Garden Update: 07.03.23

The garden’s in full-swing! First, I should note that we’re in relatively severe drought conditions here in Missouri, though we got a little rain over the past few days. There are storm chances still this week, but a lot of it is “pop up” kinds of systems, rather than good, sustained, rains. Thus, I’ve been watering the garden every few days. I mowed today, but honestly, I can only see where I’ve mowed near the garden, as that’s the only grass actually growing…

First, we’ve got some zucchini! This is the biggest one, though there are others coming on. We’ll give this one a few days, but we’re well on our way to getting some of these to dehydrate and chop up for smoothies later this year. Maybe we’ll have one fried zucchini (as that’s usually enough), but the kids aren’t huge fans and we’d probably just end up wasting it.

The tomatoes are doing well! We’ve got one (or two?) cherry tomato plant, so those are just now starting to turn, but a lot of the big “slicer” plants are doing well. Brooke’s tied them up a few times so far, so with watering help, they’re still growing pretty well.

Given how much sun we’ve been getting, I wouldn’t be surprised if these start turning within a few weeks! There are a lot of big-ish ones like this on the various plants, but this was probably the highest concentration of them.

And some cute cherry tomatoes! Meg’s going to be gone for a lot of July, so she isn’t going to get to eat a lot of these, I’m afraid, but hey, it’ll save us a few trips to Aldi for them…

The pepper plants…well….look like our typical pepper plants. Last year’s crop did shockingly well, so perhaps I’m a bit spoiled, but I was hoping for a bit better out of them. It’s still a little early, I guess, but the plants are still relatively small and I haven’t seen many (any?) flowers on them. Perhaps it’s because they’re mostly under the tree so they get more shade, or maybe it’s the lack of rain…but either way, they’re still pretty tiny.

The beans are doing alright, though! Brooke had to re-plant a few seeds to fill in some gaps. She picked an ice cream bucket of them today, so I think we’re bouncing back after a somewhat “down year” in 2022!

The leafy greens, we’ve mostly let go, at this point. I think Brooke’s going to pick some and dehydrate them for smoothies this Fall, so it won’t all go to waste. Strangely, they haven’t really gone to seed all that much, so I think they’re still mostly growing? Probably about time to dig up those carrots and see if anything’s actually down there, too….

And last, but not least, the potato bags. The sweet potatoes are looking pretty good (the middle, green one). The regular potatoes, though, those leaves just don’t look all that good to me, so I’m not sure how those are going. The onions look alright, too, so hopefully all is not lost from this little experiment.

The peaches are starting to turn, but I didn’t take a picture because they’re sooooo little due to lack of rain. We also haven’t seen japanese beetles this year, either, but maybe that’s because of the lack of rain and lack of peaches to feed on. Blessing in disguise, perhaps? Hopefully we end up getting something!

On second thought, I never posted pictures of cherries, so here goes!

We were actually in town during the main cherry haul, so we actually got a pretty decent amount! Plenty for Calvin to go out and eat a handful, and also enough for a cherry pie, so that worked out well! Our strawberries also did pretty well, though they’re getting smaller with each year, so it’s probably about time to re-plant some new ones!

State Park #18: Bennett Spring State Park

This post is part of an ongoing series summarizing each State Park in Missouri that our family has attended. We hope to visit each of 54 State Parks before the kids graduate from high school.

Part of the benefit of this little “exercise,” highlighting state parks we’ve visited with the kids, is that there’s always one I’ve somehow missed that I should have mentioned before, and it turns out, Bennett Spring State Park is another such example. Thankfully, we didn’t visit this park that long ago, but it was still mid-August 2022, as we were heading on a float trip with the kids for the first time (which I also never blogged about. Oops.). As part of the trip, we hit Bennett Spring on the way down to go floating on the Niangua River and stay in a cabin for the night, which was a nice little getaway before school started.

Regardless, Bennett Spring State Park has a few things going on, but it’s primary “claim to fame” is the start of trout fishing each year. This year, over 1600 people showed up the weekend of March 1st to go fishing, so it ends up being a pretty big draw for that crowd.

