"On a New Shore," steel silhouette sculpture by Brian Norwood of Jal, NM @ Indianola, Texas, 2/5/19

"On a New Shore," steel silhouette sculpture by Brian Norwood of Jal, NM @ Indianola, Texas, 2/5/19
"On a New Shore," steel silhouette sculpture by Brian Norwood of Jal, NM @ Indianola, Texas, 2/5/19

Friday, October 31, 2014

A Great Workout (or they're trying to kill us) - Sat., Oct. 25, 2014

“Begin at the beginning," the King said, very gravely, "and go on till you come to the end: then stop.”
                                               ~Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
At 8:30 a.m. Bob and I started our 10K (6.2 mile) Jefferson City State Pen Path (Capital) Volksmarch. We had it in our heads that we would do the first part of our walk and make it to the state capital in time for the 9:00 a.m. tour. Ha!

We did not anticipate interesting history along the way. (The history was not included in the Volksmarch even though there were two places where it was only a block off the route to learn more.)

First detour we made was to go a block off the walk route for a good view of the two US 63/US 54 highway bridges over the Missouri River, one northbound, one southbound.

Bridges at Jefferson City over the Missouri River
The walk instructions had us go through a historic neighborhood with a couple of B&Bs, then said to turn right at the bottom of a hill. We looked to the left toward the river and saw a Union Pacific logo and what looked like history markers. Again, we went a block off the walk route and found a very interesting history display.

In your journeys you may see (or have seen) the Train Town USA logo. In 2012, Union Pacific Railroad celebrated its sesquicentennial (150 years). 

Union Pacific began building west from Missouri to the Pacific Ocean, opening the frontier to immigrants who settled in existing communities or started new ones. Union Pacific invited communities along the rail lines to join the "Train Town USA" registry. The registry is open to all incorporated communities along Union Pacific tracks or terminals. Elected city officials and executive members of the Chamber of Commerce filled out an application to become a "Train Town USA."

The "Train Town USA" emblem in Jefferson City is displayed at the Centennial Park plaza built by Rotary Club International in the Bolivar Street neighborhood. The Bolivar Street neighborhood used to be mostly working class German immigrants. In the 1850s, two changes transformed the neighborhood into the city's industrial area: one was the improvement of streets and footbridges that connected the area to the rest of the city east of it, and the other was the railroad. The industrial area was known as Millbottom. Millbottom was named for the mills that operated there.

In the mid-1880s there was Victoria Mill, Jefferson City Gasworks, Capitol Star Mill, and the Missouri Pacific Railroad Company roundhouse. Besides these large commercial businesses were other businesses, many with residential space above, and warehouses. Today, many of the nice older homes have been converted to office space.

At the end of the 19th century, Jefferson City was doing very well as the state capital. BUT, all was threatened by a battle over whether the state capital should remain in Jefferson City. Sedalia argued that, because there was no bridge, Jefferson City was inaccessible to residents north of the Missouri River. St. Charles thought Jefferson City was devoid of culture, just a way station as the country moved westward. Ah, politics.

To protect and ensure the city's prosperity, in 1893 a special committee of the local Commercial Club organized to raise money to build a bridge. A corporation formed by businessmen and property owners raised the entire $225,000 to finance the bridge. In the photo below is the site where the bridge was built.

Site of former Bolivar Street Bridge.
The toll bridge opened in 1896. By 1932 the bond was retired and the bridge turned over to the state as a "free" bridge. In 1934, for $7,000, the state installed the art deco pillars. The rotating bridge served horse- and ox-drawn carts, horseback riders, foot traffic and motor vehicles until it was replaced in 1955 by the current (west) bridge. And that is how Jefferson City remained the state capital.

Speaking of the capital, let's get back to our walk. We rejoined the route and continued up a hill to the Capitol.

The grounds around the capital are filled with monuments, fountains and statues. It was quite fun to explore.
Signing the Louisiana Purchase

Capitol in Jefferson City, Missouri
Frieze on the outside of the Capitol
Capitol dome topped by a sculpture of Ceres,
Roman goddess of grain and agriculture
Cat griffin lamp
Below is the Mississippi River Statue by Robert Aitken. The male figure represents the Mississippi River, often called the "Father of Waters." In his left hand the rudder of commerce and the anchor of a steamboat represent the significance of river trade. The caduceus in his right hand was the magic wand of Hermes, the god of travelers and commerce. He rests upon a cornucopia which symbolizes agriculture. The alligator by his knee is a reminder of what life is like on the southern portion of the river. The dolphin behind him is a symbol of good luck to travelers of the river, and three smaller fish represent the river as a source of fishing and recreation.

