Sunday, August 2, 2015

Cape Girardeau, Cairo, Kaskaskia and St. Genevieve

I'm still catching up.  This was back in May 2015.

Our next stop was Cape Girardeau, MO.  Boy, what a nice Elks Lodge.  Here we are, parked next to the lake behind the lodge.

Cape Girardeau is on the Mississippi River.  I couldn't help but get my feet wet. (And Fancy's, too.)

I just love wandering around old town, especially when they seem to still be active with shops and restaurants and people.   I am down at the waterfront, looking back up the hill to the old courthouse.

You know if there is a fort around, Max will find it.  

Although the original church was founded much earlier, this building was not built until 1853.  

This is the Red House, now the visitor center and museum, but it was built in the 1790s by a frenchman.  It uses the vertical log cabin styling instead of the more common horizontal log cabin.  

Do you know what this is?  I didn't until we took the interpretive tour.  This is a block of tea.  Tea was shipped from China in solid blocks like this.  When you wanted tea, you broke off a small bit and ground it up before steeping it in hot water.  

Cape Girardeau has their entire river wall decorated with murals.  Here are just a few depicting some of its history.

I spotted this poster at one of the local restaurant/bars.  I had no idea what it was all about.

We just happened to be back downtown on May 31, so we stopped by to see what was going on.  It was Americana music and the name of the band was The Big Idea.   We had a great time listening and enjoying the music.  We even bought a CD.

There was something going on at the Harley Davidson Dealer, so stopped to check it out.  The band got rained out, so we went inside to look at the motorcycles.  I really liked this bike, but I do think it was just a tad too tall for me.  I was on my tippy toes and could still just barely touch the floor.

Just down the road is Cairo, IL, the spot where the Ohio River flow into the Mississippi.  Here I am standing at the junction.

Cairo also has a mural on its river wall about Lewis and Clark's visit to Cairo on the 1803 Journey of Discovery.

The Ohio is still used for transport.  Notice all the barges waiting to head down river.

I love finding old, historic homes.  Or just old homes.  Love to look at the architectural styles and wonder how many of the homes we built today will still be around in 100+ years.  This was built in 1869 and today is a museum.

The home below was built in 1865 and is still someone's private home today.

Kaskaskia, founded in 1703, was an important place back during the French and Indian Wars because of its strategic location on the Ohio River.  Today little remains of the town, except for the church, a few homes and some historic signs.
This church was founded as a mission in 1675, but although the current building is old, it's not that old.  Couldn't find out when this church was built.

The town holds the Liberty Bell of the West, given to Kaskaskia by King Louis XV in 1741.

Do you think this home owner is concerned about flooding?

Just upriver from Kaskaskia is St. Genevieve, founded in 1735.  It was a french trading town and has the distinction of having the largest concentration of french vertical log homes in the U.S.  Most of the old french vertical log homes have been stuccoed over and you can no longer see the vertical log construction.  Many of the homes are still in use today, and some are now museums.  All of the homes below were built in the late 1700s to early 1800s.

The home below still shows the vertical log construction.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Alley Springs and Jacks Fork River

I always enjoy coming to Alley Springs.  It's so pretty.  But when I was last here in 2013, it was flooding and we were required to evacuate the campground.  Today, the water levels are in the normal range, even with all the rains this spring and flooding in Texas and Oklahoma, it hasn't reached Missouri (at least this part).

The Dairy Shak in town is always busy.  They got our business several times while we were in the area.  Hamburgers to hot dogs to ice cream.  They have it all.

This is Blue Springs and it is aptly named.  The water is so blue-green, it is amazing.  But this was my first time to see the spring.  

Below is what the trail looked like this year, May 2015.

This is what the trail looked like in May 2013.  Needless to say, we did not hike the trail back then.

Another indication of how badly it flooded in 2013.  Below is what the parking lot near Blue Springs looked like this May 2015.

Those are the same signs below as above.  Notice only a little of the signs are above water.  This was in May 2013.

Another place I love to go in the area is Rocky Falls.  Usually it is quite crowded with people, but it was cool and not many were around the day we were there.  

Back in 2013, again, the falls were so full, they wouldn't let anyone get near them because of the danger they posed.

And we did kayak the Jacks Fork River.  One of my favorites.  Usually we see the Great Blue Heron, but today, I saw this Green Heron.  

Max caught me getting ready to shoot through one of the small set of riffles on the river.

