Tuesday, July 26, 2011

2011 Garden, Part 6- Survival of the Fittest

Well, here we are on our 47th day of 100+ degree heat in Abilene this year.  We are setting a new record today, and by the looks of it we could easily hit 60 days of triple digits if not more by the end of summer.  So obviously this has not been a great year for our trial garden.  However, we do have a few lone survivors. 
Our okra is doing pretty well.  The plants are healthy and continue to grow, and the insects do not seem very interested in them.  Our cantaloupe is great!  We have harvested 5 or 6 so far and I counted another 17 growing yesterday.  We are letting these plants sprawl as far as they want since there's not much else growing.  The fruit doesn't taste amazing, but it's not bad at all. 
Other stuff is alive but not producing.  We still have tomatoes, cucumbers, a few peppers, and some squash plants that we're hoping hang on and produce some fruit if we ever get a break from this heat.  The pumpkins all died this week.  The corn produced but it mostly got eaten.  It was outside of the fence, so it's not too surprising. 
Speaking of the fence, it has done it's job quite well.  We never even hooked up electricity or made a real gate, but as far as we know Titus has been the only large animal inside the perimeter. 
I would show you pictures of the garden, but the weeds have taken over most of it and it looks horrible.  Maybe Josh can mow them down a little soon (hint, hint). 
Oh, I nearly forgot- we still have watermelon growing too.  Josh picked one tiny one this week, but it only had about 4 bites of edible flesh.  It was yummy though.  I don't know if we'll get any more before the plants die- here's hoping!
Some okra, cantaloupe, and our tiny watermelon

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Summer Vacation 2011 - Part 3

Day 6- July 14th
- We left St. Louis and drove to our next campsite in Pittsfield, IL.
After we set up camp, we drove around and showed Mom some of the Brokaw farm and surrounding area
-  Dinner at Red Dome Inn
Our lakeside campsite- Pine Lakes
We got to hear bullfrogs a lot at this site
Campground speed limit- made me laugh.
Day 7, July 15th
-  We took Mom back across the Mississippi River to visit Hannibal, MO, the childhood home of Mark Twain. 
-  We hiked 244 steps to the top of the lighthouse
-  We toured the museums and houses that Mark Twain and his friends lived in- the setting for some of his books.  I need to go back and read Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn at some point (probably won't ever happen)
-  Josh's grandma fell and broke her hip a few weeks ago.  She has been in a rehab facility since then.  We spent a couple of hours with her on this day before heading back to Pittsfield.
-  Dinner with some of the Brokaw family.  We had 13 gather for pizza (a small group for this family). 
Mark Twain roadside picture greets you as you cross the Mississippi
Me and Mom getting ready to hike to the top!
Mark Twain home (on right)
Mark Twain's home and fence that was whitewashed (click to read sign)
Riverboat chugging up the Mississippi River
Day 8, July 16th
-  We needed to waste some time this morning, so we drove around some more.  Josh had been looking for some local landscape photographs, but we weren't having any luck.  As we were driving around, we spotted a sign about a wildlife photographer.  We ended up at the home of a nice man who took pictures exactly like we were looking for.  We purchased several pictures and a couple of his homemade frames too.  One of the pictures featured a nearby creek and bridge, so we went and took some of our own pictures. 
-  In the afternoon, we took Josh's grandpa to visit grandma in the rehab center. 
-  Dinner was a birthday party for Josh's grandpa that ended with a cake for him and a surprise cake for me too!
We are trying to find a way down to the water that doesn't involve poison ivy!
Another picture of us by Mom
Exploring Dutch Creek.  We found a safe place to enter the water!

