Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Ha Ha Tonka Castle

This is the "Castle" at Ha Ha Tonka State Park near Camdenton, Missouri. Ha Ha Tonka is reportedly an Indian name, meaning "laughing water," given to the large spring that was the source of the old Nangua River. Although the once charming river was inundated by the creation of the Lake of the Ozarks, you can still hear the water laughing as what remains of the river rolls over rocks on it's short run until it enters the lake.

The Castle was the turn of the 20th Century dream of a wealthy Kansas City businessman who wanted to build a summer home near the spring. Unfortunately, he was killed in an automobile accident before he could finish the house. His sons finished it in the early 1920s and one of them lived there for a number of years. The house eventually became a hotel and was gutted by a fire in the 1940s. The ruins are beautiful in their own way. It is quite peaceful to wander around the ruins and gaze out over the bluffs to view the spring and the Lake of the Ozarks. I consider this park to be one of the most beautiful areas in all of Missouri that I have yet seen.

This is the back side of the house and faces dense woods. The front of the house faces the bluff. I'll post more photos later. (Click the photo to view a wallpaper sized image.)

Monday, November 27, 2006

Missouri State Capitol

Looking south across the front of the Missouri state capitol building in Jefferson City on one of those wonderful, glorious late summer days that make you glad you live in the midwestern United States. (Click the photo to view a desktop sized image.)

Friday, November 24, 2006

Alton Riverfront

Here's a shot of Alton, Illinois from across the Mississippi River taken in October 2006. I was standing on what is referred to as Small Pox Island. However, this spot is not the true Small Pox Island. That island was removed during the construction of the original Lock and Dam No. 26 at Alton. Small Pox Island got its name during the Civil War. The Union held Confederate POWs at a prison in Alton. After an outbreak of small pox, infected prisoners were quarantined on a small island in the Mississippi River just above the city. It was a horrible situation and many Confederate soldiers died on the island.

The area now called Small Pox Island is not really an island at all. It's a small spit of land that holds part of the former lock and dam. There is also a memorial to the soldiers who died on the island. A granite monument bears the name, military unit and date of death for each soldier who did not make it off the island. (Click on the photo to view a larger sized image.)

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Art Hill @ Forest Park

You're looking at Forest Park in St. Louis. Here you can see a small part of the Grand Basin at the foot of Art Hill. On top of the hill is, you guessed it, the St. Louis Art Museum. The Art Museum is one of the few surviving buildings from the 1904 World's Fair. It served as the Adminstration Building during the fair. Art Hill was the site of the Cascades, a man-made waterfall that poured down the hill into the Grand Basin. Scott Joplin's ragtime composition of the same name was inspired by the waterfall. The hill is a popular place for lounging on sunny days, and for sledding when it snows. (Click on the photo to view a larger version.)

Saturday, November 04, 2006

The Long and Winding Road

One my favorite Beatles songs. This is one of those rare perfect songs that instantly become a standard. (Of course, McCartney has written more than one of these kinds of songs.) It's as good as anything George and Ira Gershwin ever wrote. "Why leave me standing here, let me know the way."

Forest Park, St. Louis

It was such a wonderful Fall day last Sunday I decided to drop by to take some photos around the Grand Basin in Forest Park. The Grand Basin was rebuilt a few years ago to remind everyone what it looked like during the 1904 World's Fair. It's really quite pretty with its bridges, paddle boaters, fountains, and situation at the bottom of Art Hill in front of the Art Museum. This sculpture is one of a few made out of rusting steel that sit on lawn just on the south side of the Grand Basin. (Click on the photo to load an image size suitable for your desktop wallpaper.)

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Dependable Rexall Drugs

I loved the look of this old sign on the side of a building on First Street in Hermann, Missouri. This building is across the street from the First Bank branch. This sign, along with the street reminds me of the small town in Southeast Kansas my family hails from: Coffeyville. Hermann is a charming little town on the southern bank of the Missouri River in between Jefferson City and St. Louis. It's located in the heart of Missouri's wine country and boasts several wineries. It also is a good place to look for antiques. The big annual event in Hermann is the Oktoberfest which takes place every weekend in October. (As always, click the photo to load a wallpaper sized image.)

