Sunday, October 31, 2010

Taking the Tuberculosis Cure

Guess where we went to lunch today?

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Lemp Mansion! One of the most haunted spots in America! On Halloween! This was actually the first time I'd been inside the building, because I've never been able to decide which haunted tour to do first, the Lemp Experience with Supernatural Investigations, or Night at the Lemp Mansion with American Hauntings (the AGS group we do the Alton tours with). Ultimately I decided to do a "cold" visit first.

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And "cold" it was! When we were eating lunch, my left foot and ankle were FROZEN. I kept leaning over to look at the table cloth to see if it was moving from a draft. I intentionally didn't refresh myself on any of the Lemp stories or people's experiences beforehand, so I don't know if this is a typical story. I have a Halloween party starting in an hour, so if you want to check out some of the stories, this link will open Google search results in a new window.

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So let's talk about the food. On Sundays they do a family-style meal, which means they bring all this food to your table and refill your dishes as much as you want for $17 per person. Their fried chicken is to die for. In fact, everything was just about the best I've ever had, but I would particularly recommend the chicken, green beans, mashed potatoes and gravy, mac and cheese, and the cheesecake. This is why we said we were taking the tuberculosis cure, because back in the day they thought the cure was plenty of rich food and fresh air.

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The fresh air part was, of course, geocaching. My friend Lisa told me that the Lemp cache had a "Hi Beth!" note in it. Is this for me? I don't know, but I'm pretending it is.

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I wish I had time for more pictures, but I have to run! Rest assured, there will be more trips to Lemp Mansion in the future!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Return to the Great River Road

We had an awesome day on the IL-side on Saturday! It was our annual Alton ghost hunting night, but first we drove up to Grafton. We were early for our meet up, so what did we do first?

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Geocache, of course! It wasn't easy to get a signal, but we found this cache within 1000 feet of the Fin Inn. I love the geocaching because there is no way you would ever just stumble upon this bridge if you weren't told to look for it. Finding new stuff is what I like best!

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The Fin Inn was our main destination in Grafton. Their claim to fame is that every stone in the building was laid by the original owner, James Seib, using local limestone and river rock. The picture above is only about half the restaurant!

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Plus, almost all of the booths in the restaurant have a window into big aquariums. The aquariums contain fish native to the Mississippi river, plus 4 species of turtles.

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I'd heard mixed reviews of the food in advance of our visit. Here's the thing, this is one of those restaurants where you go for the atmosphere, like Lamberts Cafe. Your dinner salad is going to be iceberg lettuce from a bag, and a fair portion of your appetizers and entrees are going to be fried or broiled. This is homestyle food, and they are good at what they do.

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We got the Eagles Nest Onion to start, and I had the 8ox Pond Catfish Fritters and Francis and Amy got the Country Fried Steak. I will never pass up an opportunity for catfish fritters, but I have to say, I was a little jealous of the country fried steak. The gravy on my mashed potatoes was probably the best milk gravy I've ever had.

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Time to head south to Alton for ghost hunting with Alton Hauntings. This is the same tour we did last year (and many years before that), with a few minor changes this year. Unfortunately, the book store owner retired and the book store closed, so now the tours depart from the Alton Visitor's Center (across the street from the casino and Con Agra). That changes the route a little bit.

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We stopped at Lincoln-Douglas Square for the first time, instead of across the street. Apparently you can get away with a lot of things in Alton, but putting your arm around Lincoln is not one of them. Do this and risk arrest.

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Also new to us was the tour guide, Sandy. We've always ghost hunted with Len or Luke in the past, but Sandy has lots of experience with AGS and is a great storyteller. As per usual, I have a blackout policy on posting Alton Hauntings stories, but you can check out pictures from the tour in last year's post. I WILL say that one of our greatest skeptics was maybe tapped by a ghost in the tunnel under the former Enos Sanitarium. WHOOO SPOOKY!

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Black cat in a haunted apartment building. This person must have a real sense of humor.

Check the Alton Hauntings website for tour details. The Halloween season is sold out this year, but they will be starting up tours again in the spring, including bus tours that go out to the haunted Hop Hollow Road!

