From the desk of Mr. Pickles, Professional Competitive Eater

picles hot dog 2

Hi everyone, sorry I’ve been out for so long.  It’s a busy life being a long dog.  Plus, Bam is the only one who knows how to log on to mom’s laptop and he and I got into a bit of a snit over my chew toy – he doesn’t seem to understand it’s my job to take out the squeaker.

I’ve been looking for a new career lately.  Back up singing was a little harder than I thought it would be.  Britney still loves me, but the choreography was hard with my stubby legs.  I also recently found out that stubby legs make it hard to do the Kiki challenge.  Kiki (that’s my nickname for Killer) do you love me? Of course you do, everybody loves me.

Anyway, no worries I’ve found the perfect new career.  This morning on TV they were talking to Joey Chestnut about an ice cream eating contest at the Indiana State Fair.  This guy’s whole job is to eat more pints of ice cream than any other guy in the contest.  Uh hello??? Have you ever met a dachshund who can’t eat three times it’s weight in one sitting?

I looked up this Joey guy on Google and found out on the 4th of July he ate a record 74 hot dogs in 10 minutes.  PPHHBTTT! I can totally do that, I’m just sayin’ I could probably eat 75.  I mean I’m totally built to consume hot dogs, I even LOOK like a hot dog.  Even though Bam says he rocked the look first and I’m just copying, whatev’s Bam. (Was he really that little?)


There’re all kinds of eating contests, not just ice cream and hot dogs.  Tacos, Pizza, Ice Cream Sandwiches, Strawberry Shortcakes, Oysters (um… what are oysters?), Sandwiches – the list is endless.  There’s even a Major League Eating organization.  Mom’s going to send in my application next week.  Some of their upcoming contests are: Cheese Curds, Gyoza (I have no idea what that is, but I’m willing to eat anything), Buffalo Wings (YES! Dawson wants to enter that one too), Cheeseburgers, Tamales, Pork Roll Sandwiches, Moon Pies, and Catalina Croquetas.  I’m not sure what Catalina Croquetas are either, but mom said we can go because it’s at Calle Ocho in Miami.  I guess its Cuban food?!?!

I didn’t see doughnuts on the list, I would like doughnuts.

Mom said Teagan won an eating contest once.  She challenged one of the firefighters at dad’s station to a HoHo eating contest.  She ate 13 in 15 minutes.  She doesn’t eat HoHo’s anymore.  The sight of them makes her nauseous.

In other news I was playing hide and seek with RJ the raccoon that lives under our mini barn.  I found him hiding in the trashcan but he wouldn’t come out.  That’s not how the rules work.  I was too short to get into the trashcan so I did what any respectable hide and seek player would do.  I went inside and got my big brother and big sister to help.  Mom got really mad at us for trying to knock over the trash can.  Then she got even madder when she heard RJ inside.  She made Princess, Bam and me go inside and then she let RJ out of the trashcan. Not cool mom, not cool…. That’s not how you play hide and seek.  Now RJ won’t come and play anymore.

my friend RJ <——That’s my friend RJ

Teagan made the soccer team at school.  I’m totally going to be the mascot.  I just have to find an Achaean outfit and get over my fear of soccer balls.


Hmm that might be harder than I thought! Where do you get a broom helmet and scary creepy face shield?  Too bad she doesn’t go to Frankfort High School,  home of the fighting Hot Dogs.  I mean for real I need to apply to be their mascot!

Well, I’ve got to go practice for the next hot dog eating contest.  I’ve just got to figure out how to get mom to let me eat 75 hot dogs.  Bam says he can eat 76.  Maybe when you were younger buddy, but I got this now.  It’s a young pup’s game.  Oh, I better be nice to him or he won’t log me on the laptop again. Um…. Yeah Bam, buddy you got this!

Peace, Love and hotdogs…..

Mr. Pickles


The hunt for Red October


Sorry guys, Mr. Pickles is taking a break from blogging this week, he’s busy working on his next career goal.

Since it’s summer I thought I’d share something my family does on vacation.  It started as a random thing I decided to do to beat car trip boredom.  I made a scavenger hunt for the trip.  The first was on our girls + Dawson trip to Charleston and it ended up being pretty fun so I kept making them.

