Eddyville, Kentucky

Good morning, my friends it's a misty morning here in Eddyville. It's been a while since we saw fog like this. This is what I see through the window as I write.

Backing up to East St. Louis, this was what we saw on our last evening there. The kitties were all about this. There were two rabbits, but one ran away too fast for me to capture him in my picture.

We spent our last morning resting up for the drive...just over 200 miles yesterday. Smitty likes this quilt.

Sadie was gathering the morning rays in her window hammock.

Heading out, I was happy to see this street named for our 44th president.

And we caught one more view of the arch as we drove out of town.

Heading on down the road, we soon came to one of these signs directing us to various kinds of fast foods. Now take a look at this:

Having just been to the Gateway Arch, the similarity in the shape suddenly became obvious. So...who copied whom? As it turns out, the Gateway Arch and the McDonald's logo came into being at approximately the same time in the early 60's. Inquiring of The Google, I learned that originally, real arches were part of the restaurant design. You've probably seen some of the original structures. They looked like this:

(Image credit: "File:GentillySpeedyMcDonalds.jpg" 
by Infrogmation of New Orleans is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.)

They were incorporated into the chain's logo in 1962, which resembled a stylized restaurant. In the current Golden Arches logo, introduced 1968, they resemble an "M" for "McDonald's." They are widely regarded to be one of the most recognizable logos in the world.

Now, I have one more thing to say about the "Golden Arches." And to quote Dave Barry, I swear I am not making this up. I read it in the book, Fast Food Nation, by Eric Schlosser. (Good book, by the way.) Some people have speculated that the McDonald's Golden Arches resemble women's breasts. This was partially because of Louis Cheskin, a scientific researcher, clinical psychologist, and marketing innovator. Mr. Cheskin argued that the arches, which he likened to "mother McDonald's breasts" had "Freudian applications to the subconscious mind of the consumer and were great assets in marketing McDonald's food." And that concludes my TED Talk about the golden arches. Thank you for coming.

Moving on...it was another good day for barns.

It was interstate almost all the way yesterday. The road looked like this:

Except when it looked like this (sigh) : 

Along our way, we drove past Rend Lake. We'll be staying here on our way back west at another of the COE (Corps of Engineers) campgrounds. 

We passed through the town of Benton, Illinois. There's nothing particularly interesting about Benton except that in September 1963, Beatle George Harrison visited Benton while on vacation. It was the first time any member of the group visited American soil. He stayed at the home of his sister, Louise. The bungalow used to be the Hard Day's Nite Bed and Breakfast. During his trip he traveled from Benton to Fenton's Music Store in Mt. Vernon, IL to purchase a Rickenbacker 425 that later sold at auction for $657k. 

In August 2017, a 16-foot-tall (4.9 m) commemorative mural of George Harrison was created and donated by California artist John Cerney. Cerney caught word of Harrison's memorable visit to the town on a Sirius radio program, which inspired Cerney's creation. The "highway art" can be found facing southbound traffic along Interstate 57, the road we were traveling.

We also passed through the city of Metropolis, Illinois. In his various portrayals, Superman resides in a fictional American city named Metropolis, and on June 9, 1972, the Illinois State Legislature passed Resolution 572, declaring Metropolis the "Hometown of Superman." The city has a 15-foot-tall (4.6 m) painted bronze statue of Superman which sits in front of the county courthouse

(Image credit: "Metropolis, Illinois - 25' Statue of Superman" 
by kthypryn is licensed under CC BY 2.0.)

A statue of Noel Neill's Lois Lane from The Adventures of Superman stands just a few blocks away.

(Image credit: "La statue de Noel Niell" by Geoffrey Bonnefoy is licensed under CC BY 2.0.)

Metropolis also happens to be the birth place of actor John Malkovich.

Also of interest was the town of Mt. Vernon, Illinois.

Mt. Vernon was founded in 1817 by Zadok Casey, who was elected to the State Senate in 1822 and was elected lieutenant governor in 1833.He served in the U.S. Congress between 1833 and 1843.The town was named for George Washington's plantation, Mount Vernon, which was named for Edward Vernon, a British naval hero. 

Mt. Vernon has a lot of interesting history, but the part I wanted to tell you about was this: On February 19, 1888, a tornado cut a path a half mile wide through Mt. Vernon, killing 37 people and destroying more than 450 houses. The Jefferson County Courthouse was destroyed. This event was one of the first disasters to which the American Red Cross responded. Clara Barton herself directed the relief efforts.

(Image credit: "Clara Barton" by exit78 is marked with Public Domain Mark 1.0.)

So all those little towns kept me busy reading up on their history and notable people. We were nearly to our final destination when we crossed the state line into Kentucky. The Ohio River divides the two states. We could see the bridge up ahead...