Stay tuned, CC&G posse, I think I have something pretty amazing cooking for my Halloween post this year! Keep your fingers crossed!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Geocaching!

After many weekends in a row of running from one thing to another, I needed a weekend to chill out. All that really means is that I didn't have any blog activities scheduled. Instead, Francis and I did some spontaneous geocaching in Forest Park and Carondolet Park.

For those unfamiliar, Geocaching is hunting for treasure (ok, caches) using a GPS device. People hide caches, usually something like a Tupperware container, and then upload the coordinates and details of the cache to the website. In the container is a log book, at the very least, and usually a few other items. The rule is that if you take something out, you must add something of equal value. I think one of my blog readers will recognize the cache below!

UPDATE: We had read up on geocaching before we did this, so I had an idea of what a letterbox is. I posted the picture because I knew rozebud would get a kick out of it. I was remiss in not specifying the difference between a traditional cache and a letterbox in this post. If you come across one like this you should NOT remove/trade anything.

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Years ago I heard about this geocaching thing and always wanted to try it, but you needed a handheld GPS device, as well as a computer. Now that we have smartphones, you can download an app and use your phone as the GPS device. This means you can be having a beer at the Boathouse in Forest Park and say, "Hey, let's see if there are any caches around here." Which is exactly what we did.

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I'm trying to keep the pictures fairly general (and experienced St Louis geocachers may notice I've shuffled the pictures) because I don't want to kill any fun. This one (above) is funny, though. It's in a really tricky location, and we we sure we were in the right spot but couldn't find it. One of the comments mentioned bringing a flashlight, so I just started taking pictures of the spot we couldn't get to with my camera. Sure enough, we'd found it!

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Most of the spots in St Louis parks tend to be in wooded areas, so I would not recommend bringing a dog that can't be off-leash (not that I advocate breaking leash laws), because they will get hung up on everything. But if you have a well trained and obedient dog like Phoenix here, this is a great activity for them, too. She had a great time and was totally worn out when we got home.

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The best part about geocaching is that it's a worldwide activity! Anyone reading this probably has a geocache nearby right now, and all you need to find it is a GPS device and internet access. We had so much fun this weekend that we are working on a CC&G cache right now. I'm still looking into the finer points of the rules, but what I would LIKE to do is put a disposable camera into the box so that we can do a group participation blog post. Stay tuned for details!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Hannibal, Round 2

Last weekend we went back to Hannibal, one of my favorite small towns in Missouri. We did a lot of the same stuff Keith and I did last year (here and here), but we also found some new stuff.

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First and foremost, remember the Haunted House on Hill Street? It has a wax museum and haunted house inside, and it is FOR SALE! I'm not ready to live the dream yet, but you can, for only $89,900. Seriously, it comes with the wax figures and everything.

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Next stop, the Tom Sawyer Diorama, which is a series of 16 dioramas in the back room of a shop on Main Street. This was my first stop in here, and they are really neat! Everything in every diorama was hand carved by Art Sieving.

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From the results I'm getting on Google, it seems like a lot of different businesses have been in the front half of the building. If anyone knows who takes care of the exhibit or how it is passed along, I would be very interested to hear.

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Next stop: Big River Train Town Museum! If you ever had a model train set when you were a kid and dreamed of turning it into one of those elaborate dioramas, this is the place for you. Their setup is incredible.

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Before we leave Train Town, some ACTION CAAAAAAAAM! This is the shorter video. You can see a longer one that features almost all of the main trains on my YouTube channel.



Last stop, Lover's Leap. We were scouting for Hannibal Cannibal, the 10K road race Keith wants all of us to do next July. 10K doesn't sound like much, but I've seen pictures from past races of "Puke Here" signs, and that hill up to Lover's Leap is killer. It seems like your car will barely make it.

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The view from up here is amazing! And there are picnic tables if you want to have a picnic in this romantic-slash-tragic spot.

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So there you have it. Next year: Hannibal Cannibal. Maybe.