The Great Arch: A Monument to the Westward Expansio

March 26, 2015
When I saw the Great Arch from the town, I could not believe there is a way up that architecture. Once we purchased a ticket to the observation deck at the top, we walked a few minutes to the arch.

the great arch in st louis under construction

on the way to the arch puddle reflecting the sky and trees

The Great Arch in St Louis

My shoes were tortured in muddy grass as I tried to get the middle of underneath the arch. The Great Arch from underneath

Just to enter the visitor center, people have to pay $3 per person. I personally would recommend to get a $10 ticket to take the tram up to the top, because the underground center had only souvenir shops opened at the time of my visit. We were allowed to enter the visitor center 30 minutes before our actual tour time.

The Great Arch from the ground at the entrance

The Great Arch construction information

They were giving out tickets that were numbered assigning us to one of 7 trams. We got to the line at 3:50 PM, but the wait was about 20 minutes.
The tram number ticket to the great arch

As you might have seen in the pictures of the outside, the place is under a major construction.When we purchased souvenirs, they asked us to donate a dollar, which we did. we're renovating sign in the great arch visitor center

The door to the tram was very low that we had to bend waist to enter the tram. There were five seats in each.getting on a tram at the great arch

When I got to the top, my fear escalated as I felt the arch swaying a bit from the wind. We had to lean over to the window to get a good look, and I had to ask my friend to take the pictures for me.

view from the great arch

a view from the great arch

a view from the great arch

a view from the great arch

a view from the great arch

a view from the great arch

The Busch Stadium is also visible from the deck.view from the great arch busch stadium

We were allowed to stay there as long as we wanted until it closes, but I felt too sick staying up there. I rushed into the line to go down.
before getting on the tram on the top of the great arch
the tram ride at the great arch

We were one of the last ones at the visitor center. It was interesting to see the place when it was packed and when it was empty.before exiting the great arch visitor center

The Great Arch is like the Statue of Liberty, but way up high. The observation deck was 630 feet above the ground. If you are acrophobic or claustrophobic, then it is not a good idea to go up the arch. But you can still visit the underground and the Old Courthouse.


The Old Courthouse in St. Louis: A Sight of Freedom

March 26, 2015
When I left the hotel at 12 PM, it was cloudy and windy. By the time we arrived at the Old Courthouse in Downtown Memphis after lunch, the weather could not get any better than it was. I was planning to go to the Great Arch right away, but I did some research to figure out where to get a ticket. The Great Arch was being renovated, so the tickets were sold at the Old Courthouse. Street parking was closer, so we parked on the next block from the the building. The fee was only a $1 per hour, which is even cheaper than Champaign.

Jefferson National Expansion Memorial The Old Courthouse in Downtown Memphis

Jefferson National Expansion Memorial The Old Courthouse in Downtown Memphis

Jefferson National Expansion Memorial The Old Courthouse in Downtown Memphis

The inside view of the ceiling
art and ceiling inside the courtroom in st louis

black and white photography of the ceiling in the old courtroom in st louis

the old courtroom ceiling in st louis

the entrance of the old courtroom in st louis

vertical view of the old courtroom in st louis

A clear plastic model of the Old Courthouse was displayed in a hallway. The Great Arch is visible out the window.
the old courtroom and its clear model and the great arch

I went upstairs to take a glimpse into a courtrooms, and I noticed the window ceilings. It is like the windows are resembling the moment of light and freedom.
window ceiling of the old courtroom in st louis

This is the West Courtroom.
An information board was displayed in each courtroom, and the one at the West Courtroom explained:
“This courtroom served as the Court of Common Pleas from 1843 to 1865. It stands immediately above the room in which the Dred Scott case was heard in 1947 and 1850…”
the west courtroom in the old courthouse in st louis

The ceiling of the courtroom was as astonishing as the one from the entrance.
courtroom ceiling on the west wing

This is the view from the third floor. The stairways were steep and quite intimidating.
stairway photography

After an hour of tour in the Courthouse, we bought a $10 ticket to go up the Great Arch. We were able to get two tickets for 4:15 PM tour. A couple of my friends were not able to get a ticket, because the tickets were sold out by 3:30 PM.
outside reflection of the old courtroom in st louis

There were signs on the sidewalks guiding people to the Arch. It was only took us 10 minutes to get to the arch from the courthouse.

this way to the arch city archriver

I am only posting a few pictures from the courthouse. There were way too many memories and stories inside the building, but I could not possibly capture every one of them. You can learn more historical facts by reading the information boards and watching a documentary they show in one of the courtrooms.

Downtown St Louis: An Elegant City with History and Art

May 25-26, 2015
We arrived at St. Louis Downtown at the night of May 25. We checked in at City Center Hotel. The room was really big, but the carpet was so old and smelly. I booked it because of the price, so I had no right to complain.
Most of the stores were closed and many of the streets were empty at the time of we went out. Midnight on Wednesday was not exactly the best time to get a hint of vibe. However, the city view was dynamic because of the elegant lights.
This street in downtown had bars and restaurants with a beautiful street light.

night street view
All star game arch at night

Most of the buildings had these lightings, which made the architectures appear more classic and louis auditorium
building lit up at night

It was drizzling rain when we got there. street lights in st louis

The next morning, we visited Busch Stadium. I went to the third base entrance.

