Mystery Trip June 2012

Dates: June 18 - June 22, 2012

People: Mark, Sarah, Kara E., Julia W., Anna K., Kat K., Laura S., Zech Y., Megan C., Maggie W.

Pictures from our week can be found in this facebook album.


Sarah and Mark were up early and to the airport at 5:30am to drop off Mark's Dad for an early flight. It also put them in place to pick up the rental van from AVIS at 6:30am. That process went smoothly with a little wait and by 7am they were on their way back to home. A quick stop at the house and they were at Grace a few minutes early for everyone to gather and leave by 8am.

Parents and us all got everyone loaded and we took a picture and said a prayer before pulling out. We headed for Toledo and then on to US24 towards Ft. Wayne. Early on the youth had no idea where we were going. After Ft. Wayne many of them were following on their phone GPS and questioned if Indianapolis was the destination. We did lunch at Anderson, IN at the Wendy's and gave them the clue of "marshmallows" for today's destination.

We drove around the north side of Indianapolis and some began guessing St. Louis even though we weren't taking the direct and obvious route there. We headed west from Indianapolis and started making plans to see Sarah's sister Lisa in Champaign for an afternoon snack. They have a Cocomero frozen yogurt in Champaign that we stopped at and everyone loved this.

After Champaign we made a straight line for Springfield, IL and a few wondered if that was now the destination. In Springfield we hit the Subway (actually in Sherman) for anyone who wanted food and then headed on to Camp Cilca, the day's destination.

At Camp Cilca we met the head counselor Zach who was very helpful in getting us situated. We figured out early on that Kat's aunt and uncle were surprisingly staying here with there kids who were part of a camp going on at the time. Zach helped us get settled at their lake for some swimming and kayaking. The group had a blast with this. The kids fears of tent camping the night were put to rest when we realized they had a nice lodge with bedrooms for us to sleep in.

We did devotions tonight on the themes of "the journey" and "the uknown" to tie into the kids wondering about our travels today.


Mark was up at 7am and walked around the Lake and the camp to explore everything until it was breakfast time at 8am. He then headed to the lodge where the rest of the group was readying for breakfast. We did breakfast at 8:15am with the elementary school campers. At 8:40am Mark went back to the lodge and ran into Kat's uncle and talked to him a bit. Met the group at the indoor chapel at 9am for chapel. About 9:45am we met Ben for time on the challenge course. We did the Islands challenge first. Three platforms separated by "waters" with 2x6 boards in between. As our group solved the puzzles Ben made it more difficult for them. After that challenge we did the "Trinity" challenge where there are 3 pivoting boards in a triangle shape that the whole group must balance upon. After that we did the traversing climbing wall. Mark, Kara, Laura, Megan, Maggie all made it across. After this we went back to the lodge to shower and pack. We were on the road around 12:15pm. Did Walmart and McDonald's on the very southern edge of Springfield.

Arrived at the Arch just after 3pm. We parked along the riverfront on the sloping brick parking area. It was kinda scary pulling our large van and turning sideways to park on that sloping hill. We spent a few minutes outside and then in the lobby of the museum before hopping in line for our 4pm Tram Ride up the arch. Spent a good 20 mins on top. After the top we went down to the lawn area for photos. After that the group decided the carriages would be a great thing to try so Sarah worked a deal with one of them for our whole group to ride in two carriages. They let the 10 of us go for $50 total where typically it would be $30 for just 2 people. They let us ride for 30 minutes along the riverfront.

From there we hopped in the van for a short drive to Union Station where we walked around awhile. Union Station itself is still an intriguing sight to see for a train enthusiast. So many of the shops were closed though making it not so much a worthwhile stop anymore. We had supper at Hard Rock Cafe which was just outside Union Station. Mark had a fantastic Big Cheese Burger with monterrey jack, American and Cheddar Cheeses. Afer this we drove to the seminary to get our rooms for the next 3 days. We did devos at 9:15pm in the lobby of 2nd floor. Mark talked about trust with the group and what ultimate authority we place our trust in for all knowledge. This trust theme was meant to tie into the challenge course we had done in the morning at Camp Cilca.


We gave clues last night as to Wednesday's agenda (Sarah said it was my "favorite place in the whole world") and were pretty sure the youth knew where we were headed. So we drove into Forest Park and parked along Government Dr. in the "free parking" with a walk to the zoo hoping this would keep everyone guessing. But soon it was evident when we walked up to the zoo entrance.

We headed first to the penguins and it was chilly inside. The rockhoppers were swimming sideways trying to splash us. Sarah and Zech spent a good amount of time in there while the rest of the group progressively got cooler and moved on. After the penguins Anna and Megan rode the rcarousel while the others sat by the pond with the birds and flamingos. We saw the outdoor chimps and then walked the 1904 Bird Cage. From there we headed up to the Red Rocks (bongos, giraffes, ostriches). From there it was Big Cat country (tigers, leopards, jaguars). Then the Primate house and Herpetarium. While waiting, Mark walked around Sea Lion Sound, opening June 30. This major upgrade to the old sea lion exhibit will have shows, close-up and underwater viewing.