Thankfully, those of us that don’t do much trout fishing still had a few other things to see. Bear in mind that we were heading down to go “glamping” in a cabin (with A/C, no less…because it was mid-August in Missouri…), so we didn’t have a ton of time to explore everything the park had to offer, but we did get to check out the interpretive center they had.

Honestly, we were pretty impressed by the extent of the exhibits! I don’t know if it was a combination of funding for making a destination for semi-local schools, or if it was an excuse to entertain kids while their parents went fishing, but there were tables set up in an open space for instructors to talk to kids about local flora and fauna; there were displays talking about springs across the Ozarks (pictured above, obvi), and a lot of cool models of animals and insects endemic to the region.

We ended up killing a remarkable amount of time checking out all of the exhibits in the area, especially the large insect models that Calvin was quite interested in. He’d already heard/read about some of the species we could find in the park, but seeing them enlarged to 1000x was pretty cool for him. Meg and Brooke mostly read through some of the signs, but still got a lot out of the nature center.

Again, we didn’t actually camp at the park, but there are quite a few options available, including tent camping, group sites, and cabins. A substantial amount of the focus is on fishing, so we suspect this park gets especially busy during the trout season, perhaps making it a little less “isolated” than some of the other state parks, depending on what your desire is. I could see it being more “busy” than we’d really want to deal with, but then again, you can’t argue with the fishing opportunities if that’s your thing.

There are a few hiking trails along the State Park, most of which are less than a mile long. They do have a 7.5 mi Natural Bridge trail that runs in a loop through the park, but after the drive down there, we weren’t going to get the kids to go along on that kind of thing. It didn’t seem all that hilly in the area, so I suspect the trails aren’t too bad for most people, but in mid-August in Missouri, the bugs and spiderwebs weren’t particularly fun, so I’d recommend hitting those earlier in the year than when we attended.

Bennett Spring seems alright, but it clearly has a focus on fishing! Maybe when the kids are more grown up and I decide to get into trout fishing, we’ll go back and check it out further. For what it was, it seemed pretty good!

Sam Linsenbardt: ca. 2005 – 2023

Brooke and I were married in June 2005 and shortly moved to St. Louis. As many young married couples do, within a few months, we thought it was time to consider a pet, but given our work schedules and general lack of desire to walk a dog a few times a day (at the time…), we considered getting a cat. Neither of us had ever had an indoor pet cat before, though Brooke had plenty of outdoor cats at her house growing up, and I was exposed to farm cats at my Grandma’s house. Honestly, we weren’t entirely sure what we were getting in to, but we figured that a cat would probably be easier to manage because we could leave it at home when we went back to Columbia, Hannibal, or on trips. It seemed like a relatively convenient and pragmatic option.

So, we checked out the St. Louis Humane Society to see what they had available. They usually name cats that come in based on a theme, and the current one caused them to name cats after recent movie characters. Thus, looking over our options, we settled upon “Constantine,” who was named after the Keanu Reeves movie out that year. He seemed like a relatively friendly cat, though to Brooke and I, who didn’t grow up with indoor cats, we weren’t really sure what “friendly” meant in this case, as cats tend to have their own personalities (as we’d come to find out).

I don’t remember exactly how we settled on the name “Sam,” but I know we liked the idea of a name usually given to humans, and we also liked that it had fewer syllables than “Constantine.” Somehow, it seemed to fit, so we went with it. In that first few months, I didn’t even really post much about him, except that December when I posted about how he liked to climb up Brooke. One of the good things about a cat is that they’re present, but not necessarily the center of your life, unless you want them to be!

Sam was a good cat, though. He had his claws, which meant that we went through some furniture, as he never really liked scratching posts or catnip. He never really played with many toys, though he did love laser pointers. He somewhat famously hid under our bed for a week and peed on the bed after we brought Edie home a few years later. He was always pretty curious when we’d bring someone new home to stay, such as Edie, or especially Meg, after she was born in 2010. By the time Calvin arrived in 2013, Sam was used to having a young one toddling around.

