Monday, April 10, 2006

Home from St. Louis with lots of photos!

I arrived home yesterday afternoon in one piece, and I am looking forward to having a week or so off before I head off to the next show! I had a good time in St. Louis, and I have a ton of pictures to prove it!

I was working with Susan, Shelly, Sharla, and Kara this weekend, and we all headed into downtown St. Louis on Thursday to visit the Gateway Arch. The first thing we saw when we were parking was the new Busch Stadium for the Cardinals, which was opening this weekend. (On Friday night Sharla, Kara, and I were having dinner at the table next to the Cardinals' owner, and I dared Kara, who is Miss Stalker, to go ask for his photo, but she wouldn't do it.)

We walked over to the arch, which is stunning in its size. Between the four of us with cameras I believe we shot the arch from every conceivable angle. For this one I actually laid down on the ground to get as much into the viewfinder as possible.

The grounds around the arch are gorgeous... green grass, ponds, riverbeds, red-breasted robins, and there were even geese flying over our heads. Kara and I decided to hug a tree.

Susan and Sharla rode to the top of the arch, while the rest of us waited on the ground and explored the shops and the museum. Here I am hanging out with Thomas Jefferson.

Across the street from the arch is The Old Courthouse, which is where slaves Dred Scott and his wife Harriet sued for their freedom, a landmark case that spurred the division over slavery in the country and was one of the major events in the chain of events which led to the Civil War. I was thrilled to get to see this courthouse this year, since last year I wasn't able to, and this heart of mine can't stand the thought of having missed out on a historical spot. (You can see part of the International Fur Exchange building about one block behind on the courthouse on the right in this photo.) There was so much more in the St. Louis area I would have loved to have seen... Ulysses S. Grant's house, the Charles Lyndburgh museums, the pioneer and church sites, but there is never enough time to do it all!

Each of the rooms in the courthouse is a museum of different things to do with the history of the St. Louis area. I see things like leech jars and it makes me so grateful to have the medical technologies we have now.

This is the inside of the dome on top of the courthouse. It is covered with all kinds of incredible artwork. I wish we had had more time that I could have looked over every single piece of art.

My classes on Friday were great... full of nice people who were happy to be there! I was even asked for my autograph once, had my picture taken a few times, and somebody saw my necklace and recognized the kids from my blog, which I thought was a cute way to meet a blogreader!(Hi out there!) Kara crakced me up because within ten minutes of the show starting, she had found Donna Downey and struck up a conversation. I met Donna later that day, and was really impressed with just how funny and friendly she seems to be... very nice lady!

I didn't have any classes to teach on Saturday, so Katherine told me to go and relax a bit. Of course, relaxing on the road for me means to go siteseeing! I didn't want to go very far from the convention center, so after I got the computers up I went down the road to go see the Cahokia Mounds, which is the site of the largest Native American city found north of Mexico. I was blown away... it is simply stunning to stand on the mounds and close your eyes, and imagine what it must have been like for the Mississipian people who built this city and the areas around it.

This is the largest mound, called Monks Mound, and it is so large that I could not fit it all in my viewfinder. The chief lived at the top of this mound, which was built over the course of 300 hundred years by men who dug the dirt and carried 50 or 60 pounds of it at a time to the mound site. It is mind boggling to think of all the physical work that went into building just this one mound, let alone all of the mounds around it. I had to go to the top of the Monks Mound, which has two major staircases that lead to the top. I stopped counting after 85 stairs, which wasn't even halfway up. My calf muscles screamed at me for two days afterwards, but it was worth every step.

From the top of the mound you can literally see for hundreds and hundreds of miles around. There is a freeway that goes through the center of national park the Cahokia mounds are in, so I tried to not get it in any of my photos. Here is a picture of St. Louis taken from the top of the mounds. I was trying to capture the height of the mound, but didn't really do it. The trees around it were huge trees as tall as buildings, and they were dwarfed by the mound.

