Sunday, October 16, 2011

2011-31 St Louis Missouri


St Louis Missouri

Campground:  Belleville MH and RV Estates.  $150 wkly rate.  Full hookups, 50amp.  An older established park on the SW side of town, Fenton.  A few well maintained MH’s separated from the mainly Rv park.  Neat, clean and nice concrete pads.  Quiet tree lined area and close to shops and restaurants.

Before I left the Mark Twain Lake area, I stopped into a General Store to do laundry.  The place is a regular country store selling all the usual convenience store stuff, coffee and quick lunch items.  The store has tons of fishing lures including live bait and camping equipment, even clothing and way in the back of the store are 4 washers and dryers.  Oddest place I’ve been to too do my laundry.  Kind of funny walking through the store carrying my laundry basket to get to the washers and dryers.

St Louis

I’m not usually this close to a big city, but of course I had to come visit my Niece Kim and family.  So while here, I’m taking advantage of  some big city attractions.  I’ve already done the wonderful zoo and Budweiser Brewing Beer tour on past visits so today I headed downtown to their large Art Museum.  It’s housed in one of the original buildings built for the World Fair held here back in 1904.

I was able to attend the “Monet’s Water Lilies” exhibit $10.  Otherwise the art museum is free to the public.  The special exhibit include the three large three piece painting of Water Lilies.  A grand scene that hasn’t been put together since it was first created.  The exhibit included Ipods for a personalized tour of each of the paintings.  Something I really appreciate.  It was perhaps one of the smallest special exhibits  I’ve ever attended with only about half a dozen Monet paintings in all.

The rest of the museum contains a mixed collection of art, my favorites being the European Art collection, Cubist and Contemporary art.  A few rooms had recently been redone.  The walls were painted in deep rich jewel tones and the paintings were all hung at perfect eye level making for a grand intimate display.  Amazing how the art work popped out against those darker rich colored walls.  One of the security attendants said they had just re-hung the paintings in those rooms and it was like having friends come back into your life.  She had missed seeing them for most of a year.

I’m visiting my niece Kim and her two daughters Megan and Camy and hubby Aaron.  They live in an elegant Dutch Colonial style home in an older established neighborhood.  The house has been expanded upon and is a perfect mix of traditional and modern open style concept living.  A warm home with tons of light and two active kids who I might add like their Uncle Dougie a lot.  

Plans have been aborted since first Megan was ill and now Camy has gotten the same bug.  Hope I didn’t catch anything.

Electronic Gadget Update.

For all you Rv’ers who travel a lot, having your favorite music in the vehicle is a must.  Since many of us have converted our Cd’s into MP3 music, we need a way to play it through our vehicles stereo system/radio.  Now of course the newest vehicles already come equipped with connections for your Ipod and MP3 players, but those of us who have vehicles say pre 2007, we don’t have the built in connections.  I recently discovered that there are wiring kits that can be added to ones car radio to permit the plugging in of MP3 players as well as smart phones which of course have everything from Internet radio apps to Pandora radio stations.

I had used an FM transmitter, a small device that sends out a radio frequency and connects to the MP3 player.  Unfortunately it doesn’t always work well when near larger  metropolitan areas that have a lot of completing radio stations to interfere with ones signal.
I went to a Best Buy and had them install the wiring kit for me.  Not cheap, but so well worth it.  The handy person can go online and find the right kit for their car radio and install it themselves for around $65.  Of course the other option is to just install a new radio with the headphone and USB connections already built in but that also requires a special wiring harness and kit to make the new radio fit the vehicle.

I am beyond ecstatic to be able to plug in either my MP2 player or my smart phone (an Android) to be able to play music and it can even transmit the GPS ladies voice over my radio for instructions on how to get to that next destination. She now gets to tell me I’ve taken the wrong turn in stereo. Imagine.

Cahokia Mounds

Wow,  after stopping by Kim’s house and picking up the girls, we all headed out to the Cahokia Mounds.  There on the Illinois side of Mississippi river and within viewing distance of St Louis.  Now all those who have followed my travels know that I’ve visited a number of Indian mounds as far south as Florida on up through Ohio and now I’m getting the chance to visit the largest Indian Mound site in North America.  The Cahokia Mounds are the largest prehistoric Indian site north of Mexico.  It’s big.  Really big.  The 2200 acre site is protected through the Indiana State Parks and is a World Heritage site.

This is the 1st level of steps to the top, the 2nd set is just as long

All of the mounds that were in St Louis have all been bulldozed away during it’s rapid growth as a city.  But these 80 plus mounds on the east side of the Mississippi have been preserved.  With an estimated population of 20,000 it was the largest prehistoric Indian settlement north of Mexico.  Monks Mound is the largest covering 14 acres with multiple levels and rising to a height of 100 feet.  It’s definitely the largest Indian Mound I’ve seen in North America.  Archeology has gone through quite a transformation over the past 50 years, as one of the mound sites was excavated in the 1960 and completely destroyed.  That wouldn’t happen today and some of the new techniques for looking deep within sites like this without disturbing them will no doubt provide new discoveries in the future.  A 40 foot high peaked building would have sat on the top of Monks Mound.

During a planned expansion of hwy 55/70, archeologists completing a survey of the area discovered 5 circular sun calendars.  Tall wooden posts evenly spaced with one in the center for determining the changing seasons.  They call it Woodhenge and it may never have been discovered it it hadn’t been for the planned road interchange construction.  Which was later revised and moved.

Imagine the sophisticated structure they must have had set up to manage, feed and sustain a population of 20,000 Indians.  And with only wood and stone tools to create not only these structures, but to farm with and develop such a large community.  All to gradually decline in numbers and dissipate after about 250 to 300 years.

On my last couple of days in the St Louis area, I finally caught the dreaded “bug” from Camy or Megan and have been really under the weather.  I’m just starting to feel better and will begin my trek south tomorrow.

And more pictures on Picasa.

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