Thursday, July 11, 2013

Home & Away

Unfortunately my plans for what comes next are still in flux around that familiar acronym, TBD.  One of these days that will change.

Here at home we had a visitor one day a while back: the second horned toad I’ve ever encountered.  He/she was quite fleet of foot, and certainly lived up to its name.  It didn’t spit any blood out of its eyeballs, though.
Over the Independence Day weekend I took a quick road trip to St. Louis.  My venerable chariot “El Civ” knocked down 42.8 miles per gallon going and coming, which was reassuring.  It was nice to get away, and I had some lovely company for the duration.  I also espied 43 states’ (and one Canadian province) license plates, which seemed pretty darn good for the brevity of the journey!

The savior of the Union and 18th President of the United States figured largely in two of the places we visited.  The first was the Ulysses S. GrantNational Historic Site, which was the home of his wife’s family.  It was a slave plantation; and-yes-that issue did create strife with Grant’s in-laws (should come as little surprise).  Across the contemporary street is the Grant’s Farm facility, which includes the humble cabin U.S.G. built for his Hardscrabble Farm, as well as some of the herd of Clydesdale horses.  The place is owned/operated by Anheuser-Busch, and has a bunch of other animals in its menagerie as well.
The Sandy Creek Covered Bridge was also on the itinerary, which is just one of four remaining such structures in the state of Missouri.  It turns out covered bridges were primarily enclosed to protect their wooden truss structures.  That practical means just serendipitously led to a rather picturesque end.
The Mastodon State Historic Site had an interesting museum, as well as a nice walk down the bluff to the site of the historically significant Kimmswick Bone Bed.  It was here that not only were a bunch of fossil bones found, but that some Folsom spear points were found in contact with the bones.  This pretty well established the contact between megafauna (like mastodons and 8-foot-long giant beavers) and early human residents of the neighborhood.  Cool, huh?
On the way home I made a quick stop in Jefferson City to stroll through the state capitol building and Missouri State Museum therein.  I would have gone through the buildings down at the Jefferson Landing site at the bottom of the hill on the Missouri River, but they were closed on Mondays.  At least I got to see an Amtrak train arrive and depart from the little station there.  It was cool to see one of the multitude of places the Corps of Discovery, headed by Lewis and Clark, passed on their way to/from the Pacific.
"The world is old, and no doubt plenty of people have lived in it and been forgotten."
~Allan's Wife by H. Rider Haggard