Here we go...up and over.

The river is wide here.

And then...ta-da! Heellllllllooooooo, Kentucky!

And just across the state line, we passed through Paducah.

And I barely caught this sign directing us to the National Quilt Museum. Paducah, we're going to be spending a lot of time with you.

When I planned this trip, everything in Paducah was already booked. We're actually staying about 30 miles down the road in Eddyville, Kentucky. We crossed over the Ohio River again as we made our way farther east.

The river is not so wide here.

Eventually, we reached our campground for the next four nights (three now). Taking a look at this, I was pretty sure Smitty was going to like it here. There are other campers here, but we practically have the place to ourselves. There's also a water park, but this is their off season, and the water park is closed.

Of course, the first order of business was to add Kentucky to the side of the RV. Here's the before.

Here's the after. I know...such a gas.

Of the lower 48, only Kansas remains, and don't you worry, Kansas. We're coming for you in a couple of weeks. I amused myself because I wrote a blog post way back in September of 2014...nearly 10 years ago. I included this picture of the map as it stood at the time:

After I added the last state for that trip, I said this: "There's a big hole right in the middle of our map. Kansas, your turn is coming. Of course there are all of those other states too, but Kansas seems to stick out more than the others." And, what can I say, Kansas? We saved the best for last. Except for the truly last...Alaska. Alaska, your turn will be next year.

And shortly thereafter, I got Himself out for a walk.

He sampled this Kattucky grass and found it to his liking.

Growing around our campsite, I captured these tiny little wildflowers. My phone tells me this is 

So here we are. The quilt show starts today. We have one-day tickets, but we'll wait and go tomorrow. We have tickets for the museum on Friday. And that leaves us with a free day for today. We're going to do our grocery shopping, and Mike wants to do some maintenance on the RV. It'll be good to hang out and rest our feet for the quilt show tomorrow. You might want to do the same. I expect we'll be doing a lot of walking and standing while we're there. I'm hoping they'll let me take pictures, and of course, I'll share if I can.

It's a pretty day, and the mist has burned off. It's time to get going. It's been a few days since I've had time for slow-stitching. I'm looking forward to getting a little more done on that today.


Gateway Arch National Park

Good morning, my friends. What a fabulous day we had yesterday! Sit back, and I'll tell you all about it. There were a couple of different ways to get to the national park from where we're staying. After studying the different ways, we decided to use the shuttle provided by the RV park. They already had some folks going over at 10:00 a.m., and so we decided to go along with them. 

Our boat tour would board at 1:15 p.m. In the meantime, we could kill time seeing the arch and the museum, and then getting some lunch. 

It was as exciting to see the Gateway Arch as it was seeing the Statue of Liberty for the first time. We wasted no time taking the obligatory selfie. #ihateselfies

How many different angles do you think I can find for pictures of the Arch?

Turning directly around, we could see the Old Courthouse. It was closed for renovation, and so we didn't go in. The famous Dred Scott case was heard here. 

The Arch was only part of the draw here. The park and surrounding grounds are lovely. Here's a map. Many of the signs were faded out by the sun, and they were a little hard to read. I'm hoping you'll be able to get a sense of the place.

We didn't see many blooming things, but as we started our walk, I noticed these magnolia blossoms still in bud. None were open that I could see.

Here's another angle.

And another. It's hard not to look up and to be inspired to take another photo.

Here's one with Mike for scale.

Okay, so let's just go for a little walk. We started out walking north. There are ponds on both the north and south sides.

We strolled along this lovely tree-lined walkway.

Rounding the bend and moving closer to the Mississippi River. Looking left, it looked like this:

Looking right, it looked like this:

There it is again.

This sign discusses how the grounds were designed to incorporate the shape.

Historically, St. Louis was considered the gateway to the west. It was an important port city along the Mississippi River.

All kinds of "cargo" passed through here.

On the river, we could see where the riverboats were docked, and that's where we'll board our boat in a little while.

Looking back, this is the St. Louis skyline.

The museum was wonderful. We had to pass through airport-style security, although Mike noted we didn't have to remove our shoes. St. Louis was founded by French fur traders. Here's a little about the Chouteau family.

In 1849, the city was nearly destroyed by fire.

We saw this in the museum. I did a little sleuthing about the "Cross of Lorraine" and learned that it is a symbol of hope and faith in victory. It is one of the most popular French emblems. You can read more about it right here.

This caught my eye because I thought it resembled the middle flag flying near the river. Now, I realize it isn't the Lorraine cross at all. Rather, it is the fleur de lis. You can read more about that flag at the link I've given you.

