Eureka, MO 63025
Beautiful Spring Greetings from the USA!
Dear Family and Friends,
Every time I sit down to write my newsletter I realize more time has passed since I wrote the last letter. This time 10 months has once again flown by! This means there is more news to report. Well, spring has sprung here at last. This last winter wasnt too bad it just seemed to be never-ending. Everything was so beautiful this spring the flowering trees, like the Redbuds and the Dogwoods, were glorious and it is so green all around us. I planted close to a hundred bulbs and they all made it. The tulips were very pretty and colorful. Some of the trees we planted last season didnt make it and we had to replace them. It has been raining a lot the last couple of weeks and then we dont see the sun for days on end, however, we are not complaining because we know the hot and dry months are around the corner. It also seems that every spring brings another kind of pest that takes over the trees. Last spring it was the horrid cicadas, this time it is caterpillars that take over the flowering plum and crab apple trees. The locals call them tent worms the larvae are enclosed in a tent-like cocoon between the branches, and when the worms are hatched they travel up and down the branches and eat every thing in sight. Within a week a young tree can be completely stripped bare. I am not too sure whether the trees actually survive the onslaught, the older ones seem to bounce back the next season.
Since I last wrote we have visited so many places. I was worried that we were going to be lonely after our visitors went home in July but then we started travelling again and we have been busy ever since. At the end of August we were invited to Chicago for a weekend and we left Buttons with Nancy and drove up. It is a beautiful city and Lake Michigan is so amazingly big and blue! As soon as we got there we took to the streets, we strolled down to the harbor and the restored Navy Pier. We walked the "Magnificent Mile" at night and all the trees on the sidewalks are lit up with fairy lights. The magnificent mile is a 1 mile stretch of Michigan Avenue where all the exclusive and oh so expensive galleries and boutiques, are. Oprah Winfrey also has her apartment here and the studio from where her TV show is broadcast. The next day we went on a trolley tour and visited all the main attractions. We went up to the top of the Sears building, which is the highest building in the world, unfortunately it was hazy and we couldnt see too far. We visited the aquarium and later that afternoon we watched an airshow. The Sunday morning we went on a giant speedboat named the Seadog and sped along the lakeshore. The pilot of the speedboat was a South African that spent the summer working in Chicago!
In September we drove to Hannibal, Missouri for a weekend. This time Buttons and Tassie got to go with. Hannibal is about 2 hours drive north of St Louis and is famous for 2 reasons: It is the boyhood town of Samuel Langhorne Clemens (Mark Twain) and Molly Brown (a survivor of the sinking of the Titanic in 1912). It is a sleepy little town on the bank of the Mississippi and has been restored as a historic site and portrays the adventures of Tom Sawyer and his friends in various museums and buildings.
We left for our annual road trip to Texas on October 9 and the first stop was Branson, Missouri. The whole town consists of live theaters and entertainment centers. We didnt get to see a show but we did spend a whole day at a theme park called Silver Dollar City.
From there we went through Oklahoma to Dallas to visit our friends Jane and Adriaan. A visit to Dallas wont be complete without a visit to Southfork Ranch. The place is preserved and looks exactly like it was on the TV show. When walking around the house one kept on expecting old JR to appear around a corner. Never in our wildest dreams did we ever think we would be standing in such a famous TV place!
We traveled south through Austin, the capitol of Texas, to San Antonio. It is a beautiful city and the San Antonio River meanders through the city. They created the famed riverwalk on the banks of the river and it reminds us of Venice. The riverwalk is a pedestrian lane on the banks of the river with sidewalk cafes, shops, restaurants and hotels. They also have boats floating on the river with a gondolier piloting them. The famous Alamo Shrine is also in the city.
From here we went southeast towards Corpus Christi and Port Aransas on the gulf coast. Port Aransas is on an island off the coast and we had to cross over from the mainland on a ferry. There is such an abundance of dolphins in the bay and they swam with the ferry. We rented a beach cottage on the beach. To reach the cabin one has to drive on the beach. Padre Island is a long narrow island that runs the length of the Texas coast and from the air looks like a narrow sand dune. There are no trees just sand, grass and yellow wild flowers. The beach house is a log cabin and the wood has been weathered gray and looks very forlorn on the dunes. When Tony first saw the beach house he didnt really want to stay there mumbled something about it being too isolated and looking too decrepit - we ended up spending six glorious days there! We went dolphin watching on a boat and beachcombing on another island called St Jo. There were lots of jellyfish and blue bottles so we didnt dare swim in the sea and it was quite something to see the thousands of jellyfish swimming in the water. Buttons was allowed on the beach and he chased crabs and seagulls, made sure the water didnt come near his feet and ran and walked miles with us.
From here we went back to the mainland and traveled north along the coastline towards Galveston. We stayed at a hotel next to NASA, which is halfway between Galveston and Houston. We toured through the Space Center at NASA and saw rockets, space shuttles, the communication center and the actual International space station, which is in the process of being built by a joint venture between the USA, Canada, Russia and several other countries.
