Eureka, MO 63025
Warm Winter Greetings from the USA!
Dear Family and Friends,
It is hard to believe that a year has past since we wrote the first newsletter. 1997 has started and here we are in the 2nd month already. We are also pretty settled into a normal routine now and that is one of the reasons why time is flying by. I am still working on Thursdays and Fridays from 10am to 5pm. When I do decide to go back to a proper job I am going to have a hard time to get up at the crack of dawn.
Fall (autumn) in Missouri was very pretty. The trees were covered in the most beautiful hues of orange, yellow and reds. We took advantage of the mild days to ride around a bit and we visited the wine farms. Of course they claim that their wineries are the best in the world and Tony and I just chuckle in our sleeves. The white wines are not too bad but the red wines we tasted were not good. It tasted like moldy tea. The winery we visited is called Stone Hill and is in a small German village called Hermann. There are still a lot of the original buildings that the original German settlers built. The town is very picturesque - apparently the settlers chose the area because it reminded them of their homeland in the Rhine valley.
We also went for a hike in one of the State Parks named Rockwood, which are only a few minutes drive away from our house. They had a family day at the park to teach the kids about conservation etc. We went on a 3-mile hike through the trees and couldn't believe the colors and all the different species of trees - we still can only identify a few! There are plenty of oaks, maples, aspens, dogwoods and white ashes.
Halloween was a special treat for us and we loved having the kids around for trick or treat. They were all dressed up and some told scary jokes. Buttons was not too happy with all this activity and he guarded the bowl of candy with his life. I am sure he thought the sweets belonged to him and was not too thrilled when it was given to strangers at the door. Every time the kids leave he stuck his head in the bowl to make sure there is some left for him. I have a picture of him with his head in the candy bowl. Snuggles of course couldn't care less. All the houses were decorated with Halloween stuff (ghosties and ghoulies) and the pumpkins was lit with candles on Halloween night.
My visit to my parents in November was very pleasant. The only down side was that Tony and the dogs had to stay behind. The neighbors all took pity on him and he was invited out for supper almost every night. Our next door neighbor, Diane, let the dogs out at lunchtime and the kids across the road took them for a walk when they came home after school. So in my absence the whole lot were kept rather busy. Almost all the neighbors also invited Tony for a thanksgiving lunch and he ended up going from house to house.
Christmas time was especially pretty. The houses were all decked in colored fairy lights and Christmas decorations. One of the bigger companies had lights in every single tree on their 10-acre property, which is bisected by the highway, and one almost needed sunglasses when you go past! There are also a number of parks decorated with Christmas lights and the one we visited was called Santa's Magical Kingdom. Tony decorated our house and the neighbors teased him and called him Griswald (from the movie National Lampoons Christmas Vacation with Chevy Chase) implying that he was overdoing the lights, however, it looked very pretty.
We went to friends in Greenville, South Carolina for the week over Christmas. It is about 730 miles and we drove down in 2 days. We passed through a number of states - Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina and South Carolina. It was a pretty drive and we stayed over in Cookeville, Tennessee. The dogs once again enjoyed the nomadic life and jumped all over the hotel beds just like naughty kids. We passed through the Smoky Mountain national park and were sorry that we didn't see Smoky the bear who was in hibernation at the time. Christmas day was spent in a good old South African tradition and Amanda and Monty had a house full of South African guests (13 adults and 10 kids and 2 dogs). Our American friends were quite amazed to see the photos I took of all of us around the table wearing our hats and pulling the crackers. The hats and crackers are new to them and they decided it is a neat tradition. The week went by too fast and we came home on a different route via Atlanta. Unfortunately it was so foggy that we could not see much of Atlanta and of the sights on the way. We stopped at the border of Georgia and Tennessee to go and look at the Ruby Falls which is an underground waterfall in a cave. We slept over in a small town with a weird name - Murfreesboro about 10 miles from Nashville, Tennessee.
We went into town for New Years Eve and watched the fireworks from under the arch which was spectacular as usual. It was a bit misty but didn't spoil the effect of the fireworks too much. We had our first big snowstorm in the 2nd week of January and the fun started. It snowed about 9 inches and the Stokers, who are such rookies, thought we could drive the Camaro through this lot! I made it to the bus stop and back with great difficulty and as I pulled into the driveway I got stuck. How embarrassing to have the car stuck at your front door! Two guys helped me and with them pushing I got the car into the garage. The Camaro is a rear wheel drive and is no good in the snow and icy conditions. Needless to say we left the car in the garage and went everywhere in the van, which is a front wheel drive, and even then we still had to be very careful. A week later we had ice rain which left a 1 inch layer of ice on the roads and another 4 inches of snow. This time almost nobody made it to work, as the roads were too hazardous to drive on. I had an accident with the van - as I reversed out of the garage the back wheels spun on the ice and I took my eyes off from where I was going and I bashed the side mirror on the side wall, it shattered in pieces from the terrible cold. Can you imagine these two South Africans having to deal with things like car doors that have been iced closed?
The dogs didn't mind the snow so much this time it was the ice that they didn't like. Their paws started to freeze and they would then try to lift all fours in the air! I have to then get to them without killing myself on the 'ice rink' and carry them back. Snuggles tried to run on the ice and it looked like she was ice-skating. At one stage Buttons sat on the side of his butt and lifted all four feet off the ground. The kids love the snow because the schools close and they are out every chance they get building snowmen, igloos and sledding down every hill!
We were experiencing temperatures of -22 to -10 degrees Celsius during the ice rain and that weekend the temperatures were back up to 18 degrees - warm enough to go outside to ski and for a bicycle ride. We got ski boots for Christmas and we tried them out on our (St Louis') own ski slopes! Hidden Valley ski resort is a mere 10 minutes from us and they have 8 downhill ski runs with 2 ski lifts. There was about 3 feet of snow and the slopes were well maintained. The slopes are not very long and therefore one get to go down quite a few times. We had a great skiing day and it was so nice to be able to get in the car and go - all our other ski trips was a big mission. We will probably go to the Rockies next season and at the moment we are quite content to improve our skills on our own slopes.
The next big event here in the states was the Superbowl Sunday (like the Currie Cup final) to determine the best football team! This event has grown into one big party and just about everybody has a big party on Superbowl Sunday. We were invited to one of our neighbors. I still don't understand the game so well so I am not going to try and explain anything, however, I do know who the two teams were: the Greenbay Packers from Wisconsin and the New England Patriots from Boston. The Packers' colors is green and gold so I rooted for them and of course the winners were the Packers - they beat the Patriots 35 to 21.
Boatmen's, the company Tony works for, was bought by Nations Bank and the merger now makes Nations Bank the third largest in the states. This means that there will be some change in our lives. We may have to move and at this stage we really don't know too much. We will consider all our options here in St Louis and what Nations Bank has to offer carefully before we decide on anything. There is no real rush at the moment because the conversions will only be completed around October 97. If we have to move it means it is in our best interest and the company will pay for the relocation. The only downside is the inconvenience of moving.
We are also hoping that 1997 will be the year that we will have a lot of visitors from the RSA. We wish you all a great 1997 and looking forward to hearing from you soon.
Lots of love Licks
Annelise and Tony Snuggles and Buttons