Mississippi River Statue
Alligator by Mississippi River Statue's knee.
Thomas Jefferson whom the city is named after
Pediment over main entrance
Below is the Missouri River Statue also designed by Robert Aitkin. The female figure crowned with cattails represents the Missouri River. Her left arm rests on a cornucopia of fruit while she holds a stalk of corn in her left hand and a bundle of wheat in her right hand. The turtle by her knee represents one of the many small animals dependent upon the river, and the catfish and four smaller fish behind her represent the river as a source of fishing and recreation.
Bob with Missouri River Statue
There are more sculptures, a Missouri Veterans Memorial, Liberty Bell, Fountain of the Centaurs, Fountain of the Arts, Fountain of the Sciences, a Missouri Law Enforcement Memorial and a Liberty Bell reproduction on the grounds outside.

Then we went inside. On the first floor of the Capitol, is the Missouri State Museum. On our first turn inside the museum, we were hooked and ended up spending about 1-1/2 hours there. Bob and I never knew what became of Lewis and Clark after their famous expedition to the Pacific Ocean. While we were reading about governors of Missouri, we came upon the portraits of Meriwether Lewis, who was governor of Missouri from 1807-1809, and William Clark served as governor from 1813-1820. We were amazed neither of us were aware of what happened to Lewis and Clark after their expedition. Now we know.

The museum covered the history of Missouri from the Native Americans to the Germans, had exhibits on how people made their living: tourism, mining, mills, agriculture, building, and so much more. The museum is composed of two parts: Civil War Missouri and the Soldiers' and Sailors' Memorial Hall, AKA "history hall."

We learned how some Missourians were Confederate and some were Union. They spent more time protecting themselves from each other than they did aggressively fighting the war. The Missourians were in a border war with Kansas. In 1883 Order No. 11 was decreed forcing residents from a number of Missouri counties to move without taking their belongings.

When we finally finished with the museum, we chose to do a self-guided tour.

Looking up through murals to the Rotunda
Below is the Great Seal of Missouri designed in 1822 by Judge Robert Wells. The Latin motto near the bottom translates to "Let the welfare of the people be the supreme law."

Great Seal of Missouri
Ceiling detail
Ceiling over the law library

House gallery.
The doors to the House were locked, but it looked like a beautiful room. We heard voices down the corridor and thought we heard them say, "Welcome to the Hotel California..." Oh wait, those are song lyrics. The voices belonged to a tour group and the guide invited us to come into the House with the group. She had a key.

We just kept oohing and aahing over the gorgeous stained-glass windows. There were about nine of them in the room representing qualities for the house to think about when they were considering a bill.

House floor
On the second floor of the Missouri Capitol, 40 lunettes (half-moon-shaped paintings) illustrate Missouri's resources and history.

"Lewis Joins His Hunting Party" lunette
On the third floor, the Hall of Famous Missourians contains bronze busts of men and women who have made outstanding contributions in fields such as art, business, science, literature, entertainment and the military.

Bust of J. C. Penney
Pioneer Mother mural
Beautifully decorated interior of the Capitol
This is for you, Mom!
When we finally escaped the clutches of the Capitol, we made our way to the Lewis and Clark Monument outside. This monument pays tribute to the Corps of Discovery that scouted the Missouri River.

Lewis and Clark Monument
What a gorgeous day for a walk! We next passed by the Governor's Mansion. I don't know if it was the governor out walking his dog, but a very nice gentleman came out and talked to us with his new puppy. It could have been him. The Secret Service were out too.

The rest of our walk was up and down hills all around Jefferson City.

We walked past the historic Missouri State Penitentiary (1835). A Mustang car club was just arriving for a tour.

Missouri State Penitentiary
Mustang car club
Our walk took us through neighborhoods, a greenway and up and down hills.

Beautiful  homes!
Very nice neighborhood.
I think they were trying to kill us. One hill was very steep. I walked up part of it backwards, stopped to rest. What were they thinking? Gosh, maybe that we needed more exercise? I'm sure it was very good for us with all the sitting we've been doing while driving.

Toward the end of our walk, the walk instructions recommended Central Dairy for ice cream cones. We went in and indulged in two-scoop cones. What a treat at the end of almost 5 hours of walking and touring!

Central Dairy ice cream shop

At this point, we were late getting back to our rig to check out of the campground. I had called them earlier to let them know we were running late. They said it was okay.

We rushed back to the campground, hooked up, and took off for Branson, Missouri. I noticed as we were driving that the pick up was shimmying and shaking, not normal for our reliable Beast.