The group did Lunch at Lakeside Cafe. As we finished most of the girls hit Build-A-Bear, and then we all saw the prairie dogs. After we went back to the penguins to cool down and see them one more time. From there we hit the Insectarium and butterflies. Mark talked to a man about lifespan of butterflies. He said they import the chrysalis from South America. None actually bred here. By this time we were mostly finished and so we headed to gift shop and then out of the zoo at 3pm.

At 4pm we met with the nice gal who is running the food bank at Concordia Seminary. She had us stock shelves for 30 minutes. We explored the dining hall for a bit after and then enjoyed the sprinkler out by the fountain.

We considered seeing a movie that night and decided on heading to the Galleria for supper and shopping. We left campus at 5pm for this and headed over there. We shopped for an hour and then had supper at the food court. Most of the group partook of Panda Express. We shopped almost another hour after supper and headed out at 7:45pm deciding no on the movie. We set devotions for 8:15pm and Mark used the free time to get a nice walk in around campus. For devotions we talked about being "stewards".


Mark was up early again to meet his friend Ken who worked at Concordia at 6:45am. They toured campus IT and Luther Tower til 7:30am. Surprisingly got no other takers from the group for this early morning tour. Mark also ran 1.5 miles hoping to loosen up his legs and ankles which had been sore all week. The group left at 9am for the City Museum. This destination definitely had the group stumped with nobody being familiar with it. Upon arrival it is already a sight to see with all the unique hodge-podge of items welded together outside and of course the dangling school bus on the roof.

We split into two groups to begin exploring for the first 2 hours. We worked out way through the climbing areas inside and outside on the first two flooors. The outside climbing got you up over hundred feet in these welded rebar tubes that would go from platform to platform. It was quite exciting for everyone to climb up and through the things. I also commented to several of the kids that today would have been the day to talk trust as we trustees our well-being to the safety of these structures. As we finished outdoors we got all the kids into a ball out they had outdoors for some healthy ball-fighting. This worked well till several other small kids in there started playing our girls with balls as they tried to take a break in the corner.

We had lunch inside at the Samwiches stand. Sarah and Mark shared a cheese quesadilla and pulled pork sandwich. We all grabbed ice cream bars as well. After lunch we went into the World Aquarium which is housed on the Third Floor of the city museum. It appears to be independently run as we paid separate admission for it there. It was quite small and cramped but housed dozens of different types of animals, many of which were hands-on. We petted sharks, stingrays, turtles, ferrets, fish. They had this one tank of fish you could put your hands into and the fish would come up and start nibbling pin your fingers. It wouldn't hurt but was an odd feeling for the fish to be nibbling at your skin. They also had a glass tunnel to crawl through in which you could be in the sea turtle tank.

After the aquarium the group decided to buy tickets to go up on the roof (another $5). Mark and Zech walked the 10 flights of stairs. On top they had more slides and tubes till climb through. There was also a ferris wheel we rode. The school bus was a test of heights as you walk out onto it from the back you go up to the front door and look out to the 10 story drop. Most of us then made our way down by taking the 10-story slide. Wasn't scary or all that much fun. Too much friction on the slide to enjoy it. As we made it into the "caves" at the bottom many of us got lost in there for 20 minutes until we found the easy way out. The tip of the slide was the best as it has the abandoned warehouse look (literally) and they were playing spooky sounding Pirates of the Caribbean music. We spent our last hour or so at the museum in the art area with the clay sculptures guy. He made several great animal sculptures for people in our group.

Wet left the Museum and went back to campus for 45 minutes before the evening activity. We left about 5:45p for the drive to O'Fallon for a River City Rascals game. We made it early and had time to get our tickets from will-call and then our seats. We were sitting first row just beyond third base. The Park was pretty much your standard minor league ballpark. We were pleased to find out it was italian beef night at one of the food stands. It was a restaurant called The Den Deli that was serving the food. Their owner is a former Chicago resident who want Italian Beef in St. Louis so he started his own place. Gotta love that. The beef was decent. They put too much mozzarella cheese on it and really didn't dip it in the au jus, but the beef itself was almost right on.

The game between the River City Rascals and Gateway Grizzlies was low-scoring and not too many hits. Was 2-2 going into the 11th when River City's 3-hitter hit a walk-off homer to win it. Came just in time as we were contemplating heading out. Our seats put us in a great position to see up close the Gateway players as they went from dugout to bullpen. Some of our girls got pictures with them after the game and one of their players tossed me a ball as the game ended.


We got everyone up and going early today hoping to head out from Concordia at 8am and we were only late by about 10 minutes when we left. We made quick work on the way home. Had a stop out in Illinois at a Rest Area for bathroom breaks. Then contemplated lunch stops in Cloverdale, IN and Plainfield, IN but had no hungry takers so we pushed it all the way to Anderson again for lunch. This time we hit the Taco Bell instead of the Wendy's.

From Plainfield we pushed it again to the gas station on US24 east of Ft. Wayne just before the new highway kicks in for another stop and then drove it the rest of the way home. We made it back to church around 6:20pm which was a pretty pleasing time for everyone. Sarah and Mark got everyone dropped off and sent home and ended a very enjoyable week-long Mystery Trip.

The End.