We just got back from two weeks in Great Britain. We took a Trafalgar tour that took us from London, through southern England, northern Wales, the Lake District, and finally to Edinburgh, Scotland. We saw some amazing sights and some truly beautiful scenery. The weather was perfect and the people we met on tour were great. It was an awesome trip. Here is a short video showing some of the highlights. I also have a number of pictures in my photo album.
Two years ago, I took Noah to his first baseball game, and now he is playing coach-pitch himself. Here’s a quick video of a hit he got in his last game of the season. Dixie took some good photos too. We’re very proud of our little slugger.
Noah’s first visit to see the St. Louis Symphony was, appropriately, to hear the music of John Williams, complete with characters from Star Wars in the lobby of Powell Hall. We’ve been talking about the instruments of the symphony in his music class, but he really enjoyed seeing them in real life. And I enjoyed watching his reaction.
I also enjoyed hearing some of my favorite John Williams pieces, like the themes from Raiders of the Lost Ark and Jurassic Park, as well as Duel of the Fates from The Phantom Menace which they recreated perfectly with help from the St. Louis Symphony Choir — it’s enough to give you goosebumps.
Although many people are unaware of it, St. Louis County boasts a world-class wolf sanctuary. Originally founded by Marlin Perkins, the Endangered Wolf Center in Eureka houses several species of endangered wolves and foxes from around the world. We spent the final day of our staycation on a tour of the facility. I guess we had pretty good luck because we saw quite a few wolves and some of them were active despite the heat. I’m including a short video below of our wolf-watching adventure. We followed it up with a fantastic seafood lunch at Gulf Shores in Creve Coeur.
It’s not often that you get a St. Louis weather forecast in August that calls for highs in the low 80s, so when you get one, you have to take advantage of it. Day 5 of our staycation found us enjoying a day at Six Flags. Here are the video highlights of our day.
Day four of our staycation took us to see the St. Louis Cathedral Basilica, a rather incongruous blend of Romanesque architecture and Byzantine art that took almost 70 years to complete. It houses one of the largest collections of mosaics in the world, all of which are stunning. The kids were impressed with the size of the space inside, and Noah really liked the stained glass windows. It’s hard to believe I’ve lived in St. Louis almost my entire life and I’ve never visited before. They currently have on display a bronze cast replica of Michelangelo’s La Pieta, a marble statue at the Vatican.
We ate lunch at the Central Cafe and Bakery that serves a refreshing menu of Lebanese cuisine. Dixie and I enjoyed the babaganoush appetizer, and I had a very flavorful salad of vegetables and herbs with some yummy lamb kabobs. Luckily their menu also includes a cheese pizza that was a hit with the kids. We followed this up with a walk around the block to The Cup for gourmet cupcakes for dessert. Dixie had a “Graceland” that is banana cake with peanut butter frosting. They even provide free candles if it’s your birthday.
We ended the day with a tour of the Herbaria Soap Factory on The Hill. They make all natural cold process soap with essential oils for scent and color, and if you ask, they’ll take you in back of the shop and give you a tour of the soap-making process, and even let the kids cut out their own bars of soap using cookie cutters. Humans have been making soap for thousands of years, and it is somewhat surprising that the process has remained unchanged in all of that time.
Noah gave us a scare last night. He had been running a fever since Friday, but by Sunday morning he was feeling better and his temperature was down. Then he started complaining about neck pain and he couldn’t turn his head, so we started worrying that it might be meningitis. Calling our pediatrician, he recommended a trip to the ER, and off Dixie went last night. After a long night of waiting for tests and test results, they concluded that he was presenting with atypical symptoms of a strep infection that was causing not only inflammation of the lymph nodes in his neck, but also seemed to spawn pneumonia in his right lung. A couple of courses of intravenous broad-spectrum antibiotics later, the doctor prescribed some more for the road and sent us home. He’s still not a hundred percent, but we’re happy to have him back home. And I think he’s happy to be here.
I still can’t figure out how St. Louis was lucky enough to be selected as the location for Marine Week 2011, but I’m not complaining. It was a great way to spend a father/son afternoon. Noah got a big kick out of the helicopters, the weapons, and the tank. Here’s a short video of our adventure: