30 November 2011

Chain of Rocks

An old car sits on the deck of the old Chain of Rocks Bridge along Route 66 just north of downtown St. Louis, MO, at sunset.

Built to carry traffic across the Mississippi River and around the downtown bustle of St. Louis, MO, this bridge was the primary crossing along Route 66. A 22 degree bend in the center of the 5,353 foot span posed a continual navigational challenge for automobiles. The bend was originally designed to allow southbound riverboats to align themselves with the current, slide between the bridge’s piers, and avoid the midstream water intake towers that supply St. Louis with fresh water….quite the engineering feat for 1929.

Chain of Rocks earned it’s name from the rocky rapids that made this stretch of the Mississippi River extremely dangerous to travel. A low water dam has since been built to provide adequate depth for river traffic with the rocky shoal only partially visible, today, in low water periods.

The bend in the bridge, however, proved too be too much of an imposition for road traffic, and the bridge was permanently closed in 1967. The bridge feel into disrepair, and also became the location for several murders. Today, though, the Chain of Rocks Bridge is only open to foot and bicycle traffic thanks to the renovation of the area by a national trailway company’s efforts to preserve the site. It now serves as a monument to both modern engineering and The Mother Road, Route 66, and sits on the National Register of Historic Places.
(above text copied from my Flickr posting of the same picture)

29 November 2011

Weekly Birding..

Week 2 of ProjectFeederwatch is done for me.  I wanted to include my counts here instead of on my other blog....with the week's better pictures.  The process is simple in case anyone is interested in getting involved.

11/27-28...hi - 42F...lo - 28...Wx - cloudy, with rain/snow pellet showers, and a little wind.

7 Cardinals, 7 House Finches, 8 Goldfinches, 4 Chickadees, 12 Eurasian Tree Sparrows (only found near St. Louis in North America), 1 House Sparrow, 3 Downy Woodpeckers, 1 Red-bellied Woodpecker, 9 Mourning Doves, 1 Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, 2 White-breasted Nuthatches, 2 Dark-eyed Juncos, 1 Mockingbird, 1 Carolina Wren, 1 Blue Jay, 3 Tufted Titmice, 1 Northern Flicker

And, now for a couple images I took during the 2 day period...

Carolina Chickadee

Female House Finch

Northern Cardinal

28 November 2011

Monday Mystery..

Where in St. Louis am I?

Yes, last week's shot was of the geodesic dome in Missouri's Botanical Gardens.  Named "The Climatron," it is the first geodesic dome to be used as a conservatory.  A geodesic dome is a spherical, or partially spherical, shell based on a network of great circles.  The geodesics intersect to form triangular, sometimes hexagonal or octagonal, elements which distribute the stress of the structure in a more balanced fashion.  Perhaps, the most famous geodesic dome is Spaceship Earth in Disney World's Epcot Center.  A conservatory is a large, glass greenhouse.  The Climatron has no interior support and no columns from floor to ceiling.  It rises 70 feet, has 1.3 million cubic feet of volume, and encloses over 24,000 square feet (more than half an acre).

Controlling a tropical rainforest's theme, The Climatron's temperatures range from 64F to 85F with an average humidity of 85%.  It houses more than 2,800 plants and more than 1,400 individual species.  Several species of birds also call The Climatron home.

While I continue to try and take a worthy picture of the structure itself, here are a couple shots I'm proud of that you can find when you go inside...

Enjoy your Monday.  Again, where is the picture at the top from?

26 November 2011

Still recuperating..

What a weekend.  No pics to share.  So, if that's what you are here for, this is one of the very rare times you can just move on.

Family in town this weekend, and we had a blast!  Watching the kids grow up is fun.  Watching/listening to them play is more fun....when we adults are not yelling at them to calm down.  Played a lot of poker with my brother 1 on 1 and learned a lot more about each other's games than the last time we tried this.  Late nights, not a lot of sleep.  The wives did the Black Friday thing, so there's no way I can complain about being tired.

