Tuesday, September 30, 2014

National Mall: Air and Space Museum Pt. 1

The National Mall in Washington DC is a perfect place to spend a day on the East Coast. Not only are you able to visit monuments dedicated to presidents, soldiers and other assorted American heroes, but you can also extend your favorite rude gesture toward Congress.

The Mall is also home to most of the Smithsonian Museums, many of which I was able to visit. The first place I sent for was the National Air and Space Museum because childhood dreams of airplanes and rockets needed to be realized.

Yeah, it starts kinda weird...
The museum is split in half, one side dedicated to the history of flight and the other to space. Walking in, you'll see all manner of airplanes suspended from the ceiling. They have everything from single engine airplanes to parts of massive passenger jets. It's a quick look at the history of avionics.

Even freedom delivery devices

The layout of the museum guides you through different eras of flight, from commercial plane to military.

As always, Disney manages to find its way into everything!

War planes throughout the ages are showcased. The above photo is taken in a replication of an American aircraft carrier and gives examples of many of the airplanes we've flung off ships at sea.

In 1911, Eugene Ely landed an airplane on the USS Pennsylvania, anchored in the San Francisco harbor. Only a few years after the first flight, and already we were marrying air and sea.

Not quite the Red Baron. A German Fokker airplane used in WWI. 

Not a replication. This is the original glider used by the Wright Brothers.

Entry into the museum is free, though the hours vary depending on the day. I would suggest you take at least half a day to appreciate this museum. 

Friday, September 26, 2014

STL250 Cakeway to the West, Part 13

Do you know what Part 13 means? I have found more than half of the cakes! Check out all the ones I have found so far on the STL250 Cake tab up top!

Ashley Street Power House/Riverfront Trail
Bonhomme Old Stone Church
Crown Candy Kitchen
Feasting Fox
Grand Avenue Water Tower
Historic Woods Fort
Old North St Louis
Shrine of St Joseph
Spirit of St Louis Airport
St Louis Post-Dispatch

Want to start cake hunting? You can find a map, printable pdf, and spreadsheet on stl250.org!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Tiny Family Graveyards - Conway, Sturdy, and Eddie

 Isn't it amazing that you can just stumble across the oldest graveyard in St Louis County by accident? If I hadn't driven up and down Conway Road about 10 times trying to find the Old Bonhomme Stone Church STL250 Cake, I never would have noticed that little marker at the entrance to a very narrow and pitted driveway leading up to a tiny cemetery with a one lone picnic table.

Conway Cemetery is the family graveyard of the Joseph Conway family, one of the founding families of the Chesterfield area. If you visit the Old Stone Church down the road, you will see his name as one of the founding members of the church. The Conway family moved from Kentucky to Missouri with Daniel Boone's family.

Interesting fact about Joseph Conway: He actually survived a scalping at age 14, and later was a sort of Indian prisoner of war. He went on to fight in the Revolutionary War and helped clear the Illinois territory of Native Americans so it could be opened for westward expansion. That's the kind of thing the DAR gives plaques for.

I've never been able to find the right words to explain why finding a tiny graveyard is like finding a treasure. I think it's because I'm such a history buff, and you just don't find new tiny graveyards. Finding something like this always leads to new knowledge about someone who may have been forgotten by many, but at the same time, the fact that it is still here means that someone knows about it and has protected it from surrounding development. When you stand here you know you are standing on what was once the Conway Farm, and you can't get the same feeling from graves that have been moved to a larger cemetery.

I also love the quiet solitude of a tiny cemetery in autumn. This sunbeam pointed out Dr Samuel and Elizabeth Smith, who were neighbors of the Conways. Ancestry buffs can read more on Rootsweb. Conway Cemetery is located on Conway Road in Chesterfield, MO. If you are driving from Bonhomme Presbyterian Church to the Old Bonhomme Stone Church, it is about 4/10 of a mile from the new church, on the right. You might have to make a couple passes. 

I happened to find a couple other family graveyards LAST autumn, and never did post them here. Next is Sturdy Cemetery, also known as Smith Sturdy Cemetery, in Crestwood, MO.

I did not have much luck finding out more about the Smith/Sturdy family. This is a small cemetery of only about 50 burials, surrounded by a subdivision. According to Find A Grave, there have been burials here as recent as 2012. 

Last on the tiny tour is Eddie Cemetery. This one is surrounded by chain link fence with no gate, but you can photograph 99% of it from one spot.

This one is also surrounded by a subdivision, and has just under 30 burials of the Eddie Family Sometimes I find these tiny cemeteries just by browsing Google maps, because there is so little information to be found online about their history. Eddie Cemetery is located at 11839 Eddie & Park Road.

Leave a comment if you know more about any of these cemeteries, or if you know of other tiny graveyards in the St Louis area!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Black Madonna Shrine & Grottos

The best part of STL250 Cakeway to the West, for me, is finally taking the time to visit and blog about some of the places I have been meaning to get to for years. Think about that the next time someone says this city is boring: I have been writing this blog for almost 7 years and still haven't run out of new things to talk about. I've been aware of the Black Madonna Shrine & Grottoes for as long as I can remember, but I had no idea what it's really about, or what to expect.