South of Springfield, Missouri, we stopped to have dinner at Lambert's, the home of "Throwed Rolls." They're not kidding. When you sit at your table and see the guy coming with the cart of fresh-baked rolls, you put your hand in the air and he throws a roll to you.

"Throwed rolls"

Lambert's is okay. To us, the meal had way too much starch. In addition to as many rolls as you could eat, they had "pass-arounds" - big bowls of fried okra, black-eyed peas, macaroni and tomatoes, fried potatoes with onions - that they would bring by your table and dish out as much as you wanted. The meal itself was huge. It was way too much food and not of a healthy kind.

After dinner, we bee-lined south to Hollister, Missouri, a couple of miles south of Branson, to the Escapees Turkey Creek RV Park where we would stay for three nights. The highway between Lambert's and Hollister had me hanging on for dear life. I couldn't believe the grades. Nowhere did it give a percentage like so many places in the West, but when you make it over the top of a hill and the bottom of the next hill looks almost straight down, that's when I get nervous. We would go from 40 at the top of the hill to 70 by the time we reached the bottom. And that was with all the shimmying and shaking the truck was doing. Scary!

When we found Turkey Creek RV Park it was dark. Thankfully there are some lights around so we could see. We were immediately greeted by the friendliest cat I had ever met. She went over to Bob to say hi first. She talked and talked to each of us. She loved to have her head patted and scratched. We don't know who she belonged to. A most unusual cat: a silver tabby with short hair but her tail was a soft, very long plume. Her tail was as long or longer than she was.

We opened the door to the rig with just the screen closed and she went right up on our top step to say hello to our cats. Sunnie was less than welcoming. He raised the fur on his back and snarled. Bowie could have cared less. After we were settled, she meowed outside our door for quite a while. She seemed very skinny, like she had been abandoned.

At the office the next day I asked who she belonged to. No one knew. That night was the only time we saw her. Others in the park also reported seeing her around and that she tried to get into people's RVs. They weren't very happy about it. One lady said the cat tried to go in the shower house with her.

So, another long day. Tomorrow we're meeting up with Bob's brother and sister-in-law, Tom and Rosemarie, in Branson.

Travel Bug out.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Moving on Down the Road to Jefferson City, Missouri - Fri., Oct. 24

Around 11 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 24, we headed out of the Illinois State Fairgrounds toward Jefferson City, Missouri. Most of our trip has been to places new to us, so we enjoyed the scenery along the way.

As we neared St. Louis, we turned west on I-270 to bypass St. Louis to the north. (St. Louis will be a trip in the future for us.) It was time to cross the mighty Mississippi. First, though, we came to the Chain of Rocks Canal and the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge. History is quite fascinating in this area. 

The old Chain of Rocks Bridge (green in the photo below) was privately built in 1929 as a toll bridge at a cost of $3 million. Bypass US Route 66 was designated over this bridge to the north of St. Louis so travelers could avoid downtown traffic. (City U.S. 66 continued to cross the Mississippi River over the MacArthur Bridge.)

Unique to the old bridge was a 22-degree bend occurring at the middle of the crossing. The bridge's name comes from a large shoal or rocky rapids, called the Chain of Rocks which made that stretch of the Mississippi dangerous to navigate. After 1940, only a single impediment prevented the safe and reliable 9-foot navigation channel on the Mississippi River from St. Paul, Minnesota to New Orleans, Louisiana - the Chain of Rocks Reach.

The Reach was a 17-mile series of rock ledges that began just north of St. Louis and was extremely treacherous to navigate. From the late 1940s through early 1950s, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built an 8.4-mile-long bypass canal. To ensure adequate depths in the new canal, a non-movable, low-water dam was constructed just below the north end of the canal and a lock was constructed at the south end of the canal.

Old Chain of Rocks Bridge - now a ped/bike bridge (left);
new I-270 bridge (right)

Barge safely navigating the Chain of Rocks Canal
In 1966, a new bridge was built just to the north of the old bridge. The old Chain of Rocks Bridge closed and fell into disrepair over three decades. The high cost of demolition delayed that outcome until a new use was found. In 1981 the old bridge was used in the filming of Escape from New York billed as the "69th Street Bridge."

It wasn't until 1998 that the bridge was leased to Trailnet, a local trails group, to operate. The price to renovate the bridge for pedestrian and cycling use was $4.5 million. The old bridge can be accessed from either the Illinois or Missouri side of the bridge.

After we crossed the Chain of Rocks Canal, our next crossing was the Mississippi River. I was driving, so Bob took the river photos on this part of our trip.

