England: Visiting villages in Northamptonshire

Wow, what a day!

Andrew and Toni took Nan and me around to a number of villages in Northamptonshire with family connections.

The first stop was Brafield on the Green. At the church we found a lady who had just finished cleaning and was heading out. She graciously opened th church for us and directed us to the farm that formerly belong to the Satgeant family. My great-great-grandmother Emily Elizabeth Barker worked there in service (more or less as a maid).

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England: Oxford

Today we took a trip to Oxford. I had asked about the possibility of going, mostly because of my interest in Tolkien and the Inklings.

The company included myself, my mom, my uncle Raymond, his son-in-law Andrew, and Andrew’s daughter Charlotte. Andrew was our tour guide and Charlotte was our chauffeur.

It was a great trip. Highlights included climbing an old Saxon church tower,eating at the Turf Tavern, having a drink at the Eagle and Child pub, and seeing a couple of backpackers dressed in complete Mario and Luigi costumes,

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The ranch

Last year my aunt Joyce invited us to visit the ranch she shares with her husband Ted and my cousin Dion. I have never really visited a ranch in Texas, so I thought this would be a cool opportunity, especially for the girls.

We made the pretty drive into the hill country to a little town called Kendalia. Uncle Ted and aunt Joyce met us there on their motorcycle and guided us the rest of the way to the ranch.

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2nd Great Road Trip: Houston

Driving to San Antonio from St. Louis is a 16-17 hour affair. Our strategy for this trip was much the same as when we traveled out to Washington. We would visit various friends/places along the way to break up the trip and make it easier. As mentioned in our previous blog post, the first day of traveling took us to Texarkana. On the second day, we drove south through Tyler to visit Bullard, my old hometown.

After Bullard, we kept going south to Houston, where we stayed with one of Yoli’s American friends from Bolivia (yes, you read that sentence right), Sonja. Sonja and her husband Jody have three kids, close in age with our kids.

(Keep reading for photos and video)

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Back in Bullard

The Renaud traveling imperial caravan is on its way through Texas. Our final destination is San Antonio by way of Houston.

We started Monday off in Texarkana, Texas, where we had stayed the night before in a hotel. Before we took off on the rest of our trip, we wanted to get a quick photo in front of the town’s famous post office which straddles the Texas-Arkansas border.

Then it was time to head down to my old hometown Bullard, which is a small town south of Tylerin northeast Texas. I lived there in the mid 1980s when I was in kindergarten, first grade, and part of second grade. I have a lot of memories from that time and since it was on our way to Houston, i thought it would be fun to stop by and show the girls our old house.

Here’s the house. The subsequent owners made some changes, the most notable of which is a second story above the garage. Otherwise the house looks much like I remember it, though the yard seems a little more wild.

Once upon a time, my dad built us a treehouse in the backyard. It no longer exists, but I looked for it just in case.

This sandy spot is the remains of a place in the yard I always called “the beach.”

The best part of our stop was dropping in on one of our neighbors from the old days (and surprising him). We had a great time swapping stories and visiting.

Visiting London (…the baby)

On Tuesday, The Renaud Empire visited our fellow Renaud realm in Rolla, to see our new niece/cousin London Olivia. What a cute girl! Justin was out when we first arrived and Becca was dealing with London, so Hayden and Keaton showed us their bedroom and their playroom in the basement.

Justin’s house is pretty nice. They bought it, gutted it, and built the inside anew. They have a great basement, and we spent some time playing Wii games. We also played outside, and I got to enjoy his portable disc golf basket. Justin also took me to their church (where he works) and took me on a tour of the new sanctuary and other stuff they are nearly finished building.

All in all, it was a fun day. Here are some photos to enjoy: