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In Training Hike: Forest Park Forever

26 May

 In Training Hike: Forest Park Forever

This photo would suggest that I was hiking today out in the deep woods; however, I chose my two-hour hike for today in Forest Park right in the middle of the city of St. Louis. Originally this area was a swamp, Skinker Swamp to be exact. Then in 1904 The World’s Fair opened in St. Louis. They used the land of Skinker Swamp to build the fair, and from the history that survives it was a magnificent fair. When the fair ended the area became the park it is today. It houses the St. Louis Zoo, the St. Louis Art Museum, the Municipal Opera (MUNY), the Missouri History Museum, the Jewel Box (floral greenhouse), the Missouri Pavilion, the Steinberg Skating Rink, the Boathouse, a public golf course, ball fields, and a natural area called the Kennedy Forest. That is where I began my hike. On this Memorial Day weekend the tourists and traffic were already thick at 10:30 A.M. when I arrived. I found a hidden parking area in the Kennedy Forest and managed to avoid the worst of the crowds. I hiked quite a ways amid the greenery not sure where I would end up. To my surprise I heard motorcycle engines and two policemen on their big bikes roared past Burnie and me. Later they explained that the forest pathways were the only way they could travel through the park when the traffic was so heavy.

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I circled around the Art Museum and came to the site of Shakespeare in the Park, where they are currently presenting Twelfth Night out on the lawn, some chairs but mostly blankets on the ground. It’s free.

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The Art Museum sits above Art Hill. (People love to sled here in the winter when it snows). At the bottom of the hill is the Grand Basin, a remnant of the World’s Fair that was kept. Forest Park was completely refurbished a few years back. It had become shabby and people hesitated to go there fearing crime. The plan to give it a facelift was spearheaded by Leon and Mary Strauss. It was a long term fundraising effort with strategic planning. From what I saw today, their efforts were a huge success. Forest Park is a jewel and has been transformed to its glory days of the World’s Fair. Here are views of Art Hill and the Grand Basin.

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There is a yoga group that meets at the Grand Basin on Sunday mornings. Lots of downward facing dogs.

I meandered from there on paths, along canals, across the lawn. The plantings native to Missouri were beautiful and every turn revealed a new pastoral scene or curious perspective.

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My next destination was the Muny Opera, the famous outdoor Broadway musical theater in the middle of the park. This season I have one former student and two current students who are performing. The Muny is a very popular evening entertainment during the summer months, and they just installed new quiet fans to keep the air moving on those sultry, humid St. Louis nights.

Pre-performances there is a band that plays in the gazebo out in the lake. They have to get there by boat. Here is the main drive with show banners, the ticket office door, and the massive chandelier.

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I know I said the park was crowded today, but you don’t see many people in these photos. Everyone was heading for the St. Louis Zoo, so I avoided that. The last photos are traffic jams in the park, the waterfall down the hill in front of the Missouri Pavilion and the busy entrance to the zoo parking lot. It was getting hot. Two hours.  Time to go home.

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15 Responses to “In Training Hike: Forest Park Forever”

  1. Linda Arthur Tejera May 27, 2013 at 12:06 am #

    What a beautiful park! And so much to do.

  2. john e. anglin May 27, 2013 at 12:23 pm #

    You’ve certainly mastered the art of taking your pictures. Great shots of the park.

  3. heavenhappens May 27, 2013 at 12:36 pm #

    You were lucky to find such peace and quiet in such a busy place and on such a day!
    It looks wonderful ~ which Shakespeare play was to be performed. I adore outdoor plays but here we have to pay and they are rather expensive!

  4. Bob Muenchausen May 27, 2013 at 7:04 pm #

    Not only good hiking training, but shades of photos to come from Europe! We are looking forward to your photos and your travelogues!!!

  5. Pat Kozemski May 27, 2013 at 10:46 pm #

    Everything looks very updated. I have trekked those same areas mostly during the Seventy’s and Eighty’s. That update that they did is mentionable. It is very amazing how few people crept into your shots. I have a book about the fair. It is great to look at once in awhile. I’ll show it to you next time you’re down here.

    • Rosemarie May 27, 2013 at 11:00 pm #

      I guess I avoided the shots with a lot of sweaty people pushing kids in strollers.

  6. lavendermoongirlblog May 28, 2013 at 10:20 am #

    A very interesting walk. Great photos and park!

    • Rosemarie May 28, 2013 at 12:50 pm #

      Thanks! I am not generally an active person, so I have to keep the hikes interesting so I don’t get bored.

  7. Photography Journal Blog May 30, 2013 at 1:03 am #

    Have you seen the Twelfth Night performance this year? I heard there was a new option of eating there before hand, like a restaurant, not a picnic.

    • Rosemarie May 30, 2013 at 1:14 am #

      I have not been yet. Sorry I can’t help.

  8. ostranderbellepoint May 30, 2013 at 4:04 am #

    I never knew this gem of a park existed in St. Louis. Very lovely pictures!

    • Rosemarie May 30, 2013 at 12:13 pm #

      I haven’t been to the park in quite some time. I was agog at the changes and upgrades. I walked around like any other tourist.

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