St Louis Cardinals 3rd base

There were about a dozen of statues of players.

cardinals sculpture

In the middle of the city, there was a small park with art sculptures. I later found out that this place is sculpture in downtown st louis

Big Suit is a sculpture by Erwin Wurm.
pink sculpture in st louis

In the park, there is a screen in a shape of a smartphone. It was like the one in New York Times Square but in a smaller size. I would have loved it more if the screen was more vivid. I thought a smartphone company should sponsor a screen. live screen in downtown st louis

The park also had a waterfall. I found out that this was a pool, because the sign said that the pool is currently closed. Behind the fountain is a restaurant cafe called The Terrace View.

water fountain in downtown st louis

Another sculpture in the park was Eros Bendato by Igor Mitoraj. Inside the sculpture was empty, which gave me an urge to go inside and see what it feels like inside. I decided not to go inside, because it’s an art work that could be damaged.

Eros Bendato (1999), by Igor Mitoraj, on exhibition in Kraków, Poland in st louis downtown

I am a big fan of Disney and I was thrilled to see a sculpture of Pinocchio. pinocchio sculpture in downtown st louis

An architecture building right next to the Citygarden.architecture in st louis

The City Hall of St. Louis appears to be one the antique architecture building in downtown.

City hall building in st louis

The Stan Musial Veterans’s Bridge view as we were leaving the town.

Stan Musial Veterans’s Bridge in st louis

Sunset view on the highway.

night view at sunsetI drove back to Champaign from St. Louis on Thursday. My low level of cold tolerance and not having enough warm clothes kept me from capturing great views on my camera. I am planning to make another trip to St. Louis just to capture the night views of the town. Take a camera and capture great architecture buildings and street views. While you are there, you can also enjoy baseball, history, art, and more.

Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park in Millington, TN

May 25, 2015
After a good night sleep at Sheraton Downtown Memphis hotel, we started our journey to St. Louis. But before leaving Tennessee, we decided to stop by at a forest to breathe in some fresh air. We left Memphis around 2, so we needed to get to a place before it gets too dark outside.  The closest state park from Memphis was Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park. It only took us 40 minutes to get to the destination from Downtown Memphis.

forest road in spring

As we drove into the woods, I was bewildered by the view of tree branches coiled like a wire. When we arrived to the point where we thought was a good place to stop, I stepped out of the car and noticed a branch hanging down from a tree. I could not decide if this was a snake or a metal piece. Amazingly, it was a tree branch. It looked like someone tried to alter the shape, but there were too many of those so I came to conclude that it wasn’t the case. tree branches that looks like a wire

Another objects attracted my sight were empty acorn cupules lying between leaves and branches.empty acorns

The forest had a playground, but the slides were too rusty. There were way too many insects that were either flying or crawling. playground inside forestHowever, when I squat down and looked very closely, I saw these beautiful plants. I zoomed in my camera to capture them. The actual size of the flower was about a size of a finger nail. This unfamiliar specie was every where around the playground.

small plant flower on a playground

There was a cut-down trunk right next to the playground. I was curious why anyone would cut it down, because the trunk was too small to be of any harm.

cut down tree trunk in a forest

We turned around from the playground and saw a lake. We went down a hill and faced a lake view (could be a river). The cabin appeared to be empty and the dock was an antique.

lake inside forest

That was not the only cabin we saw in the forest. house reflection trees nature

Driving out of the woods, I had to rush and grab my camera to capture this marvelous reflection of the sky. sky reflection

In the forest, there was a store with a freezer outside. I had not seen one like this since I left Korea 10 years ago. Although the building was a bit run-down, I started reminiscing my childhood.

shelby forest general store

Toward the end of the forest, we encountered a horse farm. horse ranch nature Although Meeman-Shelby Forest is not as grandioso or eye-opening as other national parks, its own atmosphere is worth a praise. The playground is not the destination you should look forward to, but there is a bike trail and picnic areas. So you don’t have to be a great hiker to visit the park.

