Bill and Nancy Echols

Trip Start Nov 19, 2007
Trip End Ongoing

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The Echols

Flag of United States  , Missouri
Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Wednesday 14th of October

We need to digress to a week ago when we had a big scare with Maudie.  She looked as if she had aged 10 years, slept all day and night, lost her bowel control and fell over a couple of times. We thought we were going to lose her. We kept her warm and gave her a subcutaneous injection of warm saline.  She didn't resist our help at all which is most unusual for our strong headed Maudie.  She slept for what seemed like forever awakeing back to her usual self a little weak but out from danger. She began eating and drinking water and meowing and now, thank God she is all better, full of life and energy again.  Must have been a cold or something.  That was as awful a scare for us as it must have been for her!!!!

After a night of Walmart parking lot in the rain and chill of this nasty cold front, we are ready to find my (Jodie's) cousins, Bill Echols and his wife Nancy in Mountain View, MO, Zetty Echols in Summersville, MO and Jon Echols in St. Louis, MO.  Following our GPS farther and farther into the country side, we gave a call to Bill and he corrected the GPS ideas to refine our trip to a more efficient route. They name their highways with letters  Hwy "Y' and Hwy "VV" .  The countryside stretches out on both sides of the road offering a sense of hope and space not found in all states.  Oak forests, farms, meadows and pastures with hundreds of Black Angus, Charlet and Holsteins, Rivers, lakes and ponds in abundance.  Picturesque to the point of being surreal.  Right down to the old barn melting back into the earth after many years of good service.

"There's Bill standing in the road waving us in!!"  And so begins our heart warming, fun filled visit.  Nancy joins Bill in welcoming us with hugs and "the tour".  We begin in the greenhouse and lap pool that is attached to the shop and guest house.  Bill installs solar for a living and their house is a fine example of how it works well for hot water, heat and electricity.  With the solar arrays tucked away or on the roof, one is not distracted by their industrial look but rather they look handsome and a part of the landscape and architecture to a benefit.

We then go on in to check out the wonderful house that Bill and Nancy have gutted and rebuilt and added on to over the years.  They raised three gorgeous daughters here and are now proud grandparents when the kids come home to get their special kind of love and support as well as to fill up their cupboards from Nancy's "SUNSHINE MARKET" health food store down in town. 

Thursday 15th
We all piled into the cars and up to Summersville we went to see Bill's sister, Zetty.  Bill built Zetty's house and acts every bit the father of his creation.  Zetty may be the owner but Billy is the father of every house he builds and solar system he installs.  Zetty had a wonderful Afghanistan meal for us that we dove into!!  She is retired now on her bluff in Missouri overlooking the Jack Forks River after a brilliant career in The Peace Corps and Care taking on the overwhelming challenge of trying to make a difference in hunger and disease in countries like Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Chad just to mention a few.  I am always blown away by her ability to hold up under such odds.  (to keep these entries to a manageable size, Zetty's entry has been created and will be sent separately)

Friday 16th
Once again we piled into the car and off we went to "Greenwood".  Greenwood is a community or development of a handful of people who want to live outside the box and for some, 'off the grid' way back into the Missouri hills.  Bill has built more than a few of these homes and has installed solar into more.  Jan and Joe's house was the perfect house for us to see a fantastic example of Bill's work and abilities. We were very impressed at how well the composting toilets work.  Bill installs a modified version of a Clivus Moltrum Composting toilet system.  Efficient, and without a negative side of needing to be cleaned out or smells leaking into ones house.   (Unfortunately I forgot to bring my camera and so no pix!)  Living off the grid works beautifully and quietly.  After a cup of coffee, great conversations and learning a lot about all the house systems...we all took a walk down to the river.  So much beauty and clean air!!

