Thursday, July 31, 2014

High School Reunion Two

The down side of my husband and me graduating from high school the same year (but not the same place) is that we have to juggle two class reunions in the same summer. While I am fortunate in that Jim knows some people from my class either through marriage or college, I do not have the same luck with his classmates. I met a couple of the guys back in 1976 or so, and perhaps a couple came to our wedding. Nothing to carry on more than a few sentences worth of conversation, for sure. But one classmate was a fraternity brother of Jim, and we went to his wedding. His wife and I are friends on Facebook, and thank goodness they came to the reunion this year. Alicia and I were able to entertain each other for two nights.

My in-laws still live in the town where Jim grew up, so it was wonderful to be able to stay with them and have a nice visit. As usual, we ate way too much. Homemade cinnamon rolls and brownies - oh my! It was hard to climb back in the saddle with my personal trainer this week for sure.

As luck would have it, two of the St. Louis birthday cakes were on our way up to Iowa. We were able to get the brand new cake at the August Busch Conservation Area as well as the one at Woods Fort in Troy, Missouri. They are both really nice, and located in interesting settings.

August Busch Conservation Area

Woods Fort

The night before we left for Charles City, I went to a Wine and Canvas party that was put on by Genevieve Esson, the artist for 4 of the cakes. She provided the paint and the canvases, and we were each to bring a photo of our favorite cake to paint. In my case, I had to narrow it down to my favorite cake that I thought would be possible to paint. Nine cakers showed up for the party, and did we ever have fun! It was not easy, but Genevieve and another artist helped with any questions we had. I was able to finish my cake in the time allowed, except that I did not have time to add the stl250. That is something I might try to put on, as it is a big part of what this is all about, in my estimation.

My inspiration cake at the Alton Visitors Center, and the finished product

This Sunday a group of us from the Cakeway to the West Facebook page are gathering at the Malcolm Martin Park across the river for a photo shoot and light breakfast. After that, my friend Caren and I will head to Alton and north to get my remaining five cakes. The end is in sight - except rumor has it that more cakes are being added. It ain't over until the last cake is placed!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Cakeway to the West - Head East!

Eugene Field House
On Saturday my niece Julie joined me on the cake hunt. There are a good number of cakes in Illinois, and a few are located in areas where it is best to have a travel buddy with you. (The same can be said for a few in Missouri as well.) I had ten cakes on the route for the day, but I wasn't sure if Julie would be up for doing all of them. Not everyone is as obsessed as me, and I get that. Because she had a meeting early in the morning, I stopped at the Eugene Field House Museum on the way over to Illinois to pick her up. This is one of the handful of cakes that is located inside, so you have to pay attention to hours. I arrived just after the museum was opening at 10:00. The guide was in the process of telling two women about the cake, and how it hadn't really been painted to their specifications. I could see what he was saying as the cake really had nothing to do with the history of the home or its owner. But I also know that many of the artists had no idea where their cake would be placed; thus some of the cakes make no sense in relationship to their locations. Nevertheless, it is a pretty cake and I was happy to check it off my list.

Julie and I had a hard time locating Malcolm Martin Memorial Park, and I wished that I had brought my car with the GPS. Even Siri failed me - probably wondering what in the heck I was doing in that neighborhood. When we eventually stumbled upon it - oh my! What a lovely park, and the best setting ever for one of the cakes! We definitely want to come back to the park with a picnic lunch so that we can watch the fountain explode, reaching a maximum of 600' - the same height as the Arch. (That only happens at noon, 3:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m.)
Malcolm Martin Memorial Park
We picked off all the cakes in East St. Louis before heading out to Cahokia Mounds, and then on to the World's Largest Catsup Bottle in Collinsville.

Cahokia Mounds
World's Largest Catsup Bottle
From there we drove to the Scott Field Heritage Park at Scott Air Force Base. Located outside the gates of the base, thankfully, this small park is home to several Air Force Military planes. I couldn't help but think how much my dad would have enjoyed seeing them. After that it was time for lunch so we went across the street to a strip mall. I like to try new places when I am out caking, so we skipped the two chain restaurants there and went into Chicago Fish-Chicken-Grill. We each got a salad, and they were huge and very tasty. With our stomachs full, we drove on to Carlyle to capture the Clinton County Courthouse cake. That was quite a drive on the back highways! I was at least hoping that I would get to see an historical courthouse, but this one is relatively new.
Clinton Co. Courthouse cake

Clinton County Courthouse
The last two stops were to the Sky View Drive-In and Our Lady of the Snows, both located in Belleville. I have never been to this drive-in before, and it has been a long time since I have been to the shrine. It looks like they have made a lot of changes there, so I definitely need to go back.

Old Cahokia Courthouse

Before I dropped Julie off at home, we made a quick pass by the Old Cahokia Courthouse. While I already had a photo of the cake there, I had neglected to take a picture of the courthouse. Julie had never seen it before, so she was fine with tagging along. All in all, we had a really good time together. She was a great sport and an excellent navigator. And I guess I didn't scare her off, because she said she would like to go out with me again.

There are now 246 cakes installed throughout the greater (emphasis on "greater") St. Louis area. With the 11 cakes I got on Saturday, I have 234 of them photographed. It is time consuming to catalog and edit the photos, getting them ready to put into a book. I also am researching a little about each site so I can add a description to each cake. One thing I can say for sure is that there are a lot of places in the area that I had no idea existed. And that is part of the fun of the hunt.


Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Family Gatherings

My niece, her husband and their 3 1/2 year old son came to visit for a couple of days on their way back to Texas. We haven't seen them since the family reunion in Branson last summer. They arrived on Monday afternoon, and unfortunately headed back home this morning. That did not leave us with very much time to visit. My great-niece came over Monday night and spent the night so that she could spend Tuesday with us, and my sister joined us Tuesday morning. Following a breakfast of egg casserole, cinnamon streusel bundt cake, and fresh fruit, we all piled into my SUV to go to Grant's Farm. While it was pretty hot out, the breeze kept it from being unbearable. Little Owen enjoyed the tram ride and all the animals we saw along the way, as well as the opportunity to feed the goats. We also caught part of the bird show, and all of the elephant show. After some cooling drinks we walked over to the barns to see the Clydesdale horses.

Clydesdale horses
And you know that I took a picture of the kids with the Grant's Farm cake!

Grant's Farm cake
That evening several more family members came over for a barbecue. It's too bad it was so hot that we could not enjoy our patio and beautiful gardens. We had to eat inside instead.

As I mentioned, the guests left this morning and I spent the day doing laundry and getting the house back in order. I love having company, but I'm not going to lie. I'm pooped!