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Our Lewis and Clark Journal – Day 28

September 24, 2013

Day 28: Good Food with Good Friends Makes the Trip Complete   (August 23)

Several months ago we set out to follow the trail of the Lewis and Clark. The Corps of Discovery began their journey on May 14th, 1804. We began on May 14th, 2013. The expedition took 28 months to explore the regions West of the Mississippi. We have taken 28 days to track their progress from Charlottesville, Virginia, to Traveler’s Rest, Idaho, and back. Along the way we have enjoyed many of our National Parks, Monuments and Battlefields, and have enjoyed the hospitality of the State Park system.

We have walked, hiked, biked and run;

we have rock climbed and gone spelunking;

we took a steamboat down the Ohio River;

and we have floated, rafted, kayaked, and swam in the Missouri River.

We drove 4200 miles in an RV, saw the landscape from the perspective of a plane;

we stood at the “most distant spring” and crossed the Continental Divide.

We passed through grassland and prairie, rivers and mountains.

We have seen prairie dogs, elk, pronghorn, wolf and bison,

as well as hawks, falcons, eagles (golden and bald) and osprey.

We saw sunny days and starry nights,

as well as rain, hail, lightning  (distant and near) and a tornado.

It was the trip of a lifetime, one I hope will affect August for the rest of his life. It has certainly been a gift for our family.

We dropped our RV off this morning in Eureka and said goodbye to “West Crasher,” the name August gave to our transport. We were picked up by our good friend Greg who was once a student of mine in Setauket. He picked us up, took us to lunch and then treated us to a tour of the World Bird Sanctuary outside of Saint Louis.

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The bird sanctuary allowed us to see up close many of the birds we had seen at a distance during our travels. It was marvelously peaceful and quiet, and allowed all of us to spend time catching up (we’ve not seen Greg in almost ten years). It was also a perfect place for kids: August got to stand in a true-to-scale eagle nest and pretend he was a baby eagle.

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The sanctuary is surrounded by several driving loops that wind through a protected space for bison and elk. How about that. It was as if we had brought a bit of the Northwest with us to the Midwest.

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It was extra special for us that as a resident for St. Louis for over a decade, Greg had never been to the sanctuary before and that we got to discover it together. But it was also hot and typical St. Louis humid. As Greg told us, there is an expression here, “Sometimes you take a shower but the shower doesn’t take.”

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Through all this Greg was a consummate guide, driving us through historic neighborhoods around St. Louis and describing architecture, zoning, landmarks, and revitalization projects. We suggested he consider giving tours, and were grateful (again) that he was taking us around.

Eventually checked in to our hotel, and completely exhausted, we each dealt with the end of the trip in different ways. I visited a bookstore (but didn’t buy anything), August swam in the pool, and Noelle did laundry. I also took a walk back down to the Arch, which everyone else was too tired for.

The Drury Inn (which is a St. Louis Corporation) offers the free 5:30 “Kickback,” a kind of happy hour with free drinks and food for all guests. We only made a quick stop because we then left for dinner with Greg and his mom Liz.  BTW, we’ve become real fans of The Drury Inn, especially for families. See my earlier post about staying with them at another location in this city almost three weeks ago.

Liz and Greg took us to Trattoria Marcella for an excellent Italian meal. Liz and her family were members of the congregation I used to serve on Long Island, and I believe they were the first family to have us over for dinner (after taking us sailing on the Sound). It was a day we can still tell stories about. I came to St. Louis a decade ago to perform the wedding of Greg’s older sister Lindsey, and now here we are, nineteen years after that sailing adventure, together and enjoying one another’s company. Thanks Liz.

After dinner, the only place to go for dessert was Ted Drewes Frozen Custard on Historic Route 66. Another MUST stop for anyone visiting the St. Louis area.

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In the morning, Liz will pick us up again and take us to the airport for our early morning flight home. It has been quite a trip.

The INDEX of blogs from Our Lewis and Clark Journey can be found here.

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