Look for pics to start up again soon.  Hope you had a great weekend whether you celebrated a holiday or not.

23 November 2011

Let the cooking begin...

Not epic photos by any stretch, but these represent a little of the Thanksgiving Dinner we are prepping for tomorrow.  Homegrown tomatoes for the salads (about 8 this size), the box of potatoes (about 2 pounds), and 16 carrots or so for the salad, too.

These all came from my Square Foot Garden, a concept emphasizing less water, less weeds, less work, in less space.  Easiest gardening I've ever done.

Happy (United States) Thanksgiving, all!

22 November 2011

Tis' the Season..

For leaf removal.  This is the bulk of my work these days.  It's a catch as catch can business as the growing season wraps around the St. Louis area.  This is a common place for me right now.....knee deep in leaves and no end in sight.  It won't be long before I am one of the few praying for snow....

21 November 2011

Monday Mystery..

Where in St. Louis am I?

Last week's Monday Mystery was the childhood home of Yogi Berra, legendary Yankees catcher.  Yogi grew up in a St. Louis neighborhood known as The Hill, a predominately Italian neighborhood.  Although originally a German neighborhood, The Hill became mostly Italian around the turn of the 20th century when trains and mass transportation became more accessible.  The Germans moved to other areas a little farther away from the city giving room for Italian immigrants, who mostly worked in industrial and mining environments, to move closer to where they worked.

Yogi Berra's house is denoted with a plaquard in the front on Elizabeth St.  And, across the street is another famous childhood house, and another famous Yankee, Joe Garagiola.  Garagiola also played five seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals, including their 1946 World Series Championship team.  Yogi's brother, Mickey, also attained celebrity status in St. Louis as the most popular ring announcer for professional wrestling events known as "Wrestling at the Chase."  Any young St. Louis boy from the 60s through the 90s can probably remember hearing of the Saturday night wrestling events at Chase Park Plaza's basement arena.  This event was more of a St. Louis local, almost cult-like, event, but it hosted some very famous names in professional wrestling like Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, and Ted DiBiasi, Harley Race, Dick the Bruiser, and Terry Funk.

The Garagiola house...

Happy Monday.  There's your little knowledge bomb for today.

19 November 2011

Scouting for Food Drive...

Believe it or not, today was a very light day in terms of what we gathered.  Could be the economy.  Could be that the year is sliding away quickly.  Who knows.  But, I still think it was a lot of food....and to a great cause.

Bags of donated food dropped off.

From bags to boxes to storage.

All the kids worked so hard.  It's great to see them learning to take care of others before themselves.

18 November 2011

Puck's Eye View..

A statue of former Blues great Al MacInnis outside Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Missouri....home of the St. Louis Hockey Blues.  MacInnis had one of the hardest slapshots the league had ever seen.  His career spanned 15 years from 1982-2003; he signed with St. Louis in 1994 as a free agent.  The third ranking defensemen in hockey history, in terms of points, MacInnis was put in the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2007.  His jersey now hangs in the rafters of Scottrade Center along side other St. Louis legends.

Which photo, though, do we like better?



17 November 2011

My Favorite Fighter..

For some reason, the F-4U Corsair is my favorite WWII fighter plane.  I just love the curved wings.  One flew through the 4th of July air show in downtown St. Louis this year.  I hadn't been to the air show in years, but I dragged the whole family down in 100+ heat to get the shot.  I also got to see the B-2 Stealth Bomber.  Oh, how I miss the air shows.

16 November 2011

Soulard Market

I need to get out and shoot some more material soon, but here is an old candid I love taken at Soulard Market just south of downtown St. Louis.  I need to get back there soon.  It's great for people watching.

I may give a historical perspective after I gather more material.

15 November 2011

The Cleveland Gatehouse..

This secluded house within Missouri Botanical Gardens in St. Louis, Missouri is located near Henry Shaw's "Tower Grove House" and his research library.  The structure was named the Cleveland Gatehouse.

