Saturday, July 24, 2010

Hong Kong Sunset

It doesn't hurt to have an oldie once and a while. We have lots of nice photos that were taken before we began blogging.

This photo was taken from my hotel room window while on a business trip to China in 1994. We were checking out business opportunities at the invitation of a local Hong Kong property developer. We travelled from Hong Kong to the People's Republic of China and drove around the Guangdong Province for several days. I was glad to get back to Hong Kong.

At the time, Hong Kong was still a British Colony and had been for over 150 years. After all those years, it was still hard to find anyone who spoke English. I had a hard time ordering a Quarter Pounder at a McDonalds in the heart of Hong Kong. It was a great trip and ultimately lead to another visit to China in 2000. Sigrid was with me on that trip. We sure have stories to tell.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Arrow Rock, MO - July 11, 2010

Edel joined Sigrid and I on another exploration trip to a small town last weekend. This time, we went east and stayed in Missouri. Our target was Arrow Rock, MO.....population about 50. Arrow Rock is just about 90 minutes east from Kansas City on I-70 (10 mile north of I-70). As you read on, you will understand why we went.
Much of what we learned surprised me and really fit into our other trips to Wamego and Dodge City on our Colorado trip last month. Lots of historical pieces are starting to fit together for me and I like it. If you don't like history, maybe you ought to skip this post.

Where do I begin? I guess I have to go all the way back to the French and Spanish explorers. The French explored and mapped this part of Missouri back in the 1700's and claimed a huge part of the Midwest as their territory. The Spaniards were there as well but don't really figure into this story.
The French were primarily interested in furs and minerals at the time. When Napoleon ran short of money to finance his European exploits in 1803, he decided to sell his "Louisiana Territory" to President Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson paid the huge sum of $15 million and doubled the size of the United States. The purchase included all or part of 12 or 13 states west of the Mississippi River from the Gulf of Mexico to the Canadian border and west to Colorado (about 15 cents per acre as I recall).
Jefferson was itching to know what he had bought so he sent Lewis & Clark on a mission to explore and map the purchased land and to find a route to the Pacific Ocean. This happened between 1804 and 1806. Along the way, Lewis & Clark noted many places that would make good sites for military forts and cities. Arrow Rock was one of them. Arrow Rock's origins are tied to the Santa Fe Trail and Daniel Boone's Family (Kit Carson's family is in there as well but that would be too much information for this post).
The Trail started in Franklin, MO which was just across the Missouri River from Arrow Rock. Arrow Rock started as a ferry station for those travelling west who needed to get across the river. William Becknell lead the first commercial run over what would be named the Santa Fe Trail in 1821. Becknell started in Franklin and passed through Arrow Rock. Once established, the Santa Fe Trail (now largely followed by U.S. 24 highway in MO) opened the flood gates to the west. Thousands of settlers passed through Arrow Rock, bought supplies and made the city very wealthy.
Being located on the Missouri River, the town was also a shipping point for goods going back east. Hemp (used for rope) was grown in Missouri and was a major money crop that was shipped from the town. Arrow Rock grew to over 1,000 in population at it's height. All this lasted until after the Civil War and the completion of the transcontinental railway. The railroad didn't go through Arrow Rock and the town faded away. The 50 or so current residents own businesses that cater to tourists in Arrow Rock. The stone marker below was placed in 1909 to mark the Santa Fe Trail.

Here are some of the information displays which give more of the history of Arrow Rock. You can click on the photo to enlarge it for easier reading. By the way, Arrow Rock is named after the large limestone and flint bluff that it sits on overlooking the Missouri River. The Indians who lived in this area used the flint from this bluff to make their arrow heads and spear points.

I discovered all kinds of things that were interesting as we looked around town. I found out what a "Lick" is and now know about the Missouri salt industry and the part that the Boone family played in it. I have enough text in this posting so if you are curious....Google "Boone's Lick" and find out for yourself.

The entrance to the Arrow Rock Historic Site and Museum (the whole city is a historical site).

Edel and Sigrid

The museum is excellent!

A four poster bed bought in Philadelphia in 1833 by an Arrow Rock resident. They went to Philly to purchase it. By the way, Arrow Rock was originally named Philadelphia.

A Wooten Patent Rotary Desk from 1870. It was used in the office of a grain mill company.

Dr. John Sappington's medical kit (1850). The Dr. was famous for discovering the benefit of using quinine to treat malaria.

A militia officer's coat (c 1820-1860)

The Calaboose - a one room jail. It is said that there was only one person to ever get locked up here and he made so much noise that they just let him go. Arrow Rock was a pretty wild town in the day.