Sam only made it outside a few times. In Soulard, he slipped through a rip in the screen window and went down the stairs to the courtyard below. We didn’t even know about it until we heard “meow” from outside and had to investigate! Another time, in our house off of Kingshighway, he got out Memorial Day weekend and we were gone for three days, only to return and see that the litter box hadn’t been used and no food was eaten. After a frantic search, we eventually found him in the garage out back, which had a door that could be locked, but couldn’t be closed all the way. Here in Marshall, he got out a few times after we first moved here, but it usually didn’t take too long to get him back from under the front porch.

As I said, cats tend to have distinct personalities, and Sam was no different. He was pretty friendly and would at least say “hi” to strangers when they were come by the house. A lot of our friends knew Sam to be a good cat to just sit and pet, and Sam would happily oblige. Early on, Brooke had to carry him around like a baby over her shoulder as she brushed her teeth in the morning. For most of his life, he’d curl up on top of us as we’d lay on the couch watching TV.

We also learned early on that Sam couldn’t be trusted sleeping with us, as any time we would move a leg under the covers, he would pounce on it (with claws drawn). This would remain an issue for years, especially as he grew older and couldn’t retract his claws as easily as he used to, making it less and less comfortable for him to curl up with us on the couch. He’d also get his claws stuck in blankets, rugs, and more.

Speaking of “couldn’t be trusted,” he also (in)famously helped Edie get some deer jerky from my uncle by climbing up on the fridge to knock the bag down for Edie to open and eat. Sam liked eating jerky, too.

Over the last few years, starting in 2020, he really started to slow down. Frankly, we weren’t sure how much longer he was going to make it back then. He stopped cleaning himself as much, and his fur became progressively more matted and difficult to manage. He still got around well and was eating and drinking, though it was getting more difficult to maintain his body weight, and he’d start throwing up if he ate too fast (common among cats, but not an issue until relatively recently).

In late-2020, seeing Sam already sleeping more and more and being less active, we opted to introduce him to Charlotte. He took to her far better than he took to Edie, and they would play together about as much as he could. She could run past him and get up on her hind legs to hop on his back, and he would “yowl” at her, presumably in annoyance. For a long time, Charlotte would lick his head, which would keep him looking a little better, but it only went so far. Still, those two cats got along well and we think Sam liked having another furry friend around to keep him company in his later years.

It is difficult to fully express what losing Sam means, but I can at least say that I’m a routine oriented person, and I’ve had a housecat for nearly 18 years, practically as long as we’ve been married. We have had this cat longer than we had Edie, and longer than we have had children. Not having him is going to leave a hole in our family that is difficult to fill, but in the end, we know that 18 years is a long, full life for a cat to live, and we are glad he was with us for as long as he was.

We love you, Sam, and will miss you. Rest well, Friend.

Garden Update: 05.29.23

The garden has really only just started, but since I took the time to weed the paver blocks around each plot yesterday, I figured now was a good time to take a few pictures!

We’ve had plenty of sunshine for the past few weeks, but rain has been very, very limited. We had a bit over 1.5″ a few weeks ago, spread over a few days, but other than that, I’ve had to supplement with the sprinkler a few times already in order to move things along.

The tomatoes are looking good, at least! A family friend started a lot of seeds over the winter and more of them “took” than he was planning for, so we inherited 14 plants, most of which are doing pretty well. Brooke also put zucchini in the mounds on front-left, but while a few of those plants are up, others were decimated by squirrels, so she may end up re-planting a few. The pepper plants are in the back-left, and only one of those is doing anything. Brooke picked up a few more plants yesterday that she’ll plug in soon.

The first plot that was planted included a few varieties of kale, some spinach, and some carrots, the latter of which was also spread around by squirrels (ug…). The kale and spinach are all doing well, though, and Brooke already processed and dehydrated some of it. We should get another month out of them, likely, before it gets too hot.

The bean plans are moving right along, but feel a bit slower to get going than I was expecting, especially the “soup beans” (furthest back). Our green bean haul was smaller than usual last year, so hopefully we recover a bit this time around. It’s a bit early to say, though, how this year is going to go – it’s only May!

