Friday, October 3, 2014

A Day Trip to Southwest St.Louis County

Our last posting, written by John, may have left some of you confused.  Seems like last week we were in southern Illinois, and this week in St.Louis.  That is pretty much what happened, on Monday of this week we did move to St.Louis.  Perhaps it will be a short stay, we do not know as yet until we make the round of all our doctor appointments.  The weather, until today, has been quite warm here and staying cooped up in our home with the air conditioning running did not seem like a good option for us.  Hence we decided to go on a road trip south on Wednesday.   It was certainly a day of unexpected surprises.   Our first stop of the day was to be Engelmann Woods, however we decided to first check out the town of St.Albans.  We soon discovered that the town has many small subdivisions with such lovely names as the Moors, Heathers and the Hollows, to name but a few.  It is also a town largely dominated by country club and at least two golf courses.  We learned that the town was founded in 1837 and has at the least two historic buildings.
Pictured above is Heads Store, established in 1892.  Remember I mentioned in previous postings that St.Louis is currently celebrating its 250th birthday?  One of the birthday cakes noting that fact is in front of this historical building.  St.Albans is on the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail, because the expedition stopped here in  1804.  Actually, the location was at Tavern Cave, a short distance from the town.  It was a natural cave where French fur traders took shelter during their river voyages.
Our trip took us through the river hills of the Missouri River.  We did not expect that trees would be showing their fall colors yet, but they are out and our trip was a very pretty one as we drove over many back country roads.  We reached Engelmann's Woods, but before parking we chose to check out what was further down the road.  At the end of the road is ensconced a large gated home with a guard tower.
Hobbled next to the guard tower was a horse, he probably wondered what we were doing there, as much as we questioned what he was doing there!  Nearby is an old barn, probably the residence of the horse.
Hiking through Engelmann Woods proved to be a bit of a challenge, what with hills to climb, the humidity and presence of many annoying gnats and mosquitoes.  Overhead we heard woodpeckers drilling on the old growth trees, and we could tell squirrels have been busy by the evidence of the cracked black walnut and hickory shells on our path.  Acorns are also in abundance on the forest floor.
Our last stop was Shaw Nature Reserve, where a couple of surprises awaited us.  I did not expect to see such an abundance of wildflowers at this time of the year, pictured above.  In the setting of the tall grass prairie they were quite stunning.  Unfortunately that was the extent of what we saw in the reserve, because the tree climbers were checking out a tree in the area and we stopped to talk with them.  John posted the rest of that story yesterday.

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