Art Along the Rivers

The Mississippi at Elsah, Fredrick Oakes Sylvester, 1903

Anne and I went to the art museum today, to view this fall’s big show, Art Along the Rivers: A Bicentennial Celebration. This year happens to be the bicentennial of the founding of state of Missouri. In honor of this event the art museum, exhibited a collection of the museum’s art that not only spanned the last two hundred years, but also the history of the area from before there was a state, going back a thousand years. Pictured is a painting that has become the signature artwork representing this show. It shows a stretch of the Mississippi River just north of Saint Louis, where on the Illinois side of the river lies the tiny village of Elsah. This quaint little town still looks remarkably similar to how it is portrayed in this painting from over a hundred years ago. It helps to convey the sense of timelessness of life along the rivers. The exhibit is arranged chronologically, beginning with Native American art. This transitions to colonial era artifacts, early statehood and beyond into the present. Emphasis is placed on sourcing local art to form a diverse reflection of all the people who have lived in the Saint Louis area throughout the last two hundred years.

Life At the DMV

Toyota Prius

In December of 2019, we gave Dan the Prius. He drove it to NYC, where having a car during the pandemic was a blessing. I had relicensed it earlier that year, so the plates were still good and they continue to be good through July. It doesn’t make any sense to maintain Missouri plates, so Dan is going get New York plates when he gets back there. Dan only recently got a New York driver’s license. Earlier this week, we trooped over to our safety deposit box and retrieved the title for the Prius from it. Yesterday, Dan and I went to the DMV to get the title in his name. Unfortunately, the title still had a lien on it from the original car loan and as such cannot be transferred. I messaged Toyota on Friday and they have already responded and will mail me the lien release form next week. We’ll be gone by then, so it will have to wait until we return. Then with the new form, I’ll return to the DMV and get a new clean title in Dan’s name. Missouri will mail me the new title and then I’ll mail it to Dan. Hopefully, all this will transpire before the end of July, giving Dan time to get new plates.

The cool down that occurred earlier this week has expired and we are back to hot and muggy weather, but we have air conditioning. I feel for Jay and Carl this weekend, because they are having a heat wave that makes Sweat Louis look cool and calm by comparison. I hope that they survive the heat. 

Elephant Rocks

Masked Rock Monster

On Monday, in addition to visiting Johnson’s Shut-ins State Park, we also paid a call on neighboring Elephant Rocks State Park. Here we took the time to climb about this park’s billion year-old rocks. Elephant Rocks was much more crowded than the Shut-ins had been and considering that it was a Monday, we were a little baffled at first by the crowd of school aged kids, until we realized that this is spring break week.

This park has a small paved trail that circles the majority of the granite rock formations. The park was once a working  quarry and a water filled quarry pit and numerous rockpiles of granite debris are still around. Many of the rocks have lines of holes in them that the masons made to split the boulders apart. Where Anne is seen standing many names and dates have been carved into the stone, commemorating when each mason obtained their master mason status. The place hasn’t operated as a quarry for over a hundred years now, so even were the rocks have been spit apart and the bright pink once interior stone is exposed, much of it is now covered by lichen.

Elephant Rocks

Johnson’s Shut-ins

Johnson’s Shut-ins

Field trip! Monday, we got out-of-town and drove down to Johnson’s Shut-ins State Park. The Shut-ins as it is know locally is not some Covid quarantine scheme, but a rock formation, a billion year-old rock formation that has been trying to imped the progress of the Black River or its predecessors all that while. These stubborn rocks shut in the river or constrict its flow into a narrow channel. The Shut-ins are easily Missouri’s best waterhole and in high summer one needs to get up extra early to get there before the park fills up, but in March, not so much. The parking lot was less than half full as we leisurely sauntered by. What’s more the Shut-ins were closed to swimming. That’s OK, we hadn’t planned on swimming anyway. We hadn’t even brought our swimsuits.

Red flags were out, warning of the river’s danger. Red means a river flow of more than 75 cubic feet per second. In summertime the flow rate shrinks to a fraction of that, really more of a trickle. Separate pools form, the rocks heat up in the summer sun and the throngs descend, but as you can see in the photos, no one is photo-bombing my shots. I was going to fly the drone, but a combination of too much wind and the availability of  a terrestrial lookdown view made that idea moot. Downstream the Shut-ins end in the pictured turquoise pool. By summer, the water’s color is an algae green.

In years past, some people have leaped from this cliff. The park rangers discourage this practice, because of a shallow rock shelf at the base of the cliff. He who hesitates is lost. When we first moved to Missouri, the park had been closed. To much rowdy partying had led to violence and death, but it was soon reopened and we enjoyed visiting it over the years. Then in December of 2005, disaster struck. The dam broke on a hilltop reservoir that the power company used during the summer to generate power during peak need hours. Generating hydroelectric power for peak need times and then pumping and replenishing that water in the off hours. It had been a cold and very wet December and the earthen dam broke, showering both water and rocks down. The groundskeeper and his family were the only people in the park at the time and they were all swept away by the flood, but survived. As a reminder of that catastrophe, much of the park’s grounds are littered with car sized boulders that compose the debris field. Money from the settlement allowed the state to rebuild back better the park’s amenities, including a new boardwalk that we used yesterday to view the Shut-ins from.

Turquoise Pool