Crossing the Mississippi River
As soon as we crossed the river, we stopped for information at the Missouri Welcome Center. David greeted us warmly as we walked in. He was chock full of information about St. Louis and Branson. We left there armed with maps, brochures, and restaurant recommendations. He also told us about the Hwy. 370 bypass to the north of I-270, said it was less traveled than I-270.

At the Welcome Center, Bob took over driving the rest of the way to Jefferson City, Missouri. We followed David's advice and took Hwy. 370 around to the north. Hwy. 370 was definitely well traveled. I'm wondering how crowded I-270 must be, since this route had as many travelers as it did. While on State Route 370, we crossed the Missouri River. (My turn to take photos.)
Missouri River, looking north
Missouri River Bridge
The rest of our drive to Jefferson City was without incident. The place we stayed, Mari-Osa Delta Campground, was 13 miles east of Jefferson City. On the way to it, we passed a WalMart. Once we we had the 5er unhooked, Bob took the grocery list and headed back to WalMart. By the time he came back, it was pitch black outside. He missed the turn off to the campground and drove over five miles before he realized he had gone too far. Oops.

Our impression of Mari-Osa Delta Campground wasn't the best. The campsites are disorganized and have no numbers. The manager came out and showed us where to park by walking in front of our truck. He didn't walk very fast. The campground office/store was well stocked with fishing supplies, i.e., lures, bait, line, sinkers, bobbers. The park is at the confluence of the Osage and Maries Rivers and obviously the park caters to fishermen. It was an odd campground, but we only had one night there.

Tomorrow, Jefferson City Volksmarch and the state Capitol.

Travel Bug out.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Shake, Rattle and Roll - Fri., Oct. 24

No, we didn't visit a rock 'n' roll museum. It came on rather suddenly. One minute we're driving down the highway from Springfield, Illinois toward Jefferson City, Missouri, and the rig is handling smoothly. Then, we noticed a shake in the front end of the pick-up truck. We made it to our campground outside Jefferson City, and did a walk around to check all four tires for bubbles or anything obvious. We didn't see anything, but it didn't go away.

Mari-Osa Delta RV Park

Our site at Mari-Osa Delta RV Park - no river view for us
Osage River flows past Mari-Osa Delta
After we unhitched the fifth wheel and drove back and forth to Jefferson City to visit the Capitol and then to do the Volksmarch the next morning, we noticed the truck shaking became worse. Water bottles in the cup holders were doing a St. Vitus' Dance, shaking uncontrollably and driving me crazy.

We made the decision to continue to Branson, Missouri. In addition to our shaking pick-up truck, we also had to deal with roller-coaster like highways, going up and down steep grades for miles. I was a nervous wreck by the time we got to Branson.

Driving around Branson for two days did not improve the problem with the shaking. We thought it might be tie rods or something else to do with suspension. At first we thought we could make it to Little Rock, Arkansas, and Bob had an appointment set up with a shop in Little Rock to do a diagnostic on our truck's problem.

On thinking it through further, Bob decided it would be best to have the truck diagnosed in Branson. The morning we were set to check out of our RV park, he was up early and took the truck first to a suspension shop. The man who worked there thought it wasn't the suspension, and was going to put it up on his rack. Then he took one more look at it and said it was our front tires. He could tell there was a bubble in one of them. Since they were a suspension shop only, Bob went to a tire shop.

Sure enough, there was a bubble in one of our front tires. They happened to have the exact same tires in stock that were already on the truck. Bob had two new tires put on the rear and the old rear tires were moved up to the front. He was back at the 5th wheel by 9:30 a.m. We were able to check out on time and head to Little Rock.

End of shake, rattle and roll, except, of course, for the music on the radio.

I will write blogs to cover our time in Jefferson City and Branson, Missouri...possibly tomorrow night. Currently we are in Little Rock, Arkansas. Tomorrow, we head to Lake o' the Pines, Texas for one night. We plan to drive over to see Caddo Lake as well. Friday night in Livingston, Texas, and then back to San Antonio on Saturday.

Travel Bug out.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Lincoln Palooza - Springfield, Illinois - Thurs., Oct. 23, 2014

If you thought yesterday was busy, wait until you see what we did today! Bob was still feeling a little under the weather but he wanted to see the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum and the inside of the state Capitol. We decided to do those two things first, then see how he felt. If he felt okay, he would finish the Volksmarch with me; if not, he would drop me off where we left off on the walk yesterday and then go back to the 5th wheel to rest.

The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum is awesome. It takes you from Abraham's boyhood log cabin, into the debate about slavery, through his years as a lawyer and father, the Emancipation Proclamation years, his Presidency, and his final moments. The layout, flow and content of the museum is outstanding.

