Up in the Air Junior Birdman

Pagoda Circle

As we pulled into the art museum’s parking lot, Anne spied a Peregrine falcon perched on one of the light poles. We parked, tried to get a picture, but it was already in the air. It overflew us. We took this sighting as an omen. Dan and Britt are planning on using the Peregrine as the logo for their drone company. At the time, we were uncertain if this was a good or bad omen. Let me cut to the chase. On our first outing with the new drone we didn’t crash. I count that as a success.

We spent the afternoon walking around Forest Park, flying the drone and taking pictures. There weren’t very many people in the park. It was cold and overcast with occasional drizzle. Coming down off of Art Hill, we were attracted by all of the police activity around Picnic Island. We had walked this way on Saturday, but since then the news had reported that the authorities would be searching all week for some unnamed something in the waters around Picnic Island. A tent city had sprouted, peopled by dozens of law officers. I wanted to walk across Picnic Island like we did before. There were two barricades on the bridge to the island, but they were off to the side and I remembered that they had been there on Saturday. Anne asked about the yellow police line tape that now draped them. While we discussed this, we were approached by a nice FBI man who voted us off the island. He was wearing a blue windbreaker out of central casting, with FBI stenciled in yellow on it. Also on it was the acronym ERT, standing for Evidence Response Team. He was the agent-in-charge, making this his circus.

“Cellphone!” We had to take the long way around Picnic Island. On the way, we passed a group of men wading and diving in one of the back channels. They all had metal detectors and every once in a while, one of them would find another, “Cellphone!” According to a SLFD observer they had already found dozens.

Leaving this hub-bub behind, we continued on to Pagoda Circle, where I got this post’s photo. The drizzle started to intensify and checking radar, it was time to beat feet. We made it back to the car just as the drizzle turned to rain. Moments after getting home, rolling peels of thunder began. They rumbled on so long that at first I was unconvinced that it was really thunder. Today is trash day and I thought the rumbling was a neighbor rolling out their cans, but it was thunder.

Happy Birthday, Jay!

Pet Shop Turtle

Baby Painted Turtle

With the reopening of the Saint Louis Zoo, the road closures that we have come to know and love have gone bye-bye, but new road closures in the eastern half of Forest Park have been added to generally keep the amount of pedestrian only walking fare about the same. Yesterday, we tried out this new walking area. It is not as shady as the old road closures were which will make it less desirable on hot summer days, but we did take advantage of being near some of the lagoons that dot this corner of the park. While not strictly part of the dual path bike trail, there is a trail that we frequently visit while cycling in the park. On this path are two boardwalks, from which wildlife can often be seen. 

On this day, we watched a Great White egret as it went about its daily business of fishing. We saw a muskrat, but it was too fast to photograph. Our best capture of the day was of this pictured Painted turtle. It was sunning itself directly below the boardwalk and didn’t get frightened off by all of the paparazzi activity going on over its head. I estimate that its shell was about two inches in diameter and would have make a lovely meal for that egret, except for the hovering paparazzi.


Solarized Zoo Zebras

We walked in Forest Park this morning. Trying to get out early, to beat the heat. We parked up at the top of the hill near the Hi-Pointe and then descended down Government Drive into its shade. I was reminded why we usually avoid the park on the weekend. It was crowded, chock full of weekend warriors, all huffing and a puffing with their exertions. It was masks up and social avoidance the best we could. Once we got away from the bike-path the population density decreased markedly. I was able to relax and listen to the quiet sounds of Kennedy Forest.

Down the hill, we encountered something new at the north entrance to the zoo. Tents and rope lines had been erected for the coming zoo reopening later this month. We stopped a zoo employee and asked about the schedule. Apparently, later is not going to be that much later. Monday, the zoo will open for members only. Next Saturday, it reopens for everyone. Come Monday, the peace and quiet of Government Drive will be gone and the road reopened to vehicles. It did not appear as though the south entrance along Wells Drive will reopen.

There was a new sign up explaining some of the rules. General admission will remain free. However, a timed reservation will be required. So, admission will be limited. Otherwise, throngs would show up and a line of cars backing up onto the highway would result. Other than the sea lion show, all the other ticketed attractions will be available, including both the train ride and the carousel. Face masks will be required for all visitors, but small children. I don’t think that we will be going to the zoo anytime soon. Maybe in the fall, when the weather turns colder and schools hopefully restarts, then it might be uncrowded enough for us to think about going to the zoo. Even so, I would stay out of all the buildings.

We continued walking east, past the zoo. Around the World’s Fair Pavilion, we ran into another spat of cardio congestion. Too many people working out, not blocked arteries. Past that we circled the Nature Playscape worksite, which this being the weekend, wasn’t being worked. Bounding the eastside of the worksite is a road, Carr Lane Drive. It is not much trafficked and was very shady when we walked it. There are always a few cars parked there and I wonder if it is a gay hangout. When we walked, there were three vehicles parked, all with one man per. Across from the Nature Playscape worksite is a dense forested section that also is little used, but would provide plenty of privacy for whatever.

There used to be another locale in the Kennedy Forest part of the park. That was also rumored to be a gay hangout. Through park renovations, the city removed that road (Coincidence?), thus prompting the popularity of Carr Lane. With most bars still closed, the social avenues for gay men to meet are somewhat limited, but I would be surprised if the city permitted any such things to continue, once the adjoining new children’s playground eventually opens. Saint Louis is still very conservative. And yes it got hot by the time we made it back to the car.

