2013-08-15, Forest Park After Lunch
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share photos, adventures, stories, opinions, and
information. I hope you enjoy the time you spend here.
Tom Ballard Photography
2013-08-15. Forest Park After Lunch. For followers of my site, it is well known
that I revisit points of interest in the St Louis area. This happens at Forest
Park several times per year. This day was one of those. My purpose for going
to the park was to hike the perimeter of the park with a MEETUP hiking group.
But, like any self respecting person who owns a big camera, I put the camera
in the car along with my water bottle, etc. After the hike was completed, there
was still plenty of daylight left, and I did not have a commitment for the
afternoon, so I started off with a little drive around the park. First stop, the
pond at the bottom of art hill. Weather was good, energy in the park was
good, so I just kept on doing what I was doing.. Before long, I had collected
over 1000 images for the day, and I was worn out. So, it was time to end the
park visit and head home.
The Story behind it all:
For most of my life, curiosity has taken up most of the space in my brain, leaving little room for
anything else. Curiosity in balanced proportions, with other things, is surely the goal in someone's
plan, but for people like me, you get what you get... So.. Need I say more! People who do not have
this problem, say, "why don't you get your act together and get a real life", etc. Other people with this
issue, say, "right on, carry on"!!! Well, no matter, it is what it is.. I have friends that have boats,
planes, big homes, lots of land, lots of kids, etc.. It the end, we are all just following the demands of
something that is going on in our head, whether we are responsible for it or not... Curiosity is what I
got a full dose of... I go see what there is to see!!! On the day I took the images shared here, it was
just one of those days.

In most larger towns, these days, there is a wonderful "thing" called "
MEETUP.COM" that offers
wonderful opportunities for people of similar interests to get together and share that interest. They
have not opened one for curious people yet, but that might be coming soon. That said, one of the
more popular groups you can find under meetup.com is "
Lets Hike", which in simple terms is a group
that offers outdoor hiking activities to people who want to get out and hike, but also want to share the
experience with like minded people. I most often join the short local hikes, but there are many hikes
offered, of varying levels and locations. And, one of these hikes is the opener for my photo shoot this

A local gal named Brenda started a group that would walk the perimeter of Forest Park, one day per
week. She stated that it would be a fast paced walk, but anyone could join and walk at their own
pace, etc.. Well, I took the challenge several weeks ago, and learned that I am the slowest walker on
earth, compared to everyone else in this group. Then, there is the problem of the bathroom breaks. It
would also seem that of all the people who would be doing these hikes, I am the only one who ever
needs to stop for a bathroom break. Truth is, I have control over that. I have always drank too much
coffee and other liquids before each of these hikes!!! But, I do it anyway! Coffee with breakfast, and
after breakfast, then I stop at the local gas station to get more coffee to sip on as I drive to the
outing! In a short, by the time I meet the group at 0900, I am sloshing full of coffee!!! There is going
to be price to pay for this.

So, here I am, standing here with all these people jumping up and down to get going on this fast
paced hike and I am wondering how far it is the first restroom.. Truth is, there is a restroom in the
visitor center where I am standing, but it is not time to go, yet. There is a filter time. So, when the
time comes for the hike to start, we are off and moving. In no time I am at the back of the line. Then
it is not long before I become occupied with thoughts about where the restroom is.. But, life has its
rewarding moments, as I notice our path is going to take us near the  front of the zoo, and I know
from experience that there are restrooms inside the gate, which is where I head when we get close.

Having gotten my business taken care of, I return to the path and find that one of the hikers is waiting
for me, and off we go. The others are out of sight, never to be seen again. But, we are not sure
which path we are to take, so we make our on plan for the rest of this outing. Turns out great,
actually, and we finish back where we started, after a lot of fun conversation. Then, it was off to the
Boat House for lunch and more conversation. This too was great fun. I could do this again. And, I do.
The next time I could attend one of Brenda's hikes was a repeat of the first. Too much coffee, got far
behind, stopped for the same restroom, etc. But, this time, when I returned to the trail, I met up with
another straggler who had fallen behind.. Turned out to be another great conversation opportunity!!
The hike ended, and with nothing else to do here, I headed home. Should have brought my camera!

Now I am getting ready for outing number three with this group. And, everything goes near exactly the
same, but this time, I have elected to toss a camera in the back of the car, just before leaving home,
just in case... Sure enough, its a replay. I had too much coffee, did not walk fast enough, stopped at
the restroom, returned to the trail, and nobody. They were all gone!!! So, this was to be a solo trip,
but a fun one, as curiosity got a good workout.. As I zipped along by myself, I noticed things I had
overlooked when I was with one of the other hikers, as we would be talking or laughing, or
something! But, being by myself, I was naturally more inclined to look at everything around me and
notice things that I had not seen here before, even though I had been here many times before. Plus,
the weather was awesome. Sooooo, when I got back to my car, I made the decision that rather than
head home, I would continue my exploring, but do it with the camera. And, I did. I hopped in the car,
went gently rolling along down the street looking for anything that caught my eye!! Was not long until
the pond at the bottom of Art Hill was in front of me and peaked my curiosity. I stopped, grabbed the
camera and started the process of gathering images of what I saw in front of me..

