My out-of-town company and I have spent the past couple of days exploring West Plains and the surrounding area. Yesterday we visited Howell County Democratic Headquarters in West Plains where I managed to come away with a yard sign for Jason Kander, Missouri's U.S. Senate Democratic candidate. Murphy found a bumper sticker with the message, "I'll know corporations are people when Texas executes one!" That represents a powerful truth. We also spent time in one of the local flower shops ordering flowers for a friend of ours from our years on Okinawa who recently lost her brother. Nefredia, our friend, is staying with family in New York City this week.
Yesterday evening Murphy and Valerie went to the gym in our local civic center for a workout while I stumbled around in the rain trying to convince the chickens to turn in early. Eventually they cooperated. I probably got more of a workout than Murphy or Valerie.
Today we had breakfast at a neighborhood coffee house and then took off to explore some of the area scenery. Our first stop was at a state park fifteen miles west of West Plains in Ozark County. The place is called Devil's Backbone. We enjoyed a good time exploring the park and walking the hiking trail along the riverbank. Devil's Backbone is where little Olive likes to go to swim when she visits Pa Rock. This afternoon we explored Mountain View, Missouri, an excursion that wound up with a trip down a lonely dirt road to a place called Blue Spring. My family used to do outings at Blue Spring when the kids were little.
Tonight we had planned to have a cookout at the fire pit in the backyard, but the weather was so cool and rainy that we elected to bring in some Little Caesar's pizza instead. We dined in front of the television while enjoying streamed episodes of Stranger Things.
Valerie and Daniel will leave in the morning. They are catching a plane in Springfield in the afternoon where they will both fly to Texas. From there Valerie heads home to Phoenix and Daniel is off to see friends are relatives in Nashville and Indiana. He will be back at work in Tokyo at the end of the month.
We have had a great visit - and old friends continue to be the very best!