Monday, April 28, 2014

On the Road Again - vacation day 7

We woke up Thursday to the sad realization that it was time to pack our bags and leave Missouri. Luckily we didn’t have to push ourselves on the way home as we were only going half-way the first day, spending the night at the hubby’s brother’s house in Iowa.

Because we have said-relative in Iowa, we have been there before. One place still fascinates me. Fort Madison. Not the actual original fort though.
What fascinates me is the Iowa State Penitentiary, the oldest still operating prison west of the Mississippi River. Or it still was when we were there on April 10. It was closing by the end of the month and moving to a new modern facility, according to the woman who runs the Cup N Cone right next to the maximum security prison. And that would be the craziest part for me – who builds an ice cream shoppe and miniature golf course right next to an ancient spooky prison??

 We got to the brother-in-law’s at 4:34 (I know the time because the hubby said we would be there by 4:30 and he was miffed that my putzing around had caused us to be late). We took them out to eat in the historic town of LeClaire. Not only historic because of all the old buildings and quaint shops, but because it is home to Antique Archeology, from the History channel’s show American Pickers

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Finally a day to relax - vacation day 6

Wednesday was our fifth full day – and final day – in Missouri. We did only a little driving, going into Clarksville one last time and touring Greenwood Cemetery.

But most of the day we hung out at the resort. I suppose I could tell you a little about it. Nah, I’ll just show you pictures. 


I imagine that this place was hopping in summers of the past. I haven’t been able to find out any of its history on the internet and wish now that I would have asked someone who worked there. I’m going to guess that way back these rolling hills were part of someone’s large farm, but that at one point in time (the 60s?) someone turned it into one of those family-friendly resorts. Picture the original Dirty Dancing movie. Within the last few years, and maybe with a change in management, the pod-style villas were built to draw higher-end vacationers. All the buildings other than the villas seem a bit old and worn, so that’s why I formulated this theory. However, I could be way off.

After looking at my pictures, what do you surmise? 

Friday, April 25, 2014

Sites of St Louis - vacation day 5

Tuesday, the fifth day of our vacation to Missouri, we needed to get up and going in the morning. Our goal was St Louis. I didn’t have a definite plan, only a long list of things to see and do.

We got to downtown and the Gateway Arch around 9:30. Took in the Arch and the Museum of Westward Expansion, things we saw when we were in Missouri years ago. Still were too scared to take the ride to the top of the Arch though.

 There really is a lot about this area of St Louis that I didn’t take the time to research, but I knew I wanted to visit the Old Courthouse, site of the Dred Scott Trial. Inside, there were several rooms filled with exhibits depicting the history of St Louis and Missouri. I wish my brain was a sponge so that I could absorb it all, but instead my brain is more of a dishrag.

 Since we were so close, I indulged the hubby and we walked the extra block to see Busch Stadium. I really was willing to explore it but he said, no, we had gotten close enough.
 The Old Cathedral sounded fascinating. Unfortunately it was undergoing some remodeling. I thought, not a problem, we’ll go inside and check it out. Except that the inside was being remodeling as well, and to top it off mass was starting the second we walked in. That’s the kind of luck we have.
 By now it was early afternoon, so we went back to the car and drove to Forest Park. This park is one of the largest city parks in America, 500 acres bigger than Central Park. If the weather had been warmer, I would have taken off trying to walk the whole thing, but as it was we drove around a little and ended up at the zoo.
 This is where I really screwed up. No one told me how huge the St Louis Zoo is! I had no clue. And it’s even free! I think we only took in less than a third of it. We could’ve given up a whole day here, but oh well, I have seen animals before.
And so, as it was nearly closing time and starting to sprinkle, we walked to the car and drove back to our resort. 

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Historic Hannibal - vacation day 4

Monday could have been a total loss, but as the saying goes, when life hands you lemons, go shopping. Or maybe that’s not quite the saying. Anyway, we putzed around and didn’t get out to the car until around 8:30. Have I told you yet that the right front tire has had a slow leak? Well, not so slow anymore as I could tell immediately by the way the car was listing.

While Hubby changed the tire, I called the front desk to see if they knew of a place close by which could fix a flat. As luck would have it, right there in tiny Clarksville was a Jubilee Auto. (The hubby was totally shocked that I didn’t digitally record any of the events of the morning, but sometimes even I need a break.)

We were finally on our way out of town around ten. Our first stop was the ghost town of Ilasco. Founded in 1903 it was basically a company town of the Atlas Cement Plant. Though the cement plant is still running, all that is left of Ilasco is a church, one empty store and the jail.

Mark Twain Cave was our next stop. I am only claustrophobic in tight spaces, caves don’t really bother me. As long as I am not alone and there is no chance of getting lost.

Oh, goodness, can you believe I found another cemetery? I know, you are shocked.
This is Riverside Cemetery outside of Hannibal. I don’t know who famous is buried here. All I found was a lot of worn and broken headstones. So sad.

The hubby’s only request for the day was to buy stamps, so I found the post office for him. We parked the car on a side street and walked there. My mistake.
 OK, so that was only my second injury. We walked back up the hill where I had fallen and up to Rockcliffe Mansion. So huge! Hard to imagine living here.

We walked back to the car and drove to historic downtown Hannibal. The hubby parked on a street bench while I hiked to the top of Cardiff Hill and the base of the Mark Twain Lighthouse.

