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Prayer Garden
Prayer Garden in Stratton, CO

7/29/05 - Onward to Kansas
The past few days have been dedicated to finishing the new round of software updates we have been working on for several weeks. Yesterday I finally uploaded new versions of Small Business Tracker Deluxe, Activity & Expense Tracker Plus and Inventory Tracker Plus. We went out to dinner to celebrate, and took these pictures at a beautiful garden next to a Catholic Church called Our Lady of the Plains Prayer Park.

Today we left Colorado and headed east through flat, flat Kansas. I thoroughly enjoyed our time in Colorado and look forward to our next visit to this great state. We stopped for the night at the Lakeside RV Park near Salina, Kansas (Map). On our way to dinner we saw some large round bales of hay that looked like they had been there for many months.

7/30/05 - Lindsborg Kansas
This morning we went into Salina so my wife could go to the Hobby Lobby. While she did her shopping I drove around a little and took some photos of cobblestone streets and brick houses, both things I see very little of on the West Coast. When I got back, she still needed more time, so I took some pictures of large hay bales sitting in a large urban lot photo, right next to the hobby Lobby.

We learned that there was a little town near here called Lindsborg (Map), which has a lot of Swedish heritage, so we decided to go and check it out today. It was a pretty cute little place, but paled in comparison to Solvang, which is a similar Dutch town near Santa Barbara, CA.

large Dala horse
Large Dala Horse

When we got to Lindsborg we noticed quite a few of these large wooden horses with bright paint jobs, sitting in front of stores along the main street in town. After asking someone in one of the gift stores we went into, we discovered that these are called Dala horses, and that they are a symbol of Sweden. These large ones are made of fiberglass instead of wood, which all the smaller ones we saw were made of.

Swedish Church in Lindsborg
Swedish Church in Lindsborg

We went into several of the shops along the main street and stopped for a snack in the local ice cream parlor. Near downtown was a house with a very unusual six person swing out front. The Methodist Church has some very beautiful stained glass windows.

Next we drove down the main street a bit further and found a great band shell and playground. In the same park was a stone commemorating the placement of a Time Capsule in 1994. Down the street a block or two is this beautiful church.

I also found the cobblestone streets fascinating. On the way out of town I spotted an odd sign with just a question mark on it. Later I discovered that these signs point to information centers.

On the way back to the coach we decided to go for a drive in the country. Here is a big pile of old hay photo which I found picturesque.

Then there were these beautiful horses photo, and more old hay in a field. It was a lovely day and drive in the country.

8/01/05 - Wamego Kansas
As we drove east on I70 today I noticed some signs for a Wizard of Oz Museum and we agreed to go check it out. I had to make about a twenty mile detour to get to Wamego (Map), and we got detoured around the town because of some road construction, so it was a bit of a challenge finding the place, but when we got there it was very interesting.

Wizard of Oz Museum
Wizard of Oz Museum

Practically next door to the museum was a great old theater (the Columbian Theater) which is showing a film about Judy Garland and plans on showing The Wizard of Oz in October.

I was surprised to discover that the eastern part of Kansas is really quite hilly. Still lots of agriculture, but not nearly as flat as the western part we traveled though a few days ago.

We experienced our first toll road between Topeka and Kansas City. I found no difference between this stretch of road and other parts of accept that there was more construction happening.

Tonight we checked in to the Basswood Country Resort, which is a very nice campground north of Kansas City, in Platte City, Missouri (Map).

8/02/05 - Kansas City, MO
Today we drove into Kansas City to do some shopping and exploring. First we went to Costco and stocked up on a few things. Then Dayadevi wanted to find the place she lived about 20 years ago. She thought is was in the north part of Kansas City, but according to what I saw on the map, it was south. So we drove south for about 70 blocks, discovering all kinds of cool things, including this beautiful stone church photo, and a great fountain, which is a tribute to Jesse Clyde Nichols, a national authority in residence subdivision and the development, by sculptor Henri Greber.

Fountain Honoring Children
Fountain Honoring Children

But we didn't find the street Dayadevi once lived on, so we turned around and headed toward the north section of town. On the way we stopped at this beautiful fountain near the water treatment plant. We eventually did find her townhouse, which had not changed much, accept for the surrounding area, which had been built up considerably of course.

