Road Warriorette Reactions

NN north of Bertrand 12-03-2015All of my road warriorettes display different reactions to my driving. Foodie Jan is prone to scream “We’re all going to die!!!!” at the least provocation. She’s also the one most likely to question my food and lodging choices.

Curator Jessica is so young she still thinks she’s immortal, so she takes my driving quietly.

You haven’t heard much about Warriorette Anne lately because she abandoned me for Texas. She kept quiet even when she had good reason to scream. It was on that occasion that Mother, the original Warriorette, said she didn’t scream because she was biting down too hard on a pillow to keep from doing it.

(You can click on the photos to make them larger.)

Now that I think of it

Suspension pipeline from Grand Tower IL 07-17-2011I only knew of one time when Mother expressed any kind of shock.

I was trying to get a good photo of the world’s longest suspension pipeline that links Wittenberg, Mo., with Grand Tower, Ill. I had been there about an hour earlier and got some nice pictures, but after heading north along the river and not finding a good angle, I decided to race the sun back for this shot. I made it with about five minutes to spare. When I went airborne over the top of a levee, Mother yelled, “Whoa!

I knew there was a road on the other side of the levee, but she, evidently, didn’t.

At the time, I wrote, “She never yells, ‘Whoa!’ She yells, ‘Gun it!’ She must be getting old.”

Getting to the point of the picture

NN north of Bertrand 12-03-2015Getting back to the original subject of the tree photo at the top of the page: Warriorette Shari, my old high school girlfriend (briefly, by her choice), and I were hammer down on NN north of where I took the silo picture when I smoked the brakes and did a sliding U-turn. Shari didn’t say a word, even when I pulled off on the side of the road and jumped out.

I had spotted a farm pond that was perfectly smooth and picking up the reflection of trees backlit by the setting sun. It captured the feel of The Bootheel for me: the endless flat ground, the green crops, the trees and buildings way off in the distance.

When I crawled back in the car, I tried to explain my philosophy of “Shoot It When You See It” because I was losing the reflections of the trees in the three or four minutes it took me to get turned around and start making exposures.

This old tree standing sentinel in the field has the same feel as the pond photo, but I like the reflections better in the first shot.

I almost always use a circular polarizing filter on my lens to protect it, reduce reflections and make skies more dramatic. Depending on the angle of the light, sometimes it doesn’t work at all or, like here, it causes part of the sky to be a different shade, which bothers me.

Seelitz Cemetery

Perry County German settlement known as Seelitz 10-28-2011Seelitz, in eastern Perry County, was a short-lived town near Altenburg. It was one of the seven colonies established in 1839 in the Saxon Migration.

Click on the photos to make them larger.

Not a good location

Seelitz Cemetery 11-09-2013Gerard Fiehler from the Lutheran Heritage Center and Museum walked me back to where a memorial stone contains the names of some of the earlier settlers. You’ll notice that many of the dates are from the first two years of the settlement.

Seelitz, I was told, was located in a low area that it made it disease-prone. The other problem was that the the early inhabitants were mostly students and professional men poorly prepared for carving out farms and houses from wilderness.

Rev. Stephens exiled

Seelitz Cemetery 11-09-2013The Rev. Martin Stephan was the leader of the movement. He and his followers, with a communal treasury of $88,000 (you can see the chest it was kept in at the museum), landed in Wittenberg with the goal of farming about 4,500 acres of land that resembled what they had left in Saxony, Germany.

Rev. Stephan, however, was accused of “voluptuous living and dictatorial conduct” and put in a boat for exile to Illinois. It is rumored that he had been tapping the till and some of the wives.

That was the start of the Missouri Synod

Perry County German settlement known as Seelitz 10-28-2011Despite all the difficulties, the Saxon immigration was the start of the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod, which was established in 1847.

The beautiful and still active Trinity Lutheran Church in Altenburg was built in 1867.

