Alright, so I’ve kind of been cheating and combining multiple cities into one blog post in an attempt to finish this blog by the end of the year. In my defense though, our team was not in a single city for more than five days after spring break, so I find this tactic acceptable. The rapid changing of cities and hotels and the constant packing and re-packing was really starting to get old though, and I was so happy that we would be staying in real houses in both St. Louis and Macon.
St. Louis, MO: April 23rd – April 26th
St. Louis is home to one of my best Hotdogger pals, Cheesy Nicks, and him and his partner Rose Beef were in town and offered to let us stay at his house with them during our three days off in St. Louis. Although our two giant vehicles parked out front made quite the spectacle in Nick’s neighborhood, it was so nice to feel like we were living a “normal” life for a few days. On our first night, we got groceries and made a big spaghetti dinner with Nick’s mom, and afterward we had drinks and stayed up late playing endless rounds of Clue and Spoons.
The next day I took full advantage of being in a large neighborhood and went for a long run along the winding streets and hills (UGH) before getting ready for our day full of activities around the city. We started with a big brunch followed by a car tour of St. Louis where Nick showed us everything from cool neighborhoods to famous parks and provided us with the local gossip along the way. Afterward, we did a tour of the Anheuser-Busch brewery, which I highly recommend because it’s free to begin with and you also get two free drinks just for doing it! We topped off the night by going to the St. Louis Cardinals game at Busch Stadium and checking out a bunch of Nick’s favorite bars after.
After that extremely long day, we were all exhausted and decided we deserved a day of nothing but relaxation and recuperation. Other than a brief venture out to the The Loop for a greasy lunch, some darts and a little thrift shopping, we spent the majority of the day sprawled out on Nick’s couch, drifting in and out of sleep while watching movies on TV. At night we made another large dinner with Nick’s mom and went to Bailey’s Chocolate Bar (see my last blog on STL) for an amazing half-baked brownie topped with salted caramel ice cream. The next morning we packed up, took some shellfies with Nick’s mom and hit the road for Macon, MO – which is so small that even the Missourians we were with had never heard of it.
Macon, MO: April 26th – April 30th
You never anticipate the places that end up stealing your heart, and I definitely didn’t expect Macon. We rode into town expecting a tiny, dumpy city that is commonly associated with Missouri. What we pulled into instead was a ginormous bed & breakfast and an enthusiastic greeting from the homeowner, Carol, who immediately pulled me in for a hug and gave us a tour of the house. I don’t think I can do it justice with words, but I’ll try my best. The main house had a huge porch – which I’ve always wanted in a house – filled with eclectic furniture and swings, a huge front sitting room that was elegantly decorated, and about a million other rooms that were all filled with cushioned window seats and mementos to give the place a homey feel. Conner and I were staying in the carriage house where we each essentially had our own two-bedroom apartments upstairs while the downstairs had several more rooms, two hot tubs and even a sauna. The place truly blew my mind and I spent a lot of time just hanging out at the house and trying to savor every second of our stay.
Even more amazing than the house was the woman who owned it – Carol. Like I said, Carol immediately embraced us, both literally and figuratively, and she would prepare us a big breakfast each morning and then sit and talk with us while we ate it. Carol told us a lot about her life, and she seemed to be the type of person who always finds the good in things and truly accepts and embraces life for what it is. One morning after a pretty terrible interview for a sales job I knew I would probably hate, I ran into Carol and Chuck (the groundskeeper/Carol’s bae) and told them all about it. They didn’t miss a beat in telling me life is too short to not do something I’m passionate about and “really how could you be so stupid to go from an awesome job like driving a nut to something boring even if it meant more money?!?” (their words not mine). Seems like simple, straight-forward advice, but I could tell they meant it and truly believed I could find something better, and that made me believe it too.
Outside of hanging out at the house or reading books on the porch, I went for a lot of walks and runs around the streets of Macon. I don’t think Macon is necessarily a cute town but it reminded me a lot of Johnston City, IL, which is where my Grandpa grew up and was one of my favorite places to visit as a kid. So in my extremely biased opinion, I thought it had a lot of charm to it. We also worked small, local stores during the week and the store owner was so excited to have us that he had the store grill hot dogs and make cotton candy to go along with our event. We had people stopping by Carol’s house at all hours of the day and night to see the NUTmobile, and we even managed to get on a few news stations in the area.
When people find out that I live in hotels, they often assume I must hate it and make negative comments about it. But I honestly haven’t minded it at all; I get a free breakfast and my bed made and room cleaned everyday. For a year-long gig, that’s not too shabby. But, I admit, even I miss the comforts and homey feel of a real home with familiar people living in it, and our stay at Nick’s as well as Carol’s got me excited about living in a place of my own again in just a few short weeks.
MO from Missouri, coming soon!