It turns out to be a religious symbol and a religious flag. And walking just a little way further, we noticed the Old Cathedral. It was the first church built west of the Mississippi.

Here is the dedication plaque for the Gateway Arch.

Inside the museum, this map of rivers and trails covered the foyer. The yellow circle represents the City of St. Louis.

The city sits at the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers...just one more reason it was such an important port city. The Missouri comes in from the right where I've indicated with a red line. The Mississippi River comes in from the north and flowing south where I've marked the green line.

And you might remember our trip from last year when we visited the Three Forks area of Montana. In the image below, I've cropped out and marked the "three forks" area where the Madison, Gallatin, and Jefferson Rivers come together, and then flow into the Missouri.

Here's a picture I took as we stood there:

Inside the museum, this screen was playing a loop of video that purported to take us on a tour of St. Louis as it looked in 1797.

Beside it was this model of a Creole House.

Stepping to the right side, it looked like this inside:

I tried to keep my shutter finger in check as we went through the museum. I couldn't resist this one of the buttons and beads. See how the design on that "roll" matches the designs of the buttons on either side? It was apparently cut cross-wise and then used to make buttons and beads. I couldn't find anything that explained it very well, but you can draw your own conclusions about it.

Some of the informational signs were helpful and interesting as they explained St. Louis's history and importance to westward expansion.

Yeah...and why doesn't this surprise me?

The sign accompanying this stagecoach mentioned that a letter can reach San Francisco from St. Louis in 24 hours nowadays. Back then, it took 25 days. The Butterfield Overland Mail (officially the Overland Mail Company) was a stagecoach service in the United States operating from 1858 to 1861. It carried passengers and U.S. Mail from two eastern termini, Memphis, Tennessee, and St. Louis, Missouri, to San Francisco, California.

I don't claim to have an understanding of this geometry (trigonometry?), but I'm posting the picture for any of you who can understand it.

This sign discusses the engineering and design. We sucked in our breath at the images of men high above ground constructing the arch. They weren't wearing helmets or safety harnesses of any kind. The Occupational Safety and Health Act wasn't passed until December 29, 1970, and it wasn't enacted until April 28, 1971. In its first half century, OSHA has helped transform America's workplaces in ways that have significantly reduced workplace fatalities, injuries, and illnesses. The Arch was built in the mid-60's, and so nobody cared about safety back then.

Several signs discussed the shape of the arch. If you suspend a chain from two points, it will make the same curve.

This is a miniature demonstration of the workings of the tram cars that carry passengers to the top.

Here's how the look close-up.

Going up didn't interest us, and so we skipped that part. Instead, we decided to take a riverboat cruise along the St. Louis waterfront. At 1:15 p.m., we boarded the Tom Sawyer for a one-hour tour.

As we sat waiting to cast off, I snapped this picture looking overhead from where I sat.

The tour was as much a tour of St. Louis's bridges as anything else. This structure is the Union Electric Company building. Wikipedia tells us that the company's first incarnation, the Union Company, was organized in 1902. Two years later, the renamed Union Electric Company built this 36 megawatt coal-fired plant to provide steam heat to downtown St. Louis. For years, the plant was the city's main source of electricity. It powered The Palace of Electricity's electric lights at the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis. The plant was converted to oil in 1972 and from oil to natural gas in 1996. Today, the plant functions as a district steam plant for the city of St. Louis.

It was hard to get good pictures of the bridges. For one thing, multiple bridges are hard to distinguish as separate structures in the two dimensions of photos. Here, the bridge in front is the Martin Luther King Bridge (formerly known as the Veterans Bridge). It is a cantilever truss bridge spanning about 4,000 feet (1,200 m) in total length across the river. Opened in 1951, the bridge serves as traffic relief connecting the concurrent freeways of Interstate 55, Interstate 64, and U.S. Route 40 with the downtown streets of St. Louis. It was renamed for King in 1968 after the national civil rights leader was assassinated that year.

Below is the Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge, known as the New Mississippi River Bridge until its formal naming in 2013. It is informally known as the "Stan Span." It was built between April 19, 2010, and July, 2013. It opened on February 9, 2014. The cable-stayed bridge has a main span of 1,500 feet (460 m).

Here's a different angle.

We have a similar bridge in Portland, Oregon. This is the Tillicum Crossing over the Willamette River in Oregon.

We watched as road salt was unloaded off a barge. It's always impressive to me how one small human can operate such a large piece of machinery.

My pictures are a little out of order here. This one was taken after we turned from south back to north and headed back to the dock. The bridge below is the MacArthur Bridge. It's a truss bridge originally called the "St. Louis Municipal Bridge." It was known popularly as the "Free Bridge" due to the original lack of tolls. Tolls were added for auto traffic beginning in 1932. In 1942, the bridge was renamed for Douglas MacArthur. 

