Saturday, April 21, 2012

Columbia, Missouri

We are parked in St.Charles, Missouri, having arrived here April 10 from Farmington. It has been hard not to always be on the go, which is what we are likely to do when we park in a strange city. It is a good trade-off however, for here in our hometown we are able to spend time with family and friends. And our home currently is next to the Katy Trail, where we can hike or bike whenever we feel we have energy to burn off. This past Wednesday we drove over to Alton, Illinois to ride the Great River Road Trail. We rode on our bikes from Grafton to the Pere Marquette State Park, a journey of about 4miles one-way. Don't laugh, I know that does not sound like much on bikes, but our bikes have no gears and we had removed the battery packs. Hills are a challenge on those bikes! On Thursday of this week we paid my sister Linda a visit in Columbia, Mo. I told her I would like to a write about her home town and asked her to show me some sites of the town which to her define Columbia. Our first stop was the Shelter Gardens where currently a variety of trees and plants are in bloom. For most of Missouri it has been a warm winter which brought an early spring. Azaleas, iris, peonies, lilacs and roses are all in bloom at the same time. The roses pictured below, which surround a fountain in the gardens, do not usually bloom in April! The gardens are quite beautiful at this time with everything in bloom.
 Columbia is the home of Missouri State University, which was our next stop. The university was the first land grant college west of the Mississippi River,  it was founded in the Louisiana Territory purchased from France during the Jefferson administration. Jefferson's original grave marker was given to the university by his heirs in 1883. Later on the university added a sculpture of Jefferson and gardens in honor of his unique connection with the university. Francis Quadrangle, also located on campus, was a design first used by Jefferson at the University of Virginia.
 In the 1890's one of the first buildings of the university was damaged by fire. That building's ionic columns were saved and became famous landmarks both for the college and downtown Columbia. Six of them stand in front of the university's administration building. It is a favorite hang-out for MU students
The rest of the columns can be seen from the campus looking toward the downtown area of Columbia. Lastly, when I think of the University of Missouri I always think of Beetle Bailey, whose statue can be found on the grounds of the campus. His creator, Mort Walker, was a 1948 alumnus of the university. He started drawing the laid-back student and army private in 1950. Primarily because of the university, Columbia continues to grow. Since the last time I have been here student apartments are springing up all over Columbia and the town is starting to spread out into the surrounding countryside. However, it still seems to keep its' small town appeal!

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