Friday, May 15, 2015

Traveling with Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer

After 3 days in St Louis we headed out of town driving north along the Mississippi River. Not too far outside St Louis is Alton, IL. Alton is home to Miles Davis, but also the tallest person in the world coming in at 8"11". Instead of playing baskerball Robert Wadlow joined the circus, dying at 22 he was till gaining height. Of less glamor we visited the Lyman Trumball House, a Landmark. Trumball coauthored the 13th amendment to the Constitution. The one that abolished slavery and involuntary servitude.

Grabbed a couple of neat sites in Alton.

Just outside of Alton on the bluffs of the Mississippi River is the cave to the Legend of Piasa.

"One morning, Owatoga's son, Utim, and a friend were fishing when they heard a terrible scream. They looked and saw a huge bird rising from the edge of the river. The legend states that the bird was of such dimensions that it could carry away a full-grown deer in its talons, and that once it obtained a taste for human flesh, it would eat nothing else. The creature the two men saw had a young man gripped in its claws and it carried him away and out of sight. Quickly, the two young men returned to their village and found their people very frightened. They waited all day for the young man to escape from the bird and return, but he never did.
After that, nearly every morning, the great bird would appear in the sky and carry away a member of the tribe, a man, woman or a child. Those who were carried off were never seen again. The people began to call the bird the "Piasa", which meant "the bird which devours men"."

Read more here CLICK THIS

A little further north on the Great River Road is the town of Elsah, IL. In Elsah is Principia College, which is also a Landmark. It is a landmark, for the buildings that Bernard Maybeck designed. Bernard was an Arts and Craft era architect with most of his work done in the San Francisco area.  At the gate we were told no pictures or stopping except at the lookout over the Mississippi. Of course I snapped off a few more than just the overlook.

In addition to collecting National Park cancellation stamps, I also collect Blue Goose passport stamps. These are for the National Wildlife Refuges. We stopped at Two Rivers for a stamp and a looksee.
When researching the places we were going to hit, the Goldenrod Showboat presented a bit of a problem. The research indicated it was moved from St Louis to Kampsville, but didn't really say where. So I spent a bit of time using Google, using Earth view looking up and down the Mississippi. Well it was time well spend and found it in a non descript spot along the Mississippi. Even the turn off from Illinois River Rd was pretty oblique.

Goldenrod was built in 1909 by Pope Dock Company of Parkersville, West Virginia for W.R. Markle. The Goldenrod was the last showboat to work the Mississippi. Under the ownership of Capt. Bill Menke, she was moored at the St. Louis riverfront in 1937. By 1950, she had been partially sunk and salvaged twice. Sometime in the last 5 years, the Goldenrod was pushed upstream from St Louis and tied off in Kampsville, IL.

Finding our way to Hannibal, MO we watched how a bunch of boys painting a fence white, while being watched by the other kid giving directions on how it should be done. Then there was this other kid in really tattered clothes hanging around talking to the supervisor kid. Talked about building a raft to sail down the Mississippi.

Back on the road grabbed this classic Texaco station.

In Keokuk stopped for the Geo M Verity towboat. A National Historic Landmark. Built in 1927 at Dubuque, Iowa by the US Government as SS Thorpe, she inaugurated barge service on the upper Mississippi. The first of four steamboats built for the revival of river transportation, she was the first to move barges from St. Louis north to St. Paul. She remained in service there until 1940, when she was sold to Armco Steel Corp. and put in service on the Ohio River. Armco renamed her after their founder, George M. Verity.

Couple of ad hoc shots while on the road.

Stopped at Port Louisa National Wildlife Refuge for a stamp but they were closed.

Last shot of the day, an overworked barn. Wasn't sure how this would turn out, but it was eye grabbing from the road. Enough to make me pull over for some camera action.

Stayed at the Isle of Capri Casino on the Mississippi in Bettendorf, which is right next to Davenport.  To view a slideshow which includes features not in the main show CLICK HERE

Thursday, May 14, 2015

I Got my Thrill on Blueberry Hill

I never realized that Blueberry Hill had a broad range of artists that played the song. Never the less we headed up to Blueberry Hill restaurant for lunch today. It is suppose to have a killa hamburger. Great neon on the block. What impresses me is how long this place has been in business. Started in 1972 as a small club and now it is the whole block plus a hotel. Joe Edwards had a vision for the run down neighborhood, Delmar Loop. Chuck Berry used to play regularly here in his younger days. and John Goodman has been known to hang out here a bit. A place to stop for lunch and don't forget to look at all the memorabilia thru out the place.

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Chuck Berry's Gibson ES-350

Joe Edwards, Owner

After lunch we drove around getting pictures of Washington University since it is a National Historic Landmark. Nothing great, actually the pics are kind of boring.

Grabbed a picture of the sculpture outside the St Louis Zoo and Forest Park.

We then headed for the Missouri Botanical Garden. At $8 it is a bargain to get in. This place is huge and the only way we were going to see everything was take the tram around (it costs, but oh so worth for me). The day we were there they were setting up the Lantern Festival from China.