Jon Echols, Bill and Zetty's brother, was due to arrive at Zetty's so we were going to go back up to Summersville for a night with Zet and Jon.  Andy decided, understandably so, that Crazy Fish would not be making that trek over the miles and miles of unpaved roads with low hanging branches along the road and driveway.  So....I borrowed a car and off I went.  Jon, Zet and I stayed up too late reminiscing the past, talking politics, learning about the colorful characters in the hills, and in general catching up to the present.  I loved every minute of being with cousins that have helped form me into the woman I am today.  As a child I looked up to every one of these guys as being bigger than life itself!!  I wasn't far from right!! (to keep this entry from being HUGE we are breaking it up into more than one entry.  Please wait for the next entry to see more details and pix of Zetty and Jon)

Sunday 18th
Tired and happy from all the partying, hiking and eating.(all shown in next entry)...we slept late. After hugs and promises to keep in touch, we all sent off Johanna and Maya (Bill and Nancy's daughter and grand-daughter) on their trip back home to St. Louis.   We joined Martha and Lela (Bill and Nancy's daughter and grand-daughter) to eat pancakes and eggs with coffee and teas as we sat around the kitchen table with the sun streaming in the large window over the counter.  Lovely to the max!  Sunshine in the country makes me feel fine!!!  We all took a walk on Nancy and Bill's 60 acres to see the tall oaks, the dogwoods and pines.  Bill took us by a lovely little pond holding Lela as he led the way.  Full of fresh air, Martha and Lela packed into her car and left for home in Columbia, about three hours north.

Jon arrived and we all went to Tom and Gail's house for another amazing tour!!  The gardens, as shown by our pix are in fall style of being almost "to bed" by now with garlic planted for next June's harvest.  Andy and Tom talked the whole time about wood working as they shared experience and expertise about Tom's shop and machines and tools.  Tom and Gail operate  making the most gorgeous custom stairs I have ever seen!!  Tom's abilities are non-paralleled.  Craftsmanship, imagination and knowledge make his finished products pieces of art and the focal point of any home lucky enough to enjoy a Riverwood Staircase. 

Gail showed us her photography which held us all spellbound.  Dew drops on spider webs reflecting sky and flowers or trees or mountains.  All repeated in each dew drop like a chain of jewels!!!  She captured humming birds and butterflies with their bellies glowing from the reflected color of the flower they were drinking from.  We were mesmerized by her connection to the magic of nature and her ability to capture it for us to share her view. 

We got to talk for an hour with Tom and Gail's grand-daughter, Lexi as she told us about being thirteen with such clarity and eloquence. We laughed, got angry and then happy along with her stories and experiences as she led us through the frustrations and triumphs of being thirteen in a school system today.  I can't wait to hear what Lexi does with her life as she grows to womanhood.  Go girl go!!

Monday 19th
Andy and I were sleeping like dogs out there in the Missouri countryside.  Under stars of unsurpassed brilliance and the yelping of coyotes in the background, all was at peace for us in Crazy Fish.  We woke to a sunny day full of energy.  We all sat and ate apples from the old tree in the front yard and dug into Kippered Herring and Tuna Fish on crackers as we got to know yet another wonderful friend and neighbor, Terry.  We had been enjoying the company of Daisy the neighborhood basset hound since we arrived and had learned of her rags to riches story of being abandoned and then adopted by Terry.  Daisy is known for showing up at just the right moments to get leftovers and treats and biscuits as well as her normal meals at Terry's house.  Daisy also likes to dig a shallow hole after finding just the right spot, she then places some of her treat inside the hole and then using her snout she camouflages her hidey hole by covering her work with leaves and sticks till it blends into the environment.  We wonder if she ever finds these treats again and if they are there when she returns. 

Andy and I pack up and prepare to do a "big shop" at Nancy's Sunshine Market.  Nancy is already there doing her work as the proprietor.  As Andy is backing up Jon and I cannot get Daisy to give up her spot in the sun as she is comfortably taking her nap on the lawn.  Jon and I have to literally lift her by her stubby little legs and drag her to a safe place!!!  She totally adores the attention!!!  (see pix!)

Shopping at The Sunshine is a treat for us!  Andy and I gather  more and more products as we peruse the isles.  Nancy has stocked her store with ALL our favorite things!!!  We fill two carriages and Andy silently worries about the weight this will add to Crazy Fish.  We are set for months with terrific products that will sustain us in the most healthy ways!!!  Thanks Nanc!! 

We had decided to join Bill in finishing the last side of Martha and Matt's house in Columbia, MO.  Bill had single handedly completed replacing the shingle siding with hardy board planking and needed to finish up that pesky fourth side before the winter weather came on.  We volunteered to be "Habitat for Family".  Living in an RV is the perfect life style for volunteering as we bring our house with us!  We sign off this entry here with hearts, tummies and cupboards filled as we leave Mountain View and head out to Columbia.

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