Gatehouses used to be heavily depended upon structures used to strategically defend castles in medieval times. Often they were used in conjunction with drawbridges and murder holes.  However, once technologically less important, they became symbols of opulence and were used to house other things of less importance.  In this case, the Cleveland Gatehouse was built for the groundskeeper as a home.  It was also the last building Henry Shaw commissioned before his death.  Ironically, Shaw's will stipulated that the groundskeepers live in his home, Tower Grove House, after he passed.  So, only a few, if only one, groundskeepers actually resided here.

I haven't been able to find much detail on this building, or it's purpose, and it currently remains closed to the public.  However, if you look closely when visiting the gardens, you may agree with me that it is one of the more underrated beauties in terms of it's architectural detail.  The house was built in 1895 and has combined Gothic revival details combined with extensive shingles used in a pleasing harmony.

14 November 2011

Monday Mystery

Where in St. Louis am I?

Last week was shot through the window of Henry Shaw's mausoleum.  He rests in his garden just outside the Tower Grove House in the Missouri Botanical Gardens in St. Louis, Missouri.

12 November 2011

Veteran's Day at Jefferson Barracks

If you are looking for photographic opportunities, you look to places people gather.  On holidays such as Memorial Day and Veteran's Day, a great place to find people can be a cemetery, especially if you live within 20 minutes of a National Cemetery like Jefferson Barracks.  I drove down to capture some of the activities or scenery that caught my eye.  Here comes your brief history...

A little boy plays with the United States flag as his mother and grandmother paint the lettering of a tombstone.

Selected for it's strategic position south of St. Louis, Missouri, Jefferson Barracks opened in 1826, and became the United States Army's first permanent base west of the Mississippi River.  During the 1940s, it was also the largest military establishment in the country.  During the Civil War, Jefferson Barracks became a training post for Union soldiers.  Ironically, the cemetery also holds over 1,000 Confederate soldiers.  The cemetery has honorably served as a burial place for soldiers from all US wars.  

Grave markers roll with the hills as the flag in the background flies at half-staff honoring Veteran's Day.

The importance of the post waned rather quickly following World War II, and the post was deactivated in 1946.  However, the grounds continue to expand as a national cemetery as demand grows.  Jefferson Barracks was named to the National Register of Historical Places in 1998.

One marker is flanked by both the US flag and a flag commemorating Veteran's Day.

11 November 2011

Honor and Gratitude

A very simple image for a very simple message:  Thank You.

I took this image this summer while in downtown St. Louis admiring a military display in front of Soldier's Memorial.  On days like this, I think of two relatives that actively served in Vietnam and WWII.

My uncle flew helicopters just above the jungle trees.  His job was to drop flares so the jets could more easily find their targets.  I never thought much of this as a young boy.  I asked one day only to find his helicopter was unescorted and unarmed!

I also think back to my grandfather in WWII.  Stationed in Italy as a P-51D pilot, he logged hours in the cockpit of almost every fighter or bomber the US used in the European theater.  I hope I never lose his stories.  At one extreme he would tell me about finding God as he flew home, alone, over German occupied territory after watching his wingman get shot down.  He described that as "white-knuckle flying at it's finest and the longest 3 hours of my life."  The other extreme would be a story about lying awake with the boys using their handguns to shoot rats off the roof of the tents.  One hand held a flashlight, the other held the pistol.  The story wrapped with "There are always consequences to your actions.  If you shot at rats, the next morning you patched the roof in the cold."

But, most of all, I remember a story a friend handed me one day at work.  The story was of a man that never saw a day of action in WWII because he served as a POW the entire time.  Oh, how I wish you could read that story of service and sacrifice.  This man was captured off the coast of a tiny island in the Pacific and watched the planes fly overhead en route to bomb Pearl Harbor (he later found out).  He spent most of the next four years in the hull of a ship eating spoiled rice, being spat and urinated upon, and packed in with another 200 men like sardines.  However, there was a lot of time during the four years he was able to serve as a slave to the Japanese, wishing he was back in the hull of that boat.  While serving as a slave, he also saw the B-29s fly overhead en route to Hiroshima.  He said he always felt ashamed by his time of duty because he never saw action and never felt like a hero.  Well, let me tell you, he is definitely a hero....yet no one knows him....because of his humility.

