Thursday, January 22, 2015

War and Sleet

I go out for a slow ride to reflect on the matters of the mind. I reflect a lot on what's past and what I need to pay attention too. The lesson, History repeats itself. My history is not an exception and my personal success and happiness is tightly coupled to paying attention. With cold, wet air, heavy clouds and sleet it feels like an ideal time to go remind myself how history repeats in war and sleet.
 I don't know my way around the 'monument park' in Saint Paul and I didn't read anything before riding the 12 odd miles so I'm exploring. First up is a deck cannon fired first at Pearl Harbor. I was shocked and had to read it a few time to believe my eyes. Minnesota holds the honor of defending the nation before all others and we have the gun on our soil. I could not resist touching it with a little emotion about what it did for us.
Think about the first salvo and what it meant to us. This iron, cast in peace, used in war, takes Japanese lives so we can maintain our American lives and is almost unknown to 294,873 people in Saint Paul. The Spanish American War Memorial Tree is also unknown and it's just across the river but the guns used for WWII? Below are some close ups.

Below is the Firefighter memorial. I believe this is the statue that used to be next to the luggage claim at the Saint Paul International Airport (claim 6) but that's a memory and the plaques didn't say.
 Below: This statue is dedicated to those soldiers who fought and survived wars and conflicts.
Below: Each monolith has a story about a Medal of honor given out. I read one but the cold and light freezing rain and me losing daylight; I had to move on.  This is also a water feature so winter is a bad time to reflect seeing how the reflections don't mirror as designed.

 Below: Vietnam war
Etched by year to emphasize the escalation and controversy. I read the first name and the last name and a few in between. It's somber reading names of people in this way. The cold, clouds and rain didn't go unnoticed about this time.

Below: The alphabetized book used to locate those on the wall. This could have been a very important page for my family but we are grateful it is not.

 Below: Woman's Suffrage (right of women to vote) memorial displays a timeline of the key women of the movement. Notice it does not get enough attention to get shoveled by the state but it's not alone.
 Below: Korean War. Along the pavers on the right is a timeline to the end of the war and the end of the pavers the shadow of a fallen soldier.

 The edges of this monolith are embossed with scene of mans struggles in war.
Below: Last history stop was this Native American marker for the Sioux Indians in South Saint Paul.

I guess the best way to summarize what I thought about is a few lines that we have all seen. It you can read this you need to thank a teacher and if it's in English you need to thank a veteran and if you are reading this on a computer you need to thank a scientist, a coal fired power plant, a lithium miner, and the US government for paying for DARPA. Extend that to the iron foundry that cast the gun we started with and all the mathematicians that created the sight reduction tables for ballistics, Chinese for helping with gunpowder recipes and a continuous chain of events that drove Columbus to find America (aka India and conquer the natives and occupy their land since 1492) in the first place. History does repeat but the problem is it all connects; we all play a part and there is no end to war and intermittent times of peace. By the end of the ride I'm numb and I don't care if it's the cold or the complete loss of hope. I want to be very clear. I'm confounded by why some memorials are across the river like the civil war (right) where 25 ten year old boys enlisted (5 million people total) yet its over there while the good ones are in front of the capital and only some get shoveled and I have to go to South Saint Paul to see anything about Native Americans and their wars but politics don't care about being equal. Maybe we should write something about being equal in, well, a Declaration of Independence and show a more complete picture about war.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Missouri Loves Company

In this post we find a poo pond in Iowa, drive a jeep underground and touch a Grizzly. 

Starting out we point Ocho south and put a pin on Springfield, Mo. SatNav tells me it's 10 hours and we are rationing our travel v. excursions to arrive to see our Grizzly's.

First stop is a State Park in southern Iowa or what passes as a State Park in flat land. 
 It's late in the fall and we are the only ones in the park and it still wasn't any good. No trail maps, not even on the main park 'welcome' board and the park head quarters was a house. Not a kitschy log home but a real residence fit with junk cars, old faded paint and a home made sign on the garage saying "park manager".
We find a trail sign and within 200 feet it has a sink hole. I push on another thousand feet and it's hardly a trail. I turn around but it's not a total loss because we need to get to Missouri and this place is a joke compared to a proper MN State Park.

49 roadside billboards later and we figure "what the hell" lets take 
a jeep tour of a cave.
Left: Clean burning propane. Right: well, not clean but old (not her, the jeep, dam get me in trouble).

 We are in a long trailer getting towed by a guide that knew almost nothing about a cave. I have some wild cave experience and ask a simple questions about 'mapped passage' and she is clueless about what that means and tells me we are 80 feet under ground. I should say there is a park manager in Iowa she needs to meet.

 The tour is short but the formations are actually very good. I've been told that southern caves are the thing to see and MN is a little weak on formations and from this first taste its very true.

We poke around a little to see the gift store offerings, post cards and 'gems' of rose quartz and a short interpretive trail to see the original electric generator and the original entrance but I need to go touch a Grizzly.

An hour later and bam, Grizzly Tools. I've been buying shop tools from Grizzly since 2004. I have a shop full of cast iron from them and I was in the market for a metal lathe so we made it a road trip vacation.

 We came all this way to see these tools. I look and poke around for just short of 2 hours looking at about 12 different models. I did say we and she wasn't entirely disinterested and couldn't resist reading the catalog to me with the glee of a small child talking to Santa.

It's getting late and we need to find a place to stay tonight. I short search and we have a KOA on the other side of a river and a huge highway. KOA's are actually very nice these days. They are no good for tenting but then we are more house-ing and they like RV's

After the KOA we are mostly headed home and this time a good cozy MN State Park
This is Big Island again. Seven months ago this was the first park of the year and now it's almost the last. 

We drove a few hundred miles to see a sewage lagoon in an Iowa park, an iron Grizzly and a less than Fantastic Cave so Missouri love Misery and we love Minnesota and KOA's.

Next up is a mixed bag of short adventures a 3 day to the north shore and one cool river ride.