St. Louis Zoo

The final leg of our trip to St. Louis included a visit to the zoo. Of course I’m always drawn to the history of places, and the original buildings with their detailed architecture are beautiful! A lot has changed since the last time I was there. Trees are bigger, the sea lion and seal exhibit in the center has been redone, and it’s very easy to get lost in there now with all the growth. Of course, it rained not long after we got there and kept raining. We put on rain ponchos and tried to keep trudging on, but it got to be too much for our injured party between the rain and the hills. Her ankle couldn’t take it for very long.

Here are the places and animals we did manage to see…

The Fabulous Fox Theatre in St. Louis

Going to a live show is an amazing experience. The first live theater production I ever saw was The Nutcracker at St. Louis’s Fox Theatre. I don’t remember if I was 18, 19, possibly 20 – it was definitely before I was married. I went with my fiance’s mom, his sister, and his now sister-in-law. I remember the total awe I felt as we walked in the doors and fully understood immediately why it is called the Fabulous Fox! The Chinese-inspired ornate details everywhere give a feeling of luxury that makes your evening (or day) even more special. It’s the total package!

I suppose not everyone considers attending a live show to be special. Perhaps they take such things for granted. As someone who currently can only afford to go to a show if the cheapest tickets remain available long enough for me to swoop them up, I consider it to be extremely special and make sure I soak up every minute of the experience – from getting ready to the final bow! The additional eye candy around every turn of the Fox Theatre makes that experience anything but boring!

Here are many (probably TOO many) photos from a tour I took with my girls and my in-laws when we were in St. Louis for a short visit in July. {Click first picture to view full size images.}

Oh to be a photographer for the big shows! Here are some school productions I’ve shot.

Brewery Tour

All the years I lived in St. Louis, I never took the tour of the Anheuser-Busch Brewery. I had to do the whole tourist thing 13 years after moving away to see the brewery. :D My two favorite parts of the tour were the amazing architecture and the free beer at the end of the tour. It sure puts the new tilt-up buildings that make up the Anheuser-Busch Brewery in Ft. Collins, CO, to shame. They just don’t build things like they used to. Now it’s all about how fast they can get it built and opened.

Enjoy…

 

St. Louis Basilica

While on vacation in Missouri, we went inside the Cathedral Basilica St. Louis. Oh. My. WOW! These are not paintings; they are mosaics. Millions of tiny pieces of glass!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Post-Vacation Depression

Is that a thing? I think it’s a thing. Maybe coming home a day earlier to have time to unwind and do laundry isn’t so great after all. Maybe it’s better to get back and hit the ground running so you don’t have time to wonder if it was all a dream or if it really happened. Vacation passes by so fast, and then it’s just over. Back to the same old routine day after day. So I need to talk it out a bit.

I’m from St. Louis, Missouri. Yeah, I lived in various other places (Kansas, Ohio, and Florida) but St. Louis is the place I remember the most. I’ve lived in a south suburban neighborhood of Denver, Colorado, for the past 13.5 years. I have a lot of family and a couple friends in St. Louis still. The trouble with visiting St. Louis is that there are so many people to see, but there is absolutely no way to see everyone due to work schedules and logistics. Thanks to the “great white flight“, a lot of people have moved to new suburbs farther away from the city. Whatever drove them to shinier pastures makes it harder to see them the few times per decade we are able to make the trip.

Of course, my nature is to feel guilty if I’m unable to spend equal time with everyone. On the other hand, it’s unhealthy to shoulder that responsibility because without a doubt, there will be someone feeling hurt that we didn’t spend much (if any) time with them. It’s almost as bad as taking a vacation somewhere else instead of using vacation time to always go “home” and feeling guilty about that. I don’t expect them all to use all their vacation time to come to Colorado every time, though. Guilt over that one resolved! :D

Yes, I miss friends and fam in The Lou, but they all know where we live, too. ;) There’s some nostalgia about visiting St. Louis, but I also like to show off Colorado.