 “Hey, Huck, what do you suppose is in that ugly building?” So much for the picturesque statue of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn. 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Cemetery Sunday - vacation day 3

Sunday morning, our second full day in Missouri. We wanted to attend church sometime somewhere. As luck would have it there was a Lutheran Church Missouri Synod in the town of Louisiana, just the city I had hoped to visit that day. Service wasn’t until 11:00, so we had plenty of time to find the church and then explore a little.

When we had checked into our resort on Friday, the desk clerk gave me a stack of brochures of things to see and do in the area. I believe that one pamphlet was printed solely for my use – “Tombstone Tours: Visit Historical Cemeteries in Pike County, Missouri”. I had to suppress an evil snicker when I opened it up. The poor hubby had no idea the twist my vacation plans took at that moment.

Just up the street from our chosen church was my first victim. Gates of Peace Cemetery, the only Jewish cemetery in Missouri that was north of St. Louis.  

 As I was closing the gate to leave, I smashed my finger. Now it was the hubby’s turn to snicker.

We killed two birds with one stone at the next stop. The Jackson Family Cemetery was right next to the Catholic Cemetery. Neither one was horribly exciting, but it was time to get back to church anyway.

I do not even know how to build up the excitement for the next cemetery. In my journal I described it as the “holy mother of all cemeteries”. Riverview Cemetery in Louisiana contains more than 14,000 graves, or so my Tombstone Tours brochure told me and went on to say that it is in a beautiful location overlooking the Mississippi River. Not even close to an apt description.   

I can’t believe the hubby made us do anything else that day, but he dragged me away so we could eat lunch by the river and then wander up Louisiana’s historic downtown.

 Then I had to find one more cemetery, the Bowling Green City Cemetery. Finally I discovered a graveyard that awed the hubby.

 He was pretty excited by the names on these headstones and wants to know if they are relatives.

Oh, honey, I said, it's all relative.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Woes Along the River - vacation day 2

Saturday was our first real day of vacation, first day to relax and unwind, to sleep in and not have anywhere to go. If you know me at all, you know it didn’t really work out that way. I had a full schedule planned for every day.

The first day, however, I actually thought we could take it easy, check out our surroundings and the little town closest to our resort.

The Mississippi River town of Clarksville boasts a population of 547. Lock and Dam number 24 is right on the doorstep of town, so we spent much of the first morning watching a barge go through. Why is that so fascinating? Probably because to my simple mind it is a major feat of engineering.

When we finally tore ourselves away from the Lock, we walked along the river front and the hubby started up a conversation with a woman who was checking to see how far the River had risen since the day before. Turns out she was the mayor, JoAnne Smiley. Leave it to my husband to meet the mayor.  

We had a long conversation with her regarding flooding in her little town. Clarksville is the last town in Missouri whose downtown district faces the Mississippi River. Other towns either are set far enough back from the River or they built permanent levies so that they don’t have to worry about flooding. Cute little Clarksville doesn’t have the money (half a million dollars) to build a levy, plus the little shops along the River are so quaint it would be a shame to shield them with a wall of dirt. When it looks like flood waters are moving in, the town rallies with their sandbags and defends their little downtown.  According to the mayor, because of this they have never had losses from flooding, and because of that the federal government won’t give them any money to prevent disaster.  

 A few days later I was sharing the woes of Clarksville with a local from a town up River, and she didn’t have any sympathy for her neighbors to the south. She just thought they should build a levy, and didn’t believe me when I said it sounded like it was cost-prohibitive.

On our way home the end of the week, I told my brother-in-law all of this. He works for the Army Corps of Engineers which deals yearly with flooding of the Mississippi. He had yet another view of this problem.

Because my little pea-brain doesn’t want to hear the facts and figures, only wants to take in what is beautiful, I have no solutions for anyone. All I have is more pictures from our first day. 
Didn't eat here. Sorry, Tubby. 
The old episcopal church which is now the beautiful art studio of Mary O. We spent probably an hour talking with her and touring her home.  
Water fowl at the Clarence Cannon Wildlife Refuge.  I thought the sign said "canyon" so I was hoping for some great scenery. Water fowl is ok though too.  
At Cuivre River State Park near Troy. We didn't stay long. We were getting tired by then and headed into Troy for Dairy Queen and to get the car washed. 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Drive through Illinois - vacation day 1

It has been so long since the hubby and I have gotten out of town, out of state, on a real vacation. Holy cow, I thought it just felt like a long time, but I just looked it up and it has been six and a half months. And you know what was on the ground almost that entire time? Snow.

And guess what was falling from the sky as we packed up the car on April 4? Snow. I know, what a surprise.

The snow and slushy roads cleared up about an hour into the trip. But the temperature didn’t get much above 40 and a cold wind continued to blow. This is our first view of the Mississippi River at Savanna, Illinois. Yes, I did get the hubby to drive through Illinois this time.

 Saw a few sites on our drive through the hubby’s favorite state. This is a random windmill someone built outside of the town of Industry.

 This is the Pittsfield Courthouse. I sure wished they still made buildings like this instead of tearing them down.

 Instead they put up modern buildings like this. I didn’t care that day though, because this is where we stayed for the next six days and nights.

And it was wonderful!