Thursday, September 14, 2017

Grizzly Ridge

Last night we attended a donor's event at the St. Louis Zoo to celebrate the new exhibit, Grizzly Ridge. The exhibit opens to the public on Friday, but donors got a sneak peak. Jim's company, SWT Design, is not only a donor to the zoo but also was part of the design team for this project. It was a beautiful evening, and the donors came out in droves to see the two new grizzly cubs, Huckleberry and Finley. The two sibling cubs were left orphaned when their mother was killed in July of 2016 by Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks Service for being a menace to domestic animals and a threat to humans.

The cubs were taken in by ZooMontana until the exhibit in St. Louis was recently completed. They could not keep the cubs as they currently have two adult males in their zoo, and they were concerned the males would not accept the youngsters. In the interim, they alternated the times that the bears were in the outside space so that the adults would never be in the same area at the same time as the cubs. I'm not sure exactly when the bears arrived in St. Louis, but they probably quarantined them for at least 30 days before letting them into their new enclosure. They were allowed in the outdoor space on Wednesday the 12th in preparation for their debut on the 13th. As mentioned above, the Centene Grizzly Ridge opens to the public on the 15th of this month.

Grizzly Ridge
The new grizzly space is very nice, complete with a waterfall and pool for the bears to swim in. The glass surrounding the space allows ample opportunities to view the bears. But as someone who takes lots of pictures, I have to say that I miss the old space where glass did not interfere with photography. Just for fun, here's a photo of the bear exhibit that my father took in 1943 when he was stationed at Jefferson Barracks for training.

St. Louis Zoo 1943
commemorative bears
Following a buffet dinner at the zoo, we were free to wander around a bit so we caught some of the antics of the popular polar bear. As it began to get to dark, we headed back to Living World to exit to our car. Everyone received a commemorative stuffed bear on their way out. It was so cute I could hardly bear it - ha!

Sunday, September 10, 2017

See You in September

Last week our daughter flew into St. Louis with a co-worker, who happens to be from Kazakhstan. As I was unfamiliar with that country, I had to look it up. It is a central Asian country that used to be part of the soviet republic. One of the things that is so intriguing about where our daughter works is the fact that many of the employees are from other parts of the world. How wonderful to be exposed to all those different cultures!

St. Louis Arch
They only spent one day in St. Louis, so we went to see Jim's office before going downtown to look at all the new projects. The girls went up in the arch while I hustled back to my car to move out of a two hour parking zone. The next morning the gals took off in a rental car to drive to New Orleans for the holiday weekend. Oh, to be young again...

Jim and I took off for Iowa to visit his family. We had a very nice weekend getting caught up with his parents and sister. When we arrived back in St. Louis on Tuesday, September 5th the timing worked for us to pick the girls up at the car rental location near the airport. Early the next morning, we took them back to the airport to return to LA. While our time with them was short, we had a lot of fun.

We have a heptacodium miconioides, or seven-son flower, shrub growing on the north side of our house. I've always enjoyed the late summer blooms and the peeling bark on this plant, but this year the shrub gave me another reason to love it. The painted lady butterflies have arrived in droves. In addition to all the bees, the plant is alive with color and movement. I've never seen anything like it outside of a butterfly conservatory. The beauty is very calming in light of all the devastation the hurricanes are causing throughout the world. I continue to pray for all of those affected by the storms.

painted lady butterflies

Monday, August 28, 2017

Visiting the Sunflower State

We had a wedding to attend in Colwich, Kansas over the weekend. Upon further planning for the trip, we realized that it would be too far to drive in one day considering that we were not getting out of St. Louis until 2:30 on Friday. We went as far as Kansas City and spent the night with Jim's sister and her fiancé. It was a quick visit, but it was nice to catch up with them both before continuing on our way at 10:00 Saturday morning.

We arrived at our hotel in Maize, Kansas (a northern suburb of Wichita) at 1:00, and fortunately they had our room ready so we were able to freshen up before heading over to Colwich at 1:30. That was a short drive of 4.5 miles, so we arrived in plenty of time for the 2:00 ceremony. Held at the Catholic church in town, the service lasted 1.5 hours and was the most traditional mass we have attended since the '70s.

The reception was held in the parish hall, so we just had to walk next door. It was a very nice event, and we got to see a totally different side of the priest. Still dressed in his black cassock, he sure could cut a rug on the dance floor! He knew all the dance steps as well as the words to the songs. It was fun to watch him. We might have spent a bit of time in the photo booth as well.
wedding fun
When I looked out our hotel room window the next morning, I was treated to the site of three hot air balloons floating across the golden sky! I looked for Dorothy and Toto, but they were nowhere to be found.
hot air balloons
Following breakfast, we drove to Derby, Kansas to see one of Jim's projects. Though it took us about 50 miles out of our way, it was nice to see as Jim had not been there since completion. From there we went to Baldwin City to have lunch with one of Jim's motorcycle riding buddies. Jimmy is a police officer in Lawrence, and while I have met him many times I had not yet met his wife. I'm glad we had the chance to change that.
Derby project
We then took a quick stop at JoEllen's house again as we had forgotten our cooler and ice packs there when we left Saturday. It wasn't too much out of the way, and we'll need those for our next trip. Then we finally got on the road for home. Unfortunately we had rain for 2/3 of that journey, but despite the ugly clouds nothing severe happened.
Kansas clouds
We put nearly 1,000 miles on the car over 3 days, and that is a bit much for my liking. But seeing family, friends and celebrating the next chapter in the lives of a great young couple made it worthwhile.