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Late Missouri Summer

This was taken from Missouri Highway 94 looking south towards the Missouri River in September 2006. The river is inbetween the first line of trees and the hills in the distance. The warm colors of the ripe soybean field come through despite the fact that it had been raining all morning. If you're wondering, this field is a couple of miles downriver from Hermann, Missouri. (Click the photo to view a wallpaper sized image.)

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Sam Wade @ Cummel's Cafe

Here's a sequential photoset of Sam Wade playing his first time at Cummel's Cafe in downtown St. Louis earlier this year. There's another post in this blog that has a song from Sam that you can listen too. Or just visit www.samwade.com to find more music.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Lincoln's Tomb

A while back, I promised to post some more photos from our summer trip to Springfield and Chicago, Illinois. This is a photo of a bust of Abraham Lincoln that sits outside the entrance to his tomb. Abraham Lincoln has always been a hero of mine. I consider him, along with George Washington to be the one of the greatest presidents in U.S. history.

On our way to Chicago we spent some time in Springfield to see some of the Lincoln sights. Primarily we wanted to visit the new Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. What an amazing and moving place. If you're anywhere within driving distance, I highly recommend a visit. It's as good as anything I've ever seen at the Smithsonian.

Thinking about Mr. Lincoln on this day in particular makes me appreciate his personal sacrifices all the more and inspires me to believe that any personal sacrifice I can make for my country is the right thing to do.

By the way, the reason the nose of the statue is shiny is due to the many visitors who touch it for good luck.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Riding the Storm Out

We had a collossal storm blow through the area a couple of months ago. The storm came in from the northeast which is very rare for St. Louis. The sky turned dark and a very strong wind descended -- no rain, just wind. I heard later it was gusting at 80 miles an hour. I was at church and I walked out into the parking lot. I quickly came back inside after getting peppered with bits of dust and dirt. The wind blew like this for at least 15 minutes and then the rain came. We lost power at the church a few minutes after the wind arrived and I hung out there until the worst of the storm had passed. Driving home there were branches and trees down everywhere.

When I got home my neighbor helped me drag several branches off my driveway in order for me to pull in. We had branches down at our house, but fortunately no serious damage. This storm knocked out power to over 50% of the St. Louis metropolitan area for days. Our power was out from Wednesday evening until late Sunday morning. Some folks were out for over a week. You really find out how much you depend upon electricity when your power is out for more than a day. No air conditioning, no refrigerator, no freezer, no lights, no television, no internet connection.

Anyway, this photo was taken from the park behind my house. It is a picture of the sky that evening as the sun set following the storm. I did not retouch the color of this photo. This is pretty much the color of the sky that evening. The focus is not very good, but I think the color is amazing.

Here is a link to a gallery of photos from the storm: Storm Photos.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Art Institute of Chicago

We took a "Land of Lincoln" vaction in June. I'm going to post a few of my favorite photos from the trip. We spent most of our time in Chicago, but we also visited our favorite Abraham Lincoln sites around Springfield. We stopped at the new Lincoln Presidential Museum. (More on that in later posts.)

The above photo is of a stairway in the Art Institute of Chicago. The Art Institute was a very nice place to spend a few hours on a hot Tuesday morning/afternoon. I have to admit, however, that while this place has some cool stuff, I still prefer the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Sam Wade @ Soulard Coffee Garden

Sam Wade recently played a solo set at the Soulard Coffee Garden in St. Louis. I recorded a few songs on my iBook through the built in microphone. This song is called "Mirror." The recording quality is not the best, but it should give you a flavor of Sam's amazing songwriting and performing artistry. (Yeah, Sam's my son, but even if he wasn't, I'd still say he's good.)

Listen now

(Note: After clicking, the AjaxTunes player will launch in a new window.)

Sunday, April 02, 2006


We had some pretty intense storms come through the area late this afternoon. High winds, funnel clouds, and maybe even a tornado. After it had passed, I went out to see what I could see. I ended up making this photo of daffodils in my own back yard.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Red, Wonderful Red!

Ok, here's one more photo from my trip to the zoo last week and then we'll move on to something else. This is a hibiscus in the butterfly room at the Insectarium. (Yeah, I spent a lot of time in there, but can you blame me? It's as close to summer as you can get in St. Louis during the winter.)