To be honest, everything thing I was seeing was something I had seen before, but was seeing it
differently now, alone and with a camera. Tis odd what happens when a person does this. I
recommend everyone try it, even if you do not have film in the camera, as people used to say! You
see things you have not have seen before, plus, before long, you have people who seem to be inviting
themselves into your photos, which is even more fun!!! There are people in paddle boats, people
walking, people watching people, people doing picnic treats, etc. I think I was the only one there with
a camera.  And, yes, I was being noticed.. In fact one fellow who was sitting on a bench with two of
his friends, invited me to take a photo of his feet!!! I did.... Then we visited for awhile.. Was fun! Why
photograph his feet??? I have no idea!!!! That is just how it was!!

From the pond below the art museum, I moved on, and found myself taking photos of a small
structure on an island. The purpose? Don't know. Its just there, and it is in front of the Muny Opera, in
case you ever go looking for it! I would have thought it would have a bridge to it, so that people could
visit it, but no. Guess all activity on the island takes place via a boat or something! Well, no matter, its
neat to look at, which is what I assume it was all about to start with.. Maybe it is a carry over from
the World's Fair that took place here many years ago!     

From the visit at the island, I found myself parking at the Jewel Box, a glass building that has only
plants inside. From talking to the fellow who takes your money, one dollar I think, this place is simply
a green house. I was told that the featured plants are changed several times per year. And, I believe
the building is available for weddings and the like... It is a really nice place this time of the year. At the
time of the photos, the ponds were full of neat water plants.. So, if you get a chance to visit the park,
make sure you spend some time at this location.

From the Jewel Box, I judged it was time to head home, but as I drove off the property, I could not
help but wonder again at all the "stuff" at what I would call the main entrance area near highway 44.
From a distance it looks like the rusty scrap metal I see at recycling centers. And, to be honest, I had
seen it several times as I drove in and out of the park, before I realized it was something other than a
pile of scrap metal. Having said that, I had never found a reason to stop and look at it up close.
However, when we started doing our park walks, my path took me past this thing. I still did not get it.
It was my understanding that Forest Park Forever, and some other efforts surrounding the park were
efforts to make the park more beautiful. How did dumping rusty scrap metal at the front door serve
that purpose!!! No logic here. Then, I thought, well, maybe, when they get enough money, they will
paint it or something. But no, it is still a lot of rusty scrap metal, from what I could tell. Now, as I am
driving off the property, I again wonder, why?

As I headed home, my curiosity was getting the best of me, plus I was tired. So, I stopped at
McDonalds for a hot fudge sundae and some coffee. While sitting there, consuming my treats and
checking my email via my tablet, because McDonalds has free wifi, I finally realized I had to go back.
So, after I finished my rest break, I weaved my way back though what is now heavy rush hour traffic,
to get to a place to park, so that I can get up close and personal with this rusty scrap metal thing.
Once parked, I head off on foot, to get personal with this thing. I did. As as you might have guessed,
I found it very interesting. From a distance, it is scrap metal. Up close, it is scrap metal, but it is put
together in a very creative way. As I start taking photos of this thing, or stuff as it is, I started seeing
things I would  not have imagined. It is kinda like a picture with hidden things in it.. You have to really
study it to find them, and they look different from different angles. There was a lot of thought that
went into this thing!!! I am glad I stopped and looked at it up close, but even then, I most likely
missed something. There is a lot there. But, I did take memory photos and a select few are in the
memory file I am sharing. Now here is the kicker. Is it a work of art? I think so. Does it look like scrap
metal? I think so! Would I have expected better for this park to show its better side and to be the
face at the front gate to welcome you in? I think so. But, someone had to make a decision about this
thing, somewhere back in time, and they did and this is what happened. For some reason, I am
reminded at this time of a situation I understand that President Abe Lincoln found himself in one time.
I am not sure of the exact wording or where I ran across the info, but in my mind it goes like this. Abe
was attending a function of some sort, when he was approached by someone who asked for Abe's
opinion on the subject to which the person was personally attached to. He asked for Abe to confirm
that what the man was delighted with was a great thing. After some thought, Abe said something like
this, "For people who like this sort of thing, this is just the sort of thing they would like".

Many people have put a lot of time and money into Forest Park in the last several years. The effect
has been wonderful. The zoo is first class, the Art Museum has been expanded, the Boat House is a
great place to eat, and there are paddle boats there to rent, which is a fun thing to do. To add to this,
there is the bike trail, the hiking trail, the golf course, and a lot of inviting places to spend time alone
with a great view, or share a great conversation with someone. There really is something for almost
everyone. OH, and there is ice skating in the winter. So, if you are looking for a great park to go play
for a day, this is a great choice. I have been there many times, and I keeping finding things to see or
do that I have not seen or done earlier! I almost forgot, there is a great history museum and a great
science center on the property.. These I have not been to in a long time, so they will put on do-list for
the future.

To view the images I have to share from this day in the park, click on this link;
Forest Park after
Note: As with many of my share files, this one is large and has some very similar images. These are
left here for my photo friends to compare and to select, based on ??????? You can do the same if
you have time. The words "similar and same" can bring on great conversation, in the right discussion
group. Then there are the "should have and would have" statements!!!! Makes for a few fun hours at
the coffee shop!!!! Your comments are welcome. My email address is here on the website. Have fun.