Saturday, January 31, 2015

At Gate C15

This Seahawks mania is really getting out of hand.

More mosaic

It's really quite amazing.

Looking up in a narrow arcade:

The great central dome:

The vestibule:

At the Cathedral Basilica of St Louis

This place is gargantuan, colossal, amazing, and enormous.

It's one of those places where the tour guides tend to focus on statistics--how many feet, how much marble, many pipes in the organ, etc.

The mosaics are simply astonishing.

According to the tour guide, the baldacchino was an afterthought. Sounds highly unlikely to me. Anyway, the architect of the building wanted the commission but the Archbishop wanted to give the commission to someone else. So the architect submitted three designs under three different names. His designs came in first, second, and third place. So he got to design the baldacchino after all.

At the Arch

The Arch is 650 feet high. The Arch was completed 50 years ago. Those who wish can ride to the top of the Arch. That's about all there is to say about the Arch.

At the Old Cathedral

The old Cathedral of St Louis was the first cathedral west of the Mississippi. The parish was established in 1770 (!). It is at the foot of the Arch.

At the Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows

I have been getting weekly mailings from Belleville, IL for years, offering me rosaries in various colors, small statuettes, and perpetual enrollments in this and that. I thought I should stop and see the place since this may be my only opportunity.

The church was built in 1990.


An Oblate cross was lying on the altar.

Another interior view.

The amphitheater. I think it would look better with about 5,000 pilgrims.

Friday, January 30, 2015

At Lovers' Leap

This viewpoint over Hannibal and the Mississippi is known as "Lovers' Leap." Supposedly the daughter of an Indian chief fell in love with the son of another Indian chief. Their tribes were at war and came in hot pursuit. The lovers fled to the top of the bluff....

...when they realized it was hopeless they flung themselves from this very spot.

There's even an authentic portrait of the two lovers:

More from Hannibal

It is definitely off season in Hannibal. I was the only one to visit Becky Thatcher's house all day. At the Twain Museum, they were getting ready for a trivia tournament tonight. I guess this is what the locals do when all the tourists go home.

This miniature was the way Mark Twain first saw his wife. 

It's such a cute little ghost town.

The Tom and Huck statue:


Quick trip to Hannibal

Brush Creek is just a few miles from Hannibal, where Mark Twain grew up. The town is now full of Mark Twain sites, shops and hotels named after Mark Twain, and allusions to books by Mark Twain.

Huck Finn's cabin:

In Mark Sawyer's bedroom. No wait, Tom Twain.

The boyhood home is on the right:

Someone left a bucket of whitewash and paintbrushes by the fence. "You TOM!"

Each year a Hannibal boy and girl are named the official Tom and Becky and have their portrait taken in costume.

Brush Creek, MO

After Quincy I headed to Brush Creek, Missouri, where Father Tolton was born. It has not changed at all since his time. I drove five miles on an unpaved road to get there.

The church is on the national register of historic places.

Behind the church are two cemeteries--one for the slaves, one for everyone else.

The slave cemetery:

Fallen monuments on the other side of the cemetery, where the slave owners were buried:

In Quincy

Father Tolton wanted to be buried in Quincy. There is an imposing monument over his grave. These days, the cemetery is surrounded by busy streets and shops.

At Quincy University

This has been a busy day. I started at Quincy University, a sleepy Franciscan college in the sleepy town of Quincy. Father Tolton studied here at one time.

They have a really good archive of materials about him.

It's a homey little archive. They offer you coffee while you explore the materials. 

After visiting the archives I stopped in the college chapel which is surprisingly grand. It was designed by a Franciscan brother who had no formal training as an architect. 

Thursday, January 29, 2015


I had a chance to check in with M, T, and H.

Separate ways

M had to go home early because of her class tomorrow morning. I, meanwhile, headed to Quincy, Illinois to visit the archives at Quincy University, an almost 5-hour drive. At the time we planned the trip, this seemed like a good idea. 

I stopped at a rest stop, not sure where, but the map proves it was definitely somewhere.

Halfway along, I visited Lincoln, Illinois. The courthouse is quite grand. I drove along tree-lined street with many large Victorian homes greatly in need of paint.

The main attraction in Lincoln is a roadside attraction originally created for the old Route 66 days. It is the world's largest covered wagon with a medium-sized Abraham Lincoln sitting atop it.

I was there.

The Fire

One of the things we have always been interested in is the Great Fire of 1871. The museum has an impressive diorama of the city on fire.

How it all began:

A blackened doll, found amidst the rubble:

The spirit of Chicago. Notice her phoenix-rising-from-the-ashes crown and her "I will" breastplate.