Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Travels from Missouri to Indiana...

We left Gasconade Hills Resort at around 09h30 on Sunday, 2nd July, after a lovely weekend with family. We split the five-hour journey up into several parts. We stopped and ate an early lunch at a Cracker Barrel restaurant along the way and then drove on to St. Louis, where we visited The London Tea Room. (Pictured here.)

Here we met up with our friends, the Maley family, who also happened to be visiting St. Louis as we were travelling through. We had a lovely tea and enjoyed some English/Commonwealth treats before heading on our way. We also saw some lovely old buildings in St. Louis - like this large church - and drove past the Gateway Arch on our way home. We're already planning a trip back to explore more of St. Louis in the near future! :)

 The Cracker Barrel restaurant.
 Billboard advertising U2's upcoming concert in St. Louis.
 Inside the London Tea Room.
 Table set for afternoon tea.
 Another pretty church.
 Heading through St. Louis.
 The Gateway Arch as seen from one of the busy St. Louis highways.
 The Gateway Arch as we cross the Mississippi River into Illinois.
An hour-and-a-half later we entered Indiana. :)

Monday, 17 July 2017

Paulus Family Reunion...

Every two years or so - when there aren't any family weddings that year - Candace's mom's side of the family has a reunion in the form of a camping trip or retreat. The families come from Indiana and Oklahoma and meet up usually halfway between the two states. This year we had the privilege of road-tripping across to Missouri for the 2017 Paulus Family Reunion. (Thursday, 29th June - Sunday, 2nd July.)

The trip there went very well and we even found a nice little park and play area in Okawville, Illinois. This gave Riaan a chance to stretch his legs and have a break on our five-hour journey. We then travelled through St Louis, Missouri, and onwards to our destination, Gasconade Hills Resort.

Gasconade Hills Resort, on the banks of the Gasconade River, is located in rural Missouri. We shared a cabin with one of Candace's cousins and her family, and we had lots of fun exploring the resort. We really enjoyed all the games and activities that were organised by Candace's family. Riaan especially loved being outdoors and playing both T-ball (baseball for children) and cricket. (And anything that involved a ball, really.) He also loved the swimming pool!

But aside from all the fun activities, it was just lovely to be able to see and reconnect with family we hadn't seen in over two years. It was a great weekend spent catching up and sharing fellowship with one another - and thanks for all those involved in the organising. We'll definitely be looking forward to the next one! :)

 Signs for Louisville, Kentucky and St. Louis, Missouri. Not to be confused. We were heading westbound on I-64.
 Driving through the Ozarks in Missouri.
 Our little cabin.
 View of the campground.
 Gasconade River.
 Pretty scene.
 Hanging out in the Lodge before a meal.
 Riaan playing with the other children.
 T-ball!
 Cricket!
 Time to cool off at the lovely pool.
 Riaan in the water with Tim.
 He loved the pool!
 Time for arts and crafts. Painting a wooden box.
 Making a salt watercolour creation.
 I painted Table Mountain as seen from Blouberg.
 Candace and Riaan did some fireworks over the sea.
 Camp fire fun.
 Family photo. We were happy campers. :)
 The sisters with Grandma and Grandpa Paulus.
 The grandchildren.
Our little family. What a great trip!

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Pond creatures...

There are many interesting creatures that can be seen around a pond ecosystem in Indiana in the summer, like this American bullfrog at left. Here are just a few of the more common sightings. :)

 A pair of midland painted turtles sunning on the limb of a willow tree.
 Another midland painted turtle.
 A frog that has not completely finished its metamorphosis from a tadpole.
 Another young frog in the shallows.
 Small dragonfly on our front stoep.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Eastern-eyed click beetle...

Have you ever got that feeling that something's watching you? Well, I looked down on our stoep and immediately saw two "eyes" looking right back at me. This is the eastern-eyed click beetle, and it has false eye markings on its back to scare away predators. It is a rather large insect at almost two inches or five centimetres in length. Despite being rather common and its large size, this was the first time that I'd come across this type of beetle in the USA or anywhere, for that matter. :)

A closer view of this striking beetle.

Friday, 7 July 2017

Helicopter on Pylon...

I spotted this helicopter sitting on top of a nearby electricity pylon recently. I'd never seen a helicopter being used to do electrical work in this manner before, and with the man strapped in a chair outside of the helicopter it looks like something out of a James Bond movie! Apparently the idea is that because the helicopter is not grounded, they are able to work on the live wires without being shocked and without the need for the electricity to be shut off. Rather him than me!

 Sitting atop the pylon nearby.
Heading off once the work was completed. Note the man sitting on the landing gear.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Candace's Portrait...

My talented friend Judy recently did a little watercolour of Candace and Riaan in front of Table Mountain. It was based on a photo that I had taken during our trip to Cape Town in March. I had it painted as a surprise for Candace, and my friend Judy posted it online on Mother's Day, which was perfect timing. Candace loved her little portrait and we received it in the post a couple of weeks later. Thanks, Judy! You can check out Judy's online shop here. :)

 My original photo taken in March.
 Judy's lovely postcard-sized portrait.
Another of Judy's lovely watercolour paintings. :)