It’s hard knowing how much we’re missed – to the point where they wish so much that we could move back there. That would mean losing our jobs and starting all over, though. It would also mean uprooting kids and pulling them from friendships they’ve formed. No, this is where we live now and will live for quite a while longer. St. Louis may be where I spent my formative years and started my own family, but Colorado is our home now. Family wishing so hard that we could move back there is equal to our wishing so hard that they could move out here by us.

It also doesn’t help that I’m not a great planner and really suck at proactive communication. I’m a friendly person and can carry on a short, polite conversation with just about anyone, but I’m not good at long conversations. I run out of things that seem important enough to talk about. I don’t care for gossip, and I like to keep certain things private. So long talks exhaust me and really showcase my social awkwardness. That sometimes makes me seem like I don’t care or am unappreciative, which couldn’t be further from the truth!

So why the post-vacation depression? Because of all of the above. I didn’t see everyone I wanted to see. I didn’t spend enough time with all of the people I did see. I can’t help but think about other uses for the money we spent on the trip. Finally, I feel like I didn’t express enough how happy I was to spend whatever amount of time I did with each person. I’m an imperfect and flawed human being.

The dread of returning to work and catching up on emails, meeting notes, and any changes that may have taken place doesn’t help things, either!

Here’s the plan: Plop my arse down on the couch and watch some shows I missed last week and then meet tomorrow head first to plow right back into the normal routine.

Stanley’s Celebrity Status

I love this hotel! I love the history … more than just of the hotel but of the Stanley brothers. Before Eastman Kodak, there were Freelan Oscar (F.O.) and Francis Edgar (F.E.) Stanley. From dry photography plate process to violins to automobiles and more, these brothers were brilliant! Read more here. There’s also this post I wrote after our own visit.

Stanley Hotel

Room 217 is where Stephen King got his inspiration for his book The Shining just before it closed for the season in 1974. He returned to the hotel in 1995 for the filming of the mini-series version of the movie based on his book. I love both versions of the movie, but I’m partial to the mini-series because of the hotel itself. :)

Enter Ghost Hunters and Ghost Adventures. The hotel’s ghost tours business seemed to explode with such notoriety. This month they had the Stanley Hotel Film Festival. It’s a little sad how the hotel seems to be losing some of it’s charm and class to pop culture. The Stanley Hotel has reached celebrity status, and it’s not necessarily an attractive quality.

Three Countries I’d Like to Visit | Part 2: Ireland

Green is my favorite color, and Ireland is so very green! I’m not the least bit Irish, either.

People are generally happy in Ireland, and they are a very proud nation, like us. I’m not sure if I count that as a great thing (depends on the nature of the pride), but good times are sure to be had in Ireland!

I don’t know how I’d get to see everything in a short time. I’d have to see castles, ancient monuments, and the Emerald Gardens for sure.

In between sight-seeing adventures, we could relax in a vacation rental like this, this, this, or this! I can pretend I’m Scarlett in Ballyhara!

Three Countries I’d Like to Visit | Part 1: England

I don’t think this comes as a surprise to many who know me (at least not lately). I want to see England by the time I’m 50. I may be exactly 50 – that’s alright! There will come a day when we can afford to travel, and England is first on my list of other countries I want to see. This is now part of my five-year plan. The other countries on my list (separate posts yet to come) will be part of my ten-year plan, which I haven’t started on yet.

Of course, I want to start in London and catch the top 10 attractions there. OK, I’d have to see some of the photographic galleries as well! Maybe we’d stay in a fabulous rental like this or this (or if we win the lottery, this) before heading off to explore other parts of England. Next on the list, Stratford-Upon-Avon. From there, it’s just an eight-mile drive south to Ilmington, which is where some of my ancestors are from. Then off to Wales, where more of my ancestors are from.

It’s quite a long journey back to London from Wales (about 150 miles), so a stop over in Gloucestershire to explore the Cotswolds on the way would be nice. Then back to London for a tour of Buckingham Palace before returning home with several flash cards full of photos and our heads full of memories.

