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:

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