.
Click the thumbnails to view photos larger and read the captions.
At the Air Force museum, we got to see a B-52 that may have been one of the actual ones Dad flew in Vietnam. He couldn’t be sure because he thought they’d added a different number when they restored the plane, but he said there were about 100 of this particular plane and he flew about 80 of them.
The plane was raised so you could look up into the bomb bay. Once, when Dad was flying, one of the bombs got stuck and they couldn’t shake it loose. To make matters worse, the pin that keeps the propeller that activates the bomb from spinning until it is dropped had been pulled loose, so they had no way of knowing if the bomb was active. Ultimately, they had to land with it.
The flight gear that Dad wore. He was co-pilot.
This was the operation Dad flew. They took off from Guam and bombed Viet Cong supply routes through South Vietnam and Laos. Later in the war, his former crew — including two of the members he flew with — were the lead plane in the December 1972 Operation Linebacker attacks on Hanoi. They returned for two more times and on the third were shot down and captured as prisoners. Fortunately, they did not have long to wait before the peace agreement and were released.
I can’t get over how enormous the B-52 is. Dad also pointed out a number of smaller planes he flew in training, etc.
In Greencastle, Indiana, we visited the campus of DePauw University, where Mom went for her first two years of college.
We found Mom’s old dorm! Matt and I listened in amazement to her stories of 1960s college life, complete with curfews and candle ceremonies held to mark the occasion when a girl is “pinned” or becomes engaged. The girls would gather in a circle and pass a candle around — the number of times had something to do with whether it was a pre-engagement pinning or full engagement — and finally they would find out who it was when that person blew out the candle.
Mom was sitting on the curb sketching this church when she found out the Cardinals had won the 1964 World Series.
Click a photo to view larger with captions.
The National Museum of The US Air Force in Dayton (free) had some really neat exhibits — this one is the bomber that dropped the atomic bomb on Nagasaki. We also saw several of the planes that Dad flew in the Air Force, but I’ll post those photos in a separate entry.
I thought this was neat too: Airmen would collect currency from different places they had flown, tape them together, and then when they’d go out to a bar, they’d pull them out and compare them and the guy with the shortest “short snorter” had to buy the drinks.
In Indianapolis, we crossed under this cool glass-enclosed Arts Garden.
It’s a good thing White Castle is good listeners, because we are really, really bad at ordering. We described what we wanted on the four sliders three times at the drive-through speaker and again at the window, and, unintentionally, I think we ordered a different thing each time.
We passed this giant metal dragon in Vandalia, Illinois. I found out after we passed it that if you insert a token, it will breathe fire!
In one of the small towns we drove through in Illinois, we were behind a horse and carriage.
As we approached Casey, Illinois, I read out loud from the town’s website a blurb that encouraged visitors to stop by and see the world’s largest windchime while they were in town. Matt asked where it was, and then we all spotted it: “Right there!” That happened a lot on this trip: We would read about something and see it out the window just as it was being described.
Covered bridge on an old segment of the National Road in Greenup, Illinois. This was one of the little side segments where you had to follow the scenic byways signs to turn off of US 40 for a short stretch to follow the route of the old road.
This church was in a little town in Illinois called Teutopolis, which was settled by Germans. That heritage was reflected in all the little businesses with German-sounding names that Matt read with the proper accent as we drove by.
Home at last! We pass the Arch on our way in to St. Louis.
Our first glimpse of Busch Stadium
On the up side, the rain stopped today in time for our Cardinals game to go forward and they played a great game and won 5-2. On the down side, we got back to the campsite to find all of our gear soaked, including my sleeping bag, the inside of Matt’s tent, and the backup hammock. So now the little Prius that could is sleeping quarters for three. Ah, camping.