Walking the Decks of History

September 18, 2011

What to do on a rainy fall day? 

Take advantage of the news from late last night… 

We saw a quick clip on the news about a WWII ship that was docked in Chester, IL.  So here it was almost 11:00 and I am googling to get more information.  What exactly was this? 

A little investigation led us to find that this WWII ship was stationed along the bank of the Mississippi River and open for tours over the weekend.  We decided to make the 1 1/2 hour trip to let the boys see a piece of history.  I mean how often does the chance to tour a battleship here in the Midwestern US occur?

Sunday we got the boys ready to go and loaded up to head out on our adventure.  They kept asking where we were going.  Drives them crazy to not know what is going on.  (I have absolutely no idea where they get that from!)  After many guesses and hints, they finally got that we were going to the Mississippi River.  This is always exciting.  The river is intriguing to all of them.  Watching barges, crossing great bridges, sometimes tossing rocks into it…  Braden especially loves it.  We cannot take a trip to IL without making sure he gets to see the bridge that we cross on that particular trip.  There are three routes that we commonly use to make our crossover to IL depending on who we are going to go visit.  He can already tell you a lot about the river and issues tied to the river.  (This past spring’s floods were a topic of much interest for him.)

As we crossed into IL, the boys could look off the bridge and then saw the ship!  They couldn’t wait!  Raindrops hit the window about that same time.  Hmm…  Quick check of the radar.  (What did we do without our instant access to cyberspace?)  The rain shouldn’t last long.  We will find a parking spot and eat some lunch before we head to the ship…

So much for a picnic along the river…  OK we did still have our picnic, just with three anxious boys cooped up in the van instead of sitting along the riverbank.  Lunch is done, rain still falling.  “It won’t last much longer.  Let’s go on.”  My trusty weather man’s prediction.  Glad I grabbed the umbrella as a last fleeting thought before we left the van.  The WHOLE time we toured the ship, it rained.  In and out and around the various decks.  Each time raindrops were falling.  Until the end once we were off the ship.  The wetness did not dampen enthusiasm though.  The boys caught as many details as they could.  All of them were excited about getting to walk through a huge ship, see military tanks, check out the monsterous engines, see where the soldiers would eat and sleep, and climb around old deuce and a half trucks on display. 

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Then as we stepped of the ship and looked along the river, Tanner started pointing and chattering.  “Two boats!  One going that way.  Other one go that way!”  Two barges were crossing paths right there.  Sooooo Cool!  Then his little head spun around to look up along the road as a freight train rumbled by!  A little later another longer freight train passed by going the other direction.

Here are a few more pictures from the day.  Click where it says “View Full Album” to see all of the extras and to see them a bit larger.

Ship, barges, trains, big military trucks!  Wow!  A boy’s dream day, rain or not.

Summer Days

Time Flies When…

…swimming in the pool

…checking for fresh eggs

…petting baby bunnies

…riding big boy bikes and trikes

…growing garden goodies

Time Flies When…

…visiting and playing with friends

…going to vacation bible school

…going to cub scout day camp

…celebrating birthdays

…hanging out with the family

Time Flies When…

…watching dragonflies

…catching lightning bugs

…listening to martins

…capturing tiny toadlets

…watching clouds in the sky

Time Flies When…

…going on a camping trip

…fishing in clear Missouri streams

…kayaking for the first times

…skipping rocks in the water

…finding a tarantula on the camper tire!

Time Flies When…

…conducting fun science experiments

…building forts in the house

…racing hot wheels

…making lego creations

…pretending to be cowboys

Time Flies When…

…devouring pumpkin blossoms

…picking garden goodies

…canning salsa

…baking zucchini bread

…trying watermelon for the first time

What has kept time flying for you this summer???????

First Day Jitters

We are now the proud parents of two boys who are going to school!  Yes, today was the first day of school here!  Big changes…  Much excitement getting supplies ready…  Lots of anxiety thinking about school days ahead...  We are creatures of habit around here.  We enjoy our time together as a family.  We like things to be predictable and known.  The boys were emotional roller coasters the past couple of days.  Excited and nervous all at the same time.  This morning’s send off had a few rocky moments.  Tears were shed.  Nervousness showed. 

 IMG_8728 The boys were geared up and ready to go…  Lunches, backpacks, and nervous smiles.  The ride to town was kinda quiet.  Contemplating what was to come. 

IMG_8732 We took Riley to the cafeteria to meet up with his class.  Riley took Braden’s hand and showed him the way.  Reassuring his brother and taking comfort in having a friend along too.


