Category Archives: TOURIST TREKKING

A Journal Of My Travels Around The Wicket City


The other day I was walking through Forest Park when I noticed a swamp!Swamp

Now I knew that Forest Park’s 1,371 acres contained three museums, a zoo, a couple of golf courses, playing fields, a forest  and a multitude of lakes, streams, ponds, fountains, waterfalls, cascades and a Grand Basin, but I had never heard about a swamp. Well, unlike California, because of all the rain we’ve been having we have more water laying around than the ground can suck up. The swamp was formed by the rain that fell on the verdant hilly golf course you see in the background of the photo. While I didn’t see any gators in the swamp, I wouldn’t get too close.


DSC00190  The day started off by first being cool … having great Saint Louis blue skies with floating puffy white clouds. And I decided to get out and seize the great day while I was able. I decided to start with a walk in the park which I captured with my pocket camera.DSC00166

The main entrance to Forest Park is the JEFFERSON MEMORIAL dedicated to our third president who had the foresight to buy the Louisiana Territory from France. The memorial is also the home of the Missouri History Museum. Notice that the Museum is also celebrating the 250th anniversary of the founding of the city of Saint Louis. They have a great exhibit celebrating the anniversary running through next February, but I didn’t want to waste the day inside a museum. So I went around the museum and into the park.

But first I had to walk around the TROLLY.DSC00168

No, this is not the trolly that Judy Garland rode on in Meet Me In Saint Louis. This is the trolly you will be able to ride on later next year, when it travels from the Museum to the entertainment center of the historic DELMAR LOOP in University City.DSC00167

Once inside the park, I discovered another SAINT LOUIS 250 Birthday Cake.DSC00169

There’s 249 more of them scattered around the metropolitan area. But I wasn’t looking for cakes, so I continued my journey into the park along the Grand Esplanade.DSC00171

You know, the park has something to interest almost everyone …DSC00172

Bikers and runners …


Lovers of forests …DSC00175And waterways …


Wild flowers …DSC00177


And cultivated gardens …DSC00179


And even potted plants!DSC00180

And ducks …DSC00182

And duck families!

And that brings us to the second reason for my walk in the Park.Boathouse


The Boathouse is located on Post Dispatch Lake in the heart of the park. If you’re athletically inclined you can rent a paddle boat and wear yourself out exploring the waterways in the park. The Boathouse is also a damn fine restaurant and that was why I was there.  I was meeting a half dozen people I used to work with for an ungodly amount of years for one of our regular lunch get-togethers.DSC00184

Naturally, we opted to dine outside to enjoy the view and the fantastic day. The conversation was great! Ditto the food! And it was a totally enjoyable day!


February 14, 2014 was the 250th anniversary of the founding of the city of Saint Louis! And the city will be celebrating for an entire year! To kick off the celebration 250 birthday cakes were decorated by local artists and distributed at various locations around the city. I’ve discovered a few of them so far …DSC09169

In front of the Art Museum at the top of Art Hill overlooking the Grand Basin.



Behind the Missouri Historical Museum.

DSC09291  The Missouri History Museum is also doing a special 250 Exposition Exhibit featuring …





In front of Rigazzi’s Restaurant on the Hill.*

(And I used to work with the lady who decorated this cake many years ago!)

Now all I have to do is find the other 247 birthday cakes in the next year.

*Photo courtesy Bob Mahon


DSCF0327Cass Gilbert’s Palace Of Fine Art has been a treasure of Saint Louis since it open at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition of 1904 … more commonly known as the Saint Louis World’s Fair. After the fair closed and the fairgrounds were restored to their original condition, the Saint Louis Art Museum which had been established in 1879 and housed in downtown Saint Louis moved to the Romanesque building in the park where it has been a popular attraction for residents and visitors for over 100-years. The inscription carved on the front of the building might have been the reason for this.


Even though the building has three floors and contains 75 galleries a lot of the museum’s collection has been in storage for years and gone unseen by the public. To correct this problem, an addition to the original building had long been planned and three years ago ground was broken for this building. Last weekend the new East Building with 21-galleries was opened to the public. And I was there!DSCF0332

And all I had to do to get a near front row position was to arrive by 9:00 in the morning.DSCF0329

To be honest, my bus arrived at the entrance to the park at 9:00. To walk into the park and climb Art Hill took me fifteen minutes. So I actually arrived at the ceremony site at 9:15. But since everyone except VIPs and those with handicaps also had to walk up the hill, I beat most of them to the event site to be in position for the start of ceremonies.DSCF0333

Brent R. Benjamin – Museum Director, Francis Slay – Mayor City of St. Louis, Sir David Chipperfield – Architect and Jay Nixon – Governor of the State of Missouri.


Cutting the ribbon!

DSCF0345And the assembled crowd joined the cues to wait their turn to get inside and experience the new car smells of an art museum. When the new building was announced, the general consensus was that the design of the new building would over shadow the original Romanesque building. It’s amazing how it seems to blend into the natural setting around it.

It was also a wise move to dedicate the new building to modern and more current artwork.Add1



Original  And keep the classical art and artifacts in the original building.DSCF0353

The original building has seen a few changes and modifications to unite the two buildings.DSCF0354

Whatever your tastes in art, the museum at the top of Art Hill is a fantastic place to visit.


In Saint Louis,  CWE stands for CENTRAL WEST END which is a historic part of the city where the elite (people and pets) meet to eat, shop and just people watch on sunny weekend days. Here is photographic mosaic I shot on Saturday when I was out with a couple of friends. You can click on the little images to view a larger version and read my commentary.

Our Saturday matinée movie was STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS250px-STWhereNoMan

Tourists always welcome in Saint Louis. And it’s a great place for a budget vacation.


