Friday, August 27, 2010

A day in the life

I've had a few requests for more "every day" business on this blog, and particularly some information on Grandsons 1 and 2, Angus and George, so I thought I'd tell you about our recent Thursdays.

Hugh teaches on Thursday and Friday, and for the last eight weeks or so Jess has had work placements at rural health centres, so Budda and Granma have been looking after the boys on a Thursday (Jess's Mum, Kym, aka "Bamma", has them on Friday). It's easiest for the boys to be at home, so we go to their place in time to see Jess off and stay at least until Hugh and Jess get home, and usually for dinner.

Georgie Jacket has a midday sleep, but Angus is on the go pretty much all day, so we get a good work out, especially since a lot of the activity is at ground level. Toy cars figure largely in indoor activities; Angus has a rug in his bedroom with printed roads and buildings and he and I spend a lot of time running bus services and repairing the roads. Georgie J is learning fast and although he wails if Angus shuts him out of our bedroom play, he will occupy himself with the cars quite happily for ages. And I have to say that Angus is very good at sharing the toys, at least when he hasn't got something special planned with Budda.

Georgie Jacket

Georgie absorbed with his toys.

An undemanding little fellow.

Jeannie introduced Angus to Plasticene and it has become another favourite play, stretching my creative talents to the limits.

Late winter in Tasmania doesn't encourage a lot of outside play, but there are the chickens to be fed and checked for eggs, and when it's dry Angus has a garden bed where he can do some earth moving. Small boy's energy can be worked off on the trampoline and there's a nice walk down the creek to its little estuary and finally a small beach on North West Bay.

From Hugh and Jess's back step, looking across the yard to Snug Primary School.

The Girls, as Jeannie calls them.
One of the white ones has become an escapologist.

Angus, earthmoving.
The folded towel is for Budda's knees.

Angus, preparing for his career in the circus.

Pretty good on the trampoline, too.

Jeannie and Angus.
With other houses going up all around, there's always something to watch out of the window.

So we have a happy day; Angus always has things he wants to do and Georgie Jacket is so good-natured and obliging.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Katy Trail

In my last couple of days in Missouri I hired a car and drove not very far from Columbia to Rocheport, a quaint little town on the Big Muddy, but also one of the access points to the Katy Trail.

The Missouri River, or Big Muddy, at Rocheport.

Church at Rocheport.
(What's happened to my verticals?)

House at Rocheport.

Way back in the 1800s the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railway (=MKT, hence Katy, geddit?) ran from St Louis down into Texas, but in the second half of the Twentieth century it gradually lost steam, and the last freight train ran along it in the 1980s. But thanks to a local visionary and philanthropist, Ted Jones, the State of Missouri was able to buy up the track bed, and turn it into a bike trail and State park, one of the longest rail-trails in the US.

At Rocheport I was able to hire a bike and pedal off, binoculars round my neck, balancing the muscular effort against the cooling breeze. On the first day I went north to New Franklin, and one the second the other way to a bit beyond MacBaine.

Bridge on the Katy Trail.

The northern trip ran alongside wetlands at first, then through rather uninspiring corn fields, though there were always things to see. I almost ran over a little colourful snake, and a deer watched me approaching for a long while, apparently unable to work out what the strange creature was until I was just 30 m or so away. When I reached New Franklin I met the only other cyclist I saw all day. Perhaps this was because of the weather, since by now the clouds were building up and thunder was rolling around. As I cycled back one storm was moving ahead of my and another coming up behind, but they never got closer than a couple of miles, which was probably just as well on some of the exposed stretches of trail.

These flowers are common.
Hummingbirds like them.

Tunnel just north of Rocheport.
The only one on the Katy Trail.

The next day's southward run was more interesting as it was almost all right beside the river, under high limestone bluffs. Lewis and Clark passed this way in 1804 and noted "verry fine" indian pictographs on the cliffs made from pigments and inlaid mussel shells. Sadly the MKT engineers blasted alomost all of them away to form the railway, but a tiny fragment remains at one point. The weather was better today and many more people were out cycling. The Katy Trail is a major tourist attraction, and people cycle the while 300+ km.

Limestone bluffs along the trail.

Fragment of Indian pictograph.
The originals must have been spectacular.

MKT explosives store under the bluff.
That's what happened to the pictographs.

Burr Oak near the trail.
Included because it was the only place where I fell off!

The whole visit to Missouri went very well, and it was good to get to know another small part of the US, and one quite different from Texas.