Here I am on top of the mound,(quite wind-blown) and I was awed. I haven't felt this moved by the sheer beauty of the things mankind is capable of building since I stood on top of the Mayan temples in Mexico. It is incredible to me that places like those temples and these mounds still exist, and nothing makes me feel more aware of the past than standing in the same places as those ancient people did.

Being the person I am, I had to take a picture of my feet standing on top of the mound of dirt that was moved thousands of years ago.

There is a museum on the parkgrounds with several of the artifacts that have been found in the Cahokian Mounds and the surrounding area. I have never seen a pot made to look like a face before, so this particular artifact caught my attention. The park and the museum are free... if you are ever near Collinsville, Illinois you should stop by!

I came home yesterday, and my mom and the girls were all dressed up in pink waiting for me to take their picture. The wind kicked up right as we were snapping, so they are all looking a little windblown as well. That hat was one of my grandma's hats that my mom gave to Faith this weekend.

You can laugh at me for this, but I bought the kids St. Patrick's Day clothes last month, and then wouldn't let them wear them until I was able to take some photos. Today was the first chance I had to get them out there for a Leprechaun photo shoot, so now they are allowed to wear the green clothes... :0) Things were going well at first as I was working to get them all to look at me at the same time.

Then this pigeon landed right by my feet and proceeded to walk around my legs and back and forth in front of the kids, and refused to be scared away. Of course, the kids thought that was really cool, so for the most part my photo shoot was over since the rest of the pictures looked something like............


I am spending this week getting the house packed up and taking care of some assignments. I really want to get a travel journal put together in the next few days as well... Katherine has really inspired me in that department! I am heading to Mesa for the CKC show in a week and a half, and I am looking forward to seeing my AZ friends and hitting Ikea!

psssttt... did you notice the new banner? that is the house we are working on buying! You can see the little house in the backyard above our storm shelter too. Jack is going to finish the inside with sheetrock and the kids will have a little playhouse.


Kara said...

hey girl!! great pics and some cool commentary.....let's totally missed HOTTIE IN THE HOTTUB!! :D had a blast!!! have some fun with your time off.....WoRkAhOlIc!!!

Katherine said...

Great photos Jennifer, thanks for sharing. I wish I could have been there with you all. :)

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Marjorie said...

What a wonderful looking house...looks like a great place to raise a family. Loving that porch. Good luck!

Tracey Odachowski said...

Wow, girl. I'm starting to 'live' through you and all of your amazing travels!

susan said...

Jenn - love the banner - LOVE PORCHES!!! Hope all goes well this week with getting things finished up with the house. I'll be thinking of ya!!

Thanks for a good time in St. Louis - our pod-packing rocked!! Set up in Mesa is going to be a snap!!

Take it easy...enjoy the next 10 days!!

Mel Z said...

Hi Jen,

The blogreader would be me. LOVE your St. Louis review. Keep up the good work. If I recall I also liked the bracelt Kara was wearing that she said her mom made. Too cool. You are a great bunch of gals. Have a great week.

Anonymous said...

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Johanna said...

Looks like you had fun without me...(imagine that!) I can't wait to hit Nashville with you. You are going to love the Hermitage, I promise!

By the way...I found a place where you can make some extra cash secret shopping....he he he. Aren't you the lucky one?!

Anonymous said...

Hey Jenn-Love the house! And it sounds like St Louis was lots of fun! Will you be at Chicago? I'll be there!
Cindy Curtis
aka luv2scrapcindy

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting the photo of Faith, Beth & I ... it's a better shot than what was on my camera, except Faith didn't smile in this one. She's the one that particularily wanted us to have our photo taken on Palm Sunday after church; however, she had changed out of the pretty blue dress she had on for church. She and Chet did an excellent job with chimes and singing that morning! Matt's age group will be playing bells and singing for Easter Sunday next week. I'm glad you're going to be home to see him do a great job, too!

Love, MoM

Mary Jo (Mamikaem) said...

HEY! You were in my hometown, and I didn't even know it! But then again, I was working 75-hour weeks with tax season, and wouldn't have had the chance to visit :o( You did a great review of our town. I can't believe you did all that siteseeing while you were here. You've got energy, girl!

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