Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A Last Look at the University of Missouri

Mizzou was founded in 1839 as the first public institution for higher learning west of the Mississippi River. It is now a major public research university. There are actually four campuses in the state, but the main campus is in Columbia. Designated as a botanic garden, the 1,250 acre campus has 5,000 trees and 650 varieties of plants. The effect is beautiful, as well as instructive, as there are many plant labels.

This is the silent room of the main library. It was silent.

The giant columns on the green were part of the Academic Hall, built from 1840-43. It burned in 1892, due to an electrical experiment. 

The town of Columbia has similar characteristics to Gainesville, Florida, and our son found it an easy transition from his undergrad surroundings.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Looking for the Sweetness in Honey Locust

We were intrigued by the honey locust trees that we saw on our mid-west trip. We were not really familiar with them as they are not native to Florida. They provide good shade.

But they have their drawbacks.

Upon closer look, you can see the thorns.

 The leaves here are  those of the jasmine that was climbing up the tree, enjoying the support of the thorns.

I put  my hand up for scale for these deadly thorns and discovered that there were tiny, green ones coming out of the bark that were still painful.

The thorns come out all around the trunk, all the way up.

It is thought that the thorns once guarded the tree against browsing  by giant tree sloths and other Pleistocene megafauna. In the spring there are fragrant flowers and, despite its name, it is not a honey source. The flowers soon turn into pods. The flesh of these was used by the Indians to make beer; though how they might have collected the pods is a mystery to me unless they waited for them to drop. 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Our Prairie Home-Boy

No, our son is hardly a boy anymore, but I was trying to work the Prairie Home Companion line and that is how it came out.

D took us to some of the prairie that he has burned as part of a prescribed fire program. The beauty of a prairie is subtle and could be overlooked. At times, there are many wildflowers but we only saw a few blooms. Many animals depend on the prairie for habitat and it is the natural state of parts of our country. Prairies have naturally burned to maintain themselves to keep certain trees and invasive species from taking over, and to keep propagating other plants.

Take a look at this table. 

It flips to become a bench. Nice design!

I am not sure if these were blackberries or huckleberries, but they were plentiful and tasty.

We also visited their wildlife refuge.

In the distance are the limestone bluffs along the Missouri River.

We now have a mental picture of where he volunteers.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Going to the Devil on a Hot, Hot Day

We were actually in Missouri before the heat wave got things really cooking. They have had 106 degree days for about a month now.  Miserable!  But the mid-90s that we "enjoyed" were warm enough, thank you. Our son gave us a respite, though, when he took us hiking to the Rock Bridge Memorial State Park. Up a trail and along a boardwalk, we came to a cave known as the Devil's Ice Box. The rock bridge is shown below.

That crevice is much deeper than it looks below.

The entrance to the Devil's Icebox is below. From where I was standing to take the picture, I could already feel the cold air coming up. OHMYGOODNESS! Contrary to the name, it was heaven. You had to duck to get inside but then there was headroom.

This is looking up from inside.

The air was so, so cool, that it was hard to leave. Ahhhhh! I can feel it even now as I write and remember. Thanks, D!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Along the MKT Trail

Our son has a nice bike trail that he rides to and from the University of Missouri campus each day. It is a built on the Missouri-Kansas-Texas  rail line. It is ten feet wide and much of it is paved. We walked some of it and it was really lovely.

Twice, we saw deer.

Isn't she a beauty?

At the place shown below, there was an Earthcache. That is very similar to a geocache but there is no box to be found. There is a link to information about what you can see at that location. 

Our son's phone explained that this particular cut through the rock exposed the top section of a 2,000 foot column of limestone and sandstone strata that took 400 million years to create. We were looking at the Mississippian, Devonian and Ordovician time periods. Now that will make you feel young!

                                    Sadly, the stream water gets sewage run-off and seepage.

The trail has a number of bridges.

From one, I spotted a water snake below. We have seen these before in North Carolina.

Its nose was surfaced.

There were several minnow schools around it. (You can see their shadows in the last picture.) Perhaps they had found a protector from bigger fish. Still, I would think that would be an uneasy relationship.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Honoring Ninety Trips Around the Sun

My dad is the little blonde inside his family's car.

Tuesday was his 90th birthday.

 Last Saturday, we celebrated with an Open House in his home. 

When you open it to everyone and count on word of mouth to spread the invitation, you never know how many will show up. Well, we had a good turn-out. Though, I did not hear the number, it was probably between 50 and 100. 

All of his children and grandchildren were present and he got to meet his first great-grandchild.

I don't think it could have turned out any better. Happy Birthday, Daddy!