Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Visiting Missouri State Parks in 2010

As I tend to do in winter, expect a series of flashback posts to pop up here on the blog!

Back in February of 2010 Wayne broke his tibia and his fibula slipping on some black ice in our driveway .  While still wearing the boot that May we took a trip down to Missouri.

Navigating the one mile paved Braille trail at Elephant Rocks State Park was definitely an uphill  challenge in his condition, but the 1.5 billion year old granite boulders were pretty neat.

Also of interest was the history of granite quarrying in the area.  Quarrying in the area goes back to 1869 and provided a lot of employment both in the quarry and the railroad needed to transport the rock.

In addition to the engine house built in the early 1900's of the rock quarried there, a water filled quarry made a pleasant place to stop and enjoy the mild weather.

All "booted up"

The state park website had a link to a 3 minute video showing quarrying technique from 1935.

We stayed at Johnson's Shut-Ins State Park which had a recently rebuilt campground that was pretty amazing but we left a few days early due to ticks falling from the sky.

A dam upriver had a retaining wall that broke in 2005 flooding the area and luckily no one was killed.  You can read the really well written news story here.

The "shut-ins" are a place where the river's breadth is limited by hard rock resistant to erosion. Apparently this park is used mostly as a natural "waterpark" in the summer. We had it all to ourselves that morning but swimming was not on our agenda, but I certainly enjoyed climbing around on the rocks.

Since we decided to leave early we headed up along the Mississippi River, enjoying the migrating birds.

We ended up at the Thomson Causeway COE campground which I highly recommend to anyone looking to get away for a few days.  It's not close to any services, but right on the Mississippi River with wildlife viewing opportunities everywhere including wading birds, turtles, muskrats, beavers and even some nesting eagles at one of the lock and dams.

Originally we thought we would stay at the Illinois state park in Savannah but it is bare bones and nowhere near as nice.  Since it is Illinois this is a nice flat area for bike riding, and bring your kayak and you can paddle right from your campsite.  Wish I had taken a picture of our site, but they are all large and quite a few are right on the water.  Don't head there now though, they closed in late October and won't re-open until the first of May!

Monday, December 5, 2016

A Post Office Mural and More Murals Inside the Courthouse Dome in Lancaster

While going through the drafts section of my blogger posts I stumbled across this one.  When I drove around the southwest corner of the state after a trip to Galena A YEAR AND A HALF ago I swung into the tiny town of Lancaster to add this New Deal Post Office mural to my collection.

The mural entitled "Farm Yard" painted by Tom Rost in 1940 was in great condition.  While I puttered around town I spotted the Grant County Courthouse so of course had to stop for a peek.

Built in 1902 with an octagonal glass and copper dome inspired by St Peter’s Cathedral in Rome, the three-story courthouse has brick walls and Lake Superior brownstone trim.

Inside I discovered some murals.  My learning for today includes the fact that they are painted on what is called a "spandrel".  A spandrel, less often spandril or splaundrel, is the space between two arches or between an arch and a rectangular enclosure, according to Wikipedia.

I wasn't able to find any information on them, the look vaguely Roman or Greek to me so perhaps have some mythological story they are representing?

Anyone who is familiar please chime in!  I loved the silver border around them.

Linking up to Monday Mural. More neglected posts from the past to come.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Starved Rock State Park and Matthiessen State Park - Places Worth Revisiting

When Cory and I drove down to southern Illinois to pick up his friend for a visit at the end of September we stopped at Starved Rock State Park.

Chief Walks With the Wind - part of the Peter Toth Whispering Giants series

I never miss an opportunity to stop in and see how "Chief Walks With the Wind" is faring.  He's looking really well, as he should since he is only 27 years young and wearing some kind of protective coating.  You can read my short post about when Wayne and I stopped at Starved Rock in 2013 here.  A member of the Ho Chunk Nation, Sam Sine (Chief Walks with the Wind) and his family shared Native American stories and cultural programs at the park's lodge for nearly 50 years. 