Well, after three days of racing against the arrival of yet another week of daily rain I finally wore my self out mowing too tall grass, weed whacking  invasive growths and reseeding the bare spots left by last years total drought. I don’t think we’re going to be worrying about that this year. And weather-wise, the weather wizards have removed the snow potential from the local forecasts … just rain from late today to next Wednesday.DSC06802

So now I’m able to post Part One of my visit to the Saint Louis Art Museum that I promised to you last week.DSC06798

The finishing touches are underway in the museum’s new addition scheduled to open at the end of June. In the original Cass Gilbert Palace Of Fine Art (1904) all the galleries have been repainted, spruced up and rehung with a lot of art that has been in storage for years.DSC06796

This year, I’ve decided to take a closeup shot  of each of the six sculptures that stand over the museum’s main entrance. Each one represents some aspect of art and culture.DSC06797

The first work on the east end of the building appears to represent historic art and culture. In his right hand he holds a mini-Sphinx and in his left a symbolic tool. Feel free to comment if you can identify it. As you can see, the pigeons have not been kind to the young man. (Did you know that if you click on the photo, you will get an enlarged image? Click in that image and you will get an extreme closeup of the image.)

The first thing you see when you enter the museum is the Sculpture Hall.DSC06773Gilbert based his design for the museum on the ancient Roman Baths of Caracalla. Or what historians imagine what it looked like.

BOC CaracallaPalladio

The side bays each feature a an oversize work of art …DSC06705

From modern to historic …DSC06708A 2000-year old Mayan carving about six-feet high.

Because I promised Becky C, I’m starting my tour in the new Modern Art galleries.DSC06732

Van Gogh


The center panel of Monet’s Water Lily Triptych


A smaller work by Seurat.

Notice how the richer paint tones on the walls accent the artwork.DSC06752




Sometimes when the artist worked in painting and sculpture, the curators have positioned the two styles together.DSC06767




Well, that ends the Art Trekking for today. Hope you enjoyed it!

To be continued …


If you’re visiting Saint Louis, be sure to add the Art Museum in Forest Park to your don’t miss list. It’s FREE to all, Tuesday through Sunday. Closed on Monday.


Forest Park is a great place to visit, and one of the highest spots in the park is a spot call ART HILL. It’s the spot where you’ll find this statue of Louis IX Saint and King of France.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And behind his statue, you’ll find the building that gives this hill its name. The Saint Louis Museum of Fine Art designed by renowned architect Cass Gilbert and built in 1904. Currently, a new expansion to the historic building is undergoing the final preparations for a grand opening in June of 2013. Many areas of the original building are being reconfigured for the expansion.Expansion


While I’ve often included many pictures of the building behind Louis’ statue, I’ve never really shown you the full view of what’s in front of the statue. Now with the aid of a panoramic camera, I’d like to show you the view of Art Hill and the City of Saint Louis that Louis IX sees.


If you click on the above photo, you’ll be able to see the enlarged panorama of Forest Park and the City Of Saint Louis on a sunny blue sky Saint Louis almost winter afternoon.   ENJOY!


 As promised, here is my Tourist Trek to the Saint Louis Municipal Theatre located on a hillside in Forest Park. It was established in 1917 which makes it not only the oldest, but also the largest outdoor theater in the US. The first production in 1917 was actually the opera AIDA …

and for many years it was known as the Municipal Opera. But grand opera doesn’t play there much these days and most of the local folk simply call it …

The Box-office and whatever you call a mural on the ground.

The theater seats 11,000 people for each performance. And the last nine rows or 1,500 seats are FREE SEATS that are given away on a first-come basis. I’ve spent a lot of summer evenings in the FREE SEATS.The stage is rather large, too. So the big production numbers really are BIG! The center of the stage is the world’s largest revolving stage, which allows for some pretty fast scene changes.

 The Muny season runs from June to August with six to eight musical productions each year that range from the latest Broadway hits to the sentimental favorites from the past. And while Saint Louis summers do occasionally get a little hot, the theater’s location in the tree-shaded park make it one of the cooler locations in town for an enjoyable summer evening … except when it rains.


 Since March 16, 2007, I have  been posting my various treks and explorations across the Wicket City on this and a previous journal. I called my called my local turf the Wicket City in both jest and tribute to that giant stainless steel arch that stands on our riverfront welcoming visitors to all our fair city has to offer. So naturally I was heartbroken last week when I heard the results of a 60 Minutes/Vanity Fair poll that listed our local focal point as the least impressive national monument in the country.

Now, personally, I have nothing against Vanity Fair, and I’ve never referred to it as the least impressive piece of printed snobbery. Likewise, I’ve never called 60 Minutes a convenient time-filler between sundry sports events and real Sunday night video programing. The Wicket City, the Arch and I will recover from our national slight, And to prove it, I’d like to share a video that also was released last week. Here is Saint Louis!


 Thankfully, there  are a lot of benches around the MOBOT grounds for  foot-weary visitor who have completed the 2.5 mile trek around the grounds viewing all 26 lantern creations. The break was also necessary because we’re still in the midst of summer days, and the MAGIC can’t start until the sun has set which in garden time is about 8 pm. Also those in the know didn’t start showing up until shortly before eight. We had decided we  weren’t going to repeat the entire  trek around the garden, and we were just going to revisit a few of our favorites we wanted to see illuminated. Don’t forget you can enlarge any picture by clicking on it.


It was a great presentation and I encourage all who can to visit it — it will run up until August 19. Dining from 5:30 – 8:00 in the Sassafras Cafe/Visiter’s Center and from 6:00 – 10:00 at the The Lantern Festival Food Court in the Linnean Plaza.



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