 

Tower Rock Overlook

Tower Rock 04-18-2014I’ve shot Tower Rock from about every angle except underwater (and I came close once to doing that when Brother Mark and I walked over there). I’ve been on the top of it, flown over it and have seen it from both the Missouri and Illinois sides.This is the view from the parking are where most folks see it.

The one place I HADN’T seen it from was the overlook.

In the summer and fall, the leaves are too thick to see anything and in the winter, I’m not crazy about a long, cold walk.

Overlook hangs out over hill

Tower Rock 04-18-2014On April 18, though, I didn’t have any excuses. The day was cool enough that I wouldn’t overheat, the sky was blue and there was no rain around. I drove across the railroad tracks (Stop, Look and Listen) and went up the road a couple hundred yards until I came to a wide spot that looked like the start of the trail.

Mother suggested I take a couple of deep swigs of water before heading up the hill. She said she’d stand by to dial 9-1-1 if I keeled over. I told her not to bother. There’s no signal down there.

The climb is moderately steep in some places, but it flattens out toward the top. You’ll definitely feel a burn in your thighs if you aren’t used to exercise. When you get close to the top, you look at the tiny platform hanging out over space and feel a little twinge of concern, but closer examination shows that it’s solidly built and in good condition.

Didn’t use polarizing filter

Tower Rock 04-18-2014Photo geek stuff: I keep Hoya circular polarizing filters on my lenses all the time. I find that being able to kill reflections improves many photos, even indoors. It also protects the front element of my lens from scratches.

Most folks think of them useful only to make skies darker, but that’s not the case. When I was rotating the filter to get the best result here, though, I quickly saw that the reflection of The Rock in the river added to the photo, so I kept as much of it as I could. It was a lot less interesting picture with the reflection knocked out.

Higher than The Rock

Tower Rock 04-18-2014Overlook is the right word. You are clearly higher than Tower Rock. If you are going to see it, better hurry, I think the trees will have too many leaves for a clear view before long.

Booms for river spill

River activity near Wittenberg 04-18-2014While we were in Altenburg, we heard scuttlebutt that a barge with fuel of some kind had run aground on a sandbar north of Wittenberg and that equipment was being staged at the boat ramp there. We saw about a dozen vehicles and two trailers of orange flotation booms in the parking lot, but there was nobody around to talk with.

Some of the trucks and trailers had “SWS Environmental Service” on their sides.

I called my friends at The Missourian with the tip, but told them I didn’t see much photo opportunity there, and I wasn’t even sure it was worth a story. I haven’t seen anything in the news, so either they couldn’t find out anything or it really wasn’t worth covering.

I didn’t offer up a photo because the last time I went in with a spot news photo I was told they don’t pay even a token amount for submitted photos these days.

Wonder if this was it?

River activity near Wittenberg 04-18-2014On the way from Tower Rock, we could see some activity close to the shore north of Wittenberg. We could tell that it wasn’t a string of barges. I heard traffic on the marine radio about trying to make fast some lines, but they were afraid they were going to foul. The action was too far away to see clearly, plus I was getting hungry.

Click on the photos to make them larger.

If you are interested in my small picture book, Tower Rock “A Demon that Devours Travelers”, stop by the Lutheran Heritage Center and Museum in Altenburg for a copy.

 

 

Big Magnet Passes Cape

Jim Stone watches big magnet pass  by Trail of Tears 07-17-2013Jim Stone, Central High School science whiz, emailed me all excited about a big magnet that was going to be passing through Cape on the Mississippi River. He sent me a link with a near-live GPS tracking do-hickey so I’d be sure to know when it was coming.

That’s Jim on the right. He’s a Professor of Physics at Boston University and an all-around big-whoop in the world of chasing tiny particles that may or may not exist and if he finds them I don’t know if he’s going to put them in a coffee can or what.

That’s not the way he explains it, but that’s the short version. The woman in red was just a tourist who stopped by the Trail of Tears overlook. Click on any photo to make it larger.

It’s coming! It’s coming!

