Monthly Archives: June 2017

Gateway Arch, St. Louis, Missouri

We’re camped in St. Simon, Missouri, about a 20 mile drive to St. Louis.  On Tuesday we drove into town to see the Gateway Arch.  They were doing a lot of road work and for this reason the usual directions to it didn’t work.  It took us a while to get next to it and then to find parking and then to walk over to it.

The Arch is right next to the Mississippi River and is very dramatic.  We first came up to it from the northern side (after huffing and puffing to get Susan’s wheelchair up a very steep hill on a cobblestone road).

It was more dramatic up close.

And dramatic looking up from the center towards the sky.

The visitor center was undergoing renovation and the museum associated with the Gateway Arch was closed so other than walking around and under the arch there wasn’t much for us to do.  There is an observation deck across the top of the arch and a tram/elevator that gets you there.  Neither Susan nor I are terribly fond of heights so we turned that down.

Despite the fact that there were ramps down to the waterfront I’d have to give it a C- at best for handicap accessibility.  The ramps were steep and there were no pauses along the way. Without assistance there’s no way that anybody in a wheelchair could get from the waterfront to the Arch by themselves.  Ditto on getting down.  Because of the renovations there were no restrooms, only porta potties, and there was at least one handicap accessible one, so I’ll give them some kudos for that.

The Gateway arch is very dramatic and worth a visit if you’re in the area.  Once the renovations are done it’ll probably be worth a visit even more.  We’re not sorry we went and I certainly got my share of exercise for the day getting Susan to and from it.  One recommendation is to locate the Gateway Arch on a map first so you have a good idea where you’re going and not to depend so much on the signage since the signage is misleading.

I will also add that we saw this sign several times while driving and trying to find the base of the Gateway Arch.

We didn’t actually see anybody “aggressively begging” in St. Louis while we were driving through it, but this is a phenomenon we see all over the country (although more in the southern cities in the winter than otherwise).  During the winter In Tucson it’s hard to drive any distance without seeing somebody or several somebodies at an intersection with signs asking for money.  I can’t say whether there really are more people who are truly down and out or whether this has become an accepted a way for some of them to eke out a living.

I’ve had mixed experiences with this.  In particular when commuting in Boston there were several “beggars” who had staked out their particular territories and I remember one who “owned” a spot in the Back Bay T station pulling out his IPhone once and chatting with somebody about his weekend party plans.  A nurse friend of ours who worked with the disadvantaged in San Francisco said that 95% of the men and 90% of the women panhandling have a drug habit and whatever you give them goes to support that habit.  I can’t say whether or not that’s true, although it’s certainly plausible, but I will say that if and when a person drops off the financial edge into poverty and homelessness for whatever reason there is no easy way back.  I don’t have any kind of an answer for this phenomenon and can only comment that it appears to be occurring across the country in all of the cities that we’ve visited.

 

Carnegie Museum of Art and Architecture, the Art part

As I already mentioned, we didn’t realize that the Carnegie Museum of Art shared the same building(s) as the Museum of Natural History so we weren’t really prepared for it.  The Museum of Art has pretty much the entire second floor of the Museum complex.  What was immediately striking, were the art nouveau murals around the second floor lobby we saw as soon as we got off the elevator.

A couple of the murals around the lobby on the second floor
Another mural around the second floor lobby
Another mural from around the second floor lobby
Wall of murals from around the second floor lobby

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Carnegie Museum of Art and Architecture, the architecture part

When we came to the Carnegie Museum of Natural History we didn’t know that it shared a building (buildings?) withe the Carnegie Museum of Art and Architecture.  We had already gone through the Natural History museum by the time the fire alarm sounded and we had to evacuate so afterwards we went through at least part of the Museum of Art and Architecture.

The arrangement is a little odd, since the Museum of Architecture is mostly on the same floor as the Museum of Natural History.  It also isn’t so much about architecture but about architectural elements across the ages.

Medieval Frieze from a church

There was some attempt to place the exhibits in chronological order but there were also several doors you can enter from so where you start in history is somewhat left to chance.

