Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A Trip to the Glacial Hills

From October 15 - 17, I made a trip to the Glacial Hills psysiographic region of northeast Kansas. During this time, I was able to complete "Dare to do Dirt" loops of Atchison and Doniphan counties.

In Atchison County, I visited the communities of Arrington, Larkinburg, Muscotah, Lancaster, Cummings, and Huron. I noticed a well kept stucco house in Arrington and actually met the woman who lives there while in Larkinburg admiring the Christian Church. She showed my the interior of the church and I was impressed with the wall art decorating the church.

Muscotah was the birthplace of Joe Tinker, a baseball player with the Chicago Cubs from 1902-1912, who played shortstop. Joe was part of the famous double play combination of Tinker to Evers to Chance, and there is a monument in the city park commemorating this.

There was some beautiful fall foliage in Lancaster, a nice school in Huron, and the small town of Cummings still has a post office.

In Doniphan County, I visited the communities of Doniphan (ghost town), Elwood, Wathena, Iowa Point (ghost town), White Cloud, Leona, Denton and Purcell. Both Doniphan and Iowa Point contain a mix of abandoned and new buildings and homes. I stopped a bit at the Ft Luxembourg visitor center in Elwood, and viewed the historic downtown district in Wathena.

White Cloud is in a very scenic area along the Missouri River and served river boats beginning in the 1830's. There is a monument along Main Street to Wilbur Chapman, the boy who started the piggy bank by donating his pet pig to a needy boy suffering from leprosy.

Purcell is the home of the beautiful St Mary's Church, now celebrating it's 150th anniversary. Denton seemed to be a nice town with very brilliant fall foliage and the unique hand operated water pump in the center of Main Street. Sadly, Leona appeared to be slowly decaying.

As always, I'm on the lookout for interesting historic bridges and I found a number of iron truss and stone bridges in these two counties. Check my photo gallery links below for some photos of these.

I visited several cemeteries in each county, and due to the hills in this region, cemeteries can be very picturesque. Especially interesting to me were Round Mound Cemetery and Muscotah cemeteries in Atchison County. Round Mound has a layered limestone fence surrounding it and Muscotah cemetery has large mature trees. In Doniphan County, I found Doniphan and Iowa Point cemeteries to both offer fantastic views of the surrounding hills and countryside.

I travelled a couple of scenic dirt road drives in Doniphan County. The first was the route from the ghost town of Doniphan up to the Wathena area. This followed closely the Missouri River and the fall foliage was beginning to get colorful in the forests in this area. Also, I took a route north from Wathena up to near the Missouri River, then back south again to just east of Troy. This route offered forests, hills and the bottomland near the Missouri River. Again, the fall foliage was striking.

I enjoyed several memorable meals during my trip. I had dinner one night at Pete's Steakhouse in Atchison. While the hamburger steak with grilled onions was good, the highlight of the meal was a number of homemade salads on their salad bar. My favorite was the Copper Penny salad, a cold salad with cooked sliced carrots and onion slivers in a sauce of sugar, vinegar and oil. I do not see this salad at restaurants very often.

Another night, I had dinner at Paolucci's Restaurant in Atchison, a great place that has been serving Italian food for many years. I had a very good order of lasagna, covered in a rich marinara and meat sauce.

After I finished my last loop in Atchison County, I travelled west into Jackson County to the small town of Whiting where I had lunch at the recently restored Whiting Cafe. The restoration of this cafe was done in June, 2009, and was a project of the Kansas Sampler Foundation. In addition to good food, this cafe is known for their fresh pies made daily. I can attest to this, since I had a piece of coconut meringue pie that was easily among the very best I've ever eaten.

All in all,even though the weather was cool and cloudy and misty sometimes, I truly enjoyed my journey to Atchison and Doniphan Counties.

For more information about the Whiting Cafe makeover, visit the Kansas Sampler Foundation blog at:

To view my photos of Atchison and Doniphan counties, visit my northeast Kansas Dare to do Dirt galleries, then open the appropriate county gallery:

Thursday, October 8, 2009

A Weekend in St Louis

On Friday Sept 25, I drove to St Charles, MO, and met my friend Karen. We spent the weekend exploring in the St Louis metro area, and sharing our mutual interest in photography.

Friday evening, we went to downtown St Charles, and first visited Frontier Park along the Missouri River. This area is the eastern terminus of the 225 mile long Katy Trail State Park. Hikers and bikers are welcome on the Katy Trail which makes use of the former Missouri-Kansas-Texas railroad grade from Clinton to St Charles.

We then walked Main Street in downtown St Charles enjoying the shops and historic architecture. St Charles was the first Missouri state capital from 1821-1826. We stopped for dinner at one of several garden cafes and enjoyed the outdoor atmosphere on a pleasant evening. Several squirrels entertained us as we dined.

On Saturday, Sept 26 we drove to Faust Park in Chesterfield. We explored the Historic Village with it's homes, barns and other buildings. Numerous flower gardens were here also. We stopped to see the St Louis Carousel, now housed inside a building for protection.

Next we went to the Butterfly House in Faust Park. After watching a film about butterflies, we entered the Tropical Conservatory, which contains nearly 2000 butterflies in free flight. The butterflies were in constant motion, so it was difficult to photograph them, but we did manage some good shots. We also walked through the outdoor garden here.

Then, we travelled east to Forest Park, site of the 1904 World's Fair. Forest Park, at 1371 acres, is one of the largest urban parks in the United States. After stopping at the visitor center for some guides, we drove to the Boathouse for lunch. We enjoyed some baby back ribs while waiting out a rainstorm and watching the ducks on the lake.

During the early afternoon we visited several areas in Forest Park, including the Jewel Box greenhouse, the pagoda area with the bandstand and Muny Theater, the World's Fair Pavilion and fountain, the Art Museum exterior and Grand Basin Pool, and finally the Cascades waterfall. There were several areas of this huge park we did not see.

After leaving Forest Park, we drove to west midtown St Louis to see the beautiful Cathedral Basilica. This cathedral interior is covered with 83,000 square feet of mosaic tile art with over 41,500,000 pieces of tile in 8000 shades of color. The designs were elaborate and very striking.

Just down Market Street from the Cathedral, we stopped at Union Station. After photographing the exterior, we went inside and looked through the railroad museum, then photographed some of the ornate interior architecture elements, including stairs and stained glass windows. We stopped into the Station Grille for a nice dinner.

To top off a long day of exploring, we went down to the Mississippi waterfront at the Gateway Arch, before heading back to our rooms for the evening.

Sunday morning turned out to be beautiful, and we headed across the Mississippi River at Alton, Illinois, then followed the river road, first stopping at some locks to view some barge traffic. Then we pulled off at a state park to view the confluence area of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers. Finally we stopped at the historic Route 66 Chain of Rocks iron truss bridge over the Mississippi. We walked across the bridge and back, enjoying the views of this huge bridge and the Mississippi River.

After lunch, we headed for our homes, each having hundreds of photographs to help us remember the weekend.

To view some of our favorite photos from this trip, see the seven galleries at my Smugmug page: