Over the past few years, I have coached both First Lego League and First Lego League Jr. teams at Vogt Elementary. The older FLL team has always been called the Viper Bots. The younger team has changed its name over time: First they were the Sci Girls, then the LadyBots. This year they became the Unicorn Girls.
Well, we ended up having so many interested 1st-3rd grade girls that we had to add a second Jr. FLL team: the Unimermaids. It was quite an experience coaching these two teams, along with co-coaches Yoli and Heather Roberts, and our middle school helper, Ludi.
Our kids were off school (presumably in celebration of International Josh Day), so we took the Golden Eagle and Brussels ferries to Pere Marquette, Grafton, and Elsah.
This was our first time driving through Calhoun County, and it was really lovely. We had heard of it many times via the Farmers Market, since we often buy Calhoun County peaches. The rolling hills and curvy roads were lovely. I would love to go back and just walk there.
The River Road and Pere Marquette State Park had absolutely fantastic fall foliage. We saw some bright yellows and reds as we hiked up to McAdams Peak.
The leaves in Elsah were not as vibrant as I have seen in some previous years. We were also disappointed to find the General Store wasn’t open. Elsah always seems to be shut down on Mondays and Tuesdays. Oh well.
Editor’s note: This summer we spent a few days at the “clubhouse” built by my great-grandparents near Clearwater Lake. It was our first time back there in a few years. Though the lake was very high because of spring floods, we still had a great time. On our way home we visited the Johnson Shut-ins. Ludi shares a few memories from the trip:
When we got to the lake, my dad needed to buy supplies for fishing. The Lake was very high. The only way to reach the dock was by boat. Josie and Joseph rode a boat with him to go to the dock to buy stuff.
During our trip, my dad was whittling. I asked him if I could try. He had one or two extra pocket knives, so he let me use one that he got at church. That’s how I learned how to handle a pocketknife and how to whittle.
We hung up the hammock. We walked around. We went fishing near the top of the flood parking lot, then waded in the water after we finished fishing.
After several days, we packed up and got ready to go to the Johnson Shut-ins. There were these huge rocks there, so you could climb on top of a rock, and there would be water going over it. You could slide down it like it was a slide.
As you got deeper through, the water would get much deeper. It was fun because there were certain areas where there were big rocks together, so it was like a fort. Me, Josie, and Joseph would play in the fort and splash water at each other and stuff. Then there was a scary part: a family said they saw a snake. Me and Josie were really scared because I thought I saw a snake when we were heading back towards the shallow area, but we never did actually come across one.
This morning Yoli and I had a rare kid-free couple of hours. We thought it would be fun to to see the new film Jerusalem on the Imax screen at the St. Louis Science Center.
The film is very nicely done. Narrated by Benedict Cumberbatch, it tries to show the different facets of Jerusalem through the inhabitants. The film features three girls: one Jewish, one Christian, and one Muslim, who talk about their lives in the different quarters of the old city. The film also features beautiful visuals, and a good helping of archaeology and sightseeing to explain why different faiths care so deeply about particular places.
Watching the film with Yoli transported me back to the year 2000. As the editor of the student newspaper at UMSL, I received a flyer in the mail inviting me to apply for a seminar in Israel for college newspaper editors sponsored by the American Jewish Committee. It didn’t take me long to decide to apply.