TuTu and Grandpa (or as my dad affectionately refers to him, "OneOne") lived in Hawaii half of the year, and on TuTu's family farm in Illinois for the other half of the year. Our cousins Caleb and Josh would get to go to these wonderful far-off places to visit every now and then, and we were always a little jealous. But one year, when I was in probably the 2nd or 3rd grade, the Spies cousins got to accompany the Conner cousins to Illinois!
It was terribly exciting, the first time any of us Spies kids had been out of Texas. My mom and Aunt Stephy were very brave - the two of them, six kids, a suburban, a cooler full of sandwiches and drinks, and many hours on the road. It was a great trip though, I have nothing but happy memories.
When TuTu died, Aunt Stephy and her family decided to have her body cremated so that they could take her to Illinois to be "buried" on the farm. My mom and dad decided to go with them, and taking advantage of a chance to both relive some old memories and make new ones, they invited Conner and Micah to come along. (Joey and I considered joining them, but we decided that two days on the road, two days at the farm, and two more days on the road again for the most part really wouldn't be much fun for him...and thus anyone else.)
Conner and Micah were of course, just as excited as we were years ago. Obviously, since I didn't get to go along on the trip, the details and pictures I'm sharing are all second-hand...but I'm recording it as best I can for the boys. :)
Wednesday, July 14th:
We drove down to BooBoo and Yogi's house. We set the backseat all up for the boys - backpacks with toys and coloring books and stuff, snack and drinks, movies, etc. Then they were ready - they hopped right in and buckled up. They didn't really have any idea what was ahead of them, but they were excited!
At the border rest stop, Conner worked on his bow and arrow shooting form,
and everyone took a little rest on the Stage Coach. Micah is surfing on the backseat. :)
Then a few hours later they came to Missouri.
Missouri got the prize for the coolest rest stop - it even had a playground!
And while they were there, as often happens on roadtrips, the oldest Wellsbrothers saw some very interesting things - like two semis stuffed full of turkeys!
(Not-so-very-pretty turkeys, if I do say so myself!) I have to wonder if they were already beginning their unfortunate journeys to someone's Thanksgiving table in a few months.
They spent the night in Missouri - at a hotel! That was one of the things they were most excited about. A night in a hotel is a very special treat. After all - stairs, breakfast buffets, swimming pools, towels folded in fun shapes, treadmills - what's not to love?!
Thursday, July 15th:
They hit the road early Thursday morning and were in Illinois before they knew it.A little more driving...and they arrived in Greenville and checked into another hotel. They swam for a little while......and then made a very exciting and unexpected discovery when they looked out of their hotel window - to see buffalo! Friday July 16:
Today was spent at the farm. They got to do a lot of things that I remember doing, including playing in the playhouse, and having a bonfire/cookout with our cousins.Conner remembered having s'mores before, and excitedly dove right in.Micah however, liked the marshmallows. The marshmallows were so good, he didn't want anything to do with the s'mores...until BooBoo finally convinced him to try one. Then he ate the whole thing and asked for more, but would not admit that he liked them. :) And what vacation to a family farm wouldn't be complete with a good ol' game of "good guy and bad guys?" I thought this succession of pictures that Mom took was pretty funny:
And though I don't have pictures, playing in the cellar - yes, a real-live cellar!! - was also a definite highlight of the farm.
Saturday, July 17:
This morning they held TuTu's memorial service. This is where she was laid to rest. Isn't it beautiful? Shortly after the service, our travelers began their trek back home. Like good little tourists, they made sure to drive through St Louis and see the Gateway Arch.
And then they got to stop and tour the Meramec Caverns in Stanton, Missouri. Conner has been very interested in caves lately, and both boys have been interested in bats for awhile. Touring a cave was something that had been on our summer to-do list at one point in time, but that we had already given up on...until now!
At the end of the tour, they got to eat some ice cream. And what flavor did they both choose? Scooperhero, of course!
Not only do these caverns contain many wonderful stalactites and stalagmites to behold...they were also once the hideouts of the "bad guys, Jesse and James." :)
Then there was more driving, another night in a hotel, and my little roadtrippers were delivered back to me safe and sound Sunday night.
Thank you, thank you, thank you, Yogi and BooBoo for giving Conner and Micah such a wonderful opportunity and making so many memories. It's made me want to find all the pictures from our trip to Illinois from 25 years ago (good grief, did I just say that?!) and do something fun with them. But alas, I haven't found them yet. Maybe someday... (Mom and Dad, I'm sure I've gotten something wrong or missed something - please correct me!)
Thank you too, Aunt Stephy for allowing the tag-alongs to come and for making your family ours. TuTu and Grandpa were some very special people - not many kids get to know their cousins' grandparents from the other side of the family, especially when they live so far away.
Aren't we blessed? :)