Bob reading about Lincoln's childhood in front of a log cabin replica.
The horrible realities of slavery -
selling human beings and breaking families apart.
Abraham and Mary at home in their sitting room.
Abraham would take his boys Willie and Tad to his law office. They were known to be a bit wild and their dad would turn a blind eye to their shenanigans.

Lincoln reading while the kids wreak havoc.

Once Abraham Lincoln was elected President, it was time to move to the White House in Washington, D.C. Society mavens were not kind to Mary Todd Lincoln. They ridiculed her even though she was from a prominent family in the South.

Fierce political jokes made fun of the new President. The walls were lined with political cartoons showing Lincoln as the Devil, a black in disguise, and many more derogatory lampoons. The following "joke" shows many Lilliputian office seekers looking for political assignments. Lincoln, as Gulliver is overwhelmed.

Political cartoon
When Lincoln was inaugurated, he promised he would not fire the first shot in a war, the South would have to fire the first shot. And they did. So the Civil War began at Ft. Sumter, South Carolina.
Ft. Sumter, where the Civil War began.
Work began in earnest on the Emancipation Proclamation. Lincoln worked on it mostly by himself, then sprang it on his Cabinet. Much discussion ensued.

Discussion of the Emancipation Proclamation

To Lincoln it was not a matter of "if" the Emancipation Proclamation would become law, but "when" and "how." He was convinced by his cabinet to wait to issue the proclamation after the Union had a victory.

There is so much in this museum. I will put in a couple more photos, but you really need to experience it for yourself.

The War Gallery
Photos of Lincoln aging while in office.
Lincoln re-elected President
John Wilkes Booth sneaking into the box seats
to assassinate President Lincoln
At the end of the exhibits, I found a very concise quote from Lincoln about lawsuits. If only people would be reasonable and work out their differences rather than suing someone.

We spent 2-1/2 hours in the museum and it was worth every bit of the $15 per person admission fee.

Then we were off to tour the Illinois state capital. The current Illinois Capitol is the sixth state capital building. Started in 1868, it took more than 20 years to complete at a cost of 4.5 million. This limestone Italian Renaissance Revival building was designed in the shape of a Latin cross and is capped by a 361-foot-high dome. The building is 74' taller than the U.S. Capitol. We took a 1/2 hour tour.

The Rotunda dome
Luxurious marble staircases
"Illinois Welcomes the World"

House Gallery
The Rotunda
A massive 40' x 20' painting is being restored in the Grand Staircase.


Ceiling in House
Rotunda railing
Grand Staircase
Notice the two statues that grace the Grand Staircase. When the Capitol was built, the two statues you see here were supposed to be installed in the Grand Staircase. However, the Illinois Statehouse Commissioners in 1874 decided the statues were too scantily clad and refused to install them.

Iowa Governor Cyrus Clay and his Statehouse Commissioners took the statues and placed them in the Des Moines Capitol. 150 years later Illinois contacted Iowa and asked for the statues back. Iowa said, "No." Illinois had the statues copied and now have reproductions of the original statues.
Grand Staircase
Governor's office
Supreme Court
South hall of the second floor
Ceiling in Supreme Court room
In their restoration effort, layers of paint are being removed to find the original art underneath which is then restored.

Old artwork uncovered under layers of paint
The inside of the dome is very impressive. There are columns, painted ceiling, and a plaster bas-relief frieze painted to look like bronze.

With that, our tour concluded. Outside, I took photos of the top of the dome.

While most Capitol domes we have seen have a figure on top of the dome, the Illinois Capitol has flags. In order to put up and take down the flags, there is a ladder on top of the Illinois dome.
Ladder atop the Illinois Capitol dome
Bob was exhausted and decided not to finish the Volksmarch with me. He dropped me off on the street where we had stopped yesterday. I spent the next hour finishing the walk.

Capitol dome
Squirrels are everywhere!
Lincoln's home

In the sanctuary of the First Presbyterian Church above stands the original pew of the Abraham Lincoln Family.

Lincoln-Herndon Law Offices
The Old State Capitol (1839-1876)
Other facts learned from today's Volksmarch:
  •  Lincoln Square in Springfield, Illinois marks the departure point of the Donner party on April 15, 1846 on their ill-fated trip to California.
  • Potawatomi Trail of Death: On September 28, 1838, 800 Potawatomi Indians marched through Springfield on the forced removal from Indiana to Kansas.
Bob was waiting for me when I finished walking. We had dinner at Sgt. Pepper's Cafe. The food was okay. What I really liked was the decor and the music they played.

With that, we called it a day. Travel Bug out.