The new thing Brooke is trying this year is these “potato bags.” I think she saw this idea on social media, or a targeted ad, or something….but the thought is that potatoes are annoying to have to dig up, so why not plant them in something that can be dumped out, instead? She’s got regular potatoes in the right hand bags, then onions in the left hand ones. The middle (green) one is where the sweet potatoes are going to go once she gets them planted.

When Brooke planted these, she put some straw in, as well as some compost, and some topsoil. It took a bit to get the mix the way she wanted it, but given how the plants are growing, it looks like she got it right!

A month ago, I wasn’t sure how the strawberries were going to do this year. We’ve had the plants for a few years now, and we haven’t really done anything to reinvigorate the plot, aside from directing “runners” back into the plot as best as we can. Well….

….I guess it’s going fine? We’ve probably picked two ice cream buckets-worth (you know, a universal, agreed-upon unit of produce measurement) of berries over the past few weeks. In years’ past, we haven’t always been here in early June, due to vacation/travel, but this time, we should be able to get a good sense of how much we’re actually getting. The berries are great, of course, and they went very well on angel food cake yesterday!

The next big thing will be cherries, though! Taking a page off the strawberries, again, we aren’t always here in early June, so we don’t always get the full harvest of cherries before the birds get them (though we don’t have as much of a problem with birds as my parents did years ago on our cherry tree). Again, like the strawberries, I don’t think I’m seeing as many cherries on there as I have in years past, but maybe I’ll be surprised!

Onward into June! We’re just getting started!

State Park #17: Lewis and Clark State Park

This post is part of an ongoing series summarizing each State Park in Missouri that our family has attended. We hope to visit each of 54 State Parks before the kids graduate from high school.

Hello! I am Meg Linsenbardt, and today I will be reviewing Lewis and Clark State Park! Enjoy!

We started off with a hike. It was brief, and was only 1.6 miles. If was sort of like a loop, so lots of variety in scenery. There were not very many trees, so you could see the entire path all the way throughout it. It was also nice and flat.

Then, we got to the main attraction…… The interpretive area! It is a nice big platform overlooking an oxbow lake, with a compass rose on the ground and lots of names of people who were on the Lewis and Clark expedition, and are now dead (I hope). There is a big compass rose in the middle, so people always will know what direction they are facing. When we stopped here, we did lots of interpretive dancing (true story) and moved on.

Although it is a lake, it was almost all the way dried up! There was not much to look at, except for the sign pictured, explaining oxbow lakes. So, we quickly looked at the lake and went back to the interpretive area.

We saw trees that were destroyed by beavers, but the beavers were not there because the lake was all dried up.

Overall, there is a lot of work to do at this park. There is definitely need for some rocks, or at least grass in certain areas. It looks like nobody has done any landscaping work here for a long while.

All in all, it was a pretty good trip. It was fun to do lots of interpretive dance, and the whole family got their steps in. We also knocked another state park off the list. We only have one more to go in the northwest section of Missouri! That is really exciting.

See you next time,

Meg Linsenbardt

Garden Update: 04.30.23

This season has been sooooooo dry, so in some ways we’ve been ahead in getting some gardening and landscaping done, but in other ways, we’re a bit behind. I finally tilled up a few garden plots today because Brooke was only able to burn one of the other plots a few weeks ago, maybe a month later than she normally would. It’s been so windy that it’s been difficult to pick a good day to clear brush from the Fall and Winter.

Part of what slowed us down was the rye Brooke planted in the western garden plot. She planted it as a cover crop last Fall and, by the time I got back from Albuquerque, it was at least 8 in. tall, so on Good Friday, I went and turned it over manually. The tiller wasn’t going to go through all the rye, so we had two options: either mow over it, then turn it over; or turn it over with the grass and wait for it to die off.

Well, it took 3 weeks for it to dry up to the point where I thought the tiller might work, and thankfully, it worked out to “fluff up” the soil relatively well.

Brooke seems to think she’ll be able to plant beans there sometime this week or next weekend, so as long as it doesn’t harden up, it should be good to go. The bigger plot is going to house tomatoes and peppers, so even though the tiller didn’t seem to turn it as well, planting tomatoes will require a shovel anyway, so it’s probably fine.