All three of these men are heroes.  And, many, many more like them.  If you see one today, please make the effort to thank them.  They all have stories.  All you have to do is ask.

10 November 2011

Project Feederwatch..

Project Feederwatch is an annual bird counting event put on by Cornell Lab of Ornithology.  The data is used to help study wildlife trends across North America.  For more details, you can read a little more on my birding blog, http://wp.me/p1b2oy-90.

However, here is the picture I shared over there since I am still operating on a clean hard drive....for now.

09 November 2011

Sorry about today..

Today's post is a bust because of the most evil people in the world......computer hacks.  I picked up a virus that has taken me the better part of two days to resolve.  I may have successfully backed up my pictures; I may not have.  More time will tell.

However, I'll be back up and running asap.  I'm enjoying sharing.  I hope you are enjoying, too.

08 November 2011

Technology, a Vacuum, and the MVP..

Cardinals hitting coach, Mark McGwire, at the World Series Parade.  We remember him for his homeruns, but in reality, he became one of the most patient hitters at the plate later in his career.  He preaches a philosophy of "working the count" and making a pitcher come to you with pitches you can hit within the strike zone.  It's not a new philosophy, just one that may surprise you coming from someone that used to look like his only purpose in life was to hit the ball out of the stadium and miles down the highway.  Below, Mark uses modern technology to remember the parade for himself.  He was always fairly shy with media when a player, and this may seem cool, but in my opinion it shows he still remains a bit disconnected from fans.  He never really waved, only smiled, as he hid behind his sunglasses (on a cloudy day)....and behind his iPad, pretending to be more interested in other things.  Oh well, I still like the guy.  We can't all be outgoing spokespeople.

This angle provided a pretty cool shot, though, of McGwire recording the crowd as he passed by.

The chant "MV-Freese" could be heard as World Series MVP David Freese rode by.  This guy has been on a whirlwind like I've never seen before since winning both the National League Championship Series and World Series MVP honors.  He is one of the few to ever be this hot as a hitter down the stretch and claim both honors in the same season.

The "vacuum" referenced Rafael Furcal's glove at shortstop during the playoffs.  Again, "one of the few" to ever make it through the entire post season without making a single error at his position, Furcal was a huge part, defensively, of the Cardinals' run to glory.  I love Ozzie Smith, being that I'm from St. Louis, but I don't think even The Wizard made it through a World Series run without committing a single error, but in fairness to him, I haven't looked, either.

07 November 2011

Monday Mystery..

Where in St. Louis am I?

Last week was taken on Market St. looking east towards the Arch.  Obviously, the event was the World Series Parade.

06 November 2011

The People of the Parade..

You've seen the Kids of the Parade.  Now, see the other people.  Lots of them...

Climbing the buildings to get a view.

Texas fan turned Cardinal?


Biker dude looking to park wherever he pleases.

Camcorder guy taking it all in.

04 November 2011

More from the Fall Market..

I love candid photography.  Not exactly "street photography," but the kind where the others don't really know you are taking their picture....so they act naturally.  Here are a couple.

Walking through the mums at Kirwood's Farmer's Market.

And, point out a few things to her "mum" most likely.  I am finding out I am more of a photojournalistic photographer.  I really don't like the fake smiles and "say cheese" style.  I would rather walk around and catch my subjects (whether it be people, landscapes, birds, or anything else) as it looks when I'm not there.  It's just a little more pure, in my opinion.

03 November 2011

Farwell to a Legend and Hello to Eleven..

You'll have to forgive my tilted horizon in the first one.  I meant to straighten it out in a software program, but realized I never will.  I know it's tilting right, but I don't care that much about it.  However, these photos are of our World Series Parade again.  