Lots of stairs to navigate up and down along the canyons and bluffs.  I was a bit too early for true fall color!

The lodge is a great place to park and start hiking if you are just passing through.  There are 13 miles of trails,  yellow dots on posts indicate that you are moving away from the lodge or visitor center, and white dots mean you are returning.  On our return trip we stopped there again and I explored a section of the park I usually bypass, but on this visit I headed straight for St. Louis Canyon as I usually do.

Warm,gorgeous sandstone in St Louis Canyon 2016

I have great memories of when my mother and I visited for a Mother's Day weekend camping trip back in 2010.  Look at how young and cute we were!

Me and my mother in St. Louis Canyon 2010

Starved Rock is a favorite of my mom's, as a matter of fact she and my father went there for a weekend getaway at the lodge not long after Cory and I were there.  She and my father prefer hanging out near the Illinois River instead of wandering the woods as I do.

My mom looking for eagles 

A few miles down the road my mom and I also visited Matthiessen State Park  in 2010 where we had to navigate a flooded trail.  The park has 5 miles of well marked trails to explore, mostly along the canyon.  I put her to work carrying my tripod, she got a great workout that day!

Here's some info from the park's website on its history:
Matthiessen State Park was named for Frederick William Matthiessen, a prominent industrialist and philanthropist from LaSalle. He originally purchased the land near the end of the 19th century and operated it as a privately owned park for many years. Mr. Matthiessen employed about 50 people to construct trails, bridges, stairways and check dams. The area was originally referred to as “Deer Park,” in reference to the large deer population. The original 176-acre park consisted primarily of a long, narrow canyon with a small stream flowing through it. At that time these formations were called “dells,” a name that has stayed with the park. After Matthiessen’s death, the park was donated to the state of Illinois, which opened it as a public park. In 1943, the state renamed the park in honor of Matthiessen. Since then, the park has grown to 1,938 acres and includes much of the significant natural areas along the main dell, some former prairie land, and some forest land south of the original park.

It's a favorite picnic spot for the locals, perhaps they are happy to have a place to go to avoid all the tourists flocking to Starved Rock.

There aren't any camping facilities at Matthiesen, but there is a campground that is about equal distance between the two parks.  In September I drove through to check it out and while I was disappointed that it wasn't on Starved Rock's park grounds and would require getting in the car to drive there it was an adequate park though the showers were very outdated.  Illinois state parks do not put a lot of money into their parks trails and campgrounds as a rule, perhaps part of the problem is due to the fact that they do not charge admission or require park stickers.

Cory and I rented a cabin at a nearby KOA this fall and Wayne and I stayed at Hickory Hollow campground in 2013. Both of those parks are in Utica within a 10 minute drive and right where Interstate 39 and Interstate 80 meet.  Not much in Illinois is something I would recommend putting on your "must" outdoor list, but this area is worth a stop for sure!

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Creative Pains

My wrist and hand were feeling so great yesterday that I spent the day creating this year's Christmas cards.

I took breaks, but I figure I made about 20 of them and spent 4 or 5 hours over the course of the day cutting, pasting, and shuffling paper.

I haven't felt the creative energy like that all year, but by the time I cleaned it all up just before bedtime I was exhausted and all I wanted was an ice pack and some Ibuprofen.

Today I woke up to renewed stiffness and some minor shooting pains at the base of my thumb so it was back to watching Netflix most of the day. Even though the thermometer didn't reach 40F I took little Miss Jewel with me to mail all those cards at the Post Office and get a break from the couch.

After our visit to the Post Office we drove down to the lake but all the frogs and birds and insects have departed for the next five months.  I wonder what the cats think of the sudden quiet and frosty breezes in our neighborhood?

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Everything is Tickety-Boo? Totally Disco?

Recently I watched the British TV show "Luther" on Netflix and he commented "Everything is tickety-boo.  Totally disco."  Now I did not know what that meant so I looked it up.  It's a song from the 1958 movie "Merry Andrew" starring Danny Kaye which I mean to add to my must watch list based on the music video.  I might be more likely to incorporate the phrase "totally disco" into my personal lexicon though since a decade ago I used "groovy" with annoying frequency.

