Gateway Arch National Park

Gateway Arch National Park

What a great day at the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri. My 2nd urban National Park this month. I started the morning with a riverboat tour on the Mississippi river.

Then I watched “Monument to the Dream” documenting the construction of the Gateway Arch from design to fabrication. – WOW!! As a retired project manager, I held my breath through most of the film. It was quite a spectacular feat of engineering almost 60 years ago! This is a must see documentary, especially for all my project management friends.

Monument to the Dream

I capped off the day with a tram ride to the top of the arch! I met a couple from Livingston, TX that actually live there. Most of us RVers just use Livingston as a mailing address. I went up joined them for the tram ride. It was the coolest thing ever!

Worth Noting: As of February 22nd, 2018, this National Park’s name officially changed to Gateway Arch National Park; previously called the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial. The Gateway Arch was built as a memorial to President Thomas Jefferson, who championed the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 and sent Lewis & Clark on their great expedition westward.

Hot Springs National Park

Quapaw Baths

I was surprised to see that Hot Springs National Park (HSNP) in Arkansas was a row of nine bath houses right in the middle of town. There was more to it than that of course.

The bath houses were all rebuilt after a great fire in 1878 rapidly changed from a rough frontier town to an elegant spa city.

47 hot springs emerge from Hot Springs Mountain at an average temperature 143° Fahrenheit. The hot springs produce about 650,000 gallons of water per day. That’s enough to fill one olympic sized pool a day. The water coming out of Hot Springs today fell as rain nearly 4,500 years ago the same time the pyramids of Egypt were being built!

Worth Noting: Two different tour guides claimed that HSNP was the 2nd oldest National Park. However, further investigation did not bear that out. Google revealed that HSNP was perhaps the 15th (with two parks listed as 2nd – one decommissioned) NPS.GOV listed it 3rd behind the National Mall and the White House in DC. The website for HSNP states: On April 20, 1832, President Andrew Jackson signed legislation to set aside “…four sections of land including said (hot) springs, reserved for the future disposal of the United States (which) shall not be entered, located, or appropriated, for any other purpose whatsoever.” This makes Hot Springs National Park the oldest national park among current National Park units, predating Yellowstone National Park by forty years.

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

LBJ Wildflower Center

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is a signature piece of her environmental legacy. Originally opened on land in East Austin, the Center moved to its current site on a transition zone between the Edwards Plateau and Texas Blackland Prairies ecoregion. It was delightful to walk through the gardens and enjoy all the wild flowers.

I also enjoyed the architecture and statues.

My hope for what lies ahead in the field of landscape design … is not a revolution against the use of non-natives, but a resolution to educate ourselves about what has worked for Mother Nature through the ebb and flow of time and to put that knowledge to work in the planned landscapes that are everywhere a part of our lives.” – Lady Bird Johnson

Texas Sandfest Results

The artistic talent and creativity was amazing. Here are some of my favorites (non winners) from the festival. I’m hoping the wind and the rain doesn’t erode them all too quickly.

And the winners are…

Texas Sandfest – In Progress

Texas Sandfest 2023

What began as a small local competition in 1997 has grown into an internationally recognized three-day family event that draws renowned sand sculptors and tens of thousands of visitors from around the world each year to Port Aransas.

Check in tomorrow for the completed art!

Yarn Bombing and Bollard Buddies in Port A

One of the fun things about wintering in Port Aransas TX is admiring the Bollard Buddies down on the beach. Maybe next time I’m down there I will submit one of my own.

Last weekend the buddies said goodbye. It was time to shake out the sand, have a bath, get repaired and take a rest. They are already looking forward to seeing everyone after Christmas.

Here are a few of my favorites.

Laurel Mississippi

Laurel, MS

One of my favorite HG TV show is Home Town set in Laurel Mississippi. I decided to pay the town a visit. It didn’t disappoint. I got to see Ben’s Workshop and his famous Blue Truck. Unfortunately I did not get to see Ben or Erin. I also got to eat at one of the properties they renovated: the Bird Dog Cafe.

I really enjoyed that the arty feel of the town.

Museum of Death

Museum of Death – New Orleans, LA

My daughter recommended I visit the Museum of Death in New Orleans. It was definitely interesting, disturbing, and thought provoking. I viewed and learned about body bags, coffins, skulls, morticians, cannibalism and much more. Special displays include Manson family photos, crime morgue scene photos and more. There’s taxidermy, serial killer paraphernalia, and photos of beheadings. But there’s also a section explaining the logistics of embalming a corpse, and one that highlights the sensationalization of murder by the press.

Photos were not allowed inside, so you will have to visit yourself to see the macabre displays. You can also check out their Facebook page

Laurel Mississippi

Laurel Mississippi

Since I’ve been on the road, I have discovered HGTV. One show that I really love is Home Town set in Laurel Mississippi. I love the before and after aspect of the show, and I can live vicariously in a regular sized house. It was a short detour from Pensacola FL and New Orleans LA so I took a look.

The show follows Ben and Erin Napier who share a love of simple, Southern living and revitalizing historic properties in their hometown of Laurel. Erin’s keen sense of style and a background in graphic design guide the renovations, Ben’s building and woodworking skills preserve and celebrate the home’s history, and by using found materials and old textiles, they keep the character intact but create modern and affordable updates.


Christmas in the Park

Christmas in the Park – Lillian, AL

What a pleasant surprise to see that Lillian, Alabama, a small unincorporated community had such a great Christmas light display. It was a delight to walk around and enjoy the decorations.

FYI – The community was named for Lillian Kee, the daughter of William Thomas Kee, postmaster.