Just looking at the lists makes me laugh at some of the silly things that we’ve seen or done to check off the list.  It also doesn’t help that my family is super competitive and things like my sister and my nieces racing to the Love’s Truck Stop entrance to get a Java Amore coffee cup or everyone forcing my sister to eat gas station roller food, make for fun memories to look back on.

If you’re travelling, and bored or if you just want to have a little fun for the remainder of the summer I present you with the McClark Family Scavenger Hunt lists.

Side Note: No, no one in my family has the last name McClark, but one pre-vacation night at my mom’s we were trying to make an acronym of our last names and couldn’t.  So, we decided on Clark – for Clark W. Griswold.  I don’t remember where the “Mc” came from……. because we’re not Irish. 🙂


2013 Charleston Fall “Girls” Trip Scavenger Hunt

  1. Gas Station Attendant who looks like Elvis. 5 points       (8 points if it’s in TN)
  2. Car with 10 or more bumper stickers. 5 points
  3. Gas Station with more coolers full of beer than any other drink . 5 points
  4. Find a sign for a Candy Shop (on the upcoming Exit signs). 10 points
  5. Find a sign for a “Specialty” hamburger restaurant 10 points.     (no fast food chain, Red Robin, Bagger Dave’s etc.. local)
  1. Hurricane Evacuation Route sign. 5 points
  2. Palm Tree with Halloween lights. 8 points
  3. Sign/Advertisement for fresh/local fudge. 5 points
  4. Tunnel Ahead sign. 3 points
  5. People taking pictures of themselves by road sign.  5 points
  6. Sign in the shape of a food item or an animal. 10 points
  7. Sign for a strange roadside attraction (e.g. largest ball of twine).  10 points                    (subtract 5 points each if you use Ruby Falls or Rock City)
  8. Three-tiered fountain. 5 points
  9. The word “brilliant.”   8 points
  10. An ‘at night’ postcard – where the post card is all black. 10 points
  11. A matchbook with a restaurant logo on it. 15 points
  12. A bus schedule. 5 points
  13. Something that describes (team member).  5 points
  14. A historical marker.   2 points
  15. A fortune cookie. 3 points

(extra points if the word “happy” appears in the fortune cookie note)


BONUS:    UFO.    100 points

2014 Charleston – Destination wedding scavenger hunt.


  1. Item from a gas station/truck stop bathroom vending machine. 10 points
  2. Maps of at least 2 states from a rest area. 10 points
  3. Picture with your team setting off a firework on side of road. 50 points
  4. License plate # from a semi in the mountains. 10 points
  5. A “” picture. 30 points
  6. A bag of Gilliam Horehound Sanded Candy. 10 points
  7. 1 point for each condiment stolen from Chick-fil-A. unlimited
  8. Picture of a working payphone. 25 points
  9. Fortune Cookie from a Chinese restaurant. 5 points
  10. Bonus points if the fortune in #9 has the word happy in it. 10 points
  11. Weekly store ad from a store that we don’t have in Indiana. 5 points
  12. A Sand dollar (not purchased from a store). 50 points
  13. Get someone named “Sara” or “Teagan” to sing a “Tegan & Sara” song.  5 points
  1. Find a gas station with more coolers of beer than pop. 20 points
  2. Picture of (team member who doesn’t like seafood) eating seafood. 30 points
  3. Best Reason to disqualify someone’s “Slug A Bug.” 15 points **
  4. Matchbook from a restaurant w/ their logo on it. 100 points
  5. A receipt for exactly $4.38. 20 points
  6. Folded napkin art with a fast food napkin. 10 points
  7. A lottery ticket from each state we travel through. 20 points

