We spent this weekend at the Lake of the Ozarks with our friends Ryan, Katie, Andy, Anne, Phil and Kate. Eight friends and one baby all under one roof together on the lake. We had a great time enjoying laughs, good food, and of course beautiful scenery.
Topher did pretty well for how much we asked of him, the trip down there was easily twice as long as his previous longest trip to Minneapolis. It was somewhat rough which unfortunately turned him off of being in the car for much of the rest of the weekend. We left mid-morning on Friday which we expected would give us time to make ample stops to allow Topher to stretch. The problem is, at some point after those stretches, he has to go back into the car seat, which he is not at all happy about. It feels terrible to have to confine him for so long and not be able to explain to him how close we are getting to our destination. Just another thing we are looking forward to his future development on.
The lake house was awesome, everything you'd expect a lake house to be as Macie put it. Plenty of comfy beds for everybody, and Topher slept pretty well in his new baby tent. Ryan, Phil and Andy enjoyed some fishing, Phil caught a crappie... but much of the weekend was about relaxing and site-seeing.
Saturday we ventured out to Ha Ha Tonka State Park which is about 5 miles west of Camdenton (the lake house was outside of Osage Beach if you're familiar with the area). The hills and valleys and natural spring were all gorgeous, made even better by the perfect weather for the day (clear and 70 degrees). There was also the ruins of a burned-down castle on the very top of the bluffs that we took many pictures of. It was all so much to take in with the eyes, the type of scenery we really don't get to experience much of here in Iowa, tear. I'd recommend the trip to the park for anybody that is visiting the Lake of the Ozarks, I forgot to check to see if camping is available, but I'm sure it is.After visiting the park, some of us went into Osage Beach to do some outlet mall shopping. Macie and I took Topher back to the cabin for a much needed rest. As much as you'd like to experience everything on a vacation, a baby definitely will not allow it. I think we're gaining a true understanding of just how much a baby can slow a young couple down. To some extent, it's easy to be jealous of our other friends who just have each other and the unlimited freedom that we were enjoying up through last summer, but at the same time we can't imagine our lives without Topher's presence. Just when we feel we are to the point of endless frustration, he can simply smile and that goofy face will wipe away whatever stress you are feeling. All the sun and outdoors that we got this weekend was more fresh air and sun than he's experienced in his lifetime, so we have to remember how much that can tire him out.
Sadly, we felt we had to cut our trip short. A looming winter storm warning back at home (a grim reminder of how far away from pristine central Missouri we live), and our own anxiety of how Topher would fare on another 6 hours of cooped up driving on Sunday, pushed our departure time up to 7pm Saturday evening. We planned that once Topher had his bath and had fallen asleep, it might be the perfect time to hit the road and hopefully he would just sleep through the night like he always does, except in his car seat. The plan actually worked very well, Topher was a little fussy and awake for only a short part of the trip (probably less than an hour total and too tired to actually cry). We made near record time, arriving home shortly before 1am and before all the sleet and snow that is currently falling outside of our home began falling.
Although the trip was very awesome and we had the opportunity to see our good friends (always a blessing since we usually only get to see everybody once a year), we still find ourselves depressed whenever Columbia is in the rear view mirror. Macie teared up a little as we drove past the lights of our favorite city at dusk. More than anything, I wish I could have exited our car onto Stadium Blvd. and taken her to a little house somewhere between the campus we met at, and the movie theater where we enjoyed so many dates together. Although our house is currently in Cambridge Iowa, our home will always be in Columbia and I don't think we'll be completely satisfied till we can figure out how to move back there.
Closing comments: Thanks again to our friends Ryan and Katie for hosting the weekend, we had a great time. Lots of driving always teaches us something new about Topher. It's good to be back at home and in our own bed.