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Posts Tagged ‘Travel’

Dear Bob,

Listen, friend: We need to have a talk.

You were one of my favorite teachers in high school, and I’m thrilled we reconnected when I lived in Atlanta.

But you have scared the bejesus out of everyone with your recent emergency.

I realize that taking a group of students to the Galápagos Islands — a trip that included snorkeling — was too appealing to be denied.

However, when loads of people in the group got a stomach virus, did you HAVE to be an overachiever and get an extreme case? Of course you did.

This was your lovely wife Susan’s status update over the weekend.

Emergency surgery, scary-low oxygen levels, infection attack on numerous organs — that’s just a fraction of the issues you faced.

The good news is that you are awake and asking for sweet tea from Chick-fil-A.

So that means you are on the mend.

It’s about time.

Keep up the great work!

Love,
Beth

* Thanks, Toy Story.

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Dear Friends and Family,

(You know the drill: Part 1, 2, 3 and 4.)

During my conversation with my father, he told me that he didn’t actually live at the address where I sent the letter. His ex-wife, Jan, still lives there with her son, my half-brother Brad. (They also have a daughter, Erin, my half sister.) Jan opened the letter, shared it with Brad, and he shared with David.

(After I asked Jan* about this part of the story, she said that when Brad called David, David talked about his crazy day. Brad said, “Dad, it’s about to get a whole lot crazier.”)

David now lives in Long Island in an apartment off my uncle’s house. (The apartment used to be my uncle’s dental office.)

Y’all. I mean. Can you IMAGINE Jan’s reaction? Brad’s? David’s?

I might have had to take some time to process, but David called me within 24 hours.

The call consisted of high-level catch-up, as you might expect. He seemed happy to know about me.

And Jan reached out to me on Facebook to welcome me to the family.

And Brad texted me to start a conversation.

How lovely is that?

David and I started talking regularly, and we decided we would meet when I visited New York for my annual birthday trip in December.

I flew into La Guardia and rented a car as the LIRR train schedule did not cooperate.

Brad: Have a good time! 
Me: Thanks. I'm on my way. Nervous.
Brad: So is he!

David was waiting on his porch when I pulled up. He said he felt like a kid at Christmas. I did too. (Add some flop sweat that Santa doesn’t usually get.)

He had a present for me:

I suddenly became very aware of my nasolacrimal ducts. Why? When I met Kathy, she gave me a present.

It was a gift David had given to her for her birthday when they were dating. She kept it all these years because it was the one thing that connected the three of us. And I had told him about it.

Oh Lord: There’s something in my eye. Hang on.

OK. Proceeding.

He took me to the main house to meet my Uncle Terry and Aunt Rosemary.

As it turns out, they and their family and David spent plenty of time in Savannah because they have a place in Hilton Head. Again, I could have run into them AT ANY POINT and not known about our connection.

Also, I would be staying the night in Uncle Terry and Aunt Rosemary’s house.

Y’ALL. These people JUST met me. I am a stranger. So this tells you a little something about how my existence was received.

The four of us went out to dinner and had a wonderful time. When we got back, David brought out a cake for my birthday.

I lost it (but tried not to).

He got me an ice cream cake (Carvel FTW!) without even KNOWING I am not a fan of regular cake.

It was … a lot. (I know I keep saying it, but cut me some slack. It IS a lot!)

The next day, we went on a drive to key places of interest for him and the family.

We laughed. We argued good naturedly. We got to know each other.

We went to the Long Island Aquarium.

As we were watching the sea lion show, I thought about how completely bizarre it was to be there with him. This is the kind of things dads do with their daughters when daughters are children. But here we were, making up for lost time.

Oh look: My lacrimal sac is acting up again. One moment.

I’m back.

It was bone-chillingly cold. My father doesn’t have any body fat (one area where I did NOT get his genes), so we didn’t linger at the lions.

We went back to his place to continue chatting. Before long, it was time for me to head into the city for the rest of the birthday trip.

I had plenty of thoughts to keep me occupied on the drive, along with a debrief phone call from a blogger friend.

I TOLD YOU it was a wild ride.

Just a little bit more to go if you want to join me. The final part is coming soon.

XO,
Beth

* Yes, I talk to Jan. Another weird and wonderful part of the story.

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Dear Friends and Family,

The story continues, as promised. (If you are new here and need a recap, read Part 1 and Part 2.)

My birth mother Kathy and I started chatting weekly on the phone. And as you know, that’s a big deal for me. (Why do I hate talking on the phone so much?)

Topics? Large: I learned my birth father’s full name. Small: I learned we like our eggs the same way. (So that’s where I got it!)

She told me about all the family I had in the St. Louis area. You’ll remember I mentioned my mom Jeanne was from Missouri. Well, I spent my childhood visiting relatives all over the state: Kansas City, Jefferson City and also St. Louis. My favorite aunt and uncle lived in Hazelwood, Missouri — 25 minutes from my current home and 15 minutes from where Kathy lives.