** You can’t call a slug bug because….. it’s red, it has a bumper sticker etc.. make it up as you go.

2016 #bamafamavacation Scavenger Hunt

  1. Expired Cat Food at a Gas Station. 10 points
  2. Neil Diamond look-alike. 30 points *
  3. Lottery Ticket from any state but IN.  5 points each
  4. Belt Buckle larger than 3.5 inches. 10 points
  5. Carpool Karaoke video. 40 points **
  6. Java Amore coffee mug/cup. 20 points
  7. “Wash Me” written on a car (you can’t write it). 10 points
  8. Picture of local Mexican restaurant (not a chain) that doesn’t have Los or El in the name.  45 points
  9. Dress up a fire hydrant like a celebrity. 30 points
  10. Mystery Item. up to 100 points
  11. Poster, Flyer or Shirt for local festival. 30 points
  12. Bonus if item 11 doesn’t involve fruit or veggie. 15 points
  13. “Cake by the Ocean.” 10 points
  14. An Elvis impersonator. 75 points
  15. Place that serves “World Famous (____).” 15 points
  16. Vehicle with duct tape/plastic window. 10 points
  17. Team member eating “roller food.” 10 points
  18. Unicorns – anything with a unicorn on it. 5 points each
  19. Logo Matchbook from a restaurant. 75 points
  20. Comic Book Hero lunch date. 75 points

* Bonus of 50 points if you can get that person to sing Sweet Caroline

** Bonus of 20 points if props/costumes are used

As you can see we have a fun with our long road trips. Sometimes if no one finds something on a list it goes on next years list.  In 2016 they even made team names (TicTac Chicks, Aunt Eaters and No Ragrets).  I always feel sorry for Teagan because she has to team with her brother and her dad (because I make up the list) and they are less than enthusiastic about playing.

I hope your family has as much fun as mine did with these.  And for my family I already have started the list for October.

If Mr. Pickles would have written this blog the scavenger hunt list would be:

  1. Cookie. 10 points if you give it to me
  2. Dog Food. 10 points if you give it to me
  3. Cookie. 20 points if you give it to me
  4. Dog Food. 20 points if you give it to me
  5. Squirrel. 100 points if you let me say I caught it
  6. Cookie. 30 points if you give it to me
  7. Dog Food. 30 points if you give it to me
  8. Bacon. 50 points if you give it to me
  9. Cookie. 40 points if you give it to me
  10. Dog Food. 40 points if you give it to me

Mr. Pickles is NOT helping me with the Fall Vacation list.

You get 10 points for reading this blog (just to see which family members read it all the way to the end).



From the deck of Mr. Pickles, back up singer for Britney Spears

pick outside

Last night Teagan was listening to Britney Spears, very loudly.  I LOVE HER! Her music inspires me to be a better person.  I would like to dedicate the song “Toxic” to my girlfriend Killer.  I mean I’m really addicted to her, and she’s totally toxic. I would also dedicate “Gimme more” to mommy when she gives me cookies, because she totally needs to give me more cookies.  I called Britney and I told her I’m an awesome backup singer.  I even sang for her over the phone – she totally loves me.  She wants me to join her tour in July in Washington D.C.

Knowing mom, she won’t let me go though, she’ll say I’m too young!  Boo mom!  I’ve even got my costumes ready, I took one of sissy’s school uniforms and made a “Baby one more time” costume.  Teagan says I’d be better in a boy band though.  Maybe I could get my brother Dexter and dad’s friend’s dachshund Koby and we could be a boy band.  We might need one more to be a boy band though, I think three just makes us a trio, like Hanson.  I could place a help wanted ad:  Help wanted – male dachshund, mini or full size, short or long hair, must be able to sing and dance.  I mean Justin Timberlake had to start somewhere.  Actually, he was on the Mickey Mouse club. Its super cute when I sing the new Hot Dog song from Mickey Mouse club….. “Hot Dog Hog Dog Hot Diggity Dog, now we got ears it’s time for cheers.” Because I’m a “wiener” dog and I have big ears…. It’s kind of a visual thing, you really have to see it in person to see how cute it is.

Now that I know that I can sing I’m so going to serenade Killer.

I’m excited that Teagan is home for the summer.  But she wouldn’t let me play Xbox with her the other day – something about opposable thumbs.  I can totally play Xbox.  I want to play GTA5, but mom says I’m not old enough.  PHBTTT…  she said I could only play Viva Piñata which is totally lame.  Dawson has some fun racing and soccer games, but I bored turning left all the time and soccer balls scare me.

