Thursday, April 30, 2015

AtoZ Challenge: Z - From A to Z at the Library


Greetings from Hannibal, MO, Mark Twain's boyhood hometown, my theme for this year's AtoZ Challenge.

I've saved the best for last, the place where you can find books titled from A to Z. The Hannibal Free Public Library was built in 1845, Missouri's first tax free supported public library.

Hannibal Free Public Library

Now that the challenge is officially over, I'm ready for a break from blogging. You will find me near the Mississippi taking photos and yelling at my kids, "Get down from there; you're going to get hurt!" Good luck to everyone's writing endeavors. I've enjoyed the variety of blogs: book reviewers, writers, gardeners, travel junkies, movie junkies, 80s junkies, math junkies, and puppy enthusiasts!
Enjoy the view...

If you want to keep current with each other's blogs and are sad to see the AtoZ Challenge end, you can always join Alex J. Cavanaugh's Insecure Writer's Support Group. We post the first Wednesday of each month. We discuss our fears, our triumphs, and, well, our insecurities. I'll see you next Wednesday!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

AtoZ Challenge: Y - Why You Should Visit Hannibal, MO

That's my boy!
Greetings from Hannibal, MO, Mark Twain's boyhood hometown, my theme for this year's AtoZ Challenge.

Here's one more reason to visit Hannibal: FOOTBALL! Hannibal High School is home to an aggressive football program with 8 wins and 3 losses this past season and many trips to state over the years. Football starts early in the pee-wee leagues, then introduced to the school system in seventh grade. You better love the sport by high school.

This year, my son won an epic award: Hannibal Football Player of the Year. I was in tears. Two summers ago, he broke his arm during wrestling camp. After two plates and thirteen screws, he has made a full recovery. He was in a cast for over three months. Now, you understand why I am so proud of him! I decided to post his picture because he's in the newspaper here every week during football and wrestling seasons. WGEM out of Quincy, IL has highlighted his victories several times.

Hannibal High School built in 1896 and still in use!
Mark Twain spoke at Hannibal High School's commencement ceremony on May 30, 1902, in this very building. As I was taking this pic the other day, my second son yelled out the car window, "Mom! Get back in the car. They're going to call the police on you."

Empty bleachers before the game
Hannibal sunsets...
The craziest weather happens during fb games
Do your kids make you proud? Do they ever embarrass you? Are you pumped that tomorrow is Z-Day?!

AtoZ Challenge: X - Extras and Exciting Times


Greetings from Hannibal, MO, Mark Twain's boyhood hometown, my theme for this year's AtoZ Challenge.

Photo: Hannibal Area Chamber of Commerce


Pictured above are the finalists for the Tom and Becky contest, posing with my friend Lindell Shumake, a state representative here in Missouri. He lives with his family in Hannibal. Each summer five Tom and Becky couples are chosen. One day last summer, my daughter met one of the couples in Java Jive. She was thrilled when Becky handed her a tiny cloth bag filled with a mini chalkboard, a marble and a plastic apple.

Because of the amount of festivals, events and tourists in Hannibal, we have lots of extras. You can never have too many pairs of the famous literary sweethearts to greet our guests.

Exciting times! More festivals/events: 

June - August - Hannibal Cavemen Baseball

June 19-21 Juneteenth Celebration

July 3-5 60th Annual National Tom Sawyer Days (Don't forget the fence painting contest.)

July 4- Hannibal Cannibal 10k/5k walk/run

November 30- After the Steampunk Festival and the Harvest Folklife Festival, we will be celebrating Twain's 180th birthday. There's going to be a mustache contest!  And cake!

mustache cartoon : Huge set of vector mustache

Christmas in Hannibal is a magical event with living windows in the downtown area and a Victorian Festival of Christmas.

I told you we have a ton of festivals. Now go groom your mustache and buy a present for Twain's big birthday. What's your favorite small town festival or big city event?

Monday, April 27, 2015

AtoZ Challenge: W - #WCW - Becky Thatcher

Greetings from Hannibal, MO, Mark Twain's boyhood hometown, my theme for this year's AtoZ Challenge.

#WCW or Woman Crush Wednesday is a popular hashtag on Instagram. #MCM stands for Man Crush Monday. Pretend today is Wednesday. I wanted to feature Becky Thatcher, Tom Sawyer's crush in Twain's book The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Mark Twain's sweetheart lived across the street from him and became the inspiration  for his classic novel. As a young boy, Twain walked Laura Hawkins to school, gave her sweets, and showed off, performing death-defying stunts and somersaults. (Maybe he knew parkour?) Twain always adored Laura. Even at the age of eighteen, he was still crazy in love with his "Becky Thatcher."

