Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Atchison Kansas - 10/20/2018

Sigrid and I joined our photography club, Digital Dimensions and Beyond Photography Club, on a field trip to Atchison, Kansas on Saturday, October 20, 2018.

The main goal of the trip was to photograph the bridge over the Missouri River at night while it is illuminated.  However, there are lots of grand old homes and historic sites in the city so we arrived early to have good light.  It was also a wonderful fall day full of colors as you will see in the photos. It was a 90 minute drive from our home in a southeastern suburb of Kansas City.

Atchison is a city and county seat of Atchison County, Kansas, United States, and situated along the Missouri River. As of the 2010 census, its population was 11,021.  The city is named in honor of David Rice Atchison, United States senator from Missouri, and was the original eastern terminus of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway. Atchison was the birthplace of aviator Amelia Earhart, and the Amelia Earhart Festival is held annually in July. Atchison is also home of Benedictine College, a Catholic liberal-arts college.  The city was founded in 1854.

The photo below is of Amelia Earhart's birth home.

The trees were beautiful throughout the city.  It seems like the trees all along the Missouri River have a special beauty this time of year.

One of many fine old homes on the high bluffs above the river on 3rd, 4th, and 5th Streets.

It is close to Halloween and if you look closely, you can see a skeleton peeking in the second floor window.

The following photos were taken in the St Benedick's Catholic Church on the Benedictine campus.

A view of the college campus.

Atchison has a nice River Walk park area that includes a War Memorial tribute.

The Missouri River.

This is the bridge we will photo later in the evening.

And, finally, the night shot of the bridge.

We had about 12 members of the club join the field trips.  Between the daytime photos and the evening bridge shot, the group had a nice dinner at a downtown Atchison Italian restaurant.  It was a perfect day all around.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Johnny Morris' Wonders of Wildlife Aquarium

Sigrid and I toured the Wonders of Wildlife National Museum & Aquarium on September 24, 2018.  Johnny Morris, founder of the Bass Pro Shops, built one of the premier aquariums in American as a part of his massive Bass Pro Shop complex in Springfield, MO.

The Springfield store is the Flagship store and largest in his national chain.  If you have ever visited one of his stores, you know that he has an aquarium in each one along with wildlife dioramas and stuffed animals all over the place.  The original Wonders of Wildlife opened in 2001and was about 92,000 square feet of display area.  The current museum opened in September 2017 and now boasts over 350,000 square feet with an addition 80 million having been invested.  The new aquarium has 1.5 million gallons of water and 35,000 fish, reptiles, amphibians, birds, and other mammals.  It's big.

It took us 3 hours just to walk through the aquarium part of the museum.  The path through the aquarium is about 1.3 miles so wear your walking shoes if you plan to visit.  We skipped the other part of the museum with the stuffed animals because we were hungry and out of time.

The good news is that the complex has a really good buffet called Hemingway's.  We ate there about 20 years ago and enjoyed it then.  We are glad to report that it is still very good.  Johnny Morris is like Walt Disney in that he does a top notch job on all this properties.  The bad news is that the restaurant is on the opposite end of the complex from the aquarium which means about a quarter of a mile walk and then another quarter mile back to our parked car.  So, we walked at least 2 miles during our three hours...not bad for young folks and those used to walking which is not me.  I burned off most of the buffet calories before getting back to the car.

Johnny Morris has a number of other properties in the Branson/Springfield area that you might want to tour or take advantage of if visiting the Missouri Ozarks.

The Big Cedar Lodge is a great place for a meeting, wedding, or just a vacation stay.  It is right on the shores of Table Rock Lake and is beautiful.  Boat rentals for fishing or lake cruising are available as well as horseback riding and many other activities.

The Top of the Rock golf course is one of the nicest in the country and has been a host to pro tour tournaments.  It also has a small museum of natural history, shopping, wedding chapel, and restaurants.  It has a spectacular view of the Ozark mountains and lakes.

Finally, Dogwood Canyon is a place of natural beauty that is well worth the time to visit.  The canyon is filled with flowers and flowering trees in the spring and wonderful fall colors.  You can take a tram ride through the canyon and see the deer, buffalo, and elk in the park.  They feed the animals so you can get an up close and personal experience while on the tram.  You can also rent a bicycle or Segway or just hike on foot to explore the canyon with it's lakes and large waterfalls.  You can also fish for trout if you like.  There will be a separate post for Dogwood Canyon coming soon.

Taking photos in the aquarium was challenging because the fish rarely stop swimming and the lighting is very low.  Curved glass on some aquarium walls distorts the fish if they are not in front of you.  I also have to admit that the water in some of the tanks was a little murky on a Monday morning.  You can tell how much I enjoyed the visit based on the number of photos taken.

This is the convention area of the complex.

This guy stands guard in the tank at the entrance to the aquarium.

A Sperm Whale being attacked by a giant octopus hangs from the ceiling near the entrance.

As you enter the aquarium, you move into a room surrounded by huge fish tanks .

Nurse shark and friends.

I don't know the names of all the fish but I sure enjoyed seeing them.

Displays like this use man-made replicas of fish which are extremely well done.  I only realized that they were not taxidermy products after reading more about the displays.

After going through some smaller rooms, all of a sudden you enter a very large area complete with a humpback whale and her calf, a fishing boat, and another large aquarium tank.

Just below the whale on the ceiling, sits a gigantic round tank that stood about 30 feet high.

This is more than just an aquarium.  They also have historical exhibits covering sport fishing.

This is a replica of Ernest Hemingway's fishing boat named Pilar.  I am sure that Johnny Morris would have gotten the real thing if it wasn't residing in a museum in Cuba.

Another huge round tank with a simulated ship wreck inside.

A diver was in the ship wreck tank possible doing maintenance or feeding fish or just part of the display.

Kids got a chance to pet a small alligator here.

Yes, they have snakes too.  Pythons and several other native 

This tank is set up with a diving cage and sharks.  For a substantial amount of extra money, you can dive with a master diver while in the cage and get up close and personal with the sharks.  They have a type of bell helmet that you wear to provide air while underwater.  No diving certification required.

A great white (fake).

No aquarium would be complete without piranhas.

These tiny jelly fish were about the size of my thumb nail.

Sigrid would just be an appetizer for this big boy.

A very pregnant sea horse guy.  They have the mating thing backwards.  The female deposits the eggs in the male's pouch and he carries the young until birth.

We were pretty hungry by the time we got to this tank so I was having bad thoughts about his legs.

 A Moray Eel .

We hope this post entices you to visit the aquarium.  It is guaranteed to be a memorable event and well worth your time.