In other backyard news (because let’s face it I don’t go anywhere else), I have recently found out that opossums are marsupials and not rodents.  I don’t know why that’s important but someone on Facebook said it was, so if it was on Facebook it’s totally true.  But anyway, they kill ticks and I don’t like ticks, so I guess that means the enemy of my enemy is my friend.  This Facebook post says you’re not supposed to hurt opossums because they kill ticks and bugs.  So…. I may or may not owe a couple of opossums an apology for chasing them and grabbing one by the neck and bringing in the living room when sissy was puppy-sitting me.  There’s a video… sissy screams a lot (insert evil villain laugh).

I tried digging out of the backyard last week.  Teagan caught me though.  She’s a very responsible puppy-sitter – unfortunately.  Then she told mom and mom put up a new board, so I can’t dig anymore.  It is very hard to be a good noodle when you’re a dachshund.  I mean the whole reason dachshunds exist is to dig, burrow and hunt badgers.  I don’t know what a badger is, but I’m guessing it looks a lot like a tree rat, raccoon, rabbit or opossum.  But the good news now is, when I might let my good noodle status slip I can sing “Oops I did it again” and mom forgives me.

Image result for badger  <——- Badger

I don’t know that thing looks terrifying.

I think I’ll stick to back up singing! Or a boy band….. “Bye, bye bye!”

From the desk of Mr. Pickles, Royal Wedding invitee

British pickles

Mom wouldn’t let me go to Windsor this weekend even though I was clearly on the invitation list. My good pals Vulcan and Candy invited me, they’re Her Majesty’s “dorgis.”  Vulcan and Candy are ½ dachshund and ½ corgi and they are the only dogs the Queen has now.  I’m pretty sure we’re related, on the dachshund side anyway.  But mom said we couldn’t go to England so I had to watch the Royal Wedding on TV.  I really wanted to take Killer with me to England to impress her because I think she likes a Husky.  Can you imagine me and Killer riding in a horse-drawn carriage through the streets of Windsor? One day…..

The whole reason we couldn’t go was because Teagan was playing a mirror in a play. Mirrors are scary by the way.  The other day I was investigating an open closet door and started barking because I found another dog in the closet.  Well, I thought there was another dog in the closet.  It turns out there was just a mirror that mom forgot about on the floor of the closet.  But I mean seriously how crazy would that have been to find a dog as handsome as me locked away in a closet?

Princess thinks she was invited to the Royal Wedding because her name is Princess, but I told her it doesn’t work that way. She argued with me and I let her win because let’s face it she’s bigger than me and kinda scary sometimes.  So if she asks, she was totally on the guest list!  Then Bam got involved, he said if anyone should have been invited it should have been him because he’s an Olde English Bulldog and Olde English is more British than a dachshund.  (Sigh) They just don’t understand what it’s like to be Royalty.

So other than Royal Wedding watching I really haven’t been up to much else lately. It’s nice to go outside and play since its spring.  I’m pretty sure there’s still a raccoon living under our mini barn but she’s pretty sneaky and we don’t see her very often.  Mom said it’s a good thing because she’s bigger than me.  Mom and Dad are getting ready to plant strawberries, peppers and tomatoes.  We’ll see how long those last until I get bored and decide to dig them up.  Er…. I mean until there is a dangerous tree rat near them and I have to dig them up to save them.  I like strawberries, mom dropped one the other day and it was yummy.  I guess if I don’t dig up the plant I could just eat the strawberries off the plant…. Hmmm decisions…. decisions.

Well that’s about all for now, I’m going to work on photoshopping myself into some of the pictures from the wedding yesterday.  Maybe Killer will still be impressed.  At least enough to distract her from the Husky for a while.  Maybe the Queen will want me to apply to MI6 that would impress Killer.  I could be the next James Bond, I mean my last name is pretty close – Mr. Pickles Baughn, 007.