First of all, why is it called Black Madonna? Well, the answer is two-fold. A Black Madonna, in general, is a painting of the Virgin Mary that shows her with dark skin. Before the Renaissance, there were no pale, blond, blue-eyed depictions of Mary and Jesus. They lived in a hot climate and would have had olive or dark skin. THE Black Madonna, in the case of this Shrine, refers to the Black Madonna of Czestochowa, an icon that resides at Jasna Gora Monastery in Czestochowa, Poland. There she is known at Our Lady of Czestochowa, Queen of Peace and Mercy. You can see the Black Madonna of Czestochowa at the back of the shrine in the first photo, and a close-up above.

Why is there a Polish style Our Lady of Czestochowa Shrine in Eureka, Missouri of all places? Franciscan Brothers from Poland arrived here in 1927 to build a nursing home. The Shrine and Grottoes are the work of a single man, Brother Bronislaus Luszcz, one of those Polish Franciscans. He started the grottoes in 1937 and worked until he died, literally in the Our Lady of Perpetual Help Grotto, in 1960. When you look at all of this work as a whole, and know that it was the work of one person, it's pretty spectacular. I highly recommend visiting it to get the full scale of the place.

The grottoes are made from Missouri barite, a mineral that is also known as "tiff rock", that is commonly used today for drilling oil and gas wells. The sea shells and jewelry you see when you look closely at the grottoes were gifts from visitors or sent from foreign missions.


The Franciscan Brothers receive no monetary support from any parish or diocese to maintain this site.  There is much, much more to see beyond what I have shared here. I hope that you will visit to see it for yourself! Admission is free but donations are accepted. Please visit their website for driving directions and hours of operation.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Throwback Thursday Housekeeping!

Long time readers of the blog may have noticed that sometimes I bump old posts up to the top when we revisit places that need an update, or when I decide to update some gloriously amateurish photos from the early days. This week I got sucked into tidying up some old posts that don't necessarily need a do-over, but you may have missed them the first time around!

1. Jim the Wonder Dog Memorial Garden - President of Friends of Jim, Larry Arrowood, will be speaking at AKC Museum of the Dog in St Louis on November 2, 2014, as part of Jim the Wonder Dog Day! Featured breed is the Llewellyn Setter, of course.

2. Blackwater, MO and the Bucksnort Saloon - We have been meaning to get back to Blackwater for 2 years now and still haven't made it. Their pictures needed sprucing up, since I was apparently anti-editing back then.


3. Niki in the Garden - Special sculpture exhibit at Missouri Botanical Garden in 2008

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Baltimore's Star Spangled Spectacular

Today we have a guest post from Jennifer Bergantz, a very good friend of mine who lives in Baltimore. She wanted to share the Star Spangled Spectacular with you and I bumped her straight to the front of the queue when I saw the photos! ~Beth One of the highlights on living in a city with a harbor is watching the ships that visit.  So, when the city of Baltimore planned a huge celebration to mark the 200th anniversary of the Star Spangled Banner, I was all about seeing the ships that were visiting for this event!  Since I had a baby with me (and hence, a diaper bag), I could not go on any of the ships due to the security measures of the event, but I had a great experience walking the Inner Harbor and piers and photographing the magnificent ships.  Sadly, I was unable to visit the military ships from other countries (Germany, Poland, Turkey, and the UK) because they were in a secure shuttle location that was diaper-bag free.
For the Star Spangled Spectacular, among a huge amount of other things (concerts, Presidential visits, air shows, and more), Baltimore’s plan was to get tall ships from all over the world into the Harbor. Plenty of other types of ships docked in Baltimore to join the fun, too.

One of my highlights was seeing the Okeanos Explorer, a weather ship.   Check out that dome!

Of course, seeing tall ships in person can easily transport you back a few hundred years.  This beauty is the El Galeon Andalucia, a replica tall ship hailing from Spain.  Fun fact, this is the ship featured on the TV show Crossbones.

Another view of the El Galeon Andalucia behind the Harbor’s dragon paddle boats.

A parking lot of tall ships!  We showed up right as the US Coast Guard was settling into their spot in the Harbor (2nd ship down in this photo).

The US Coast Guard’s tall ship, the USCGC Eagle, was so large that I could not get a good angle for a photo of the entire ship!    Their Facebook page has some great photos.

Another great example of a tall ship, the Kalmar Nyckel, hails from Delaware.  It has its own Facebook site, if you want to see more details.  The wood work was beautiful and intricate.  

Even tall ships are easy to ignore once a robot shows up.  We’re all easily impressed by tech demos.

We visited on September 11th, so I stopped to take this photo of the American Flag flying in front of Baltimore’s World Trade Center.  It is also a great photo of the USS Constellation, a Baltimore harbor permanent resident.  She fires her cannons at noon every day which scares unsuspecting tourists and walkers.

Two US Navy ships: the USYP 705 and 707.  I think they were just there escorting the USNS Choctaw Country, but they were giving tours to the public as well.

This by far was the most impressive ship in the Harbor, the US Navy’s USNS Choctaw Country.  Docked in the Inner Harbor, it looked huge compared to everything else.   This ship is a high speed transport vehicle that can carry 600 tons of troops or equipment where they are needed.

Finally, the USCGC Taney, is another permanent resident of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.

Visiting Baltimore soon?  Come for the crab cakes, but dine on the Harbor so you can watch the ships!  Most of these ships will be leaving after a week, but there are plenty of permanent residents to visit.  We have another fun resident ship, Urban Pirates, a pirate ship that offers rides, dinner cruises, parties, and other revelry!