We are still headed south from the land of Sven, Ole and Lena… After departing Minnesota, we entered Iowa. The highlight was a stop at this Welcome Center. What better architectural design for this corny state than an old barn?
Inside was this Coffee Shoppe, complete with homemade blueberry pie. My Lovely Bride tried unsuccessfully to steer me away from the nice farm lady behind the counter, but I was on a mission… the pie was wonderful!
After traveling miles and miles through vast Iowa cornfields, we crossed into Missouri, the Show-Me State. My mother was born in Joplin, and I always enjoy visiting here. Our first stop involved a slight detour to a small town on the Mississippi River to get in a run. Here is the tugboat James F. Neal slowly pushing 12 loaded barges up the river. Mark Twain lived in Hannibal, just an hour or so south, and would have piloted his sternwheeler past the town a hundred and fifty years ago.
La Grange (pop. 931) sits right on the river, with most of the town on high ground about 50-60 feet above the river. However, there is no levee here, and there were about 20 houses and businesses right down by the river. As we ran, we passed this sign on a commercial building along the highway, showing the high level mark in the flood of 1993. It was a 32 foot crest, 17 feet above flood stage. You would NOT have wanted to be in La Grange on July 11, 1993.
An encouraging sign was this one marking 26 years and one week without a lost time injury at this grain handling facility. That has to be near the best safety record for any port facility I’ve seen. Bunge is a leading exporter of grains, soybeans, canola oil, and other grain-based food products.
I have always found people here to be among the friendliest I’ve ever met. How friendly are Missourians? Well, here’s one example: just after we stopped to take those photos a car drove up and a very nice lady got out of her car and asked if we were the people from Florida who had parked in front of City Hall. We said that we were; my first thought was “Did I park in a no parking zone?” But, no, after Bert Yarbrough welcomed us to town, introduced herself and gave us hugs, we found out that she was the unofficial town greeter. It has been a long time since someone driving by stopped to do that, and it was a delightful surprise. (Bert is a former casino dealer; I thought about asking her for some tips, but I have never been very good at cards, and decided to skip trying to win a million bucks at the blackjack tables. We thanked Bert for her kind welcome, finished our run and showered in front of City Hall… inside The Coach, of course, and for you potentially naughty voyeurs and peeping Toms, no, you can’t see in the windows… (By the way, for the nautically inclined, you may recognize the green can behind Bert; it’s actually a “can buoy” used on the Mississippi River to mark one side of the channel.)
We arrived back in St. Louis, where we parked The Coach in the parking lot of the Center for Spiritual Living (CSL). As you may recall, we had stopped here in May on our trip west, and the spiritual community here was the most enthusiastic we’ve ever encountered. Suzanne had received several emails asking her to return soon, and it didn’t take much convincing to get us back. When she spoke in May, CSL’s pastors, Rev. Dr. Marigene De Rusha and her husband Rev. Dr. Larry De Rusha, were in Italy for a wedding. On our return visit, we were fortunate to find them both here. We had lunch together, and while Suzanne and Marigene talked spirituality, Larry told me about his experiences working on nuclear fusion and other science-related projects. He is very interested in quantum physics and how it meshes with spirituality, and is a published author. We are both looking forward to reading his books. Suzanne was able to give two readings while in St. Louis, including one for Marigene. As she stated to her community before Suzanne spoke, it was an amazing reading, with six of her relatives from the other side coming through.
Suzanne’s two events, Wednesday and Thursday evenings, were very well attended by CSL’s fantastic community and many first timers. Her first talk was Meaning in the Messages, in which she described many of the highly evidential readings she has given this year and what they mean for us.
Suzanne’s books were very popular among the St. Louis CSL community, and we were able to reduce the weight we are carrying inside the coach’s storage compartments significantly with their help.
In between readings and evening talks, we got a workout in before a broad band of thunderstorms rolled in. We rode our mountain bikes on the Katy Trail, which runs along the Missouri River across the state. We met these two couples (from left to right, O.K. and Tallulah from Columbus, Mississippi, and Connie and Ed from Independence, Missouri) riding their recumbent cycles on a 40 miler that day. I particularly liked their flag shirts and US and Don’t Tread on Me flags! They were going to stay at a B&B that night instead of in tents. (Wusses…) Seriously, well done to all of you, particularly to O.K., who is retired Air Force, and probably not used to much serious P.T. That’s an inside the military joke, because until recently Air Force personnel could skip the run in their PT test and use a stationary bike instead, like on days when it was (a) cold, (b) hot, (c) rainy, (d) dry, or (e) when they had a golf tee time they didn’t want to miss… 😉
On Friday morning we got together with Pooki and Bob for breakfast at First Watch. Pooki is one of the most lively and energy-filled people either of us have ever met. She does healing, leads a choir called “Gateway to Agape”, and plans to start touring herself next year. Bob is an author, professional musician and music marketing consultant. (Bob, when you get your coach, give me a call and I’ll share some lessons learned and hints about avoiding some of the frustrations inherent in owning one of these rigs.)
On Friday evening, just 30 minutes before Suzanne’s presentation, our little Dachshund Gretchen snapped at a bee that had gotten into the coach unobserved and was stung on the mouth. Suzanne called her good friend Beth, a veterinarian, who told us to give Gretchen some Benadryl. I drove out quickly to a pharmacy with our little baby and administered her medicine, and she has displayed no ill effects other than hiding under the bed for an hour.
But Beth was also important to Suzanne’s new presentation, Heart Gifts. Suzanne had met Beth and her husband Mike when Suzanne spoke at a conference at Edgar Cayce’s Association for Research and Enlightenment (A.R.E.) in Virginia Beach back in May. Like our daughter Susan, their son Wolf had been killed by lightning. Heart Gifts is based on information brought through from Wolf that Suzanne received over several days. She has been working on this presentation for two months, and it was one of the most stunning and inspirational talks I’ve ever heard. (It was the first time I had heard much of this information as well.) She will give the presentation again in Crete in October and at Unity Village and in The Villages in November.
We have a winner in our floral quiz: Terri (of the Frozen North) was the first to correctly identify the Zinnia in Tuesday’s blog post, and wins an ice cream surprise. Terri asked if the award came with a round trip airline ticket from Minneapolis to The Villages. Yes, Terri, I will book you on the next non-stop flight on TWA from MSP to The Villages… but if you can’t make that schedule, I will be happy to deliver your ice cream to you in Coon Rapids, MN, next summer when we return…
Finally, a few words on one of my Pet Peeves… “green” paper towels. I am talking about the very expensive, thin, non-absorbent towels made from recycled paper that are supposed to make you feel virtuous when you buy them. I think that is their only redeeming value, a temporary “feel good” that is dashed when you first tear one off the roll, and instead of tearing neatly at the seam, breaks off in a jagged edge… more often than not. Then you have to use two of them to clean up the same amount of mess that one piece of Bounty would do. They remind me of French toilet paper from the 60s… cheap, non-absorbent, next to useless. Call me “reactionary”, “conservative” or even “Republican”, but I’ll follow Paul Bunyan’s lead and take good old real American sustainable forestry product paper towels every time.