On our Sunday morning walk, we saw an intriguing sign on the Trolley Tracks Trail path, which said to “maintain reasonable speeds.” Since it appeared to be a walking path, we were mystified by this. Was it to prevent speedwalkers bowling over the elderly, or was it a warning to Sunday strollers not to dawdle?  My aunt was able to tell us that this message is for bike racers.

This was followed by Sunday morning newspaper and breakfast before we set off on further touristy adventures. Sunday was a big architecture appreciation day. I could happily have spent several more days in the same way. Then came the driving on KC freeways, complete with several minutes of stark terror when off-ramps of the particular kind that set off my phobic reaction would suddenly and without warning appear beneath my wheels. This was okay; I can handle stark terror for a few minutes at a time, even with my children laughing at me.

We attended the reception, did a little open-air reading and tree-climbing, and then headed up to Dr. Drew’s place. The initial conversation was very slightly nervous-making. I wanted to make a good impression, for Pokey’s sake, and have reason to believe that Dr.D’s parents are Republicans. So, as potentially-delicate topics like the poet laureate arose, I tried to mask my natural opinionated outspokenness with wholly unnatural tact. After a bit, we gathered around the piano to sing hymns, and after dinner we played Cranium, so I think I was able to squeak through.

Monday began with the dispiriting news that the only reasonable route from Dr. Drew’s place to ours was back through the city. Then we had the long drive with number two son keeping us to schedule. “We will have to pass all four exits within two and a half minutes,” he would say, or “We’ll have to be in Joplin within the next sixteen minutes to keep on schedule.” We did not ask him to do this; it was his own contribution to the fun of the day.

I have said that this is a predictable drive, but of course the human element can always overcome that. Near Big Elk campground we had a near-death experience as an old lady stopped at the stop sign of a crossroad and then, without looking at all, drove right across the highway. She seemed to feel that she had done her part by stopping, and that those of us who were coming down the road at 45 miles an hour toward her had the responsibility beyond that.

So I put on the brakes and turned the car sharply to the left, coming to a screeching halt nose-to-nose with the cars waiting on the other side. Number two daughter says that they gave us a rueful wave, as if to say, “Don’t mind Velma — she’s always like that.” The culprit drove off, serenely unaware that she had narrowly missed killing us all. I was able to get off the road and calm down for a minute, and then went on again. Fortunately, there had been a “Reduced Speed Ahead” sign, so I had not been driving at 70 mph, but it would have been more honest for them to put up a “Beware of Dotty Old Ladies” sign as well.

We got back in time for number two daughter to get to work, number two son headed off to tell his posse about his adventures, and I curled up with my knitting and a good book and enjoyed a lovely summer thunderstorm. It is good to be home.