We're Wingin' It travel blog

Our last night from Dr. E. A. Babler Memorial State Park, near Chesterfield, Missouri, 30 miles west of St. Louis.

I have to confess.....seems I do that quite often. These past two weeks have given me a dramatically different opinion of the city of St. Louis.

Prior to our arrival here, my first three thoughts about St. Louis were (1) the "neighborhood" into which Chevy Chase drove in the movie "Vacation" & the "welcoming committee" who assisted him as he asked for directions, (2) the Arch, & (3) the sports teams, particularly the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team.

After taking several days to see various sites in & around St. Louis, I am ready to publicly say here that St. Louis is a very enjoyable city, one in which we have continually felt safe & impressed by the multitude of things to see & do!!!!!! I now realize that we should have more strongly considered the 300-mile trip to get here from Nashville in past years.

Friday night after posting the previous two entries from the free wi-fi port at St. Louis (aka Panera in other cities) Bread Company, we jumped over to the local Chili's Bar & Grill for dinner.

Chili's has been our favorite restaurant for several years, but we were discussing as we sat there that they seem to have changed their menu quite significantly, dropping most of our favorite dishes without adding much of anything that looked interesting. We had noticed that several months ago, but I suppose that we had forgotten in the several months that we have been outside of their territories. Oh well, their burgers are still some of the best around.

We had plans to visit with some new friends in town Saturday night, so we enjoyed the day, the weather & the crowd here at the campground during the day. The day was gorgeous weather-wise, the park was filled to capacity. We did have a bit of excitement though during the early afternoon.

While sitting outside, I heard the distant sound of a siren, seeming to be approaching closer & closer. As I listened, I suddenly realized that I was also hearing the strain of a fire engine motor straining to accelerate up the steep hill that leads into the campground from the main road of the park.

It only took a moment for it to round the corner & come into sight, with siren still sounding & its lights still flashing. It turned down the side-road just before getting to our site. We had seen the night before that several of the sites there were occupied by a Cub Scout group.

The fire engine stopped at the second campsite. A quick look revealed no sense of panic. In a few moments we were told by a lady returning from there that one of the adult male Scout leaders had swung on a hanging vine, it broke, he fell, causing a severe break of his ankle to the extent that the bone was almost protruding through the skin.

An ambulance also arrived soon after the fire engine. The EMT's secured his leg & ankle sufficiently to enable bringing him out of the woods & then hauled him off to the hospital.

We overheard one of the EMT's comment that the Scouts had earned their First Aid merit badge for helping to keep the victim calm & comforted until the EMT's arrived. I suppose a good slant can be applied to any situation.

We enjoyed spending time with Don & Brenda & some other friends that they were hosting for the evening. Thanks for your hospitality!!!!!! Time did slip away from us a bit, which combined with the drive back to the park caused it to be fairly late for these two bodies that have not experienced very many late nights out the past few months.

Because the weather forecast was calling for cooler temperatures & rain today, we thought it wise to try to get our final four sightseeing stops in Sunday afternoon. The stops were to be (1) Lafayette Square, (2) the Old Courthouse, (3) Union Square & (4) the Cathedral Basilica.

Lafayette Square is another of the many residential areas that have their own personality, whether based on a certain ethnic history, an architectural emphasis or other theme. This 30-acre area is themed based on the Victorian architecture of its buildings, most of which are single-family & multi-family housing.

The stately 1870's & 1880's "painted ladies" that frame Lafayette Park in the center of the area have been called the largest & finest collection of Victorian architecture in the country. The area has also won the title of one of the "Prettiest Painted Places" in America.

Vicki commented that the area was remindful of what we had seen in the Savannah, Georgia & Charleston, South Carolina areas.

We then went to the Old Courthouse in the downtown area. It is visible in the photos that I posted a few entries ago after our visit to the top of the Arch.

This courthouse's most famous claim to fame is that it was the site of hearing the Dred Scott case. In case your memory has failed you as mine had, the Dred Scott case involved a Negro slave who sued in 1849 to be freed from his owner. The initial trial ended in a favorable ruling in his favor, based on prevalent law of the time that held that once an owner had taken a slave into a state (in this case Illinois & Minnesota) in which slavery was illegal, then the slave was forever emancipated.

In the Scott case, his master was an Army officer who was consecutively assigned to posts in Illinois, Minnesota & Missouri. We could not find why he did not activate his freedom while in Illinois & Minnesota. However, sometime after his return to Missouri, he attempted to utilize the prevalent law.

I'll go out on a limb here & speculate that both his failure to pursue his freedom while in Illinois & Minnesota & his attempt to do so after returning to Missouri were due to the lack of legal assistance & then the presence of same......but that is pure speculation on my part!!!!

Anyway, the original court decision was appealed through the various higher courts until it was ultimately decided against Scott at the U. S. Supreme Court.

The Courthouse, now operated as a facility of the National Park Service, serves as a museum for the Scott case & related issues, as well as a museum of early St. Louis. By the time that we had made it through the Scott exhibits, we were each sensing the mutual fatigue interfering with our enjoyment of continued sightseeing.

The agreement to abort the rest of the day's planned activities, grab an early dinner-out, & return to the bus was obvious. We agreed that we would come back through here on some future trip to spend additional days.

After we got back to the bus, we did do something that we rarely do. A small group of young adults had camped on the site next to us several nights ago. When they left the next morning, I noticed that they had pulled a fallen tree trunk about 20-feet long from the woods onto their campsite.

Park maintenance came-in a few days later to cut the tree into sections for firewood. I confiscated the wood, hoping to have an occasion before we left in which we felt like having a fire. And so it was, we burnt about a fifth of the available wood, enjoying a nice fire.

Today's weather has held true to the forecast. It has been a day in which the temperature has continued to decline from the overnight's low & the misty rain has been falling off & on. We have not left the campground, spending all of the day enjoying the little things of life, one of which was the view out the front windshield into the woods.

Fall is definitely here; the leaves are falling, some of them are turning colors, the rain making the remaining greenery especially vibrant.

We pull out of here tomorrow, still not totally sure of where we are going other than making a stop at the Laundromat in one of the communities a few miles up the road. It has now been almost a full month since we last did laundry, so the cleans are getting down to slim-pickings.

We had thought that we were going to go down to Trail of Tears State Park near Cape Girardeau, in the boothill of Missouri, 120 miles from here, with a stop at historic St. Genevieve while enroute to tour the community. We are now thinking that we might go ahead & stop at Hawn State Park near St. Genevieve for a few days.

Part of our uncertainty about the next several days is due to the lack of clarity about what will be available in the Missouri state parks. At October 31, they transition to their off-season status. I need to get clarification as to whether (1) we can get a site, & (2) whether water services will be available. Our back-up plan is to move over into Kentucky; their parks appear to not shut-down as much as the Missouri parks.

If these temperatures don't reverse soon, we just might be heading down to Florida or some other warm location!!!!

I'll let you know where we land.

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