Looking Down

One last day of relatively balmy weather. On Sunday, Anne and I hiked Forest Park. We parked by the Jewel Box and first headed east, towards the ice rink and then south to the science center. I brought the drone along. We saw lots of wildlife, the largest of which was a deer. Rare, but not unheard of in the park, it was last seen bounding across the golf course, headed off into the rough.

I first flew the drone over the ruined gateway to Vandeventer Place. Situated out-of-context near the Jewel Box, these ruins are one of the few remaining reminders of this once tony neighborhood. A victim of its own success, this private street, precursor to today’s gated communities, was built west and upwind from the 19th-century coal smog ladened Saint Louis downtown. Once isolated, the city grew up around it, engulfed it and swallowed it whole.

Past the ice rink is Jefferson Lake. While not very large and really not all that deep, it is still popular with city fishermen. The DNR keeps it well stocked with fish and the parks service creates habitat for them with each year’s crop of discarded Christmas trees. Anne saw a pair of trout swimming between the forest of fishing lines cast to catch them. I found signage that proclaimed the fishing regulations and I am now venerable enough to fish without a license. We saw turtles out still basking on the second to last day of November, but I bet that they are not there today. Anne spied a heron perched atop the trees that line the golf course. Biding its time, waiting for the fishing humans to go home.

Like the march of science, we marched ever onward, on to the science center. There I unpacked the drone again and flew it while taking photos of the various attractions around. Tom Friedman’s Looking Up is 33′ tall. This instance is one of three that he has created. The McDonnell Planetarium was here before the Science Center. A newer, larger part was eventually built south of the highway. Back when there was still a McDonnell Douglas, what was the Science Center languished near us, in Oak Knoll Park. The dinosaurs outside the planetarium are the only remaining relics from that bygone era. I thought that the center was closed, but only the north entrance had been shuttered. Only after flying the drone did I notice the SLPD SUV sitting in the empty parking lot. As I had suspected, any regulations about flying a drone in the park are more the purview of the park rangers, the city police couldn’t be bothered.

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