Getting Real With Shadra Bruce

Having already determined that flexibility is the key to a successful road trip, Dave and I have been modifying our expectations and our plans as we go. Today was a wonderful day, but a rough one too.

Because we’d made it much further than expected on yesterday, getting all the way to Troy, Illinois just across the border from St. Louis, we knew we had to take some time to see the arch.  We also realized that with a slight redirection of our trip across the midwest, we could take Anika to a much-desired destination: Mansfield, Missouri (the place where Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote her books, lived with Almanzo, and was laid to rest). So, once again I cancelled and moved hotel reservations and printed new maps (no, we don’t use a GPS – and after today I’m glad of it).

The kids were awed by the arch, and while I’d seen it before when on a business trip back when I was in corporate servitude, seeing it through their eyes made it so much more special. What really amazed me, though, was the friendliness of the Missouri people. Not only the driver, who, during rush hour this morning allowed us to cut illegally across the median in front of him when we took the wrong exit (heading for Martin Luther King bridge instead of Memorial Parkway). Whoever you are, thank you. When we got to the parking area, another nice local let us know that there was an elevator we could use with Kyle to get up to the viewing area and visitor’s center.

Then, as we were up looking at the arch and taking pictures of each other, a woman with adorable babies in a stroller stopped and offered to take a picture of our family. She even laid down on the ground to get the right angle where our family is back-dropped by the arch. Not five minutes later, another local offered to do the same. Finally, as we were on our way out of town (and obviously headed in the wrong direction) the gentleman I asked for directions to get to the right highway very sweetly pointed us in the right direction without so much as a scowl).

It’s obvious the people of St. Louis are proud of their city – and with good reason. It was a beautiful stop.

Equally as wonderful in its own way was to step foot on the ground where Laura Ingalls Wilder’s creative spirit took hold, because my daughter and I have both enjoyed years of pleasure from those books. Anika came away with her own Charlotte doll, purchased with her own money…and we even stopped at the cemetery to pay our respects to Laura and Almanzo.

Our grand plan fell apart to some degree when Wichita, our planned stop for the night, ended up being 5 hours down the road if it was a freeway. We finally pulled into the hotel almost 12 hours after we’d left the previous hotel. And we still had to go to the store and grab some food. (If it wasn’t for Kind bars, we would not have survived the day – there is nothing in Kansas along 400W.

Tomorrow, we head to Pueblo. It should be a shorter drive.


I hope.