Vaca in 2020

We joined our quarantine-bubble up with my parents last week for a very wonderful time on a tucked-away peninsula in southern Missouri.

But first, we hit Snookie’s.

The protocol there is different these days, but the treats are delightfully the same. I even tried something new!

The last time I’d been in Des Moines was in the middle of winter, and it feels like ages ago.

Happy as I was to be there, it was easy to keep heading south the next morning, because the lake awaited!

Charlie pretty much lived on the boat for the week.

He loves to be out on the water, floating, swimming and feeling the speed.

Whenever Henry went out, he immediately claimed his space as the figurehead up front. Just don’t call him that. He’s not a figurehead. He’s a person, as he had to remind us.

There was a lot of fishing to be done. It normally happens long before I wake up. Mark and Grandpa Mel go out together, sometimes with others in tow.




Someone caught a catfish that we were encouraged to go check out in the live well after breakfast. Henry was hesitant, but once he saw it he got motivated to try out fishing for himself. We asked Mark if he’d give us some help (I have nothing to offer in this particular area of expertise), and he did us one better. We took a few hours in his fishing boat that morning, just the three of us. It was not only a lovely experience, but also a fruitful one. Henry caught two largemouth bass within the first 20 minutes of our outing!

Video of Henry’s Catch

As you can see, the fish themselves kind of freaked him out, but he was proud and happy and really enjoyed himself.

A new porch addition onto the cabin the Grandma and Grandpa stay in allowed us to eat meals outside as a group. It was also a great place to just hang and play. Henry and Brady spent a lot of time telling each other stories and sharing knowledge.

Brady’s little sister, Brynn, was the focus of a lot of Charlie’s attention.

My cousin Blaine, Mo and their two


Brynn was a big fan of the golf cart and gator, which she called, adorably, ‘Mo-mos!’ Here’s her grandma giving her a pretend ride.

The Vandegrifts were there this year, too, so there was a good group of the next generation.

My cousin Bobbi, and her three!

Caden really enjoyed bubbles.

The pool was a hot spot. Henry’s tiptoes finally reach the bottom in the shallow end, but I was glad I packed that Dory ring so he didn’t have to constantly be swallowing pool water.

Charlie was quite the retriever of sunken objects.

The marina was still open, despite the pandemic and whatnot, so we still got to enjoy seeing the boats come in for gas while eating ice creams. This propped up boat now serves as a seating area. It sat abandoned for years, and Charlie and I used to imagine what it could be. A few years ago, when we found it spruced up and in use, it was like a dream come true.

The boys are with my dad down on the dock there.

We also hit up a new marina this year. Mark took us for a boat ride to Shell Knob, which no one in our crew had ever been to before. He asked Charlie to be the GPS navigator, which Charlie happily took on.


Caden smiling with his daddy and grandma on the way


Here Mark is explaining the mysteries of the universe.

…like just how incredible Bill’s World Famous Lemonade is.

I got to blow some bubbles for Caden


My two second-cousins, both currently living in the Twin Cities, were there, so we got some excellent bonding time in the boat and playing games in the evenings.


They bring extra fun!


Charlie behind the wheel


We took a few lovely pedal boat rides. This one, I believe, ended in us watching rain come towards us over the lake and drenching us. It was wet, but beautiful and exciting at the same time.


Some down time ‘bags.’

I liked their storage spot for the bags themselves.

Henry drew so much that Grandpa Steve had to pick up a sketchbook for him. He ran out of paper!

Mother-Daughter laughs at lunchtime.

Followed by my grandma learning more about Legos than she ever thought she’d know.

We did a joint dinner with the Beckers one of the nights–Mark and David spent all day monitoring the smoker so we could enjoy some amazing pulled pork.

After dinner, we hit the firepit for the annual s’mores roast. It’s always hot, sticky, messy and tasty. We convinced the Beckers to join us for that, too!


It was a honey of a week. While we had to deal with very little rain, we got just enough that we got to see this beautiful rainbow.


The ride home was pretty painless, since my dad was sweet enough to drive a rented mini-van. We had lots of space, movie capability and a fun third-row seat that the boys traded off sitting in.

Charlie entertained us with hours of strange-but-true crimes from an old Encyclopedia Brown book of my brother’s.

And speaking of…tada!

Saturday night, we had dinner with Grandma Betty and Grandpa John and enjoyed a big patio hang with Bret and Leslie afterward. It was simply wonderful to get to see so much of my family this week in REAL LIFE. Zoom just isn’t the same.

The boys were also thrilled to get some time at my parents’ house. It had been too long. Samantha, the American Girl doll, really needed a new hairdo, so Henry made sure to take care of that.

The boys were dying for Grandpa to push them on the swing so they could have a “parade,” whatever that means to them. I caught my dad twirling his finger around his ear, so I believe he was in the middle of telling them they are a little loco.

Our last stop out of town was to grab a latte at St. Kilda’s, the cafe in my brother’s building downtown.

The boys were also thrilled to get a chance to see Chrysanthemum

They helped Bret take the sweet old girl for water trips to keep from wilting in the hot sun.

Apparently from their loft window you can see that this seemingly abstract paintwork is a giant portrait of MLK!

Their home

And then when the rains came, we headed North.

It’s always so wonderful to get back to my own home after being away. It is the best best best to be with Joe. I also love my space and I love being in it. The cherry on top was going into my yard and bringing fresh flowers, that weren’t there when I left, into my home.

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