I’m opening with possibly the worst “dad joke” ever according to my daughter.  If you don’t know what a “dad joke” is you are a)not a teenager and b)probably a dad guilty of making them.  A “dad joke” is an incredibly cheesy or dumb joke made by a dad to his kids.  Dave decided to be nice and make pancakes for Teagan yesterday morning because when asked who made better pancakes, mom or dad, she said dad.  He was busy mixing and stirring and pouring on the griddle and the pancakes puffed up quickly and he mentioned that seemed odd.  I pointed out that with the pancake mix he used you were supposed to use water not milk.  He then declared he had used “H-moo-O” which sent Teagan reeling with groans and eye rolls about bad dad jokes.  The pancakes were very fluffy and delicious though and she was really happy he added chocolate chips which is why I think he got voted best pancake maker.

And that…. Has absolutely nothing to do with my blog today.  But it was a fun opener.  Also be warned there are a lot of pictures ahead!

I decided yesterday to clean out a few drawers and the weird bookcase/hutch that I throw everything in and on top of.  Midway through when Teagan saw that I was reorganizing pictures and photo albums she came in and sat on the floor with me.  Of course, it was more than just rearranging or re-organizing once she got involved we had to open all the photo albums.  And then we found my mom’s scrap-book.  Which was weird because it wasn’t like a scrap book she had kept over the years it was like she had found a box of letters, cards and newspaper clippings and put them all in an old binder one day.  It started in 1980 and one of the last things in it was a newspaper article from when my nephew deployed to Afghanistan in 2003.  Some of the cartoons and articles she clipped were hilarious and we laughed a lot.

Teagan found the photo album I kept when I was growing up which included pictures of me when I attempted Horse and Pony 4-H, cheerleading, my friends from high school and middle school, a vacation to Colorado to visit my sister and my graduation.  One weird thing I noticed, was that in 2 or 3 different pictures in that album my mom had a cast on her arm.  I remember the last time she broke her arm because I took her to the hospital and that was maybe 10 years ago, but I don’t remember her breaking her arm when I was in high school or middle school.  Teagan got bored with that album though.

And she found some of our vacation albums.  She opened one from when we went to the beach when she was 5 and there was a picture of Dawson in a chair and she said, “He stayed in that stupid blue chair the whole vacation!” IMG_2867

Apparently, the chair had been a bone of contention for them.  I asked her if that was all she remembered from the vacation and she said yes.  Two pages later was a picture of Dawson and she said, “Look! He’s still in the chair!”  Then she found pictures of when we went to the beach when she was a maybe 1 or 2 and there was a picture of me holding her in the pool.  “You used to bounce up and down in the water and say bouncy…. bouncy…. bouncy!”  I have no idea if she really remembers that or not but that’s what we used to do so she wouldn’t cry in the pool.

There were pictures from vacations, amusement parks, sports, school stuff, weddings…. Teagan did not enjoy our wedding album.  She mostly was concerned with the mustaches that Dave and his groomsmen Tony and Scott had.  They were very 90’s fireman style – that’s all I’m going to say. IMG_2856

Sometimes she would have to ask who someone was and she was sometimes surprised by the answer because they look different now.  And she would often find a picture of herself and ask if she still looks like that and she’d try to mimic the look she had in the picture.   She also said she was cute AF (Insert eye roll).

Some thinks I learned as I was packing everything back in place:

  • I take, and have always taken, A LOT of pictures
  • I’m glad I take them because it’s fun to look back and remember – even pictures of my mom which are bittersweet because I miss her
  • My mom had a crazy sense of humor that reminds me of someone – oh yeah me (and Teagan… and Sara… and B)
  • People change a lot over the years – Teagan was particularly impressed with the amount of hairstyles my sister Kim has had over the years – her favorite:IMG_2862
  • Even the crazy vacations with all their calamities are totally worth it because they are filled with memories that even a 2-year-old remembers
  • Dad’s overall get a bad rap – dad jokes, dad mustache…..

I know I drive my loved ones crazy with picture-taking, but I think it’s totally worth it! IMG_2850

I found two really awesome pictures: one of my mom and me from my wedding  and one of my grandma and me from my graduation (Teagan thought Nana looked really pretty) that I think I will share since Mother’s Day is coming up soon.

Thanks for indulging my trip down memory lane….. I mean how often do you get to spend a Saturday night with your 15-year-old looking at old pictures?