Day 9- July 17th
- 14 hour drive home, pick up Titus, unpack as little as possible, go to bed
-  Well, we did make one stop on the way home.  You can't pass up this opportunity!
Springfield, MO- flagship store!
Mom, watch out behind you!
That pretty much wraps up our trip.  Thanks for reading along our journey.  All pictures are now on our flickr page.  I've included a bunch from Mom's camera too.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Summer Vacation 2011 - Part 2

Day 3- July 11
-  I turned 31!
-  Josh was at the conference all day
-  Our car had been making some funny noises.  We decided the tires were the issue, so I bought us new tires for my birthday.  Sadly, this didn't fix the problem.  More on that later.
-  Mom and I shopped at St. Louis Mills.  I didn't buy anything, but Mom found a few deals.
-  We also stopped by Union Station to shop and look around. 
Stained glass inside Union Station
Grand Hall in Union Station
Outside Union Station
Outside Union Station
Outside Union Station
Day 4- July 12
-  Josh was at the conference all day
-  Mom and I visited the Cathedral Basilica, Cahokia Mounds, and did some more shopping :)
Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis
Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis- standing at the rear looking toward the front
Looking up at one of the domes- all of the mosaics are made from tiny tiles that are about 1 cm square.  It was amazing!
All made from those tiny tiles!
Again, mosaics from tiny tiles.
A close up of one of the swirls from the picture above- maybe this will help you understand the intricacy of the tile work.  I think we learned that 40 millions tiles were used in the cathedral.
The main dome (all in tile)
One of the scenes made from those same tiny tiles
Another scene- guess what it's made of.  Tiles!  The whole building was just amazing.
Looking toward the rear of the cathedral.  All tile except for the flower stained glass window.
Cahokia Mounds- Monks Mound-  We climbed 154 stairs to get to the top.
View of downtown St. Louis from Monks Mound
Day 5- July 13
Josh was at the conference all day
Our wonderful mechanic from WA told Josh that we probably had a bad wheel bearing.  Mom and I took the car and got the bearing replaced.  Hooray, the car was fixed!  Thanks, Jeff, for diagnosing our problem over the phone and saving us tons of time! 
-  Mom and I spent the rest of the day shopping (we did a lot of shopping on this trip!)  Our greatest find was The Container Store.  We probably spent 2 hours in there and came away with some fun stuff.  That is totally my kind of store!
-  No pictures from this day :(  You can check our flickr site for more pictures from our trip up to this point.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Summer Vacation 2011 - Part 1

We just got back from 9 days in Missouri and Illinois.  Josh had a Botany conference in St. Louis which gave us an excuse to goof off a little and also visit some of his family.  About a week before we left, my mom decided to join us!  We already had camping sites reserved for the whole trip, so she agreed to sleep in a tent for the first time in nearly 40 years.  What a trooper!  She was an excellent navigator in the car, and it was fun to have an extra person along.  Another benefit of having Mom along was that we actually have pictures of both of us together on this trip.  That rarely happens.  I'll break up our trip into a few posts since there are so many pictures.
Day 1:  Drive to Dr. Edmund A. Babler Memorial State Park, set up camp, go to bed
Our campsite- very peaceful

Me and Josh at the campsite
Day 2:  Missouri Botanical Garden - $8 for all 3 of us since Josh got in free with the conference and we had a BOGO coupon!
St. Louis Cardinals game - free hotdog and drink with our seats saved us nearly $30
Pizza at Imo's - had to try St. Louis style pizza.  It was pretty good!
Trip up the Arch - Josh and I had been before, so I took Mom up while Josh went to the conference
Botanical Garden
Botanical Garden
Botanical Garden
Busch Stadium
Another picture of both of us- it was very hot this day, but our seats were in the shade.
Pujols came back early from being injured, so we got to see him play!
Pujols batting
Little kids got to run the bases after the game
Notice the arch is mowed into the field- I loved that!
By the way, Cardinals won 4 to 2!

The Gateway Arch
Mom and the arch- had to use panoramic to get it all in one shot, not perfect but ok.
The itty, bitty pod that you cram into to ride to the top of the arch
Looking west from the top- the sun was setting so there was a lot of glare on the windows
Looking east from the top
At the top!
Ok- that's enough for one day.  I plan on putting all of our pictures on our Flickr page, so check there if you want to see more as we go along.  This link should take you to the pictures for this trip- I'll update it as I post about each day.