Christmas in Missouri

This christmas, my wife Rebecca and I went to visit her parents and family in rural Missouri. The following is a brief photographic travelogue of the things we saw and did along the way.

Our initial travel day was very long. Since we had a very, very early flight, we decided to leave the night before and sleep over at the airport, since we usually don't get much sleep on the evenings before early flights anyway. We took a bus downtown, and transferred to the newly installed Light Link Rail train to the airport. We then cleared security and headed to the North Satellite Terminal to camp out overnight.

After settling in, we were promptly kicked out of this terminal by security. Staying overnight at the airport is fine, but the satellite terminal is connected to the main terminal by a people mover train, the train shuts down overnight, and no one is allowed in the satellite terminal during that time.

In the early morning hours they started up the people mover and we finally boarded the plane. Shortly after taxiing out to the runway, the plane stopped and the pilot reported a problem with the onboard primary electric generator. We made our way back to the gate, where we remained in the plane as they "secured" the generator so they could use the auxiliary generator instead.

During this time, the pilot suggested listening to Air Traffic Control radio, which he'd piped through Channel 9 on the armrest. Apparently this is one of the very few perks of flying United Airlines. Being very much geeks, We took full advantage of it.

About an hour into the flight, we realized that due to the delay there was absolutely no way we could make our connecting flight to Kansas City in Denver. Eventually a Flight Attendant got on the P.A. system and listed connecting gates. Our gate wasn't listed, confirming our fears. A long day just got even longer, and needless to say we were starting to get a bit grumpy.

GRRRR. We thought that the heavy snow conditions in Denver might cause a problem like this, but were confounded by mechanical issues instead.

In Denver, all hell broke loose. First we couldn't find the customer service desk to arrange a new connecting flight. Then we found the wrong desk. Then we made a call to a customer service center, who told us we wouldn't be able to fly out that day. Then we found the correct desk, but it had a huge lineup of people in similar situations. We started thinking about flights to alternate cities and rental cars.

Eventually we got to the end of the line, found out the call center information was wrong, that we'd be likely be able to fly out in a couple hours. Crisis Averted.

This gave us some time to relax and watch the little birds fly around inside the DEN airport terminal.

As it turns out, the heavy snow conditions in Denver had saved the day. We we first landed, the telephone based customer service we called saw no open seats available. As the day went on, however, the weather conditions delayed other flights and opened up seats for us as other people missed their own connections. Their misfortune was our reward!

We got on a plane about 4 hours after we were supposed to have left, de-iced and left Denver in our wake.

Arriving late in Kansas City, Rebecca's parents drove us two hours through the night to their farm near La Monte, Missouri where we met with Rebecca's Sister and Husband, then fell asleep almost immediately.

Waking up on Christmas Eve Morn was an incredible change of pace from the previous day. Where Denver a blizzard, Missouri was a blanket of green against grey fog.

I gather they'd had a lot of rain, because the ground was verdant despite it being the end of december. The large pond behind their house was severely flooded, enveloping a couple trees near its usual perimeter.

Rebecca has a very large family. She has six siblings and many nieces and nephews. They all gather together at Christmas and they like to exchange presents.

This requires many stockings and many boxes of presents. fortunately they have a very large hearth which is up to the task.

On Christmas eve we went to a Catholic Mass in Sedalia, which is something i had not been to before. The church itself was very nice but i felt a bit weird about taking photos in a church before or after mass. I also had to be politely reminded to remove my hat, which i had forgotten to do!

I only took one photo of the event, of all the people spilling out the front doors after the mass.

After the mass, Rebecca's brother Greg drove his family around Sedalia to check out the Christmas lights, and Rebecca and I tagged along. Unfortunately i was in the very back seat of his Suburban truck and couldn't take very many photos.

Highlights included a house with lights synced to music you could pipe in on the radio, and a house with a Chevy Logo in lights on a rooftop. Greg's comment on the Chevy lights was "You might be a redneck if..." which made everyone laugh.

It was fun to see all the lights. People in Seattle don't tend to do much in the way of Christmas lights, although some floating home and boat owners do some wonderful things with seasonal lights on the water.

On Christmas morning we woke up to fresh falling snow and fields of white. It was like the weather in Denver caught up with us, except this time instead of helping to provide standby seats on an airplane, it provided a beautiful white Christmas day. Thank you Colorado snow!

Rebecca normally sleeps in very late when she visits her parents, and is very difficult to wake up. This day, however, I just said "It's snowing" and she immediately leapt from her bed to open a window! She was very, very happy about the snow.

The kitchen had a nice view of the snowy landscape and a windmill which doesn't do much of anything but look awfully pretty. This was a busy place, as Rebecca's mom prepared many feasts and Christmas goodies. Rebecca made cookies to give out as gifts as well.

So much sweetness, cookies, brownies, goodies and pastries and so on. YUM!

I only wished that I had nabbed more sweets to take home while I was there!

While Rebecca's mom was in the kitchen preparing wonderful food and Christmas sweets and generally speaking really enjoying herself, Rebecca's dad was busy rounding up the boys [and some of the girls] to play poker in the dining room. We played Texas Holdem', and Omaha High-Low.

By the end I think I preferred Omaha High-Low. I didn't win a lot of chips, but I never went into debt like some of the other players at the table, so i guess I held my own!

The day after Christmas Rebecca and I met with friends and family. We went over to the Bellamy's farm across the highway to see the Tennessee Walking Horses and talk with their owner, Emily. She was very talkative and hospitable, and her horses looked beautiful in the snow.

Then we drove and met with Rebecca's Aunt Ida May and Uncle Junior, who talked a bit about what Sedalia used to be like. Afterwards we drove into Sedalia to meet for lunch with Rebecca's friend Brenda, her husband Adam and their two cute boys.

It was a really beautiful, snowy day and I got to meet some wonderful people... and horses : ]

And that was that. The next morning Rebecca's folks drove us to Kansas City to fly home, which was very uneventful. No delays, even for the train and bus going home. It was like we were whisked home and deposited in our beds to sleep.
I'm really looking forward to visiting again.

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