Then we went to the Outback Steakhouse for dinner and had some great Kansas City beef.

8/04/05 - St. Louis, MO
Yesterday we left Kansas City and drove across Missouri to St. Louis. We decided to stay at the MGM Lakeside RV Park, north of the city in Granite City, Illinois (Map), but got a very strange reception and did not feel particularly comfortable there. So this morning we switched to the KOA about 200 yards away.

We got kind of a strange reception there too. First, we showed up in just our toad, in order to check the place out, and they insisted we go get the coach before they would check us in. Then when we got back with the coach, the person behind the register was rather rude. We decided to stay anyway.

Hyde Park Catholic Church in Ruins
Hyde Park Catholic Church in Ruins

Then we went for a drive to see St. Louis, following a route into the city suggested by the KOA. What we saw entering from this direction was very depressing. In Hyde Park there were lots of abandoned properties, including many boarded up buildings, and churches with lots of broken windows. It looked like there might have been major riots in the area not long ago. (After researching this a few days later, I now think the buildings were just owned by slumlords, who refused to keep the buildings in a rentable condition. So they are now boarded up, waiting to be torn down and rebuilt.)

Fortunately we did see the rebuilding process being started. Prefabricated houses were already being placed where old buildings had been destroyed. It was very interesting to see them lifting large sections of building off of trucks, and placing them beside and on top of one another, to create a new fourplex in just a few hours. Here are some photos of this process.

St. Louis' Gateway Arch
St. Louis' Gateway Arch

The old City Hall building looked a bit rundown at first glance, but on second look, it probably just needs a serious cleaning. Then there was the beautiful Capitol Building, and of course the St. Louis Arch.

Then we went in search of something to eat for lunch. We noticed a few places but none seemed like what we were looking for, mostly because of parking challenges. So we wound up driving over the Mississippi River to Cohokia. This area has some Louis and Clark historical significance, but was also rather rundown and uninviting. So we found a Subway and got back to St. Louis as quickly as possible.

Back in downtown St. Louis, Dayadevi wanted to check out the huge Main Post Office. This wonderful old stone building has some wonderful murals on the second story walls above the main lobby, which depicts the history of St. Louis. Here are some more photos of St. Louis.

Union Pacific Railway Station
Union Pacific Railway Station

Next we discovered the Union Pacific Railway Station, which has recently been converted into a shopping mall, with dozens of places to eat. Too bad we didn't know about this before. We did go and a have a couple of cold drinks at the Hooters there though. I thought the Hooters sign was pretty cute, as were all the waitress, of course.

The front part of the building contains the Regency Hotel, a restaurant and numerous shops. The rear of the building has been enclosed with a steel and glass structure, for use as the three story Gateway Mall, complete with a huge pond.

Also in the mall is a museum with a detailed history of the building as well as some railroad history. The lobby of the hotel was pretty magnificent, with beautiful chandeliers and stained glass.

Across the street from the St. Louis Union Station is a very interesting fountain in Aloe Plaza, called The Meeting of the Waters, by Carl Milles, which symbolizes the union of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers. The two central figures represent the two great rivers, while the lesser water creatures suggest the many tributaries and streams.

Unfortunately we were about ten minutes late getting back to our car, and so we found a parking ticket on our windshield. So we decided, since we now owned the parking place, to stay and enjoy the Aloe Plaza and fountain with our dogs, for a little while longer.

Next we drove down to the St. Louis Arch, which was closed so we couldn't go in. Across from the Arch is a paddleboat which has been converted into a casino. There are several of these on the river.

Barge Transporting Cargo on the Mississippi River
Cargo Barge on the Mississippi River

8/04/05 - Alton
This morning we decided to drive up to the Alton, IL (Map) area to check out the convergence of the three great rivers. On the way we drove past the memorial to Lewis and Clark. The symbolism of this concrete tower escaped me, and it was due to be completed earlier this year. It seems that the project has stalled.

When we got to Alton, we were immediately impressed with the size of the grain elevators. There are at least a dozen that are many stories tall. Here are some more photos of St, Louis.

