This past week my parents came into town for a visit. It was only their second time in St. Louis so Mike and I were excited to show them some more of the city they hadn't seen before, and go back to some of the places they loved the first time. They got in on Sunday afternoon, and I spent the next two hours hanging out and watching their dog Nash and Bauer chase each other all over the house and the backyard. Those two are best buddies and they hadn't seen each other since we'd left Albany in April. Needless to say, they were pumped.
After a St. Louis dinner of pork steaks, homemade baked beans, and pasta salad I got to head off to work overnight doing inventory. Yuck.
On Monday we decided to hit the road and take about an hour drive to go check out Meramec Caverns. The place was incredible. Aside from being a hiding spot for Jesse James back in the day, which is cool if you like history, it was gorgeous. The tour of the caves was about an hour long and Mike grabbed some truly amazing pictures.
Tuesday we took my parents to Lone Elk Park. It's a state park that was turned into a kind of training facility for soldiers during World War II and then also for the Korean War. They moved out all the native wildlife, built bunkers and shooting ranges for practice. Years passed with no sign of wildlife until one day, as the story goes, one lone elk walked right out into plain sight. It's not known if the elk was living all that time unsighted or if it had just recently moved into the area, but that was how the park got it's name. Now visitors can drive in and take a driving tour of the park checking out both the elk population moved back in, and a bison population they've added. It was calving season, so we didn't see a single female elk, but there were five males complete with huge racks hanging out around the park. One was even laying right next to the road and allowed us to pull right up and snap pictures for a while.
The bison were in view, but not terribly close, so we only spent a short time watching them. A raccoon family was spotted along with a few wild turkeys and a couple of deer. Pretty good wildlife viewing that day. Then we headed to Bandana's for dinner, which may have the most amazing barbecue you could ever want. I literally crave this place when we leave for the season.
Wednesday was our trip to the zoo day. My parents requested this trip so we spent the afternoon taking the tour. I go multiple times a summer, so I have my route through the zoo down to a science. Easily one of the best parts of the trip was the hyenas rolling around and playing in the water. I've never seen them so active. Of course, the penguins were on fire just spearing through the water looking way more agile than you'd ever expect, and we all got a good laugh at their antics. The black mamba, just like every other time I've seen it, was moving around like crazy and creeped me the F out. I get chills every time I see that thing. I'm not sure any other animal terrifies me more than the black mamba. I'm shaking now just thinking about it. We headed over to Zia's, one of our favorite Italian joints, for dinner and finished the day off with a trip to St. Louis institution, Ted Drewes for some concretes. The Fox Trot is always a good choice.
Thursday we just spent hanging out around the house. The 100 degree heat index weather had taken it's toll and despite the fact that it was much cooler that day, we were all just tired. Even Nash and Bauer had calmed down and weren't playing as much. We did go to dinner at Citizen Kane's with both my parents and Mike's parents. They have the best steak we've eaten anywhere, and Mike and I have been to a lot of famous steak places simply because of all the different places we've lived. It's also the place we went to dinner the night that we got engaged. While everyone else raves about the ribeye there, I always go for the filet. You can't go wrong with either. Then we took my parents down the road to the rink where Mike proposed to show them where it happened. While it can sound completely cheesy that Mike proposed in a rink, trust me when I say that there was so much more that I'm not going into detail on that made it truly perfect and special to us as a couple. He didn't just do the I play hockey so I'll propose at the rink proposal. It was so much more. Then my brother arrived into town late that night to spend the weekend.
Friday was the night of our engagement party. I was worried through part of the afternoon because a pretty good thunderstorm blew in and it looked like it might go on throughout the night. Because of how many people were coming we chose to just rent a pavilion at the local park and have an outdoor party rather than rent a huge space someplace. However, the storm was over more than an hour before the party started and it took the heat away with it. It was actually beautiful out and the nicest night we've had in over three weeks. We spent the entire night celebrating with some of our closest friends and family in St. Louis, and it was a great night.
We had our favorite Mexican restaurant, Mi Lupita, cater the party. We had a taco and fajita bar set up with plenty of chips and salsa and guacamole. For anyone not interested in Mexican we had a deli make up a bunch of sandwiches, pasta salad, and a regular salad. We're truly thrilled that so many people showed up to celebrate with us and thankful for both of our parents. We couldn't have had the successful night that we had if it wasn't for all their help setting things up and making sure that things went smoothly. We finished the night off with some of our friends coming back over to our house for a game of Daytona 500, our favorite board game. There's a lot of thinking, scheming, and screwing people over in that game, and there's always plenty of laughs when someone's car gets blocked in and they can't make a move.
My parents left Saturday morning and while I was sad to see them go, I'd like to think they had a good time during the week. Not to mention that in about a month I'll be back in NY and staying with them for a bit until the season starts. It's just easier to leave St. Louis at the same time as Mike and stay with them until training camp is over than it is for me to have to try to move all of our possessions halfway across the country by myself. It's only hitting me now that the hockey season is almost upon us. This summer has flown by. I guess that means it's time to get this wedding stuff rolling. It'd be nice to have just about everything that can be done, done before the season starts. We'll see if this procrastinator does just that.....