Monday, March 20, 2006

Butterfly @ St. Louis Zoo

Here's another photo from our trip to the St. Louis Zoo last week. This is from the butterfly house, which is also in the Insectarium. (See the Scorpion photo a few posts back.))

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Keith Green Remembered

I just came across something I wrote a few years ago and decided to post it. It's based on something I wrote for an email discussion list on the topic of Christian worship. Someone had asked about Keith Green

“Keith Green's name has come up in numerous conversations with me of late… I was not in the church during that period.. Some of you who remember him, what was his impact on you specifically? On people you know? On the music industry? On the church in general? Can you connect him to the Jesus Movement? I'm sorry I missed him…”

To which I responded…

I surrendered to the Lord in 1976 at the age of 18. I guess you could say I was on the tail-end of the “Jesus Movement.” At that time the sources for contemporary Christian music (CCM) were much more limited than they are today.

Keith was a pioneer of the early CCM movement along with people like Larry Norman, Randy Stonehill, Phil Keaggy, Mark Heard, Barry McGuire, the 2nd Chapter of Acts, Paul Clark, Randy Matthews (and others). I remember the first time I heard Keith’s first album For Him Who Has Ears. I was blown away that someone so incredibily talented could put out such challenging, exicting and completely original music.

But what impressed me more than his music was his zeal for the Lord. I remember it was exciting just to see what Keith would do next. I would eagerly anticipate the next edition of the Last Days Newsletter just to see what Keith was going to say. After releasing his No Compromise album he set the Christian music world on it's ear by severing his contract with Sparrow records and announcing any future records would be distributed for whatever anyone wanted to pay or could afford—even if they could afford nothing at all. We all wondered how the quality of the next record would fare with this policy.

We needn't have worried because So You Want to Back to Egypt was just as good (if not better) than his first two albums. And to my amazement, Bob Dylan made a guest appeareance playing harmonica on I Pledge My Head to Heaven.

Keith was always extremely controversial, but to a young radical Christian like myself, he could do no wrong. He was a true dynamo. First he releases a song that says if you can only go to God on Sundays and Wednesdays, then don't even bother going at all—To Obey is Better Than Sacrifice. Then he starts producing albums and concerts by faith. Then he moves his family and ministry staff half-way across the country from L.A. to Texas and establishes a ministry school and community. His articles in the newsletter were always sure to offend and challenge—especially after he discovered the writings of Charles Finney and Leonard Ravenhill. And his concert at ORU in Oklahoma was the icing on the cake!

You either loved Keith or you didn't. It was hard to ignore him. People have lost sight of it now, but to a large number of the younger American Christians of the era, Keith was our collective conscience. And we loved him for it.

I remember how shocked I was when I heard of his tragic death (along with several of his young children) in the crash of a small airplane. I was on vacation with my wife and family at her parents house in Denver. I was watching the evening news when the story came on with arial footage of the burned plane on the ground. I remember seeing sheets on the ground covering bodies. It was pretty graphic and came out of nowhere. The shock was like a punch in the stomach. I remember telling my wife and she cried. We all cried. It was as if we'd lost a close friend.

I am almost 40 years old now, and it amazes me to think that Keith was only 28 when he died. So young, and yet he shaped and impacted contemporary Christian music and ministry in ways that are foundational. I really believe that there are only a few other artists who have impacted CCM to the same degree.

One regret I have is never being able to see Keith in concert. I've heard live recordings and it was incredible how he could speak and still play his piano without missing a beat. It's strange, but even though he's been gone so long now and although I never met him, sometimes I still miss him.

Note: The photo is from www.lastdaysministries.org.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Glowing Scorpion

OK, we took a trip to the Saint Louis Zoo yesterday. This scorpion is under ultraviolet light. According to the zoo, scientists find scorpions at night by using ultraviolet light. I don't know if all scorpions glow like this, but I thought the photo turned out nice and rather appropriate since today is St. Patrick's Day. This scorpion can be seen at the Insectarium.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Ha Ha Tonka Spring

One of my favorite places in Missouri is Ha Ha Tonka State Park near Camdenton. This view is looking basically towards the north from inside a small canyon where the Ha Ha Tonka Spring flows out to the Lake of the Ozarks.