Graceland, the Home of Elvis Presley’s

May 24, 2015
I asked my friend who had lived in Memphis for 10 years about places to go in Memphis. He recommended Graceland, the home of Elvis Presley’s. The parking lot has the largest handicapped parking I had ever seen in my life. When we got there, less than a dozen cars were there. graceland entrance elvis presley

graceland entrance elvis presley

There was a ditch under the bridge, and the water was reflecting a beautiful view of the sky and the trees.Graceland ditch under the entrance bridge

2014 was the 60th anniversary of rock n’ roll and they still had street light banner outside the building.graceland 60 anniversary rock n' roll

Inside the ticket place, there were souvenir shops and a coin machine. A coin is $5 and is about the size of a dollar coin. graceland elvis presley coins

One of the souvenir shops had a mirror on the ceiling. It was a pathway to from a shop to an art shop.elvis presley souvenir shop mirror

Right next to the souvenir shops, there was Elvis Presley’s private jet stationed outside the building. elvis presley jet station

elvis presley airport sign

The plane was bigger than I thought a private jet would look like. It made me wonder why Elvis needed such a big private jet.elvis presley private jet

This grand Elvis fan mosaic is placed on the wall outside the building.

elvis fan mosaic at gracelandelvis presley mosaic picture

I kept seeing these white flowering trees everywhere in Memphis.  white flower trees

white flowersWe had to cross a street to get to the entrance of Elvis Presley’s birthplace.elvis presleys house

His garden is surrounded by these rocky and pointy wall. To me, it resembled the vibrancy of rock n’ roll soul. It is an astonishing feeling to be a part of all these traces of Elvis admirers. elvis presleys wall

elvis presley gate

The house is only opened until 5 pm, but we got there at 4:40. So we had to enjoy the view from a distance. This explains why the parking lot was really empty.elvis presley house entrance pathway

The Graceland tour packages cost from about $35 to 80. If you don’t want to spend that money, it is still okay to experience the place from outside while basking in the sunshine.

Memphis Downtown: A Quiet and Calm City with Music

Memphis on March 24, 2015

Downtown in Memphis was a lot different than other cities. The place was really quiet and empty. As I walked around a few blocks, I only saw a few tourists. It might be because the Memphis Pyramid and Mud Island were closed. A front desk lady at Sheraton hotel informed us that the Pyramid is under a  major construction–it is going to become a megastore.

sheraton hotel in downtown memphis

Just a block from Sheraton Memphis Downtown hotel, I saw a small and shiny sculpture. There stood a great sculpture reflecting lights. It was placed on the corner of The Cannon Center. The size was not as impressive as the Bean in Chicago, but the shape was very intriguing.

cannon center sculpture in memphis downtown

The top part of the public sculpture, it was opened as if it is absorbing light inside. The way the sculpture seems to be put together was interesting. There was space between each piece. It almost seemed like thin layers of metal pieces were loosely holding on to one another.

inside cannon center sculpture memphis downtown

top of cannon center sculpture in memphis downtown

Although I did not see tall buildings in Memphis, there were some interesting places like this Cotton Museum.

cotton museum in memphis downtown

During the day time, streets were still empty. I saw a few cars passing by, but I was able to capture the street view without any moving cars in the frame. Also the trees were fascinating. There were no branches growing on the left side, so they were not touching the building.

street view of memphis downtown

The famous Beale Street, a place with amazing music.
I did not have time to visit Beale at night, but my friends went and told me about the place. They said that the place was not packed but it could be because it was Tuesday. They were able to enjoy music outside while sipping on bottles of beer.

street view of beale street in memphis downtown

The streets were very clean and I did not see trash on sidewalks, so I was surprised to see a pile of trash on a street as I walked to the Mud Island. It is possible that Memphis does not require a dumpster.

trash on a street in downtown memphis

I stood on a electric trolley railway, but I did not see any around the town. Instead, there stood a small clock tower in the middle of the railway.

electric trolley clock

Before going on a trip, I did not research too much about the city. I just wanted to go and see the place as it is. The bridge to the Mud Island was closed, which was a bit disappointing. However, I was happy to see this great sunset view from the entrance. a bridge to mud island in downtown memphis

The view of Hernando de Soto Bridge from the parking lot of the Mud Island Hernando de Soto Bridge in downtown memphis

The sunset from Downtown MemphisRiver view of downtown memphis at sunset

IMG_3273 I would recommend Memphis to anyone who wants to relax and enjoy music. I personally liked how Memphis was bleak but also musical.

Driving from Champaign to Memphis

Our trip started on May 24, 2015 from Champaign, Illinois. Our destination was down south to Memphis, Tennessee. We expected our drive to last about 6 hours, but we stopped about 3 times for gas and food and it took almost 8 hours from Champaign to Memphis.

freeway rainingOur trip began with drops of rain. After about 2 hours down south, rain stopped and sky turned gray and blue.IMG_2341

I had a chance to observe and enjoy a beautiful scenery on a highway. More we drove down to Memphis, the sky was getting clearer and brighter.IMG_2498

About  half way between Champaign and Memphis, trees were still leafless. IMG_2566


Do you also see the transition in weather from Champaign to Memphis?
About an hour before Memphis, the sky was so blue and bright. We had to turn on A/C because it was getting too warm. The ground was getting greener as we got closer to Memphis. I loved how trees and sky were beautiful harmonious. Green tree and bright sky

trees and blue sky

trees and blue sky and clouds

bright sky

bridge to memphisAt the entrance of Memphis, a bridge and a pyramid building welcomed us. Although my body was tired from sitting in the car for 7 hours, I was more than glad that I decided to make a trip to Memphis.