Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Band Practice; A Broken Heart; A Dog Museum; More Hovels; Millington; Jackson; "Turn Now!!!"

While staying at CSL St. Louis, we noticed a high school just across the street. Actually, we couldn’t miss them, because soccer, track, hockey and band practices were directed over loudspeakers, and as you know, teenagers are all close to deaf when spoken to by adults. In any case, as we were driving past the school one day, My Lovely Bride started quivering. It wasn’t because she was lusting after Your Faithful Correspondent… it was because the high school band was on the field practicing, and she was having a “High School Moment”. We stopped and watched as the band director called “Right 12, Back 6” and other directions that only a marching band or a nest of ants could possibly understand. Suzanne was in Heaven…



On the way to the trailhead for our bike ride the other day, we drove through the city of Creve Coeur (French for Broken Heart). The trail markers were cleverly marked with the town’s logo to tell riders where they were…
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
  
I think I had mentioned in a previous blog post that Creve Coeur was named for a legend about an Indian maiden who jumped to her death over an unrequited love. An alternative explanation that I have come to accept is that the city was named for the French-American philosopher Michel Guillame Jean de Crevecoeur. In 1782 he wrote a famous book of essays called Letters from an American Farmer that was the first description of America as a separate country rather than an English colony. He was also the first to describe frontier life and the concept of The American Dream, based on equal opportunity and self-determination.
 
 
 
 
 
  
Rudy and Gretchen often get votes on where we go, so it was no surprise when Rudy announced the other night, “Dog-Dad, Gretchen and I would like to go to the Dog Museum.” Well, I was very surprised… I didn’t even know that there was a Dog Museum here. I looked on the map, and sure enough, there it was, in Ballwin, a nearby suburb of West St. Louis. We packed up the pups, and a few minutes later disembarked in the beautiful Edgar M. Queeny County Park, with walking paths, lots of trees and the American Kennel Club’s Museum of the Dog. The 14,000 sq. ft. facility, even larger than Rudy and Gretchen’s traveling kennels, is the historic 1853 Jarville House, which was once Edgar M. Queeny’s residence. He was the former Chairman of Monsanto, and led that company from 1928 until 1960. (By the way, Monsanto was his middle name.)  In spite of his wealth, he served as a seaman in World War I. He was also a noted conservationist, and sponsored several nature documentaries. He sold his residence just prior to his death to raise money for a St. Louis hospital, and left no heirs.

This is a real art museum, but instead of having paintings of boring, conniving, useless politicians (is that description redundant?), it is filled with dogs… paintings, drawings, sculptures, dog houses, and even a dog library (that means it’s filled with books about dogs, not a library where dogs go to read… that’s a separate building). This is just one example of hundreds of paintings on exhibit at the Museum of the Dog. (Lois Anne, this picture's for you.)
 

 
 
 

Rudy and Gretchen wanted to take this dog house home, but we didn’t have room in The Coach. Unfortunately, we missed the special Dachshund Exhibition by a month or two. Now you cat lovers may complain about this mid-America location glorifying our canine friends, but there is actually a Cat Museum, on the Left Coast, in San Francisco (where else would you put it?).
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

While returning home, we drove through Ballwin, and then through Town and Country, an unusual name for a very distinctive suburb… here are just a couple of the more modest homes there. (The big houses are actually behind tall walls and tree lines. I think these belong to the gardeners.)




















We departed St. Louis heading south, and stayed two nights at the Naval Support Activity, Millington, Tennessee, just outside Memphis. We were too tired after a long day driving to go see Graceland or the Peabody Hotel's ducks, so we recharged our mental batteries with a double workout of running and weights at the Navy gym. Many towns have their names on water towers, and this one lets you know who lives here!
















 We have just arrived in Jackson, Mississippi, and are camped out in Le Fleur's Bluff State Park, with a water view of the Pearl River. It is a tiny gem of a campground, but subject to frequent flooding. It is named for a French Canadian trader who established a trading post here on the old Natchez Trace; it would eventually become the city of Jackson.









This was an unusual sunset scene that Suzanne caught during our after-dinner walk with the puppies looking for squirrels... there were lots around, and Rudy and Gretchen are in Squirrel Heaven!















This was the picture of our campground and state park on our GPS when we took a short drive into town. The Pearl River has several ox-bow lakes and ponds that are created when a river meanders and leaves its old channel.











Speaking of our GPS, we had a little glitch with the one in the coach the other day. The young girl who lives inside the GPS, Jill, had been set on “Verbose” for providing directions on distance to turn, which roads to follow, etc. She was getting to be too much, with “In two miles…, in half a mile…, in 600 feet…, in 300 feet…, in 100 feet…, now turn right onto Highway 182, etc.” So My Lovely Bride, never one to let another female distract me for very long, decided to put Jill on “Minimal”. We proceeded along our route, and as we were driving through town, I was watching the heavy traffic very carefully, waiting for Jill to give me a warning about when to turn. As we were entering an intersection at 25 mph, this smarty-pants female voice announces, “Turn Now!” with a very definite “nah-nah-nah-nah-nah” tone. There was no way I could brake and turn that fast, so we had to go around the block and find a suitable place to U-turn our 62 foot rig. I looked at Suzanne and said, “I guess Jill told us…” Okay, Jill’s now back to being her normal self, “Verbose…” (I guess I was pretty dumb to try to have any woman tune down her directions... Ooops... Smack!)


 
 

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