From Houston we traveled back to Dallas to spend more time with our friends. We visited the Sixth Floor Museum, which is the actual building from where John F Kennedy was shot, and strolled through downtown Dallas. We also went to the stockyards in Fort Worth and mingled with the real cowboys! We had dinner at a Country and Western nightclub called Billy Bobs and watched them doing line dancing. We didnt join in because we stuck out like sore thumbs in our normal clothing - everyone was wearing a Stetson hat, cowboy boots and b-i-g belt buckles.
On our way back to Eureka we stopped in Little Rock, Arkansas at the capitol building. The trip was 3000 miles in total and we only got to see the eastern region of Texas!
Halloween was as "spooktacular" as the previous years and Button once again guarded the candy bowl with his life. Tony decided not to dress up and make a fool of himself this year. How boring!
Before we knew it was December and time for Christmas decorations. The weather was still holding out while we decorated the outside of the house with lights. I found some new lights in a catalog and bought strings of icicle lights, which you hang under the eaves of the roof and when lit looked like icicles dripping down from the roof. Of course all the neighbors just had to have these lights and all the houses in the street ended up looking the same. These lights turned out to be the latest craze and it wasnt long before all the shops were sold out nation wide and everyone that didnt have them went nuts trying to find more! The weekend before Christmas we went to Kansas City to do our shopping. Kansas City is 250 miles west of St Louis on the border of Missouri and Kansas. Downtown KC is in Missouri. The city was beautifully decorated and we shopped till we dropped. The temperatures plummeted that weekend and it was freezing cold and one of the most popular shopping areas in KC is spread out over a couple of city blocks, but we werent put off by the cold. On the way back we had to drive in an ice storm. Nobody went more than 25 30 mph on the highway. I have never seen so many car wrecks on the side of the road, as on that Sunday!
Tony and I had a wonderful Christmas morning and by lunchtime we really wished we were with our families.
We went ice skating in Forest Park, skiing at Hidden Valley and went to a symphony concert on New Years eve, with dancing and cocktails afterwards. The Powell Symphony hall is spectacular and is a very beautiful venue for New Years celebrations. It started snowing on New Years day and we got about 4 inches of snow. Tony was out breaking in the snow shovel and after the backbreaking work to clear the driveway the snow is not so pretty anymore!
End of January we went traveling again. This time to go and ski in the famous Rocky Mountains in Colorado. Buttons stayed with Nancy and we flew to Steamboat Springs, which is about 157 miles northwest of Denver, for 4 days of skiing fun. Steamboat Springs is a real cowboy town and the skiers even wear cowboy hats. The mountains are very pretty and the days were sunny but cold. The last day it snowed and it was very difficult to ski. We enjoyed ourselves and wished we could stay longer.
After some more bad weather in St Louis we decided it is time to get rid of the sport car, which is extremely unreliable in snow and ice, we traded the Camaro in for an Audi A6 Quattro. The Audi is an all wheel drive and from now on we shouldnt have any problems to get where we want to be. However, since we got the car the weather has been great so we still dont know how well the Audi would perform. We bought the car from a dealer named "Parktown Motors" sounds familiar doesnt it?
And of course we had to go on a trip to try out the new car! We went to a National Forest in southern Missouri to a small town called Eminence. We rented a log cabin and explored the Ozark National Scenic Riverways. There are natural springs that feed the rivers and the water is a beautiful aqua-color. Both dogs went with and we hiked in the woods with them in tow.
I had a chance to fulfill one of my life dreams. On my birthday I flew an airplane! It was a Piper and I went up with an instructor and Tony as a passenger in the back seat. The instructor took off and landed the plane and communicated with the tower, and I did the rest. First we walked around the plane to do the pre-flight inspection, then we got in and got ready for take-off. I taxied the plane out on the runway and the pilot took off. We flew in a westerly direction and spent about 40 minutes in the air before turning back. It was very exciting and I totally understand the concept of flying and I would love to obtain my private pilots license who knows maybe one day it will happen?! Tony was a good sport and didnt complain, when the plane was dipping up and down, when I got confused with all the controls.
My Dad is coming to visit us again and we are expecting him at the end of May. He will be staying for 6 weeks and we are looking forward to having him here. We are planning to take our annual vacation in June, while he is here. We decided to rent a big motorhome 28 feet long and travel to the northeast. We will be visiting the Great Lakes region and Niagara Falls and the first week will be on the Canadian side and the second week will be back in the US. We are planning on visiting some of the big cities on the way. The RV has a TV/ VCR, a full kitchen, shower and toilet and lots of sleeping space, so Buttons and the 3 of us should be very comfortable. We havent camped in the States as yet and we are looking forward to this new experience!
As you can see we have settled in well and are content and happy, however, we miss all of our family and friends very much. We wish we could see all of you more often and you are always in our thoughts and our hearts. Please write soon!
Lots of Love, Licks,
Annelise and Tony Buttons and Tassie