The IOOF Lodge Hall and Printshop (1868).

A nice old house. I failed to get information on it. George Caleb Bingham grew up in Arrow Rock before he moved to Independence, MO and finally Kansas City. One of the houses was his but I will have to go back to see it. Bingham was a famous western artist who has helped document the lives and times of the early Missouri settlers. Interestingly enough, we ran into George Sibley again here in Arrow Rock. We last saw his name as a surveyor of the Santa Fe Trail out in western Kansas on our Colorado trip. He was also commandant of Fort Osage in Sibley, MO before coming to Arrow Rock. George really got around in his day.

The Saline County Herald Office (1934). Notice the county name.....salt.

Hand laid stone from the city's earliest days. The gutters were constructed by slave labor.

The Main Street Boardwalk.

The Arrow Rock Tavern. It is now a Bed & Breakfast, restaurant, and souvenir shop. Built in 1834, the building is an example of the Federalist-style of architecture that is common in Arrow Rock.

An 1830 log cabin.

The only remaining Masonic Lodge of the original four in the city. This one from 1881 was for African Americans. There was a large population of African Americans in Arrow Rock.........all slaves before the Civil War. They provided the labor on the farms and the loading docks on the river.

Dr. William Price's house (1833). He was an associate of Dr. Sappington's in the production and sales of the quinine pills.

The Miller-Bradford House (1839).

Nice house......owner unknown.

The gunsmith's store.

Arrow Rock Station. One of several Bed & Breakfasts in town.

We had lunch at the Station. It was great.

After lunch, we went to the theatre. The Lyceum puts on several shows each summer with professional performers. We saw Red, White, & Tuna........a two actor show about a July 4th school reunion in the town of Tuna, Texas. The two actors portray 24 different characters during the show requiring many, many costume changes. It was hilarious. I was worried before lunch on a rainy Sunday morning that nobody would be in the theatre besides us. There were only two cars in town. After lunch, people started flooding into town and by showtime, they filled most of the 408 seats in the theatre. What a shock.

I couldn't believe how big the theatre was once we got inside.

As I prepared this post, I realized that we missed a number of things on our trip. That was poor preplanning on my part and I underestimated Arrow Rock completely. I thought it would be a one hour drive through with a couple of photos. I was so wrong. The trip has left me with a desire to go back and do it right. We are also now interested in seeing some of the other cities along the Missouri River.
Little did I know that we would be spending so much time this year following and learning about the Oregon and Santa Fe Trails. Our emergency trip to Boise (see post) followed the Oregon Trail through Nebraska, Wyoming, and Idaho (which isn't far from Oregon). Our trip to Colorado followed the Santa Fe Trail through Kansas. I always thought of Independence, MO as the start of the three Trails (California, Oregon, and Santa Fe). It turns out that this is where they split up and went their separate ways, but it wasn't the beginning. It is probably fair to say that Franklin was at the head of all the trails. We have to go to Franklin....and that is just the beginning.
Missouri is just crawling with history and interesting places to visit. Sigrid's German heritage requires us to go to Steinmetz, Petersburg, Rhineland, Herman, and even Frankenstein, MO. Holy cow! So much to see and learn and so little time.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Mom & Babies Relaxing - July 9, 2010

Mother deer and her babies took a break in our backyard. I had the same challenges here as in the turkey photos with triple pane windows plus looking into the sun (tons of glare). I don't get many opportunities for this kind of photo so I had to take what I could get. Again, if I opened the window or went outside, all I would see is white tail.

New Zoo Carousel - June 9, 2010

Edel invited Sigrid and me to join her at a dedication party to celebrate the new carousel at the Kansas City Zoo. The carousel was a special project for Ruth Lewellen while she was alive. Ruth was the wife of Bob Lewellen, a former City Councilman and Mayoral Candidate. Bob and his family were all in attendance to host the party. Edel and her late husband, Pete, were good friends with the Lewellen's.

The Lewellen family at one time had a number of Pizza Hut restaurants in KC and still operate two restaurants. The food at the party was catered by their restaurant and was delicious. It was a little different having dinner with all kinds of exotic animals making their evening sounds not far away.

Edel enjoyed the evening. The weather was great with moderate temperatures and low humidity.

The Carousel.

Nobody got a bigger kick out of the carousel than Sigrid.

Lewellen family members pose by the memorial plaque.

Edel always finds a concrete animal to ride (see Hawaii posts).

Another very nice evening.