A bit of history. It is a National Historic Landmark, founded in 1859 and  is the nation's oldest botanical garden in continuous operation. It is 79 acres and has a 14-acre Japanese strolling garden. Henry Shaw an early merchant in St Louis built his estate on the land that is the botanical garden. His house is still standing.
This is one place really worth seeing. It is not just the plants and flowers, but the sculptures, buildings and the calm and peacefulness of the place.  As I sat and process the photos I have decided that there is another trip to St Louis in our future.

Alot more photos at this link CLICK HERE

Having spent about 4 hours at the Botanical Gardens, we headed over to Tower Grove Park for some more scenery. Actually it was a drive and stop thru and it is right next to the Botanical Gardens. The park was donated by Henry Shaw in 1868 and is 289 acres. The park is filled with pavilions, bridges, fountains, tennis courts, and a wading pool. It has been designated a National Historic Landmark.

After our drive thru we headed to the Anheuser-Busch Brewery, another Landmark. The brewery opened in 1852. Free tours are available but it was too late in the day for us to go. We will avail ourselves of the tour when we come back to St Louis.

We did stop at one more Landmark, but there was really nothing special about it from a travel point of view. Just one of those places that we could say we were there.

Did take advantage of the balconey off our room for some night shots

I had promised I would give my hand at some night photography capturing the Arch. The hotel we were in had the perfect platform. As passed onto the deck the sign said the doors were locked at 10am. At precisely 10am the doors were locked and we had to wander around locking for a way out. We tried banging on the door, however no one came. Still got the shot.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

We Came, We Rode, We Conquered

First day to wander around St Louis. Our stay in the Crowne Plaza does not include breakfast so we head downstairs and ask the concierge where we should go. Just head down Pine Street about 4 or 5 blocks and handed us this pamphlet of a bunch of places. Well we made it about a block and a half, coming across a sign that said Diner. That was good enough for me.

Big Ed's Chili Mac Diner has been open since 1960 serving up great food and putting their homemade chili on anything you can think of. I had scrambled eggs with chili, cheese and onions. Add 2 hamburgers with cheese and it is called "sling". MeAsWe had the French toast. Two ladies who were sisters were working the place with efficiency. Great place.

Chili Mac's Diner St Louis

Chili Mac's Diner St Louis

Chili Mac's Diner St Louis

After breakfast, we headed over to the Old Courthouse to purchase our tickets for the Arch. They are doing some construction between the courthouse and the Arch, so tickets aren't available at the Arch. The Arch looks so close but you can't get there in a straight line but have to come in from one of the sides. On the way we pass the Old Cathedral, which might be worthwhile stopping at when we get back.

Jefferson Expansion - Old Court House St Louis

You enter the Arch by going underground, ride an elevator further down, down a ramp and some steps, finally making it to the Pods that take you to the top. Let's just say I am glad I am not tall as I climbed into the Pod. Not a long ride and you can see out the window in the Pod to the inside of the Arch. If you picture how the Arch is shaped, the Pod shifts itself keeping you level in your seat, kind of like a ferris wheel.

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The windows at the top are not really that big, but enough to give you some great views of the Mississippi River, the Old Courthouse and Cardinal Stadium. Back at the bottom, we watched a movie on the building of the Arch.

St Louis Arch

St Louis Arch

St Louis Arch

After the ride we watched the movie on the building of the Arch. It really is worthwhile and you get watch it online as well.

St Louis Arch

So with the walk to the Arch, we had to head back to the Old Courthouse. We stopped at the Basilica of Saint Louis built in 1834. This was the first permanent church in St Louis and the first cathedral west of the Mississippi.

Old Cathedral Museum

Old Cathedral Museum

Like the last three times we were here on the bike for the IBA National Park Tour, we always seemed to skip the exhibitis in the Old Courthouse. Pictured below is the ceiling of the dome.

Jefferson Expandsion Dome

That filled up the morning so we headed back to the hotel to grab the car and head for the St Louis Zoo. It is advertised as free, but you still have to pay for parking, so that kind of eliminates the free part. Still worth the price. Couple of pics from the zoo.

St Louis Zoo

St Louis Zoo

St Louis Zoo

St Louis Zoo

We spend the entire afternoon at the zoo and had a great time. Thank god they have a train to get around from spot to spot. The place is quite large and it did take a toll on my ankle. Headed back to the hotel the long way. Picked up a couple National Historic Landmarks on the way back.

Scott Joplin's residence. You remember him, Ragtime King, think the movie "The Sting"

Scott Joplin Residence

Union Station, once the world's largest and busiest train station. Built in 1894, and had 42 tracks heading into the terminal. At its peak in combined passenger service for 22 railroads, hence the name Union Station.

Union Station (St. Louis)

Christ Church Cathedral between 1859 and 1867.

Christ Church Cathedral (St. Louis)

The Wainwright Building was of the first skyscrapers in the country and designed by the firm Adler and Sullivan. Louis Sullivan become the father of the modern skyscraper. It influenced the design and building of future skyscrapers in the US.

Wainwright Building

That completed our day and we headed back to the hotel for a rest. Slideshow CLICK HERE