Becky Thatcher house
Do you remember your first crush? Grade school, middle school, high school? In the eighth grade, I had a friend. We shared a love of baseball and sat next to each other in class. I don't think you ever forget your first crush. I was a scrawny runt, an eighth grader who looked more like an eight year old, well, maybe more like a ten year old. Anyway, his older sister and my older sister were bff's, so we were really good friends.

I shouldn't have been surprised one day when he turned around in his desk, forgot what he was going to say, regained his composure and asked me to his football banquet. My insides were giggling with excitement. Of course, I said yes! At that moment, I think I was more nervous than he was. The boy who asked me to my first formal event and bought me a wrist corsage will forever be my first real crush. No, I didn't marry him, but I did marry my college sweetheart.

Do you remember your first crush? Do you ever write personal experiences and feelings in to your novels like Twain did?

Saturday, April 25, 2015

AtoZ Challenge: V - Vintage


Greetings from Hannibal, MO, Mark Twain's boyhood hometown, my theme for this year's AtoZ Challenge.

This is probably in the running for my shortest post this month. The last few letters are quite the challenge. But seriously, AtoZ Challengers, it's the weekend! Without further ado, I present some vintage buildings in Hannibal. Vintage is a fancy word for very old. Have a great weekend!

The Star Theater
Apartment building on Main Street
My son was eyeing this place, like a parkour dream.
Brownstone near the Mississippi

One of my favorite houses in Hannibal

New restaurant on Broadway - the Big Muddy BBQ

Friday, April 24, 2015

AtoZ Challenge: U - Update on Weekend with Mylo

Greetings from Hannibal, MO, Mark Twain's boyhood hometown, my theme for this year's AtoZ Challenge.

Last weekend we dogsat Mylo. We hovered around the puppy with stupid grins on our faces, like a bunch of first time parents. Mylo was so stinking cute. Cuteness overload. We played with him all day long and watched him eat and sleep and eat. He tackled our toes and pounced on shoes, shoelaces, Frisbees, grass, flowers, dirt. I felt like I had toddlers all over again. It's a good thing my son is dating the owner of this puppy. I couldn't think of anything else for the letter "U." Mylo lives in Hannibal, so there's that. Happy Friday, folks! Only a few more letters to go.

My son sent me this message the other day.
My son sends me random photos.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

AtoZ Challenge: T-Trains


The Midwest is a hub for trains. We all just love getting stopped by one. My boys used to think every train was Thomas. Both Hannibal and St. Louis are big train towns. During my explorations of downtown St. Louis last month, I came across some abandoned rail yards. The trains were clearly not in use, so my boys climbed all over them. It's all fun and games until one of your kids zip ties the other one's hands behind his back. And, of course, it happened to be an industrial-strength zip tie he found lying around and, of course, no one had a pocket knife. He enjoyed making a scene, pretending he was being kidnapped. Now, you feel my pain as I try to raise two teenage boys.

Abandoned trains at Union Station

Two separate sets of train tracks run in
Hannibal near the Big River

More abandoned trains in St. Louis
What are your hobbies besides writing? Whether it's a small town or the big city, I love urban exploring. Do your children ever drive you crazy? Do they ever do crazy things?

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

AtoZ Challenge: S - Meet Me in St. Louis

Mark Twain's time spent as a steamship captain brought him to St. Louis where he worked his dream job, traveling back and forth to New Orleans via the Mississippi River. The Civil War happened and stopped all traffic on the big river. St. Louis is two hours south of Hannibal. I do prefer Chicago over St. Louis. I'm more familiar with the area. But I've visited St. Louis several times and do enjoy the sights the city has to offer. The free zoo is impressive and free. The art museum next to the zoo is also free and very impressive.

On October 28, 2015, the Gateway Arch will be celebrating its 50th anniversary. It is the largest stainless steal structure in the world and stands 630 feet tall or 63 stories. The area surrounding the Arch is under construction for the big reveal. If you get a chance to ride the elevators or alien pods (think silver, egg-shaped spaceships) to the top of the Arch, do it. There's also a free museum in the lower half of the Arch, celebrating the history of baseball and the Cardinals.

View of the Arch from the car window (Hey, I wasn't driving this time!)