No worries…. Mr. Pickles is itching to get back to blogging and he has some thoughts on ice cream, musical theater and becoming a Jedi.


From the desk of Mr. Pickles, Jedi


Hi friends!

Bam showed me how to log on to mom’s laptop, he’s super smart.  He knew the password.  He’s a handy big brother, mostly because he can reach the countertop when daddy leaves bacon out.  And with his over bite he’s able to open all kinds of things for me.

I’m considering leaving SWAT training.  It’s really a hard decision because my girlfriend Killer is still in SWAT training.  But mom went to a training and learned about Bomb Detection dogs and it sounds kind of cool.  All I have to do is sit when I smell explosives.  How hard could that be?  And they give you a ball to play with. Um, I don’t know what explosives are though….are they bad? I’m still thinking about it though, I don’t want to leave Killer.

Then the other night mom was winding this big ball of yarn for her work.  I’m not sure what she does or why she needed yarn but whatevs!  I was getting really mad because she wouldn’t let me play with the yarn.  But while she was winding the yarn she was watching some movie on TV called Return of the Jedi.  It was so cool, there were spaceships and fuzzy little bear things and a princess.  Not like my sister Princess but a real princess.  So, I hung out with mom even though I was mad at her and watched the movie.  Popcorn may or may not have been part of my motivation for staying.

I liked the Jedi guy.  I mean how cool is he? And he had a light saber thingy.  I decided that I’d be way better at being a Jedi than being Knight, so I’ve changed from Mr. Pickles, Esq. to Mr. Pickles, Jedi. I need to write the Queen and tell her I’m not longer going to be a knight.  She’ll be very upset.

How cool would it be to be able to use the Force to get bacon off the counter?  Then I could really impress Killer.  So, I’m going to ask mom to go to Jedi school.  It’s a real thing, right?

I forgot to tell you I had to go to the doctor last week.  I had a bad cough.  Teagan and Dawson said I was just faking because I only coughed around mom.  I wasn’t faking!  The doctor said I had a cold and gave me medicine.  It tastes like beef stuff.  I’m not sure what beef stuff is, but I like it.  I was good this time and didn’t try to bite the girl who took my temperature like I did the last time.  Do you know where they stick the thermometer?

We went to the puppy resort a few weeks ago.  I’m not sure why mom calls it a resort especially when she doesn’t get us the rooms with the TV and extra treats.  Stupid snobby rich poodles got the fancy rooms and extra treats.  Bam really liked his girl who took him outside and always convinced her to give him extra snuggles.  It’s not bad there, but I was glad to get home to my own fluffy bed and my cardboard box.  Yes, I have a cardboard box like a cat, don’t judge.

That’s pretty much been my life for the last few weeks.  I live a really exciting life.  Princess said a racoon is living under our mini barn again.  Maybe next time I log on I will tell you about how I used my Jedi skills to catch the racoon.  Ohhh I could catch the squirrels too.  I gotta become a Jedi!

Image result for jedi symbol

Travelling – like Mark Twain


If you’ve ever noticed the only quote that appears on my blog is “Write what you know.”- Mark Twain.  I like Mark Twain, but not for the classics like Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer (collective literary gasp).  What made me like Mark Twain was a short story, A Dog’s Tale.  Even though it’s a sad and tragic tale, it’s written entirely from the prospective of a dog – which I may do from time to time.

I also like Mark Twain because he travelled, and he wrote about his travels.

So, I was excited to get to travel last weekend to Missouri and visit an old Missouri river town, St Charles, where almost everything is named after Mark Twain (a hobby store, the mall, streets…) except the really weird pizza, which I’ll get to in a minute. Also notice I’m now using the term travelling in place of vacation or holiday – it’s really splitting hairs but travelling sounds more like something Mark Twain or Ernest Hemingway would have done.

For those of you who have read some of my previous travel calamities there is good news, no hotels were involved or harmed during this trip!  We were lucky enough to stay with friends who recently relocated to the St. Louis area.  It was like staying in the best ever bed and breakfast imaginable.