Nature Playscape

Forest Park Cone Flower

Yesterday, we drove to Forest Park, for a new variation on our walk within this park. Because the golf course is now open again for golfing, our regular parkour is now a no go. Instead, we drove to the southwest corner of the park, the city’s highpoint. We walked around the zoo, peering in through all of the foliage gaps, which with everything all leafed out, are few and far between. Needing more steps than just around the zoo would give us, we decided to explore a new site of construction that has been worked all year. I had thought that the work was mundane bathrooms and picnic shelters maintenance, but I was surprised to learn that a new playground is being built, Nature Playscape.

Nature Playscape is a 17 acre development that is located between the World’s Fair Pavilion and the Jewel Box. This is an area of the park that has not seen any real use as far as I know. Construction costs are $4.5M and as its name implies, it will be a natural playground, with eight different activity areas, each modeled after a local biome. Examples include meadows, wetlands, springs, bottomlands, mounds and various types of forests. Instead of using conventional playground equipment, rocks and sculpted tree trunks will serve as climbing obstacles. Nature Playscape is scheduled to be finished later this year, but with all other playgrounds closed, it is uncertain when it will actually open to the public.

Today is Election Day and we had voted by mail over a week ago, but the county website that we checked said that our ballots hadn’t been returned. We decided to check on this in person, but we left home without really checking out where our polling place was. The last time I voted, our normal polling place had been closed and I voted at the Masonry Institute, which is not affiliated with any secret societies, but is rather a trades group organization. Come to think about it, isn’t that how the Masons got started too? Can you say schism?

Anyway, we hiked over there only to find no joy and no polling place either. A google search determined that our poll was back where it is normally, at the Heights. It turns out that it had been moved for the last election, because the Heights had been undergoing renovations. So, we headed over there next. Bonus steps! Walking there, we passed two of the new developments that are the main source of contention in our mayor’s race. Both the sitting mayor and his opponent were outside electioneering and Anne dealt with them, while I went inside to verify that our ballots had been received. I ended up getting the oldest, slowest election official in the house, but she was able to eventually verify my vote. We just assumed then that Anne’s ballot had also made it back too. 

It was sad when the great ship went down

Under the Sea

Well that didn’t take long. Saturday, we noticed a new sign on the golf course that we had been walking, announcing guidelines for its reopening. On Sunday, at least that park of the links had reopened to golfers and closing it to walkers like us. Today, the rest of the two golf courses are supposed to reopen for golf.

Fortunately, yesterday we didn’t walk, but instead chose to bicycle. We thought that we had gotten out early enough to beat the heat, but it somehow found us, before we could make it back home. The park was crowded and we didn’t stay.

Bicycling is exercise. Golf is not. At least while using a cart. Before they shut the courses to all golfers, the city tried running them without carts. The few golfers that did walk were so few that management decided to just shut it down. 

The covidiots up the block held their lawn party. Strangers in evening attire traipsed by the house all afternoon. Thunderstorms began popping almost as soon as the party began and for a while their luck held out, but eventually the rain rolled in and all of the dolled up ladies left. One of the local media sites has a list of confirmed Covid cases by zip code. We’ve been holding steady at 29 for a while now. I’ll continue to watch it intently over the next couple of weeks. I’ll be looking for signs of new infections close to home.

We only did our short neighborhood walk today. This was not because of issues with humanity, but rather the twin issues of heat and humidity. It looks like we’ll get rain again this afternoon and every other day this week. As Anne tells me, it will be a good week for the lawn, which is already showing signs of needing to be mowed again and it hasn’t even been a week.

Palmer’s Penstemon

Palmer’s Penstemon

We walked in Forest Park. At noon, it was already warming up. As the summer arrives, we’ll have to start getting out earlier than this. We drove to the edge of the park, walked across Skinker, and braved a dual path crossing, with their many runners, walkers and cyclists. Then we were on the golf course, with its wide open fairways, empty greens and unused tees, but this won’t last long.

On the way back, I first spied a golf cart on the links. It wasn’t one of the rentals, but rather a maintenance one. Later, along one of the cart trails there was a new yard sign. It hadn’t been there before, when we had first passed this way. On it were the new rules that will govern the course’s reopening. One person per cart, people one outstretched club apart, at all times, two strikes and you are out.

There goes the neighborhood. No word on when the golf course will reopen, but it will be soon and with its reopening gone will be its wide open spaces, at least for us. Other attractions are also moving to reopen. The largest draw in the park, the zoo has announced its plans. It will still be free as always, but it is going to institute a reservation system, to keep the crowds down. When the zoo reopens, I suspect that the closed roads that lead to it will reopen. When that happens, there will go the second half of our safely socially distant walking regimen. I imagine that the museums will follow suit and everything will be back to where it was before all of this began, except that the virus will still be present.

Trending on Twitter this morning was a short movie of a massive pool party at the Lake of the Ozarks, in mid-Missouri. The venue was packed with wall-to-wall covidiots, partying like there is no tomorrow. Closer to home, just up the block, preparations for a party were also underway yesterday, for a party today. Two guys, who always throw the most elaborate looking of yard parties, are not going to let a little pandemic get in their way this year either. They worked all day putting up their decorations. This year’s theme is “Under the Sea.” I even wangled an invite, much to Anne’s horror. We won’t be attending, but I might attempt a drive by, just to witness the bacchanalia from afar. I can already hear the crashing sound of the second wave all around me.