It’s bizarre to think that I could have passed a member of my birth family in the grocery store.

Weird and wonderful, to say the least.

On one of our calls, I mentioned I had a dream that I had driven to St. Louis to see her. She said she did want to meet me. We started planning for Memorial Day weekend.

Y’all, this was … something. Talking on the phone was one thing. Actually meeting her was another.

She picked me up at the St. Louis airport. Her first words to me were these:

I haven't seen you in ___** years!

So yes, we have a similar sense of humor.

I’ve written about this part of the story before.

This is the day I met Kara and Lodell.

But here’s the important thing:

It was so easy. It felt right. I fit in. No awkwardness.

As George Bailey said, “What do you know about that?!

We all set about building relationships — relationships helped by my move to St. Louis.

It’s gone better than I had any right to want.

The next step? Contacting my birth father. You know: One step at time.

That’s the fourth and final part. Also the most recent. As in past six months.

Don’t touch that dial!

XO,
Beth

*Yes, I know I’m being silly. But I’ll do it again for Part 4.

**Listen, a lady doesn’t share her age — even for the sake of a story. 😉

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Dear Santa,

Thanks for bringing me the gift of time with new family this year. First Christmas with birth family on mom’s side. It was everything I hoped it would be and more.

Added bonus for 2022: Meeting birth father, David.

Thank you for that too. It’s plenty to process (and write about), so today I’ll just be thankful.

Somehow I must have made it on the nice list.

It’s a Christmas miracle. 😉

Love you, Santa!

See you next year,
Beth

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Dear Halloween,

I love you so much. Still. As I’ve said. And this year, I feel like I’ve taken advantage of the opportunities you provide.

Decorating the house? Check.

Haunted Mine? Check.

Costumed cat? Check.

Six Flags Fright Fest? Check. With the boys, even, who had a bit they did for the occasion.

Carving pumpkins? Check.

The Darkness haunted house? Check. Although that wasn’t without risk.

I wasn’t moving fast enough, so Dominic moved me into a doorframe. On accident. So he says. 😉

Scary movies and fire pit? Check.

I’ve even seen “Halloween Ends.” (I would not say it was worth the time and money. Maybe I’m just a hipster when it comes to franchises.)

I’m looking forward to seeing if I get trick or treaters this year — my first year in my house.

Anyway, thanks for being you. I’m a fan.

Love,
Beth

*Alice, of course.

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Dear Victoria,

Thanks for going with me to the Haunted Mine at our university (aka place of business).

I know we are coworkers who barely know each other, but you came through. People I knew better begged off (because haunted, because mine, because both).

Even though I’m an Explosives Technology student, I had not yet been to the experimental mine. I read all about the prep, though.

“Scaring starts at 6.”

Too bad I live 1.5 hours away and couldn’t get in some hours.

I’m glad we met up at the Tater Patch. I don’t know what any of that means.
Sporting saucy hard hats!

We got the safety briefing (“It’s a mine. The walls are made of rock. If you hurt yourself, let a scarer know immediately.”). Then it was time.

It was genuinely terrifying, especially the bit with the clown with the chainsaw.

This is the photo that one accidentally takes when running from a clown wielding a chainsaw.

NO, THANK YOU.

I had to remind myself that the scarers were not allowed to touch me. (And I was not allowed to touch them either. Consent goes both ways.)

Huddled together, we screamed/laughed our way through it.

Well, the screaming/laughing was me. You were mostly laughing. At me. For good reason.

Anyway, it was great, and I appreciate you going with me. Thanks again!

Happy Halloween!
Beth

*A great Duran Duran song and a terrible pun for this post

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Dear Fellow Travelers:

Some of y’all need a refresher in how to behave in airports and on planes.

Auntie Beth is here to help.

DO move to the side of the terminal walkway if you want to text, eat your food or walk slowly.
DON’T eat your chicken wings in the middle of the walkway between gates with your suitcase two feet away from you (and also in the middle of the walkway).

DO give up the armrest to the person in the middle.
DON’T be the person in the middle who also manspreads and elbows the people on the aisle and window.

DO remember that people around you have ears.
DON’T talk to your seatmate at the top of your voice, take phone calls, FaceTime or watch videos without headphones. (I can’t believe I have to remind you.)

DO be aware of personal space.
DON’T run over people with your suitcase, whack someone with your backpack or sling your Doritos bag around with crumbs flying everywhere.

DO follow instructions.
DON’T be a complete idiot.

Folks, there’s an image. How hard is it to follow directions?

DO have manners in general.
DON’T act like the plane is your personal living room.

This man was a complete boor. So loud. Stopped in the doorway to keep talking to his seatmate. I mean, just look at his foot on the seat. That tells you everything you need to know.

It’s very simple: BE CONSIDERATE. We will all thank you.

Let’s make traveling as irritant-free as possible.

With love,
Auntie Beth

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Dear Jennifer,

Thanks for visiting! You gave me an excuse to go to Grant’s Farm. I had heard about it, but never gone.