The bridge was constructed to break the monopoly of the Terminal Railroad Association, that controlled two other bridges in St. Louis and charged what were viewed as unreasonable tolls. Upon completion, the structure was the largest double-deck steel bridge in the world. In 1981, the bridge was closed to vehicles because of pavement deterioration and the eastern ramp approaches were torn out. The bridge is now in use only by railroads. The unused vehicle deck has been removed.

This next image was taken as we headed south. It's the same bridge, but I wanted you to see how it extends on the Illinois side. The length of the bridge is over 18,000 feet all tolled. We're told that around 40 trains cross the bridge each day.

Here we watched as a grain crop was loaded onto a barge. You can see that the far end is deeper in the water. It was explained to us that barges are loaded from one end to the other. If they were loaded in the middle first, it would put too much stress (weight) on the hull and possibly crack it, causing the barge to sink.

This is the Eads Bridge. (Try to ignore the trusses from the MLK bridge in the background). The Eads Bridge was built in 1874, and so it celebrates its 150th birthday this year. The Eads Bridge is a combined road and railway bridge. It was named for its designer and builder, James Buchanan Eads. Work on the bridge began in 1867. It was the first bridge across the Mississippi south of the Missouri River. Earlier bridges were located north of the Missouri, where the Mississippi is smaller. None of the earlier bridges survive, which means that the Eads Bridge is also the oldest bridge on the river.

In that time, no improvements have been made. It has stood the test of time through regular maintenance only. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as a National Historic Landmark. As of April 2014, it carries about 8,100 vehicles daily, down 3,000 since the Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge opened in February 2014. A track was added under the bridge to accommodate St. Louis's light rail system, Metrolink. You can see a train crossing under in the image below.

The numbers on that support are to indicate the height limits for ships passing under the bridge. As the level of the river rises and falls, clearance under the bridge changes too.

Here are a couple of tugboats pushing barges along the river. Think about the catastrophe in Baltimore several weeks back. The bridge was hit by a load of 15 barges, and so you can imagine the weight and force that caused the bridge collapse.

Here's yet another picture of the arch, shining in the afternoon sun. It looks different from different angles at at different times of the day.

This is St. Louis's shipwreck. It's the USS Inaugural, a decommissioned World War II minesweeper. It served as a museum from1968-1993. Then, a storm caused it to break loose from its moorings, dragged it down river, and sank it. We were told there have been three unsuccessful attempts to raise it.

As we sidled up to the dock at the end of our tour, I took this picture of a similar boat. This one is the "Becky Thatcher."

While we waited for our shuttle driver, I noticed this gauge showing different flood stages of the river. There is a levee and seawall that protect the city up to 50 feet of flood stage. The higher marking here is from 1947. The lower marking was from 1993. 

Flooding during the winter, spring, and summer of 2019 caused at least 12 deaths and economic losses in 19 states totaling in excess of $20 billion. Estimated damages in the Midwestern United States alone had reached $12.5 billion by April 2019. Flood damages totaling $6.2 billion were reported in the 11 states bordering the Mississippi River. In addition to property and crop losses and infrastructure damages, commercial navigation on the Mississippi River was interrupted repeatedly by high currents, low bridge clearances, and closed locks. This delayed shipments of agricultural commodities, adding to the economic stress of crop losses caused by flooding. As of late April 2019, shipments of corn to export terminals in Louisiana were 31% lower than in same period in 2018.

Also, I took a picture of the Mississippi River while I stood here and engaged in some "citizen scientist" texting with some unknown texter at the other end of the line.

Helicopter tours were available. They lasted about 10 minutes by our observation, and they were very expensive.

We also sat and watched as this Cinderella-style carriage passed by.

As we rode back to the RV park, we passed by Busch Stadium, home of St. Louis's beloved Cardinal baseball team. 

And you know it was a banner day because I found a shot glass.

And a refrigerator magnet.

Have you been keeping count? These are all the magnets I've collected on this trip so far.

I crossed out those ones in the upper left. They live in the RV all the time. They were acquired on other trips.

Okay, so that was our trip to St. Louis. It was even better than expected. Don't be deterred by naysayers who tell you the Gateway Arch is overrated. It is well worth a visit if you've never seen it before. Another bucket list item checked off.

Today we'll head to Eddyville, Kentucky. It will be another new state for the side of the RV. We'll have four days in Eddyville while we attend the quilt show in Paducah. We also have tickets to see the museum. I've wanted to attend the Paducah quilt show since I learned to quilt in 2008, and I'm pretty excited for this opportunity. 

And with that, I'll leave you to your day. It's time to get rolling.