|Our First Trip - 2001||Next|
September 1, 2001
We awoke at 6:00 a.m., our usual time, but did not rush getting ready. A few pictures of our first campground stop we on Terry's agenda, then we discussed our route. Although we had ordered a TripTik from AAA, we decided to change our plans after talking to a friend who had just traveled through Little Rock and Memphis. A lot of construction made for slow traveling that way. Besides Gerry really wanted to make a stop in St. Louis to see the Budweiser Clydesdales. Carol and David, our friends in Corpus Christi, bought two Budweiser Clydesdales several years ago and keep them on a beautiful piece of property in Flour Bluff, Texas. They let us put in an electrical hookup so we can pull in our RV and stay there. Gerry has driven the Clydesdales in parades and loves working with them. The gentleman that David dealt with in their "adoption" is now in St. Louis, so we hoped to see the setup they have there. J.P. and Dusty are beautiful animals and as gentle as can be.
As Terry played with the trip planner to reroute the trip, she discovered that we would be less than 50 miles from cousins she hasnít seen in more than 20 years. Getting a phone number was a real challenge. There were no listings in Macks Creek, the last address she had. But a call to the friendly clerk at the Post Office there revealed that the family had moved to Camdenton, a short distance away. Information provided two good numbers for family there. The AAA book shows a campground just outside of Camdenton that will make a good stopping point for the day. That way we still get in a full day of driving and then itís less than 200 miles into St. Louis.
The last time Terry saw this branch of the family was in 1976 on a trip up to Seattle. We had just purchased a truck and slide-on camper. Gerry was out on sea trials on the Coral Sea Air Craft Carrier and Terry took the kids and her Mom up to visit family along the way. Her Momís oldest sister, Blanche, was visiting her sons in Yakima, Washington, and they all stopped in. Rene and Ray lived there and Clifford (who died about two years ago) and his wife, Dolores, and some of their children had driven Aunt Blanche there from Minnesota. Sabra, the youngest, was the one Terry made contact with first this time.
When Terry was in third grade, she lived with her Aunt Blanche while her mother went to nursing school. Clifford and Dolores hadnít been married very long at the time and they visited home frequently. A little girl sadly in need of a father figure, Terry always had a soft spot for Clifford because he made her feel special when he was around. He had served in the Navy and Terry remembered the framed picture of him in uniform that his mother kept on the piano. Terry wondered if that was where she acquired her attraction for sailors.
We found the RV park right on the Lake of the Ozarks and, after calling Dolores, discovered we were less than a mile from where they lived. Dolores came with her oldest daughter, Debbie, to pick us up. When I first met Dolores many years ago, she was pregnant with Debbie. I remember holding and playing with Debbie when she was just a baby.
Dolores has been through the mill. Sheíd lost all her hair from chemotherapy, but she was tickled to see us. Debbie came home from Skagway, Alaska, to stay with her Mom, who had also had a heart attack. Things have been in an upheaval with selling her home and finding a place to live. We apologized for dropping in on such short notice, but Dolores said it was probably just as well. She would have felt as though she had to do too much to get ready for us. As it was they fussed over supper - a delicious meal of Ravioli, salad and Red Velvet cake for dessert. Terry has been serious about losing weight and had not eaten pasta in weeks, so it was a real treat - also no dessert for that long, either. A little piece of cake was a welcome change that we both enjoyed immensely.
We had with us pictures that Terry is using in her scrapbooking, including some of our family and of Terry's brother, Tim, to show her. Dolores had Roberge family genealogy papers that she copied for us. We also had a good sized bag of frozen blackberries in the freezer that Terry was reluctant to use, knowing that she would eat more than she should of anything made with it. So we left it with them. Actually, it turned out to be a trade for cans of smoked salmon that Debbie brought with her from Alaska.
Sabra, the youngest of Dolores' children, was there when we got to the house. She had a houseful of teenagers to check up on so she couldn't stay very long. She was about 14 when we last saw them and our daughter Vicki was 12 and son Mike was 11. Sabra still has pictures of that visit and remembers them fondly.
They are a warm, loving family - that was obvious by how the girls treated their Mom. For a short while, as a little girl, Terry was part of a big family with lots of cousins close to her age. Once her family moved from North Dakota, she seldom saw any of them. They all remain forever young in her memories. Dolores said she remembered Theresa as having thick braided hair that she wished she had, even back then. Before she lost her hair, it was stunningly white. They both remembered a shared vacation to a lake near Rugby, North Dakota, the summer that Terry lived there. All the kids stayed in the water on small inner tubes for hours. When they got out, it felt like their arms were still stuck in that position.
Terry's Uncle George, who was her motherís youngest brother and a favorite uncle of hers, and Clifford, his nephew, were just about the same age. They remained very close over the years, and although they did not live in the same area any longer, Clifford died of the same kind of cancer as Uncle George. It was obvious how much Dolores misses him. To Terry, Debbie and Sabra both look a lot like their Dad.