The main reason to go? CLYDESDALES.

There also are elk, deer, giant rabbits, goats, zebras, donkeys, peacocks, llamas, water buffalo and camels (seriously) to admire.

And as it is the Busch Family estate, two free samples of beer.

What’s not great is the tram system. I did not realize you had to take a tram from the parking lot to the main attraction area, then wait for a tram to take you back.

This would be a fine plan if the retirees in charge filled the trams each. They did not. You and I were both annoyed by the lengthy wait times in the broiling sun.

Anyway, I’m glad we went. I’m also glad we enjoyed the many other lovely things this city has to offer:

  • And, of course, the pizza at IMO’s Pizza

We hit some major St. Louis highlights.

And we even saw a rainbow.

It was such a fun weekend, but now I’m exhausted!

Next time, I promise we will squeeze in Broadway Oyster Bar.

Safe travels, and come back soon!

Love,
Beth

*Thanks, Randy.

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Dear Holzhauer Auto and Motorsports Group:

It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.

Best?

When Gideon was visiting me, he found a 2014 Dodge Charger he liked at your establishment. (What is it with my kids and muscle cars? Just teenage boys, I guess.)

We took a drive to Nashville, Illinois, and purchased the car on the spot.

Gideon save up $2,000 for the down payment.

We were assured that you had inspected the car and all was well. We purchased a warranty to be on the safe side.

We drove back to St. Louis, and arranged for Gideon and Eddie to come up this weekend to drive it back to Georgia.

Worst?

I took the car for safety and emission inspections to get it registered.

I bet you know what is coming.

It failed the safety inspection because it needed a new catalytic converter, engine mounts, an engine leak fixed, etc.

I think you knew this. That’s why we got such a good deal.

And your warranty doesn’t cover any of that. Of course. (So what good is it? I’d love to know.)

More than $6,500 later, the car is finally road worthy.

Happy about the car. Not happy about the 12-hour drive ahead.

Sigh.

It was worth it to see Gideon so happy, but I’ll be contacting you tomorrow for a discussion.

Talk to you later!
Beth

*Thanks, Rihanna!

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Dear Bob Cassilly,

My guy, WHAT were you smoking when you created City Museum? Whatever it was, it was some good stuff. City Museum is like nothing I’ve ever seen in my life — in person or in movies/on TV. Not even “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” comes close to this crazy place.

When I moved to St. Louis, people kept telling me I needed to visit. However, I don’t like museums. (It’s true. I’m sorry. But I don’t think you do either.) Finally, my friend Kate said that it is not a museum in any traditional sense of the word. She tried to describe it, then basically gave up.

“You have to see it,” she said. “It’s … sensory overload.”

So I went. And she’s right.

City Museum is like a museum in the way that I am like Beyoncé: barely any resemblance in form or function.

It is a building that houses artifacts — artifacts presented in chaos. It’s a 10-story fever dream.

I’ve now been four times.

Why?

You created notable features such as:

• An actual school bus cantilevered on the top floor over the street

• A Ferris wheel on top of the building

• A 10-story slide

• A five-story slide (that has not been open any of the four times I’ve been)

• A cave system

• The world’s largest (maybe) pair of underpants

• Two airplanes

I can’t even begin to summarize what is there. And every time I go, I discover something new.

Dominic and Gideon were in town, and I said we were going. They, like me, are not into museums. I said, “Hold that thought.”

Neither of them could believe what you created. Dominic lamented that, at 6’2″, he is too big for some of the tunnels.

“I wish we had come here when I was a kid.”

I fully agree. This could have entertained them for HOURS, and they would have slept well. (Every parent knows a day that wears out the kids is a good day.)

Here is just a sample of what we got into at your creation.

A seagull disgorges Dominic.
Gideon finds a tunnel under the first floor. No, thank you.
Dominic goes where I won’t.
This is the entrance to a slide. Seriously.
The caged bird yells, “Take my picture!”
My hips don’t lie, nor do they fit in this opening.
Dominic makes it to the top of one of two castles.

Speaking of the castles:

I’m sorry, TWO WHAT NOW?

There were a few moments where I worried about their safety and mine. I was right to worry. From the actual City Museum website:

The do-it-yourself, trying-anything nature of the museum led, not surprisingly, to injuries and, also not surprisingly, to dozens of personal injury suits. Mr. Cassilly’s response was to post telephone numbers of lawyers at the door.

The kids and I developed the habit of them going first into some cave/tunnel/hole to do reconnaissance then reporting back about the viability for me.

This tunnel was not for me.
But this one was ok.

Yes, I used my own children as canaries in a coal mine.

I make no apologies. They were willing participants. And had a fabulous time.

I’m sorry you died an untimely death — a death that turns out not to have been a bulldozer accident. L’esclandre!

And I love that people who love City Museum can also live there.

It’s not for me (not enough windows or, you know, standard amenities), but I recognize the appeal.

So thanks, Bob, for never growing up. For creating a place so outlandish there is no equal.

Your fan,
Beth

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