The Pilgrims’ Progress

We drove into Springfield, Missouri and headed straight for the Bass Pro Shop. We heard tales of its gargantuan size and the plethora of life ending tools and human cloaking devices in its aisles. I was totally prepared to be awed by the lengths man goes to entertain himself at the expense of wild fauna but I, and we, left with a different kind of hitch in our giddy up.

 We entered the foyer and were met by a giant Elk galloping downhill, flanked by bears in mid-stride and geese and duck and all other kinds of fowl in mid-flight overhead. To our right was a tank of water with a live alligator and across from him was another tank with sawtooth looking fish 5 or 6 feet long. There were rows upon rows of boots and hats and camo gear and guns, knives, bows and arrows, tents, jetskis, atvs, a cafe, a restaurant, ANOTHER tank with a giant snapping turtle, a waterfall with live ducks. Live ducks I say! The feathered creatures managed not only to make it through the door but to survive!
It was pretty amazing in a weird, self-betrayal and betrayal-of-all-my-vegetarian-and-vegan-friends kind of way.  I felt strange, but I bought a hat. Jamie felt strange, but she bought a hat.  Eli didn’t feel strange but I’m pretty sure he would have if he were old enough. He bought a hat. Nevertheless, we had a ball for the hour or so that we walked around, like a couple of kids at Disneyland.

Whoa

Why hello.

Checking out the fish

We left for the KOA outside of town but were turned away by the prices. We found a Wal-Mart and set up camp in the parking lot. Now we had heard about a storm coming in but all evening the sky was crystal clear.  1:00 am came around, though, and I was awakened by the drum beating sound of rain on our poptop.  I jumped down below and pulled the top shut and climbed into the front seat as Jamie and I watched the wind swirl streams of rain around the empty parking lot. The wind roared and the lighting that flashed in the distance got closer and closer, and with it its thunder.  The bus shook and swayed in the wind. Water pounded the roof. When we finally began to get lulled back to the sleep by it all the lightning came upon us.  We saw the flash and I counted, one one-thousand, two one-thousand, thre-CRACK! And again we saw a flash. One one-thousCRACK.

It was amazing to witness God’s power and the overwhelming force of the elements that surround us each and every day.  It’s a sobering reminder of how small and how powerless we are. Eventually the rain subsided and the clouds blew away. By morning the parking lot was all but dried.  Onward we drove to St. Louis. For us it is the town of big family, Jamie’s aunts and uncles, cousins and second cousins, and Memaw.

Memaw  hasn’t been doing well these last couple of years so it was particularly important to see her and show Eliot his great grandma.  We went with Aunt Marcia and Uncle Charley, whose hospitality we will always be humbly grateful for, and a couple of their grandkids.  Memaw came out into the courtyard and was wheeled under the shade of a tent. We all sat around her and said hi, tried to stir her, tried to get a moment of clarity, of recognition from her tired face.  She lifted her eyes enough to see Eliot and then her head rose. “Why, hello!” It was beautiful to hear some of the same spirit in her voice that I’ve known of her from the short time I’ve known her. I can only imagine what the visit was for Jamie.  There were a few other moments like this but that wasn’t why we came or what we hoped for. It was just good to see her and good to know that Eliot had a moment with Memaw and she had a moment with him.  I pray it helped her in some way to see Jamie, to see Eliot.

We were grateful for the time we had with the St. Louis family, to reconnect with old relationships or begin again, this time as adults.

Poised at the Gateway Arch

Great Grandma (Memaw) meets Eli for the first time.

On our last day in St. Louis we travelled across the Mississippi to the Cahokia Mounds site, once the largest city north of Mexico. All the mounds, scattered across the countryside, were created by man, the dirt transported from sites like quarries and slowly built up into mounds for living spaces, worship, or geographical boundaries.  It was beautiful country by itself but we felt thrown into another time when we walked the steps up Monk’s Mound, the largest in the area, or passed Woodhenge, a calendar of wooden posts circled around a center post. It seemed fitting to end the trip to St. Louis with a visit to the mounds. From the top of Monk’s Mound we could see straight across to the gateway arch and backward to the country we’d be driving into from that point forward.

A visit to the Cahokia Mounds, just across the Mississippi

Eli exploring where native Mississippi royalty once trod.

At the top of Monk’s Mound

E.D.

 

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One thought on “The Pilgrims’ Progress

  1. I loved reading this post. Beautiful photos and stories.

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