Friday, March 23, 2012

Soaking up the sun

Lionel and I have been taking full advantage of the the unseasonably beautiful weather and the record high temperatures (it's been in the 80s here all week!) to get out and enjoy the great outdoors.  Here are a few pictures from some of our recent hikes, unfortunately all taken on my cell, so the quality isn't that great:

Horseshoe Falls

Flat Fork Creek

Horseshoe Falls

Caesar Creek Lake

Caesar Creek Lake

On our most recent hike out to Flat Fork Creek and Horseshoe Falls, we encountered a couple of snakes, which we later discovered were blue racer snakes.  And after 6 years together I managed to learn something else I didn't know about my husband, he is terrified of snakes!  His reaction to the snakes was somewhat akin to my reaction when I find a bug crawling anywhere near me in the house (I literally shriek and jump on the nearest couch/chair/table)!  He was so freaked out after we saw the second snake that he kept begging me to go back to the car and leave, but I finally managed to convince him to continue on to the falls before heading back, with me leading the way of course in case we saw another snake on the trail!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

St. Louis

Lionel and I decided to take a little break from our miserable lives and start exploring the United States since that was one of our goals in moving here.  Since we are currently not in the best situation we wanted to do something that wouldn't be too expensive, go somewhere we could easily drive to, I wanted to see a city I hadn't been to, and do something that we could do in three days so we could still get in a decent amount of hours at work.  After a bit of deliberation we decided on St. Louis, Missouri which is about a 6 hour drive.

We were very happy with our choice and found St. Louis to be a very nice and interesting city, though this little trip made me just want to jump in the car and continue west, driving all the way to the Pacific and then back to Ohio.  Alas, it was impossible as we had to be at work on Thursday.

We did make the most of our days in St. Louis though and spent hours walking around and exploring downtown, visiting the Gateway Arch and the Museum of Westward Expansion, relaxing in Laclede's Landing, visiting Union Station, discovering the outdoor sculpture museum in Citygarden, visiting the Missouri State Botanical Gardens and checking out Cahokia Mounds, the location of a native American city and a UNESCO World Heritage Site across the Mississippi River from St. Louis, in Illinois.

For those in the United States I recommend a visit to this beautiful and historic city.  But for now, here are some of our pictures from St. Louis:

Lionel and I in St. Louis with the city behind us

Lionel under the Gateway Arch

the Old Courthouse where the Dred Scott case was held and the Arch

a historic building we both liked nestled in between more modern buildings

a sculpture in Citygarden with the civil courthouse in the background.  the sculpture is by Igor Mitoraj, a polish sculptor and his work (in fact an exact duplicate of this statue) can also be found in the main square of Krakow, Poland.  I recognized it right away from seeing it in Poland and had to google it to find out more info.

Union Station, once the world's largest train station, now houses a hotel, shops, restaurants, a museum and an outdoor section with a pond

the pond at Union Station

a beautiful old church in downtown St. Louis

the Gateway Arch

view of downtown St. Louis from the top of the Arch

Lionel and I in the top of the Arch

St. Louis from the gardens next to the Arch

the Arch

Laclede's Landing, a cute little area, and the second oldest district in St. Louis, located on the Mississippi River and full of restaurants and bars.

inside the rainforest dome in the Missouri State Botanical Gardens

view from the top of Monk's Mound, the tallest (100 feet high) Indian mound at Cahokia Mounds, Illinois, once the location of the largest Pre-Columbian city North of Mexico.  You can see St. Louis from the top

on the way home we took a different, and just slightly longer, route because we found the drive there through the center of Indiana and Illinois to be very flat and boring.  the route home took us through part of Kentucky and this is a view of Louisville, Kentucky from across the Ohio River in Indiana.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Caesar Creek State Park

Lionel and I have been taking advantage of the unseasonably warm and beautiful weather recently to do some hiking out at Caesar Creek State Park which is only about 20 minutes away.  I can't believe how nice the weather's been and we are lucky to have a place nearby to really be able to enjoy it.  That is something I really missed living in Paris, having nature easily accessible, not overly crowded and close (without having to fight through huge weekend Parisian traffic jams to get there!)  We plan to go back again soon and do one of the longer trails around the lake.

Here are a few pics of the hike we went on on Monday in the Caesar Creek gorge.  I wish the pictures were better, but unfortunately I only had my cell with me again.