Big magnet passes Trail of Tears 07-17-2013The Paul Revere of the magnet world sent me a frantic text Wednesday morning: “Magnet already past Cairo. Will pass Cape in about 2 hours. I will miss it since I am just now boarding my flight. I’ll check when I land but will most likely catch it at St Louis or slightly south. It seems to be moving rather fast.

He sent the alert at 6:30; I got it at 8:30, so I figured two hours from Cairo would mean that I would miss it by the time I put my pants on. I pulled up the tracking chart and saw it was just making the curve down by New Madrid. Jim may be a great physicist, but he didn’t learn one basic rule: boats go faster downstream than they go upstream. It was going to be awhile before it got to Cape.

I had some interviews in Perry County, so I passed the ball to Fred Lynch and James Baughn at The Missourian. James managed to snag it as it was passing Cape.

A pretty day on the Mississippi

Big magnet passes Trail of Tears 07-17-2013Jim’s plane landed and he caught the magnet at Cape Rock. I wrapped up my interview and blasted off to the overlook at Trail of Tears. The route I took was hilly and curvy and one where I know (I hope) every curve, so I made good time. The brakes sure smelled hot when I pulled in, though.

Jim wasn’t there, but I heard boat radio traffic that sounded like two barges were setting up to make a pass. Sure enough, way down to the south, I could see a towboat pushing a single barge with a white thing on top of it. It might have been unique, but it wasn’t too exciting to look at.

Passing the lookout

Big magnet passes Trail of Tears 07-17-2013I called Jim to tell him it had arrived, but would probably take a good 20 minutes or more to make it out of sight. His timing was perfect: he made it when it was almost right in front of the lookout.

Wire break = kaput

Big magnet passes Trail of Tears 07-17-2013A very nice woman was intrigued by the idea of something going by that was too big and delicate to be lifted by helicopter and couldn’t be hauled by truck from Brookhaven National Laboratory at Long Island, New York, to Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in the Chicago suburbs, its new home.

Jim went into great detail about how its core was created with a single coil of wire and if that wire was broken or damaged, then the whole thing was kaput. (I’ve been photographing the last generation of German speakers in the pioneer communities of Perry county, so I’m hearing stuff like “kaput” all the time.)

He went on to explain the calibration process and how they fine-tune it by placing a piece of paper under a single strand of wire until the magnet output is exactly even. Once that’s done, they throw a pet throgmorton (or something that sounded like that) into the middle of the magnet and check for deviation.

Check break room for refrigerator magnets

Big magnet passes Trail of Tears 07-17-2013

“If they find a deviation, I assume the first thing they check would be if anybody added a refrigerator magnet in the break room,” I volunteered. Scientists take these things seriously, so I could tell he was not amused.

When he thought I wasn’t looking, though, I saw him writing “Check break room for refrigerator magnets” in a small pocket notebook.

If you really want to know what the magnet is used for, check out the Fermilab website. My explanation is easier to understand.

Had time for burgers at Mississippi Mud

Big magnet passes Tower Rock 07-17-2013As soon as the target was out of sight, we headed up to Altenburg to the Mississippi Mud Tavern in Altenburg, where I had the second-best hamburger of the whole Florida-Missouri expedition.

I calculated that it was going to take about 1-1/2 hours for it to get 15 or so miles up to Tower Rock. My guess was pretty close. We had scarcely pulled in before we could hear the throb of engines coming up the river. The Miss Kate and her precious cargo managed to make it past The Demon That Devours Travelers, so we went upriver to catch it passing under what was (and may still be) the world’s longest suspension pipeline.

Passing the pipeline

Big magnet passes suspension pipeline 07-17-2013We had a pleasant conversation with some guys enjoying the breeze and some brews. While we were standing there, Jim noticed a sign that had been used for target practice.

“What if somebody took a shot at it while it was in transit? That thing passed through Kentucky and Tennessee where somebody might have been tempted to take a potshot at something that looks like a flying saucer,” he obsessed.