The incredible views from the top include the Mississippi River, running right along the Arch. You can also see straight inside Busch Stadium. I have all these pics somewhere on a long lost computer. So you will just have to visit and see for yourself. Did I tell you about the time my family and I rode the Metro downtown during a Cards game? We were actually visiting Union Station that day. The entire subway car was filled with red shirts. I looked down. I was wearing my Brewers t-shirt. Woops. Not a very friendly welcome to the big city.
Union Station was built in 1892 and used as a passenger train terminal. It was once the world's largest train station. In the eighties, it was transformed in to a hotel and shopping center, leaving only one Metro station link. Now, it's kind of empty. A few restaurants and shops still exist, like the famous Fudgery.

The workers sing as they
make their world famous fudge.
Ever been to St. Louis? Chicago? What's your favorite big city?

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

AtoZ Challenge: R - Riverboat

Greetings from Hannibal, MO, Mark Twain's boyhood hometown, my theme for this year's AtoZ Challenge.

Mark Twain Riverboat:

Twain's Town wouldn't be complete without the riverboat. The Mississippi River is one of our main attractions. I highly recommend the hour long cruise aboard the Mark Twain Riverboat. Bring your sunscreen. Last time I went, my face matched my hair. You'll learn more history about Twain and Hannibal in one hour than you ever thought possible. A dinner cruise is available later in the day.

Glascock's Landing:

If you can read the fine print on the sign below, you can see that Hannibal was known as Glascock's Landing named after Stephen Glascock.

The American Queen:

The American  Queen (along with the Mississippi Queen and Delta Queen) pulls into Hannibal several times a year. These humongous steamboats are not to be confused with our small riverboat. Some of these cruises start in St. Paul and end in St. Louis. Whether you board the local attraction or hop on the big boat for a week long excursion, be sure to pack your camera and sunscreen. Even though the Mississippi isn't the Caribbean, you'll still embark on a first-class Mark Twain adventure.

Have you ever ridden on a steamboat? Taken a real cruise? Have no idea what to post for the last few days of the challenge?

Monday, April 20, 2015

AtoZ Challenge: Q - Quiet, Please

Newest addition to Hannibal-photography studio on Broadway Str.
Greetings from Hannibal, MO, Mark Twain's boyhood hometown, my theme for this year's AtoZ Challenge.

Quiet, please, artists at work. (I seriously had trouble thinking of a "Q" post!) Hannibal's artistic side includes more than just a famous author. This Artistic town is full of individual artists in every area: textiles, furniture, painting, photography, pottery.

Ayers pottery

Steve Ayers, the master potter, has been making his creations for over twenty years. Come visit Ayers Pottery or visit Java Jive, which sells his coveted pottery.

Our many art galleries feature local artists. The Hannibal Arts Council highlights local high school students on occasion. My oldest son won a photography contest a few years ago and had his pointillism drawing chosen for display.

I love this "smiley" mug.

Join us every second Saturday for "Art Walk" all year long in Hannibal. In March we host "50 Miles of Art" along scenic highway 79. May 23-24 will be the "Twain on Main Festival." Lots of crafts, art, and food at this event. And be on the lookout for Twain walking the streets and greeting visitors. Last year was our first ever "Steampunk Festival" celebrating Hannibal's Gilded age. Come join us on September 5-7. My personal favorite is the "Autumn Folklife Festival." Join us on October 17-19 for a blast into Hannibal's past. Hannibal has enough festivals to keep you hopping throughout the year!

They really like to paint the whole town here.
Are you artistic? Love to paint, draw, take photos?

Saturday, April 18, 2015

AtoZ Challenge: P - Parks & Rec and a Puppy


Greetings from Hannibal, MO, Mark Twain's boyhood hometown, my theme for this year's AtoZ Challenge.

City Hall-Parks & Rec

We have our very own Parks and Rec inside City Hall in downtown Hannibal. Yes, this is another photo taken in a drive-by. I'm getting pretty good at snapping pictures while driving. I highly do not recommend this activity unless you're a professional (ha!) or you're stopped at a red light.

We have a gazillion parks all sporting names like Huckleberry Park, Mark Twain Landing, Sawyer's Creek, which is actually not a park, but you get the idea. This city loves to take advantage of the famous author.

Huckleberry Park - Feed the geese at your own risk.

Because you needed a couple pics of a puppy today, I wanted you to meet Mylo. Be jealous. We get to dogsit him this weekend. Our family doesn't own a dog, cat, bird, iguana. Why have pets when you can have teenage boys instead? Some of you prefer pets.

Big plans for the weekend? Do you have any pets? Teenagers? Both?

June #IWSG: The Perfect Storm

                                                                Come join Alex J. Cavanaugh and the Insecure Writer's Support Group. We ...