Tony LaRussa, who retired yesterday, waves to the fans as he gets the golden chair.....in the wagon pulled by the world famous clydesdales.  I wonder how the dalmation felt about Tony taking his usual seat?  Tony is the 3rd most winning manager in baseball history, and the winningest of the historic Cardinal franchise.  That alone says a lot.  He is a very polarizing personality in St. Louis, either you love him or hate him.  No matter which side of the fence you sit on, you have to respect the number of wins he put up over a career.  He certainly does a better job than I could do.

Kind of a strange shot here, but it was in focus.  I thought the World Series ring was a standout feature.  This is either the '06 ring or the one from Oakland.  Yes, LaRussa has 3 of them now, another major achievement no matter how you feel about him.  Farewell, Tony, I don't know who will replace you, but I don't think we will see another era like this for a long time.....16 years, I don't remember how many playoff appearances, 4 World Series appearances, 3 Championships.  That's crazy good!

The cloudy, windy day and the moving targets made shooting on slower shutter speeds more difficult than I'm used to.  I didn't have much time to get creative with the shots.  I just snapped off as many as I could and took what was in focus.

Now, to focus on the future/present.  Here's the owner, Bill DeWitt, with the World Series Trophy.

If you look closely, you will see DeWitt holding up both index fingers.  He is signaling to the crowd that this trophy is number eleven in franchise history.  The saying going around town during the playoff run was that we were a team of destiny this year......their 11th Championship in 2011.

Now, this shot was cool.  He lifted the trophy above his head for the cheering fans.  However, I really like the backdrop of fall trees.  To me, that is what makes the shot special.  The Fall Classic truly realized here.

02 November 2011

Don't Cry, Yadi

Especially, don't cry when it was announced today that you won the Gold Glove.  #4, which makes you the most decorated Cardinal catcher ever. 

The top photo is straight from the camera.  The bottom has been processed a little.

Quite the difference!  Oh, as for the facts...Mike Matheny also has 4 Gold Gloves, but only 3 were as a Cardinal.  I'm pretty sure Tom Pagnozzi has 2.  And, to my recollection, that was also the most recent lineage of catchers.  Pags tutored Matheny a little, who tutored Yadi.  Nice bloodline, eh?

01 November 2011

Kids of the Parade..

The World Series Parade was a spectacular event!  Lots of fun.  I took my kids down to see it along with another good friend's kids, too.  My plan is to run series of photos since individual shots would likely get us past Thanksgiving or even Christmas, and we would all tire of the event by the time spring training rolled back around in a short 107 days or so.

First, I introduce the Kids of the Parade...

These guys are ours.  My oldest daughter and my youngest son (somewhere under the blanket) suffered through the initial wait in gale force winds.  The wind gusts had to hit 40mph between the buildings in some spots.  We found a calmer spot where it wasn't quite as cold.  Temps were in the upper 50's...hardly blanket weather without the wind or a little sunshine.

I wish I could spell that annoying instrument the World Cup made so popular last year in South Africa...the voo-voo-zayla...to spell phonetically.  People were blowing them all over the city...even this little guy.

Of course, vendors were selling all sorts of things.  Perhaps you would like a red and white mohawk?

The Rally Squirrel went "viral" in the city during the epic run our Cardinals made.  It had little to do with Halloween that this kid wore a squirrel outfit.  That I can promise you.  I am afraid the Cardinals will have a second mascot next year until the fad officially gets shot by Hunter Time.

My kids again, and their friends, holding signage for the players to hopefully see as they passed.  (Actually, it kept them occupied while we waited 2+ hours for the parade to begin.)  I think they did a good job, though.

Don't wave to me.  Wave at the players. 

This kid made my heart flutter as he held dad's camera while riding on his shoulders.  A budding photog.  Who knows, maybe a Sports Illustrated man someday.

People watching during an event like this is absolutely priceless.  There's your hint for some coming posts.