Medieval Balcony from a church

Continue reading Carnegie Museum of Art and Architecture, the architecture part

Carnegie Museum of Natural History

We are camped at an RV park in New Stanton, Pennsylvania, about 30 miles away from Pittsburgh.  We drove in to Pittsburgh on Thursday to see the Carnegie Museum of Natural History.  Not surprisingly, they had “museum quality” fossils.

Triassic Crocodilan

They were mostly arranged with painted backdrops with a lot of attention paid to natural poses.

Diplodicus stalked by a carnivore

Many of them were dinosaurs that were popular (so to speak) when I was growing up.  I remember having about a half a dozen or so molded plastic models of them.

Stegosaurus
Protoceratops

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Harriet’s 60th

One of the main reasons we drove to New England was to attend Susan’s younger sister, Harriet’s 60th birthday get-together.  It’s been a year and a half since we last saw Susan’s family so it was good to see them all in one place.

Harriet with her two sons, Rob (left) and Paul (right).
Susan’ siblings. Paul, Mark, Harriet and Neal with Susan.
Susan and Mark

The get-together was held at Alta Strada restaurant, at the Foxwoods resort/casino in Connecticut.  The food and service were excellent, but it was very noisy which made it hard to talk with anybody.  We ran into Mark about a half hour early and he gave Susan $5 to spend on a slot machine. She won a couple extra rounds but the money ran out pretty quickly and if hadn’t been that Mark gave her the seed money she wouldn’t have done it in the first place.  Although we’ve been to many resort/casinos we’re always there because of a show or a restaurant and neither of us are gamblers (nor do we really understand the urge at all).

Rachel visits

We’re in an RV campground in Clinton, Connecticut.  Rachel and Scott were delivering one of Scott’s nephews to a college orientation in Hartford, Connecticut.  Since she was about an hour’s drive away she drove down to see us.

Rachel
Rachel and Susan
Rachel and Richard

We are always glad to see her and it was good to hear that she and Scott are doing well. With any luck, we might see her again this year depending when (and if) we make it to Oregon.

American Antique Car Association (AACA) Museum

The American Antique Car Association museum is located on the way into Hershey, Pennsylvania, just off of Route 39.  We visited it today and wandered around for a couple of hours.  There are three floors but the largest and most complete exhibits are on the first floor.  The 2nd floor had a lot less space devoted to exhibits and was almost entirely motorcycles.  The ground (basement?) floor was mostly buses and motorcycles but had been partially cleared out for an upcoming weekend event.

1908 Zimmerman Surrey

The layout of exhibits was a little strange in that it was only partly chronological.   In a couple of instances there was a theme, like the iconic cars from the 1960’s.

But in other instances there were 1970’s muscle cars next to 1920’s runabouts.  Most eras were well represented however, with many of the cars that embodied the times.

1924 Stevens-Duryea Runabout

Continue reading American Antique Car Association (AACA) Museum

Hershey’s Chocolate World

We’re staying at an RV campground in Jonestown, Pennsylvania, about 15 miles from Hershey, Pennsylvania, the home of the Hershey Chocolate Company.  The company is named after it’s founder, Milton Hershey and the town was originally named Derry Church but was later re-named for the company.  The Hershey Theme Park is here but we’re too old for the rides.   There is, however,  a very large Hershey Candy store called Hershey’s Chocolate World located next to the theme park.  Being confirmed chocoholics we of course had to stop and see it.

Susan with her loot from Hershey’s Chocolate World

There were several bus-loads of kids in the store (it’s summer, what did you expect?) which made it a bit noisy and chaotic, probably in keeping with the atmosphere of the theme park itself.  We wandered around for a while and settled mostly on an assortment of dark chocolate bars.

The one thing we couldn’t find was baking chocolate, which was a bit disappointing.  I make brownies regularly and have found Hershey baking chocolate to have a better flavor than the brands that are usually in the supermarkets.  For whatever reason I have difficulty finding it where we shop in Arizona and I usually have to order it from Amazon so it would have been nice to be able to pick up a case or two of it while were there.