After a week of being ill and mostly bedridden, I got out with the Kinky Hikers the other day. It was more a walk than a hike, not too long or terribly strenuous, but it was heaven to be outside in the brisk December morning, moving my body and enjoying the company.
The hike was along the grounds of an old fort on the Missouri River, the first military installation to be established west of the Mississippi and the last stop of the Lewis & Clark expedition upon their return to St. Louis. It was a pleasant enough walk along a creek and the river, but its visual interest to me came in the evidence of its resurrection in the 1930’s, when the grounds were used as a summer retreat. As a WPA project, they added extensive stonework buildings, pathways, a fountain and reflecting pool, elaborate walls and a “grand staircase.”
I was particularly interested in one old building, with its arched doorways and weathered, close-fitted stonework, and took several photos of it and the adjacent grounds.
K paused beside me as I hung back from the group, pondering the setting. “This would be a great place for some photography,” I said, thinking about my photographer friend Allan.
“Yup,” K said, in that lazy Tennessee drawl of his that always makes me squishy inside. I started to turn away, thoughts of emailing Allan and dragging him out there occupying my thoughts.
I swear I wasn’t thinking about a Scavenger Hunt.
It took K nudging me in that direction a couple of times before it dawned on me that it WAS a perfect place to capture the “fort” SH location: a deserted building in the middle of nowhere, with only us on the trail. (I know, I know, he was shocked it took me so long to come around too. Or not, lol.) But in my defense, it was cold, and I had multiple multiple layers to peel out of.
I trailed after him slowly as he made his way back to the building.
“How am I gonna get undressed?” I asked, plucking at jacket, fleece, base layer; thinking about two layers of tights, socks, boots.
“You’re going to take your clothes off,” he shot back. No hesitation. And now his tone was the other one that makes me squishy.
“Except the hat,” he said. “You can keep the hat on.”
And I did. Keep my hat on.