Home, Home Again

Cape bridge full moon 01-25-2013When we were getting close to Cape, I told Friend Jan, “The Cape bridge is really pretty at night. You might want to be ready to shoot a photo when we get closer.”

She started waving her cellphone around, making little squeals of what I hope were pleasure.

I had already called Mother to tell her we were about home and asking her if she wanted us to pick up anything from Hamburger Express. She did.

I had just made the right turn at River Campus to go work my way down William when Jan hollered “STOP!! Turn around! Look at the moon!”

She used up a whole day’s worth of exclamation points in 12 seconds.

So, minutes after entering Missouri, we were exiting Missouri, to go back into Illinois to go back to Missouri. You can see how this has been a long trip.

Day started off with ice

Jan Norris scrapes ice off car in Louisville Ky 01-25-2013

We spent too much time sightseeing on Thursday (pictures to come) to make it all the way from Athens, Ohio, to Cape in one shot, so we stopped on the west side of Louisville. The weather report didn’t look good, so I wanted to be on the west side of town so we wouldn’t hit morning rush hour and snow at the same time.

When I went to load the car, my head and feet almost swapped places. The whole parking lot was a shiny sheet of ice. I’ve never seen an ice sheen that perfectly smooth. The whole car was coated, too. It was time to give Jan a new experience: ice removal.

I handed her a can of spray deicer and a scraper and told her to have at it.

She handled that spray can like a well-trained riot cop with Mace.

“You need a smaller car”

Jan Norris scrapes ice off car in Louisville Ky 01-25-2013When it came time for the scraping, she said, “You need a smaller car. I can’t reach all the way to the middle.”

“No, I need a taller passenger.”

That’s when I came clean: “The deicer speeds the process up, but the car’s defroster would have had the windshield warm enough for the wipers to slide the ice off,” I explained.

I should have waited until she put the can of deicer down before I broke that news.

SEMO Plans to Erase Landmark

River Campus 10-20-2008 First handball court west of the Mississippi RiverThere were a number of things that let me know I was getting close to home: going down that last hill at Thebes Gap, catching the first glimpse of the Mississippi River as it curved around Gray’s Point, spotting the Common Pleas Courthouse and the dome of Academic Hall poking above the trees… Once we made the white-knuckle passage across the Traffic Bridge, I’d look off to the left, not to see St. Vincent’s College, but to spy the strange brick structure on its lawn. I didn’t know exactly what it was, but it was a sign that I was home.

When I researched a piece on the 5th anniversary of the River Campus, I discovered a report filed with the National Register of Historic Places saying the court was constructed in 1843 and was supposed to have been the first handball court west of the Mississippi River.

James Baughn reads the fine print

Aerial photos of Southeast Missouri State University River Campus areaThe December 16 Missourian ran a routine story about the SEMO regents approving 96,000 square feet of new construction at the River Campus. There was an aerial photo overlay, but I’m sure most readers didn’t look at it closely. I’m guilty as charged.

Missourian webmaster James Baughn, who does one of three must-read blogs in the paper, is one of those detail kind of guys who notices things. He discovered that the new construction will erase one of the oldest structures in Cape Girardeau, one built by Joseph Lansman. Who is he? Thanks to Baughn’s research, we find that he was the guy who was probably responsible for SEMO being in Cape in the first place.

Baughn notes “[Louis] Houck was able to work his magic to steer the newly formed Board of Regents toward Cape, but Lansman helped seal the deal. He agreed to donate land he owned at the site of Fort B, the old Civil War fortification on a hilltop north of town, well away from the mosquito-laden swamps. During a crucial meeting at the St. Charles Hotel (built by Lansman), the regents made the final selection of Lansman’s site for the new college.”

SEMO, which touts one of the few undergraduate historic preservation programs in the country, assures us that they will incorporate a “select” number of bricks from the handball court into the facade of the new River Campus building. If they were in Philadelphia, they’d probably scrap The Liberty Bell and incorporate the clapper as a door knocker. I mean, why hang on to that old thing? Nobody’s going to ring it with that crack in it.

Holy Crapola! I’ve been ripped off

Southeast Missouri State University River Campus areaI followed a link on Baugn’s blog to a SEMO publication that details the constuction project. Guess what they have on the first two pages? This copyrighted aerial photo showing the River Campus I shot November 6, 2010. I can’t wait to make some phone calls tomorrow morning to SEMO and the Lawrence Group to talk about appropriating photographs for commercial use without compensation. (As always, you can click on the photos to make them larger.)

Frame Two of my purloined photo shows clearly that they are targeting the lawn and handball court area that gives the site its quiet beauty, second only to the trees area and terraces overlooking the river. (They’ll go next and SEMO will sell “preservation toothpicks” made of the trees.) It would appear to me that there is plenty of space occupied by parking lots that would be perfect for the expansion. Put two floors of parking under the new buildings and you could leave the lawns and terraces alone.

Thanks, Mr. Baughn, for the heads-up.

Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge

We were hitting East Cape just past sunset on the way back from Kentucky Lake. I couldn’t resist shooting some photos of the Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge as we approached it.

No, I wasn’t looking through the viewfinder instead of driving. I was resting my camera-holding hand on the top of the steering wheel and blindly pressing the button. Exposure and focus were done by the camera, for the most part, although the last thing I shot before this was set to underexpose 1.3 stops.That was probably a lucky thing because a normal exposure would have been too light.

If you like the photo, I’ll take credit for picking the best frames out of about 60 shots.

Bridge photo gallery

Click on any picture to make it larger, then click on the left or right side of the image to move through the gallery. The distant shot is blurry because the camera was set to a slow 200 ISO for a previous shoot in bright sunlight. When I noticed the exposure sounded like it was about two seconds long, I pulled off to the side of the road and told the camera to shift to a more sensitive “film” setting when the shutter speed fell below 1/30 second. The shot above was 1/30 of a second at an ISO of 1100.

Perfect River Night

I made a run downtown, but the place I needed to go was closed, so I took a stroll down to the riverfront. It was a perfect night. There was a guy sitting near the Broadway entrance to the floodwall playing a guitar. Next to him was a buddy with a huge boxer on a leash. He started to move him out of my way, but the dog was wagging his tail and I motioned him to stay put.

There’s something about the river at night that brings out the friendlies. It’s like the setting breaks down the barriers we erect when we’re walking down Main Street. Everyone who came by smiled and made a nice comment about the weather or the river. The temps were in the low 70s or high 60, with almost no wind.

The photo was kind of dull until these two young women walked down to the water’s edge to take photos with their cell phones. (It would have been better if they had strayed off to the left just a tad more. That would have made a nice triangle of them, the bridge and the bollard.)

I started to thank them for adding visual interest to my photo, but they didn’t speak much English (or they were faking it to get rid of the guy they thought was hitting on them). When I showed them their photo on the display of my camera, they nodded and understood.

Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge

I mentioned that we were on a pecan mission the other day. I knew of a couple of nice pecan trees right near the old Mississippi River traffic bridge overlook on the River Campus, so I pulled in to see they had dropped any nuts. Either they had been all picked up or my car headlights didn’t spotlight them, so I came up dry.

I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to shoot a four-frame panorama of the Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge. Like always, you can click on the photos to make them larger.