A short trip up the Mississippi from Alton is this very interesting park. Apparently there is a mythological bird called the Piasa, who preyed upon humans in the time that only the American Indians lived here. We found tributes to this bird in many places today, but this one was the most impressive. The cave here was very impressive too.

We saw quite a few barges on the Mississippi River, carrying coal, corn and many other bulk products. Here are some more photos of the Mississippi River and Alton.

Mississippi River Tug Boat Pusing a Barge
Mississippi River Tug Boat

Next we took the ferry over to a large peninsula that lies between the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers. We had about a ten minute wait, but it was fun to watch the ferry load on the other side of the river, and come back to our side to unload. I think the crossing of the Illinois River took less than five minutes. On the way across the river we saw this tug boat pushing a huge barge nearby.

In Brussells we stopped at a fruit stand that had some great looking peaches and some fairly good craft products for sale. Then we stopped at a local restaurant for lunch.

Next we drove up to Hardin and across the bridge there, and then drove back down to Alton. On the way we saw this very unusual house in the shape of an ark.

Noah's Ark House
Noah's Ark House

When we got back to Alton we checked out some interesting stone buildings and a memorial commemorating the final debate between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas which took place here Oct. 15, 1858.

After searching for almost an hour for the Lovejoy Printing Press, we found only a piece of it, something in the shape of a six foot arch. The plaque states that this is a section of the Lovejoy Printing Press which was destroyed by mob violence and thrown into the Mississippi River on November 7, 1837. This was the third time that Lovejoy's press was destroyed because he advocated the abolition of slavery. On this fateful night, he was killed trying to defend this press. It was recovered in 1913 by the Sparkes Milling Company. This tablet is placed in memory of Elijah Parish Lovejoy and the valorous men who with him risked their lives in defense of free speech and a free press.

Alton Bridge
Alton Bridge

Then we crossed the beautiful Alton Bridge to see what was on the other side. Here is the view looking back across the Mississippi River from Illinois of Alton.

Next we went to the National Great Rivers Museum which is located at the Melvis Price Locks and Dam. I learned a lot about the rivers, the commerce on the rivers and the local history. They also had an aquarium that displayed three types of fish that live in the area whose ancestors are millions of years old!

Then we stopped at the Lewis and Clark Fort and museum which was closed. So we drove out to the nearby river and took these shots of the confluence where the Chain of Rocks Canal splits off from the Mississippi River. As we were leaving we saw a groundhog crossing the road.

Granite City Locks
Granite City Locks

On our way home we explored the Granite City Locks and Dam. It was very interesting to see how they loaded the barges with a wide variety of cargos, including grain, steel and petroleum products from this location. Here are some more photos of the Granite City Locks.

8/06/05 - Lewis and Clark
This morning we got an early start and drove the coach back to the Lewis and Clark State Historic Site and Museum on our way out of town. It is a very good exhibit with a cutaway replica of the boats they used on their voyage. Here are some more photos of the Lewis and Clark State Historic Site. Out back was a full sized replica of Camp River DuBois which they built here when they were first preparing for their long journey. Here's a view of the captain's quarters which had some books, games, navigation instruments and gifts to exchange with the native americans for supplies.

We spent most of the rest of the day traveling towards Kentucky. We spent almost the whole day on country roads, which was very beautiful. We stopped for the night in Anna, IL and dry camped at the local WalMart.

8/07/05 - Metropolis, IL Home of Superman
As we left Illinois today we happened to pass through Chester, IL (Map) which is the home of Elzie Crisler Segar (aka E. G. Segar) who wrote the Thimble Theater and Popeye comic strips from 1919 to 1938. They have a museum there which was closed.

Passing through a small town in the southern part of Illinois, I photographed a very well organized tractor junkyard. It was quite amazing to me. Perhaps there are a lot of these in the midwest, but I have never seen one before.

Metropolis, home of Superman
Metropolis, home of Superman

Then we decided to check out Metropolis(Map), which has a great Superman museum. Being a huge Superman fan during the late fifties and sixties, I just had to stop and pay homage to my favorite superhero.

We found an almost empty campground in Central City, KY (Map) where we will spend a few days while we explore Kentucky. Tonight I released a minor update to Vacation Rental Tracker Plus and we witnessed a beautiful sunset.

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