The main attraction of the park, to me, is the spring, but looming over all is the ruin of a turn-of-the-century stone "castle" built by a wealthy Kansas City businessman. The empty stone shell of the mansion overlooks Ha Ha Tonka Spring and Lake of the Ozarks from atop a 250-foot bluff.

I made this photo in October 2005. I have some photos of "the castle" too. I'll post those another time.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Confluence of Mississippi & Missouri Again

Here's another view of the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers. This was taken in November 2005. To the left is the Mississippi and to the right, the Missouri. The point of land you see in front of you is the point where the northern bank of the Missouri meets the western bank of the Mississippi. It's not a great exposure, but I still think it's pretty interesting to actually stand where the two greatest rivers in North America meet.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Mississippi & Missouri River Confluence

This looking south towards the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers at sunset a couple of days before Christmas 2005. To the left is the Mississippi and directly in front of the camera is the Missouri River. This photo was taken from Missouri's confluence point state park located in St. Charles County.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Baseball in the Park

Here's yet another photo I took in Hudson Park. I'm ready for baseball. How about you? (Click on the photo for an image suitable for your desktop background.)

Saturday, January 28, 2006


Here's an interesting band from Scotland that I stumbled upon a few weeks ago. Very acoustic, very creative. Check 'em out.

A word of special thanks goes to my favorite MP3 blog Songs:Illinois where I first learned about Hobotalk. If you don't watch Songs:Illinois, you should.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Table Rock Lake Wallpaper

Here's another photo from Table Rock Lake. I was walking along the shore and this old tree caught my eye. This is one my favorite photos that I've made. I like the contrast of the black and grey of the tree against the water and rocks. (Click the photo to view a 1024 x 768 image suitable for your wallpaper/desktop background.)

Monday, January 16, 2006

Hey, look at this!

It snowed here in St. Louis on Friday the 13th. Not much snow, mind you, but enough to cover the ground for about 24 hours. So I took a walk over to Hudson Park (see previous posts) on Saturday morning and snapped a few photos for my niece and nephew in Australia. They live in the Syndey area and don't often have the opportunity to see snow. This is a close-up of ice covering a small puddle next to the path. I thought the pattern of the ice was very interesting. I posted the entire series of photos over at my Flickr page. Jamie and Tyler know how to find them. (As always, click on the photo to view a 1024 x 786 image suitable for your wallpaper/background.)

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Hudson Park

It was warm and sunny the other day, so I decided to take a walk with my camera to see what I might find. I took some photos of trees, a creek, a couple of foot bridges, an archery range, even of myself. But this was my favorite. I didn't notice the grass growing through the holes in the leaf until after I loaded the image to my computer -- an added bonus. Location: Hudson Park. (Click the image for a 1024 x 768 wallpaper sized version.)

Monday, January 09, 2006

Pebbles & Shells

This is a photo I made while on a short vacation at Table Rock Lake in Missouri near Branson a couple of years ago. I picked these shells and pebble up while I was wandering along the lake shore. I set them down on the railing of the deck on the back of our cabin. The next morning I noticed the interesting colors and patterns created by the early morning shadows so I took the picture. This is one of my favorites. (Click the photo to load a larger image suitable for desktop wallpaper @ 1025 x 768.)

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Saint Louis Zoo

Let's try something a little different. Today I'm going to post a photo just for fun and to see how it's done.

A couple of years ago we visited the St. Louis Zoo. This zoo honestly is one of the best zoological parks in the world. I've visited both the San Diego and Washington National zoos and the St. Louis Zoo is right up there with them. The amazing thing is that general admission to the zoo is free. Now, once you get in, some of the special exhibits do cost a small amount, for example, the Children's Zoo and the Insectarium. If you ever go, three places are must see: 1) the Children's Zoo; 2) the Penguin & Puffin Coast exhibit (take a jacket, it's very cold inside); and 3) the Polar Bear pit.

The photo I'm posting today was taken at the Children's Zoo. This frog was climbing on the glass of its enclosure. I thought it looked pretty amusing, so I snapped a picture. I sometimes use the original version of this photo as my desktop. (By the way, if you're so inclined, you can get a full size version (1024 x 768) to use for your desktop by visiting my deviantART gallery. You could also just click the photo here, but wouldn't it be more fun to visit my gallery?)