Day 1 – We started our day with rain.  Lots and lots and lots of rain.  Dave joked that every time we go to St. Louis it rains – he’s not lying, but we’ve only been there one other time.  I was determined to take my kids to the Gateway Arch, rain be damned.  But I didn’t pre-game the Arch very well – or at all.  It was this passing thought I had when we stopped to get gas and McDonald’s in Illinois.  I have been to the Arch two other times in life, once when I was very little and all I remember is weird jerky tram ride to the top.  The second was with my husband in 1997 when we were on our Honeymoon and there was no way in H-E-double-hockey-sticks he was going to ride to the top.

As we exited the interstate and you could see the Arch I was surprised to hear Dawson say, “I think I might have to go to the top.”  My son. The one who won’t ride Ferris Wheels and go up in Space Needles because he thinks he might be afraid of heights, maybe kind of sorta – but he isn’t sure.  YAY – parenting win!  Here comes the travel tip portion of visiting the Gateway Arch without a game plan:

  1. Parking is at least three or four blocks away in any direction unless you are in a tour bus. Not great when it’s pouring down rain and the umbrella that used to always be in your car for soccer games has mysteriously disappeared and is probably safe and dry in the garage at home.  But it was only $5 to park, which for city parking isn’t bad.
  2. You have to buy your tickets to enter the Arch from this little kiosk outside the entrance, I’m not sure if this is a permanent thing or just while they are remodeling, but also not fun when you don’t have an umbrella and its pouring. And the lady working in the little kiosk had to ask four times how many tickets we needed, and she still didn’t get it right. Luckily the ticket taker didn’t ask why Dawson and Teagan both had CHILD tickets.
  3. You have to go through security and a metal detector. There is ONE metal detector for each entrance.  It is about a 15-20-minute process to get through security depending on the number of people in front of you and their general ability to empty their pockets and walk through a metal detector – you’d be surprised how many people can’t figure out that they can’t keep their car keys and cell phones in their pocket.  Again, mostly outside in the rain up until the last 5 minutes or so when you get under the Arch.
  4. Congratulations! You are inside the Gateway Arch. You may not get in line for the tram until 5 minutes before your ticket time. Your socks and shoes are sloshy, and you are styling the “wet look.”  20 minutes to go… hey look a gift shop!
  5. THREE of us got in line with our tram tickets. Once again Mr. H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks would not go to the top.  He bought a book about the construction of the Arch and a Diet Dr. Pepper and sat at the bottom and waited.
  6. The tram ride to the top is a huge ordeal and process. You have a tram “conductor” who issues you boarding passes, then you watch a video about the 1960’s (when the construction was complete) that has nothing to do with the Arch.  You take the obligatory green screen picture and get a ticket to purchase an overpriced photoshopped picture of your family in front of the Arch.  You then are escorted to the actual boarding area where you see the metal tram “doors” which are smaller than the windows in my living room.  I think Dawson turned green when he saw the doors.
  7. The 4-minute tram ride to the top really isn’t bad, but it’s a little shaky and there’s a window so you can see the metal supports the entire way up. PS don’t look down!  We rode up with two little girls, Nora and Madison, who were 4 and 8, their mom had to split up all the kids because she had 6 kids and only 5 people can ride in one tram – I wasn’t the only mom who didn’t pre-game!  One was scared, the other wasn’t.  Kind of like my kids – who held hands on the way up. 🙂
  8. The top is cool. You can probably see more on a sunny day, but still cool.  Unless you are uncomfortable being crammed into a space that is about 65 feet long, 7 feet wide and 7 feet tall with 80 other people.  Sardines come to mind.  We stayed just long enough to snap pictures from each side and Dawson was done.  3 minutes down – gravity helps I guess.

st louis arch

We then enjoyed a rainy walk back to the car.  And Dave made me walk on a pedestrian bridge made entirely of metal grating.  I don’t like a) bridges and b) metal grates.  Next time he’s riding the damn tram to the top.

We negotiated rush hour traffic to get to the suburbs where our friends live, and we stopped at Wal-Mart to get dry shoes and socks.  It was important to have dry shoes and socks.  Dave didn’t pack extra shoes or socks.  We also located an Imo’s Pizza, which according to Dave’s EMS Chief who is from St. Louis is one of the best places to get St. Louis style pizza.  Again, we’ll get to the pizza later.

