Maybe our readers are thinking that, judging by the title of this post, that I have lost my marbles! True, I did say in my last posting that we were moving on to Omaha. And yesterday we did travel on through Iowa and towards Nebraska. We are now parked in Council Bluffs, Iowa. It is located across the Missouri River from Omaha, Nebraska. At one of the rest area facilities we stopped at yesterday John and I got a close-up look at the blade of a wind turbine.
Friday, May 31, 2013
Thursday, May 30, 2013
We parked in Cedar Falls about two years ago, at Black Hawk State Park. Unfortunately it is now under water, but we still had a couple other options opened to us when we arrived last Thursday. Our second choice was filled up due to the holiday week-end and graduation events. However, the owner of that park was kind enough to point across the Cedar River and show us where there was a church conference center which had about 10 spots for large recreational vehicles. That is where we ended up parking. And from that vantage point we could look over the river bluffs at the swollen Cedar River.
The river continues to flow swiftly and flood the low-lying areas of the city- it most certainly will be one of the rivers feeding into the Mississippi and causing it also to flood. John and I have seen a lot of rain in the past week, and according to weather reports, it probably will not let up until the end of this week. As I commented when we were in St.Louis, it is hard for John and I to understand all this dampness when we had such a dry winter in Texas!
We are in Cedar Falls for the high school graduation of our niece Martha and her husband Quique’s son Joshua. They are pictured below along with their other children Becky, Joel and Lydia. Grandparents Carolyn and Jim came up from Farmington to also join in the week-end festivities, which began with an open-house for Josh at their church on Friday evening.
And, despite the weather, John and I did find some dry time to get better acquainted with Cedar Falls. Last time we were here we biked around the millrace and historic downtown area of the city. This time we explored the streets of Cedar Falls which are lined with large Queen Anne and Victorian homes, many of which have been restored. The older homes were built in the 19th century by successful businessmen who were associated with the numerous mills built along the river. Cedar Falls is also an arts and entertainment destination. Yesterday we stopped at the James and Mary Hearst Center for the Arts. The center is comprised of two galleries, a recital hall and a sculpture garden. It was while we were strolling around the garden that we became acquainted with the work of James Hearst, an American poet, philosopher and professor. He has sometimes has been described as "Robert Frost of the Midwest". Posted in the garden, amid many blooming flowers, are the verses which he has written.
Friday, May 24, 2013
I apologize to our readers who probably thought we were done with St.Louis! I had read somewhere, probably the St.Louis Post Dispatch, about a new sculpture at the zoo and got it into my head that I wanted to make a trip to the zoo before leaving town. The zoo, like the botanical garden, is another gem of the St.Louis metropolitan area. I have many happy memories there, beginning about 30 years ago when we started taking our children there. And it has changed a lot over those years! On Wednesday, when we visited the zoo, we needed a map to find our way around. And yet I must add that the changes at the zoo have made it an even better place to visit! An example of one of its changes can be found at the free flight aviary. It was built in 1904 for the St.Louis World Fair, by the Smithsonian Institute for the Louisiana Purchase Exposition. In 1973 it served as the centerpiece for the creation of the zoo. Over the years what was once the world's largest bird cage became the home for a variety of bird species, many of them exotic. Today it is a cypress swamp and home to many native bird species of Missouri. Upon entering the aviary John and I immediately identified a variety of egrets and ducks in the swamp, and one yellow-crowned night heron perched in a tree. Cormorants were sunning themselves on the boardwalk and completely oblivious to our presence. I was able to get quite close to the one pictured below.