We’ll have to see how the western plot ends up toward the end of Summer. Not sure the rye cover crop was “worth it,” but perhaps I’ll be surprised.

In the northern plot, Brooke planted spinach, kale (seen in a tiny row above), and carrots. The kale is up, but only after Brooke started watering it. Cats have been out there digging in the dirt, so some of her seeds surely got dispersed to where they shouldn’t be. She planted these seeds about 3 weeks ago, so she wasn’t entirely sure they were going to take at all, but apparently it was the abject lack of rain, because watering the plot twice was enough to get them to finally sprout. We’ll have to keep watering them this week, as the forecast still only shows the occasional 40% chance of precipitation once or twice this coming week.

Brooke put some lettuce in the planter near our garden patio. It stays shaded nearly all Summer, so as long as we keep it watered, we should be able to keep fresh lettuce alive for a good portion of the Summer.

Last, but not least, we still have some buds in our strawberry patch. It doesn’t look as good as I’d like, but perhaps it still has some growing to do? Brooke tried “fluffing” it up a few weeks ago, pulling some of the straw off, but it still seems like we need to add some plants in there. We’ve had a few frosts this past week, and it appears that the flowers have survived well enough. We had plenty of buds on the pear, apple, and peach trees, so I think they largely avoided frost damage. At least this year, we’ll be here in early June, so we may get to see the strawberries and cherries come to fruition (see what I did there?).

State Park #16: Weston Bend State Park

This post is part of an ongoing series summarizing each State Park in Missouri that our family has attended. We hope to visit each of 54 State Parks before the kids graduate from high school.

I gotta be honest, I thought I posted about this two years ago, but apparently I didn’t. On July 17, 2021, we took a float trip around a “duck’s head” bend in the Platte River using our inflatable kayaks. It turned out to not be a great call, because Brooke and I punctured the bottom of ours a mile in (the sides kept us afloat!), whereas the kids’ kayak kept going pretty well. We weren’t on the river all that long, so it was a pretty lazy float.

Buuuut, while we were north of Kansas City, we opted to check out a local state park while we were there. Weston Bend State Park is maybe 15 minutes from where we were floating, and there was a bike trail following along the Missouri River, so Calvin and I took our bikes along and Brooke and Meg walked along the paved trail.

The park itself didn’t appear to have much going on, but had a solid campground and some trails. We didn’t look at the tobacco barns, though we drove past them. Frankly, it seemed like a pretty chill state park without a lot going on.

Still, the trails connect up to Weston, MO, which has antique stores, restaurants, and more, so it’s nice to have a campground connected to nearby entertainment, even though much of that “entertainment” is probably aimed at older folks and not at children. We had a good time biking, though the most exciting part of the trip was when Meg almost stepped on a snake. It sure looked like a copperhead, and thankfully before Meg could step on it, the snake kept on moving and nothing more “exciting” happened…

Considering it took 2 hours to get there, I don’t expect we’ll be visiting Weston Bend anytime soon again. Not a bad place, but didn’t really have much to do that we were interested in.

Blog entry number 1: The beginning of my future as a blogger

Hello. I am Meg Linsenbardt, the daughter of Andrew Linsenbardt, who is the primary author of this blog. I will be typing on this blog now. I am so excited! Let me tell you a little bit about myself.

1. I am a cat person, and hate dogs. DOGS ARE WET, FULL OF PEE, AND DISGUSTING. I have never enjoyed being in the presence of dogs, and I do not intend to.

2. I LOVE doing puzzles. In the past, I have done four. Some are 1,000 pieces, and some have only been 500. I even did one of those QR code puzzles that you can win money on if you scan the finished product. I only got one dollar, though. Did you know that the QR in QR code stands for quick response? And they are pretty quick. Whenever you scan them, the phone responds very swiftly.

3. I do not like most meats. Chicken, beef, and fish taste bad to me. Some people at my school think I am a vegetarian because of this, but I am not.

