The photo above shows The Confluence, the point where the Missouri River – Big Muddy – converges with the Mississippi. It wouldn't be wrong to consider the little bush in the water on the left side of the photo to be the dividing point for the two rivers. We have been to Lake Itasca in Minnesota and the headwaters of the Mississippi and we have been to the river's delta in Louisiana. Now we have added Big Muddy to our Mississippi experience.
It was from the confluence that Lewis and Clark began their journey westward in May of 1804. But the courses of both rivers have shifted over the years, and at that time the confluence was some two miles from where the rivers meet today. The picture above is a panorama composed of seven shots stitched together. Make sure you click on the image to see it across your computer screen. Below is Linda looking out over the rivers.
While we were staying on tne Illinois side of the river, we visited Cahokia Mounds, the archaeological site for Cahokia, the largest city in pre-Columbian North America. In the 1200s Cahokia was larger than London with over 20,000 inhabitants. At its peak it had some 30,000 to 40,000 people, and it wasn't until 1780 when Philadelphia's population passed 40,000 that a city in the United States would be larger.
The Cahokia settlement began in the 8th century and lasted some 700 years until 1400s. The Mississipian culture did considerable farming, and it is speculated that the city dwindled away as the land became "farmed out" and less able to support the population. During the time it was a major population center there was considerable trading with tribes from as far north as the Great Lakes and as far south as the Gulf Coast.
The most unique feature of Cahokia was its mounds. They estimate there were more than 120 earthen mounds over the 6 square miles of the city. The mounds were of all sizes and several different shapes. The largest of these is a huge hummock known as Monks Mound, the largest prehistoric earthen mound in the Americas. It is 950 feet long, 835 feet wide, and 100 feet high with over 130 steps. All those steps seemed like a challenge, so I took it and went to the top. Was I surprised! Standing on top of Monks Mound I looked out and saw a dramatic view of the St. Louis skyline and Gateway Arch some ten miles away on the other side of the Mississippi.
One of the fun things about traveling is seeing the silly, strange, and unusual. In Alton, Illinois there is a statue to one Robert Wadlow, known as the tallest person in history. Wadlow died in 1940 at the age of 22. He was 8' 11" tall and weighed 440 pounds and never stopped growing.
Reading about Robert's life, you can't help but feel sorry for him. While his family worked at giving him a normal life, his size never let that happen. Even though he was a normal size at birth, he grew rapidly and was already taller than his dad at the age of eight. The statue of Robert is perfectly life-sized.
The bottle-shaped water tower was built in 1949 and was near demolition in the early 1990s when the Catsup Bottle Preservation Group – yes, the Catsup Bottle Preservation Group – began fundraising to save it. It was restored in 1995. Now the 170 feet tall catsup bottle has its own website, is visited by maybe tens per day, and has a place in the National Register of Historic Places.
The Sculpture Park
We visited the Laumeier Sculpture Park in St. Louis County. It was a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon. Laumeier is one of the largest sculpture gardens in the country, and it would take considerably longer than the few hours we gave it to see everything.
There were many interesting, enjoyable, and often whimsical pieces, from a giant eyeball to the incredibly realistic sculpture in the photo below.
Here are just a few of the pieces with their titles we saw while strolling the park.
This past Saturday we met up with April, Jeremy and the boys at the St. Louis Air Show. It was a gray and very chilly day, but we all braved it to watch all sorts of neat airplanes. In fact, it wasn't chilly, it was COLD! It was gray and sunless, and 50 degrees. Cold. The only saving grace was the lack of wind.
A week or so ago while visiting with the twins the boys became fascinated with a picture of our motor home that was on my iPad. So it became obvious that a visit was in order.
The other day Jack and Tom showed up to check out MeeMaw's bus. There were many things to see and inspect, including the refrigerator, the bathroom, and the bed. They even saw the table and the sofa move as Pop-Pop moved the slide in and out. But the main attraction of the day was sitting behind the steering wheel and driving the bus.