From Victoria to St. Louis

One of the first things we came upon of note was Snake Alley, in the Mississippi River town of Burlington, Iowa, once recognized by Ripley’s “Believe it or Not” as the Crookedest Street in the World. 

We drove down it but not up it, when we were going, not coming.

When you’re at the beginning of a road trip, you take pictures of everything.  Sometimes at the end too.

From the bottom looking up, Snake Alley seems to be just a grassy knoll between buildings.

We drove a bit further to The Grand Anne that Allan found online for us in Keokuk, Iowa.  Keokuk is located on that little piece of land dangling from the southern border of Iowa, between the flux of two rivers, about 4 hours from Victoria, MN.  The place was, as its name states, grand.

We learned that Keokuk is struggling with high unemployment, lack of available jobs, and that many of the large beautiful homes in this city have become dilapidated.  We were surprised to see many poorly cared for, once grand homes, on the way to this address on Grand Avenue.

We discovered this B&B is for sale.  It had six bedroom suites, living room, dining room, kitchen, piano room, pool table in the loft, plus living quarters in the basement level, and was listed for around $400,000.

The next day we drove six hours to a Drury Inn in St. Louis.  We had tickets to the Peabody Opera House that evening, April 9th, for a Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard Concert, starting at 7:30 p.m.  Merle Haggard couldn’t make it because he died on April 6th.

Our seats were not good and not bad.  They were in the middle of this huge Opera House.

As you can see Willie Nelson filled the entire place. Seating capacity is 3,500 people.

A motley crew of musicians entertained as we awaited Willie’s arrival.

They were good, and included the son of Willie Nelson — plaid striped orange and yellow shirt.

Around 10 p.m. Willie Nelson walked onto the stage to an uproar and standing ovation.

The instrumentation was very loud.

And Willie “talked” rather than sang half of the lyrics.

Willie’s last piece was “I’ll Fly Away.”  Then he took off his mic, walked to the edge of the stage and autographed paraphernalia that was thrust in his direction.  We watched the commotion.

We caught a cab at 11:30 p.m. to the Drury, happy to be “back home” before midnight.”

The next morning we drove across town to the St. Anthony Friary to see our old friend Father Bernardine.

It’s located on Meramec Street, and there’s a Meramec River in St. Louis.

When I was here in December (2015) for Father Bernardine’s 100th birthday, with my friend Mary Moore, the grass was not green and the trees were not pink.

I’ve known this dear Franciscan priest since 1983, when he wanted to meet the person who was doing the Victoria Gazette.  Fr. B. served St. Victoria back in the 1950’s, before our time in Victoria.

We had Mass and breakfast together that Sunday morning and then left.  It was kind of damp and windy but Fr. B. insisted on walking out with us.  He put his hood up.

As Father Bernardine said to me, “What would you do without your camera?”

I guess I use my camera to help tell a story, and every day is a new story.

Back in the late 1960’s, during the summers of my college years, I worked at Barnes Hospital in St. Louis as an inhalation therapist and so the arch has been familiar to me for a long time.