Finally my friends, this is the last Christmas blog post. I apologize for the flood of pictures, but at least I know my parents read these (hi Mom, hi Dad!) and that's all that really matters.
After driving through Elsah, we drove to the National Great Rivers Museum, where there is a couple locks. This was what my dad had been looking forward to all week.
I saw this in the museum and liked it.
I saw this outside, and liked it too (after a semi-embarrassing slip where I called the birds owls, oops).
We got at the museum at 12:05. The lady at the front desk told us the next tour of the locks was at 1pm, and we were disappointed because we didn't have time to wait an hour for a tour. If we had gotten there 10 minutes earlier, we probably could have made it for the tour.
As we were wondering around, we tried to go up in the elevator to the top of the docks, but you had to have card clearance to enter. That line my dad is pointing to was the highest level of the river during a big flood.
This man came up to us and started talking about the big flood and what it was like to run the docks.
My dad likes to talking to people, but I was bored so I started taking pictures of my husband
And then of our feet
And then I had a bold, great idea. Since this man obviously worked here, I spoke up and asked him if he could take us up. He paused for a moment and then said, sure! There may have been some batting of lashes on my part before he answered. We went up the elevator and found ourselves standing on top of the locks.
It's serious business up there, and it was cold.
Our tour guide's name was Dennis and he had been working on these locks since 1989. He was hilarious. We seriously felt like we hit the jackpot because he gave us the nitty gritty behind-the-scenes tour, salted with funny and personal stories.
"Those seagulls, I call them painters. Paint all them walls white."
"Sometimes for a pleasure boat you have all dollars and no 'cents.'"
When I asked him how long he had worked there, he pulled off his hat to show his bald head and said, "Since I had hair."
"My commute to work is 9.9 miles. I refuse to go 10."
When we shook his hand at the end to thank him, he said about my hand, "Those hands are like icebergs!"
He definitely made our visit memorable, probably more than he will ever know.
In case anyone is interested, here is a video Jason recorded of Dennis:
After the tour, Jason drove a barge into another barge. Better luck next time, my friend.
The next morning, we woke up to a delightful thing. Snow! It wasn't even in the forecast so it was a nice surprise. It was our second to last day there, so it felt fitting.
The snow makes everything cuter.
I was so excited when I woke up, I pulled my boots on over my pajamas, threw on a coat, and grabbed my camera. I image I practically screamed tourist to all my grandparents' neighbors.
Later that morning, we got cultured! We went to the art museum first. So did everyone else in town.
This is when we got to the abstract art. Jason's least favorite, which is why he looks so thrilled.
Jason and my brother hated this painting, but it was my absolute favorite! The colors and shapes were beautiful and my photo really doesn't do it justice.
A pretty ceiling
This was Jason's favorite. The way the artist painted the sun really was astounding.
This sculpture of St. Louis guards the entrance to the museum.
The snow brought a nasty wind. It was much less pleasant outside that day.
For lunch, my family trekked out to Blues City Deli, a restaurant I read about online. Thank you guys, for putting up with my particular ways!
The drive was worth it because the food was delicious!
The deli was in a, ahem, less-nice part of town, and this car certainly proved it in case we doubted.
We then headed to the History Museum and met my uncle Brian there. I was getting drowsy by this time, but still enjoyed the museum. And the clouds decided to cooperate beautifully for my pictures. The rest of the trip, the sky had been very gray so it was nice to see some blue.
I didn't take many pictures, but I liked the typography in this.
That night, our last night, we took a picture with our amazing hosts: my grandparents (and their cat, Toby).
It was such a wonderful, wonderful trip. I'm endlessly grateful we were able to go this year!