Love the optimism in the clip and the carefree enthusiasm he is showing!  I've been out of the loop with blogging and hiking recently due to a number of things, but one of those is the problems I've been having with carpal tunnel.  Since I was just about to hit my out-of-pocket limit for the year under our insurance I scheduled my first surgery which I had done the day after Thanksgiving.

My doctor was highly recommended and I had the procedure done pain-free and under local anesthesia only.  Very weird to feel them retract after the incision by the tugging sensation but to not actually feel anything they were doing!  I was in and out of the operating area in about 15 minutes and 10 minutes after that my mother and I were out the door and off to breakfast and shopping.

Yes, we went shopping at Mayfair Mall which was just across the street on Black Friday.  I don't say we got a lot accomplished though except for hitting the Apple store when there was no line and finally getting her upgraded to a smartphone.  I crashed at the end of the long day and slept for 12 hours, however post surgery pain has been easily managed by ibuprofen - the Tylenol 3 they prescribed seemed to be fairly useless.

Day 5 - free at last!

Surgery was on Friday morning and now on Tuesday morning the bandage is off and here I sit typing at my normal speed with both hands.  Not everything is that easy, I tried to put a sweater on a hangar and whatever movement I made the pain was shocking though brief.  So, still some healing to do and I will ease into it.  For the most part though everything is Tickety-Boo.


I also got the tree decorated yesterday much to the delight of our young cats.  Totally Disco!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

A Spin Around Clarksville and Jeffersonville

After ending up in Clarksville by accident I realized it looked like I could make my way over to the Colgate clock, something I've wanted to do for quite awhile but my plans always seem to get thwarted.  And hey, I spelled that right on the first try so bonus points for using thwarted and spelling it correctly!

Colgate clock, from intersection of Center and Woerner Streets

The clock is the second largest timepiece in the world, measuring over 40 feet across.  And even though it has been atop this building since 1924 it is still working!  I know the plant was in danger of destruction at one point so who knows if it will make it to one hundred years.

From there it was a hop, skip and a jump over to another stop I have wanted to make for a long time and that is the Falls of the Ohio State Park.  The 390-million-year-old fossil beds are among the largest, naturally exposed, Devonian fossil beds in the world.

notice the tiny people in the distance

I had great timing as the water was really low and I got to walk out and spot a lot of fossils.

horn coral

I didn't look hard enough up closer to the interpretive center which is apparently where all the good stuff is, but I enjoyed walking out as far as I could and trying to guess what I was looking at.

Normally I would get more information at the interpretive center but there was a $9 admission charge which I was unwilling to pay knowing I would be back with Wayne some time in the future.  He would definitely like having a look around.

The lobby had what looked to be some Chihuly glass hanging from the ceiling.  Score!

From the park I just had to cross a few roads along the river to Jeffersonville.

Their historic district featured painted crosswalks and unique bike racks, but the real crowd pleaser is Schimpff's Confectionary.  I liked the free lemon drop sample so much I bought a bag to go home and their chocolate was pretty good too.

I bought a little candy for everyone back home and then drove around looking for public art.

Not a window!

Painted kitties were not the only mural I found, the Jeffersonville Floodwall sported quite a few and one was in progress.

Next up I'll update where those who support civil rights should be spending their money this holiday season and beyond, I found a few surprises on the list this time around!

Monday, November 14, 2016

Hopcat in Louisville

Louisville, Kentucky, is home to many fine bridges crossing the Ohio River including the George Rogers Clark bridge (Second Street Bridge) pictured below.

I crossed the bridge after spotting the mural below while driving down Bardstown Road.

I did not mean to leave Louisville so abruptly, I should have taken a ramp under the bridge but it was too late once I realized I had gone the wrong way.

What other murals might I have missed as I zipped out over the Ohio River and in to Indiana?  Who knows, but I found my way to some other great things instead as I always seem to.  Linking up to Monday Mural.