4. I am not very athletic. I am not on any sports teams or anything, and I only try hard in P.E. to make sure that I get an A.

5. I play the piano, double bass, and percussion.

And that is all you need to know about me for now. I know we will have a great future together as I go through this blogging journey. I will try to make another post soon. Bye!

(Remember, I am new at this whole blogging thing, so my posts might seem a little on the short side at first.)

Whirlwind Spring

The last few months have been rather crazy, which is reflected in the last of posting here (not that I am all that prolific a blogger these days…), so I figured I should fill in the gaps a bit for posterity. Last November/December, I had a few people here in town that I know suggest (push?) that I run for the Board of Education here in Marshall. There are 3 slots up, with two of those elected members running again, leaving an open seat (in the end, 5 people, including two incumbents, filed for those 3 slots). The people who suggested I run probably have more confidence in my abilities than I do, which is very kind of them, so I was a bit hesitant to make this jump. First, getting involved in public service like this opens me, and my family, up to folks on social media (specifically Facebook) to criticize and complain about everything you do, which I’m not sure I’m a huge fan of. At the same time, running for the Board would give me an opportunity to influence the educational opportunities my kids, and others, will have here in town. I do have some level of expertise in this area, so if I can be of help, I’m happy to do so!

The other big deal was that I already knew I had 2 faculty positions to fill this Spring, and within a week of filing to run for the Board, there was a third I had to fill, so I knew my schedule this Spring would be pretty challenging (narrator: “it was”). It certainly wasn’t a “good time” to make this kind of move.

To add to things, I was approached to also help out with the formation of a political committee that would seek to raise funds and support a tax levy in our school district, one that is essential to the educational prospects of Marshall. To keep it brief, it’s a $0.99 tax levy that would still keep Marshall below 64% of other districts in the State of Missouri, which is the bare minimum to keep the district competitive, in my personal view. Still, without it, the currently enforced levy will expire in 2025, creating a $2 million per year shortfall that will mean substantial cuts to programs and personnel. As I was running for School Board, certain parties in town offered that I could tie my name to the levy, hopefully promoting both issues at the same time.

Ultimately, I volunteered to act as Secretary of the group, mostly because a). I still type upwards of 90 wpm, and b). I’m organized and can keep an email list to make sure people show up to events. Because I’m on the executive team of the group, that meant meetings. Many meetings. All the meetings, sometimes on Sunday mornings, sometimes Monday nights, sometimes random other days during the week. But yeah, it’s been quite a ride so far, and after April 4th, hopefully my schedule opens up a bit. No matter what, the levy committee won’t need to meet anymore (because the levy will hopefully pass and I won’t have to worry about it any longer), and also, I’ll either be on or off the School Board, so I won’t have that uncertainty to continue thinking about and dealing with.

This past Saturday, as pictured above, we canvassed a few streets here in town, along with other members of the committee, to deliver brochures and get the word out on the levy. We’re sure there’s opposition, but we’ve got about 900 signs up around town, so hopefully that bodes well for the prospect of this levy passing. Unfortunately, Marshall hasn’t passed a levy or bond in nearly 50 years, so while I’m hopeful, I also have history in the back of my mind…

Mostly, I only type this to set a record in case I’m scrolling through this portion of 2023 sometime in the future, wondering what happened to my mental health back then. Fingers crossed I can maintain my sanity for a few more days!

San Juan Vacation – Part II

The next day, we stopped at the hotel for breakfast and a coffee place around the corner before heading to Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico. Again, this was something we could do because the kids weren’t with us, not because they wouldn’t have gone, but because we could take our time and not rush through the experience.

First, we had to have the experience, though, and apparently we got there too early! Google was “off’ by about 30 minutes for whatever reason, so we ended up finding a shady spot to kill time while watching folks walk around to the surrounding government buildings in what felt like the modern downtown San Juan.