We have passed this place before on our kayak trips, but today we went there after our kayak trip for a beer.  We had planned to grab a bite to eat too, but the kitchen had just closed.

Notice this couple in the canoe have no life jackets on.  Well, down the river we found him on the shore with the canoe, trying to salvage their few belongings which had not been tied down.  She was still missing and we hadn't seen her as we came down the river.  A little worried, we stayed until she showed up.  She had ended up on the other side of the river when they tipped over, but she did grab the paddle.  Now she had to reenter the water and try to swim across and she wasn't a swimmer.  Luckily, she made it safely across, no harm done other than a little scared.   

The rest of the float down the river we kept scooping their beer cans out of the water.  Did you know that unopened cans of beer float?  I didn't, but now I do.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Wichita and Fort Scott

I had to make a quick stop in Wichita for my annual medical check ups, but got to do some sightseeing.  As many times as I have been to Wichita, plus the fact I used to live there, I had never been to the Kansas Air Museum.  Built on the site of the former Wichita Municipal Airport, the museum not only has an impressive list of aircraft on site, but details the early history of aviation manufacture.  
I knew many small, private airplanes were made in Wichita, as well as many of the Boeing aircraft, both military and commercial, but I did not know this:

This is one of only three prototype Stearman cars made here in Wichita at the Stearman Aircraft plant.  It was a 2 cyl., 20 hp Kohler engine, which held only 4 gal. of gas and got 40mpg.  It could top out at 60mph and cruise at 40.   The design was for in-town driving, but the project was discontinued in 1973.  (Maybe this was the forerunner of the Smart Car)

Every red dot on the map below is an aircraft manufacturing facility which has operated at some point in Wichita.  I was surprised at how many are still in operation.  Just some of the more commonly known are Lear, Beech, Raytheon, Cessna and Stearman and Boeing.

But aircraft isn't the only thing Wichita is known for.  The Coleman Company got its start here in the early 1900s with the idea to manufacture a gas-powered lamp.  Coleman is still headquartered in Wichita, but much of its manufacturing is now done overseas.

Just a few other things of interest which were invented or came from Wichita:  
1890s-Mentholatum; the birthplace of White Castle Hamburger; Pizza Hut; and Rent-a-Center.

Finally, we are ready to start east.  The next stop is Fort Scott, KS.  The fort was established in 1843 as a military outpost to guard the military road from Fort Leavenworth down to Oklahoma Indian Lands.  Missouri had just become a state and everything west of Missouri was still wild frontier.

The outpost was abandonded in 1853 when it was no longer needed.  In 1855, the government auctioned the land and property to the local settlers.  Barricks such as those below were sold for $200-$500 to the highest bidder to become hotels.  The parade grounds became a city park and the town flourished.  In 1854, Kansas had become a territory and opened for settlement.

Fort Scott did see a resurrection when the Army took over during the civil war.  But by 1869, the town was at the hub of the new railroads.  At one time over 100 trains went through this town every day.  People came out west to Kansas to open banks and stores to support the growth and along with that growth was wealth.  At one time, Fort Scott rivaled Kansas City as the hub of railroads, but Kansas City won out and now the town has only a population of about 8,000.  But in its heydey, some elegant mansions were built out here on the dirt prairies.
In 1868, business partners from New York City came to Fort Scott to open a bank.  They built twin homes (identical floor plans, although the exteriors are slightly different) next to each other.  These homes were completed in 1878 at a cost of $10,000 each.  But shortly after their completion, the bank folded and the they were seized by the courts and sold.  One sold for $5,000 and the other $6,500.  Today, they are again owned by the same person and are operated as a bed and breakfast, with a restaurant as well.  We had lunch there and were allowed to wander through the house and into one of the rooms which wasn't rented out at the time.  They have both been furnished in period style furnishing from the mid to late 1800s.

This is the twin next door.  

The visitor center offers a guided bus tour for $5.  I was glad we did it.  Found out lots of interesting facts about the town and its history.  Below is another bed and breakfast.

I imagine there were 30+ restored homes in a 3 block square area.  Another industry which brought money into this town was gravel and concrete.  Although the gravel pits have dried up, they supplied the gravel and concrete for the building of the Panama Canal.  And today, they might have eight trains go through instead of the 100+ as in the past.  
For such a small town, they had the most impressive numbers of restored and maintained mansions built in the mid to late 1800s that I have seen.