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Waterloo Visit


April 13-17, 2005




The boys and I flew out to Waterloo, Illinois, for a spring visit Grandma Carol & Grandpa Bob and Great-Grandma Hoffman.


The closest major city is St. Louis, Missouri, so our airplane flight went to St. Louis, and we crossed the Mississipi River at least once every day as we went back and forth.


The Flight Out

On Wednesday we flew to Waterloo via Denver.  The boys enjoyed both of the airplanes.  The first plane was a 777 with built-in video monitors at every seat.  Daniel watched cartoons, Michael watched music videos, and I watched maps displaying the flight path.  The second plane was a 757.  It had no video screens, but they liked being able to listen to the cockpit radio calls on the headsets.




At Grandma Carol & Grandpa Bob’s House

Daniel enjoyed getting re-acquainted with his grandparents’ dog Perky.  He also assembled a new lego set that had been shipped to Waterloo, and combined it with all the other legos that had filled his suitcase and mine.  Michael enjoyed lounging in the back bedroom with his own TV. 



Great-Grandma Hoffman

On several of the days, we went to visit Great Grandma Hoffman, who lives in a nursing home in Waterloo.


Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery

On Thursday afternoon we visited Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery.  The cemetery holds veterans stretching back to the Revolutionary War.  We found a marker for a soldier that was present at he surrender of Cornwallis in Yorktown.

Both boys spent a long time studying the headstones.

Michael photographed the geometrical lines of stones.



Then Michael searched out headstones that were weathered into unreadability or were for unknown soldiers.

Daniel noticed how the backs of the stones were marked with the names of the wives and children of veterans buried there.  He searched to find a marker that might show the husband of a soldier, but we were in an older part of the cemetery that didn’t include any woman veterans.



St. Louis Science Center & McDonnel Planetarium

Friday we went to tbe science center and planetarium.

I remembered the planetarium, with its distinctive roof, from a childhood visit that I made with Grandma Hoffman.  I took a bus from Jonesboro to Waterloo all by myself and spent a weekend with her.  One day we went to St. Louis together, and I still remember lying back in the planetarium and watching the stars projected on the roof.


Now there is a new science center connected to the planetarium by a skybride over the highway.  Daniel practiced building a diagonally braced tower, and we all built an arch together.  Michael found a giant “Tower of Hanoi” game, where he taught Grandpa the recursive algorithm for solving the game.



St. Louis Zoo

On Saturday we visited the St. Louis Zoo. 

First we had to fight our way through traffic on a sunny 80-degree day.

My favorite exhibit was the giant bird house, with scores of birds in a big open-mesh dome. 

Daniel’s favorite exhibit, because of its name, was the Somali Wild Ass.

The boys both took lots of photos of the birds and animals.


The Flight Back

Our flight back to a long route, first flying east to Pittsburg, then west to Seattle.  Before starting, we had to wait while a mechanic literally taped the plane together – using silvery tape to seal the cockpit window.

The long flight from Pittsburg to Seattle was boring, so the boys spent the time drawing lots of doodles.

Coming into Seattle, we flew right over the Space Needle and all of downtown glowing with lights.



Here’s the whole family together in front of Grandpa & Grandma’s house.

Photo Gallery:  (Click any photo to enlarge.)


Boys Watching Videos on the Flight from Waterloo to Denver

Daniel Playing with Legos in Waterloo

Daniel & Perky

Daniel & Grandpa Being Goofy

Great-Grandma Hoffman

Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery

(Michael Gehlke Photo)

Weathered Headstone

(Michael Gehlke Photo)

Unknown Soldier Headstone

(Michael Gehlke Photo)

Daniel Studying Headstones

Headstone Grown into Tree

(Michael Gehlke Photo)

Science Center Skybridge

(Daniel Gehlke Photo)

Daniel Building a Diagonally Braced Skyscraper

Arch Built by Boys & Matt

Grandpa & Michael with Tower of Hanoi Puzzle

Daniel Self-Portrait

McDonnell Planetarium

St. Louis Zoo Polar Bears

St. Louis Zoo Birds

Grandma, Kids, & Birds

Pink Birds

Birds & Cypress Knees

African Animals

(Daniel Gehlke Photo)

Somali Wild Ass Sign

(Daniel Gehlke Photo)

St. Louis Arch & Mississippi Bridge

Grandpa & Daniel with Perky

Taping the Airplane Together

Boys' Doodles on the Boring Flight Home

Family at Grandparents House


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