The fun thing about navigation systems is they take you what is the most “direct” route to any location.  Jenny Jeep (Elmo’s navigation system) was already on Dave’s last nerve because she kept alerting us to traffic backups on I-70.  Then Jenny Jeep took us what we later learned was the back way to our friend’s house.  We were doing good until we were told to turn on a “road” which looked more like a single lane driveway that went straight up.  No, I’m not exaggerating it went literally straight up – and at the peak I wasn’t sure there was anything on the other side. That’s why it’s the back way, there is a much flatter and easily travelled road that Jenny Jeep wasn’t aware of using Highway MM.  I’m totally behind naming highways after my favorite candy.

Day 2 consisted of antique shops and St. Charles historic riverfront.  I was in Heaven!  There were so many shops with farmhouse decor and handmade soaps and candles and crafts and OMG the fresh-baked cookies!  And I found an old window that I’ve wanted for some time to replace an 80’s design “feature” in my house.  The old window almost didn’t fit in Elmo.  And there were the rocks.  Everyone kept finding painted rocks – except me.  On the back of the rock was a Facebook logo with a name, so I looked it up.  It’s a group of people who paint rocks and leave them all over St Charles for people to find.  Isn’t that cool?

Ok, it’s time to talk about the pizza.  For dinner we convinced our friends to go to the pizza place we had seen.  When they moved to St. Louis everyone told them the same thing they told us, you must try St. Louis style pizza.  St. Louis style pizza is really all about the cheese even though the crust is also controversial because is thin and they don’t use yeast when they make it.  But the cheese. I had to look it up.  It’s “white processed cheese known as Provel. Provel is a trademark for three cheeses fused to form one (provolone, Swiss, and white Cheddar).” The words fuse and cheese should not be used together ever.  At first it was just “slightly different” and didn’t really taste bad.  To be honest, it doesn’t taste bad at all, it’s the texture that’s impossible to get past.  Its like slicing Velveeta on a pizza.  You should still try it if you go to St. Louis – just fair warning you may not like it.


Day 3 was travelling back home.  Again, in the rain.  What is it with the rain?  We had done so very well this trip without our usual bumps in the road (except our friends had a flat tire).  We found the bump on the way home.  We stopped to eat lunch and everything was going well until the little girl next to us fell off her chair and hit her chin.  It made a horrible crack when she hit and of course she started crying.  What made me jump was the older [than me] gentleman behind us who literally sprung out of his seat and dove toward the little girl bellowing “OH MY GOD IS SHE OK?”  It was a bit of an over reaction especially for a stranger.  That was bad.  What made it worse was that the mom totally under reacted to the situation.  She sighed loudly and asked in a very calm monotone “are you ok?”  Super stranger who had bolted out of his seat was now yelling “SHE’S BLEEDING!!!” Apathetic mom reached for a napkin and was trying to hold the girl steady to wipe the blood while calmly saying, “you have to let me see and wipe the blood away.”  Super stranger was still standing there staring in disbelief at the mom, so she said, “oh she’s ok.  She just had surgery this week that’s why she’s bleeding.”  The man finally went back to his seat where he very loudly relayed the story to his wife including questioning why she had surgery.  I mean his wife had seen and heard the whole incident so I’m not sure why he was telling her the story.  I was amazed Teagan hadn’t started to laugh because she laughs at inappropriate times – it’s a brain injury thing.  The whole thing was just too much, the super overreaction of the man and the completely emotionless and under reacting mom.  And our little happy family was stuck directly in the middle of it all.  I had to go or I was going to be the one laughing at an inappropriate time.

There you have it, a trip with no hotel disasters, only a slight weather problem and one minor people watching bump. It’s our first trip without an epic weather event.  It did snow on April 1st though, but that doesn’t count we were already home.

Finally, for my friend who spent all weekend planning and naming my “shop” to sell all my handicrafts and writings I challenge you to open your own bed and breakfast.  You would be really great at making people feel like home and the place would be incredibly decorated.  Just a thought!