Bittersweet partings.  Nothing like throwing kids into the day.  =)  Works well for some, but these guys like that slower ease in approach to these things.  Nonetheless, by the end of the day, they had survived!  I pick Braden up at 2:00 and Riley rides the bus getting home closer to 4:00.  Braden was excited to have Riley home at the end of the day.  They walked hand in hand back to the house chatting about their day. 


A Camping We Did Go

We finally got to take our new pop-up camper on our first official camping trip.  We did get to use it a few weeks ago for a weekend visit to my parents too.  That was the perfect test run for the first time using the camper.  A cool night, rain, hail, breezy, a warmer night…  The weekend gave us the whole gamut (is that how you spell that word????) of weather conditions, and the camper and occupants all faired just fine.  Good to go.

We intended to camp another weekend in but weather just did not cooperate.  So we decided this was the weekend.  Packed up and ready to go, we headed to Ferne Clyffe State Park near Goreville, IL (just 10 minutes or so from I-57 and I-24).  This is one of our favorite spots to go camping or even just take a day trip to.  If you are ever passing through that area and need a break, check it out!!!!  We love it for the awesome trails, exploring opportunities, great playground areas, and nice quiet campground.  It is close to home too.  We can be there in  about an hour.

Despite some torrential heavy rains, lots of thunder, and light up the skies lightening through the middle of the night, the trip went just fine!  Riley would even argue with you whether it really rained that much let alone stormed like it did.  He and TanMan slept like rocks.  Braden, Ross, and I waited out the storm together and all finally got to doze back off when things calmed down.


Once we got our campsite picked out, everyone got busy helping set up camp.  Riley and Braden started looking for sticks and wood for a fire, Tanner and Ross started setting up the camper, and I started taking pictures of everyone’s progress.  (Ha Ha!) 


Had to stop for a snack too. 

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Rileyis Dorkus making silly faces, Braden the Cicada hunter, and sweet TanMan lovin’ every bit of the camping trip.

Along with the actual camping, we hiked a couple of trails.  One the first evening that was short little hike along the bluffs near the campsite.  I didn’t even take the big camera and haven’t downloaded the pics from the other camera yet.  We came back and played at the playground with our camping neighbors and their two kiddos.  They were nice folks, and the boys kind of liked having some other kids to hang out with.  Kept them all five busy when we were cooking and tearing down camp.  =)  The next morning was our big fun hiking adventure.

The Waterfall Trail…


A nice short little trail…  Water was running in the waterfall after the previous night’s rainfall. Not many people were out yet.  Quiet (well as quiet as a hike with three young guys can be!)  Serene.  Peaceful.


While the boys played in the water and explored, I played with my camera.  I have been trying to get more familiar with the manual settings for our SLR camera.  so I practiced a little with the waterfall to get more of the blur effect.  I think this one turned out great! 

Then we discovered…




…a box turtle hanging out in the water at the edge of the waterfall.  I took him to safety and took some pictures while I was at it.  After I got my pictures, I tucked him up in the rocks off the beaten path a little ways.  Hoping that someone else didn’t find him and try to take him home.  They just don’t make good pets and are best left where they are found.

The boys played in the water…


  building dams and channeling the water…IMG_7174

then destroying the dams and letting the water go… IMG_7198









Nobody was in a hurry to go.  Several other families came and went.  Looked at the waterfall for a few brief moments and then moved on.  I love how we get our guys to stop and look around.  There is so much more to see than what is obvious!  It is good to take time and explore a little deeper.  That is how we discovered the box turtle, the millipede, the frog way up under the rock…

 IMG_7194 IMG_7116


TanMan and Braden climbed, moved rocks, threw rocks into the water, sat together helping each other, and walked up and down the creek.  When it was time to go, TanMan was the most reluctant.  He kept pointing back and saying “water”.  He did not want to leave. 


Nova was a patient girl while we were playing around in the water.  She enjoyed watching everyone that came and went.  Even got quite a few pets from various folks.  That social lab that gets no attention from us!  =)

On the way back to the van, we made a few more stops…  Braden and Riley led the way…


We checked out some stepping stones leading to a trail across the creek…

IMG_7233 IMG_7244

TanMan, Ross, and Nova patiently waited while the other two boys got soaked discovered how quickly they could make it across the stepping stones and back again.


Then the boys discovered a GIANT earthworm as we walked to the van.  Everyone had to take a turn to hold it and check it out.

 IMG_7254 IMG_7257

Finally we got everyone back in the van and went back to camp to pack up and head for home.  The boys are so ready for a longer trip!  Hopefully soon we can take a few days to go explore somewhere else!  Now that we have air conditioning, I can handle summer camping!  There will be many more trips to come!