Summer Vacation or Just Time Off?

In the states, we call it “vacation”. In the UK, they call it “holiday”. Why does it feel like neither when you just stay home? It’s merely time off. The silly term “staycation” doesn’t even seem to fit. How about a “relaxcation”? Now that I could go for! An entire week (or at least half of it) to loaf around and be lazy. I’m not sure how much of that I’ll be doing, either. I need to use this time to catch up on things that I haven’t been able to do around the house. Take time off of work to work. Hmmm. :|

My official time off this week started with rain. Yesterday morning I did a little map searching for possible photo locations. There are so many parks tucked away that you couldn’t possibly spot them by simply driving around. I picked out two parks to check out, and we only managed to see one of them: Cherry Creek Ecological Park. Of course, as soon as we parked and got out of the car, it started raining. :( So we sat in the car and waited a few minutes for it to stop. Then we made it as far as a gazebo about 100 yards away before it started raining again … harder. Since I was in no hurry for anything, I thought it was nice to just sit there listening to the rain hit the roof and enjoy the breeze. Miranda, on the other hand, thought it was boring. Kids. :roll:

Once the rain stopped again, we strolled around some of the trail in this park. Part of the trail was a boardwalk, which could make for some interesting photos. There’s also a bridge over Cherry Creek, but I’m not that thrilled with it as a photo op. Being an ecological park, we’re supposed to stay on the path. So photo options are pretty limited here, except for this boardwalk.

Why are we not traveling?

Simple … money. I’m not airing dirty laundry here. I’m just telling it like it is. We are trying to do something now that we should have put into strict practice years ago. We’re not using credit cards for anything and are working towards being credit card debt free by (if not before) November 2015. To expand on this would take an entire post itself. It started when this major life change negatively impacted our income. I immediately started doing things like this to stop unnecessary spending. More opportunities to work overtime opened up along the way, and we got a little stupid again. That has to change. We have to stick to the budget!

We had tentative plans to drive to St. Louis and visit family during this time off (aka: vacation), but a semi-unexpected car expense (followed by this) happened that cost about double what our fuel expense would have been for a road trip to and from St. Louis. Not only that, but we decided that some home improvements should take a higher priority once and for all. When I sit back and look at the bigger picture, it’s easy to see that this situation is quite common. When someone moves out of state, it’s usually the one who moved who is expected to travel back for visits. Interesting. The highway runs both ways, and we would love for more people to come visit us. ;)

What are we doing instead of traveling?

It’s also important to note here that Greg was not able to take time off since he hasn’t been at his job for a full year yet. So he wouldn’t have been able to go with us anyway. We used quite a chunk of “vacation change” to go to the Colorado Renaissance Festival on Saturday. Only the girls went along because Jason had to work and Josh didn’t want to go. Even with saving $3 per ticket buying them at King Soopers, the total for four tickets was nearly $70. Add to that the expenses for food, drink, and trinkets while at the festival. Suffice it to say that this ate a considerable amount of money. I will say that the $4 spent to ride an elephant for all of about 4 minutes (including time sitting still waiting for the other riders to pay and get on the elephant) was definitely worth it! This could, and quite possibly will be, another post entirely.

Ali had to work Sunday and Monday at the pool, but they closed early both days due to the weather. Today still holds a threat of rain, which is only a slightly higher threat than tomorrow holds. So our plan is to see how much we can do for very little cost (while staying dry). I took out a certain amount of cash for the remainder of the week so we can easily see how much we have to play with. I’m tossing around the idea of a zoo day, complete with picnic lunch, but I’d be just as happy taking that picnic lunch to a reservoir (Colorado’s idea of a lake with a purpose) where I can relax with a book. :)

In other words, I have no plan at this point. That is actually worse, to me, than having a plan. That usually results in doing much of nothing, which results in disappointment over wasting an entire vacation. On the other hand, planning too much ends up overwhelming me and makes the week pass by way too fast. How do I find a happy medium?