Just before it opened, we checked out the gardens behind the museum, which were mostly empty, but is usually open for exercises, browsing, and yoga sessions. We strolled through it (it’s set up as a loop) near statues, trees, and plants, and eventually came to a bridge that was out, so we couldn’t complete the loop. Of course, this isn’t that big a deal, but it was still indicative of repairs still being made all over the island. In point of fact, right next to the museum, construction was still ongoing, likely putting up some relatively large government building. Near our hotel, multiple other hotels were being refit and renovated, so it was great to see progress on the island beyond simply picking up the pieces of Hurricane Maria like last time. We only hope they’re spared long enough to avoid more damage.

The museum was nice! We were there for maybe an hour an a half. Personally, art museums aren’t really my thing, but it was still nice to take in a different aspect of Puerto Rico. Some of the exhibits were specific to artists from the island, while others were from abroad, including from western Europe. We had a good time, and it was also good to see some school groups touring and learning about the artists and different artistic styles. Of course, they were learning in Spanish, so we couldn’t get much from it. Apparently I need to brush up a bit…

It rained a bit on us as we left the museum on our way to a grocery store, which we needed prior to visiting Playa Vacia Talega. We had to drive a bit to get there, mostly along the coast (obviously) until we found a relatively populated beach with cars just pulled off onto the sand. There were more people than we probably anticipated, but it still wasn’t that crowded. The picture above doesn’t really show anyone, but there were people pretty spread out throughout the area, mostly up and to the left in the picture, closer to the trees where there was some shade.

That night, we went to Rakuten Bar and Grill for sushi, as we figured some seafood would be a good idea while we were in an area with actual seafood. It was great, though there weren’t really any other people at the restaurant. We were, however, seated on the patio outside overlooking the four-way “not-stop” that really should have had stop signs. Seriously, there were no stop signs at any corner. So we’d see car(s) after car(s) come to that intersection and nearly hit each other. It provided plenty of entertainment, and to our knowledge, no one got hurt. 🙂

The next day was to be a beach day, as it was our last day on the island before heading out. Brooke found La Monseratte Beach, which wasn’t a free beach like the one the day before, but was still pretty cheap. It must have been attached to a resort or something years before, because it still had the infrastructure for bathrooms, food, a playground, and also had security dudes driving around patrolling. It was pretty nice! Very family friendly, and plenty of space to spread out.

It was a great last day. The weather was beautiful, the skies were blue, the water was warm, and we got to have fun in some pretty big waves! Brooke lost her sunglasses in the ocean when she got knocked over, which was rather hilarious. Her hip is still a little sore from it…but I think she’ll remember it fondly!

For the record, by some minor miracle, somehow we largely avoided sunburns.

For our last night there, we made reservations for a fancy restaurant, Ropa Vieja Grill, which isn’t really “fancy” as most people would say, but reservations were absolutely necessary and people were dressed pretty well, so it was “fancy” by Marshall standards. We hit up Tryst one last time for some drinks prior to the 8:00 pm reservation, but there must have been a conference in town because it was reserved for a group of mechanical engineers, so we got a small table off to the side and then went to the restaurant to wait for our table. Dinner was great, of course, and it was a lovely night to walk the streets of Condado before we left the next morning.

That Saturday when we returned was veeeeeeery looooooong. We figure it was about 18 hours of travel time. The flight to Dallas was around 6:45 am, plus we lost a few hours on the return trip due to the time zone change, then we had a 7 hour layover until flying back to Kansas City, so it took a bit of time in the airport. Thankfully, I had the foresight to figure out how to drop the rental car off the day before in Condado (we happened to notice they had a location a few blocks from our hotel, so I checked and, surprisingly, we could just take it there and Uber to the airport the next morning, saving us something like $150 in car rental fees…who knew??), so it made the exit from PR a bit more smooth. We also left Brooke’s car at the hotel we stayed at in Kansas City a few nights before, so after our plane landed at 9:00 pm, we called the shuttle, they came and picked us up, and we drove home to Marshall.

Thanks again to Mom for watching the kids while we were gone! It was a very nice getaway and we hope to go back again someday! I really enjoyed that part of the island, and spending more time getting to know San Juan (we were only there for one day last time), so next time, we probably need to hit up Ponce, or Vieques. Maybe for our 20th anniversary in 2025……. 🙂