Monday, May 20, 2013
This is my second posting on the Missouri Botanical Garden, and if I remember correctly, when we visited the gardens last summer there was also some sort of Chinese cultural festival going on then. However, as you will soon discover, this posting will not be a boring repeat of of our last visit there. I hope all St.Louis citizens realize what a gem they have in the botanical gardens. And if you live within that metropolitan area and never have paid the gardens a visit, I will just say shame on you! Over the years we have been there during various seasons of the year. Each time there have been different plants in bloom, and new areas of the garden to explore. It is just one of those places which never disappoints us. Sunday afternoon my sisters Julia and Linda joined John and I for our visit to the gardens. Currently, the big attraction in the garden is a large patch of blooming iris flowers. What a beautiful riot of color!
Saturday, May 18, 2013
As I had mentioned in my previous posting, we noticed many vineyards and wineries on Highway 94 coming into Hermann. According to Hermann Area Visitor's Guide, the Hermann Wine Trail is made up of 7 wineries in and round the historic community, from Hermann to New Haven. I am sure there are a few more outside of that prescribed area, going back further out of that area to Augusta. Back in the mid 1800s the town fathers nurtured the infant wine industry by selling "grape lots", vacant lots which the settlers could buy for $50.00, interest free, over a five-year period. The only requirement was that the lot had to be planted in grapes. There are two wineries which we saw, within the city proper, when we visited the town. We drove past the Hermannhof, and stopped for lunch at the Stone Hill Winery. As you may notice, from the picture below, the winery and vineyards of the latter winery are on a hill overlooking the town.
Thursday, May 16, 2013
Our original plan for today was to stay close to home because the weather forecast predicted numerous rain showers for the St.Louis area. However, the day started out sunny, and, as John had a dental appointment out in St.Peters on Highway 94, it just made sense to to keep going west after the appointment to the small town of Hermann. We have visited the town in past years and have fond memories of our times spent there. The town is nestled in the river hills of the Missouri river and is famous for its many wineries. The drive to Hermann, on Highway 94, is quite enjoyable through a countryside of rolling hills and forests. Many farm houses, barns, pastures and fields also dot the landscape.
Monday, May 13, 2013
John and I made another trip down to Farmington this past week-end. Springtime there is at its peak, so we are enjoying a second spring, having had our first sighting of flowering trees and bushes on our way up from the south several weeks ago. In Farmington, while driving around the town, I noticed a very tall (probably about 30 foot) flowering tree. The purple flowers are quite beautiful, we thought perhaps it is a catalpa. The tree is also know as a Mexican bean tree, or as a cigar tree. In the fall it produces slender bean pods which some people like to light up and smoke.
Tuesday, May 7, 2013
In my last posting I wrote about the Monroe County Museum. After we were done touring the museum, we walked the grounds surrounding the building, on which are located a couple of historic cabins as well as the Bell Fontaine House. "LA Belle Fontaine" is a French word meaning beautiful springs.
Last fall the Post Dispatch, our local newspaper here in St.Louis, featured an article about the History Museum of Monroe County. The museum is located in the town of Waterloo, and as we were planing on dining at a restaurant north of the town, John and I, as well as my sister Julia and her husband Cal, decided that we would make the trip worthwhile and check out what the museum had to offer. Until we made that trip all we knew about the town was that it was the home of the Waterloo German band, which we have had the pleasure of hearing in the past. Our first stop in Waterloo was the history museum, which has many artifacts donated by Colonel Edd Kueker, a Monroe County native and Western trail rider. Over the years he collected many items representing the settlement of the west, as well as artifacts connected with agriculture, local commerce and transportation. In that exhibit we saw a milk truck used by the Waterloo Milk Company, Inc. as well as a wagon used in the 1904 St.Louis World's Fair.
Monday, May 6, 2013
Our dental and medical visits turned out to be more numerous than planned, which has also demanded more of our time. Thankfully some of those issues are now being resolved. Our daughter Melissa came in for one week-end to assist with her cousin's shower. It was good seeing her again, as well as two other sisters from out of town. A couple of funerals also made for more unexpected social activities, and a visit from my brother Marcus who resides in Ohio. However, it has all been to the good, and catching up with family and friends is important for us. Through all the unexpected twists and turns of our lives God has been gracious.