Saturday, August 30, 2008

Road Trip to St. Louis

Part 3: St. Louis

Above: The city of St. Louis as seen from atop the largest of the Cahokia Mounds - Tuesday, August 19, 2008.

Above: The Cahokia Mounds, located just eight miles from downtown St. Louis, in the neighboring state of Illinois, are the remnants of an ancient city that was the largest prehistoric Indian city north of Mexico and a thriving religious, political, economic and cultural center.

Above and below: The Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis, the interior of which contains the largest mosaic collection in the world.

Above: With my friends Susan and Kathleen outside the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis - Tuesday, August 19, 2008.

Above and below: A Mississippi River cruise aboard the Tom Sawyer paddle boat - Sunday, August 17, 2008.

Above: Kathleen and Joey abroad the Tom Sawyer with St. Louis’ famed Gateway Arch in the background. More on this unique structure in the next installment.

Above and below: The bridges of St. Louis.

Above: A St. Louis street at sunset. Yes, it’s a quiet city.

Above and below: The St. Louis Zoo, which we visited on Monday, August 18, 2008.

For as long as I can remember I’ve always been fascinated by African animals. As a child growing up in Australia my favorite TV show was Kimba the White Lion! So as soon as Kathleen, Joey, and I arrived at the zoo I suggested we head straight to the section that housed the African animals.

The first ones we saw were the giraffes, who share space with a couple of ostriches. And if you look carefully at the photo above you’ll see a kudu in the enclosure next door.

Interestingly, I’ve never been that drawn to the carnivores of Africa (or anywhere else, for that matter.) In fact, I didn’t even bother checking out the lions, leopards, and/or cheetahs at the zoo - though Joey did. No, I’ve always been much more interested in giraffes, zebras, and the numerous species of African antelopes. What’s that say about me, I wonder.

Above: A seemingly legless bongo! Fear not, it was just resting.

The bongo is a rare rainforest antelope from the Congo River basin in central Africa. Exciting as it was to actually see such a beautiful and rare creature, the best was yet to come . . .

Above: Yes, friends, the St. Louis Zoo has an okapi exhibit.

Related to the giraffe but with the look of an antelope and the makings of a zebra, the okapi not only combines elements of my three favorite animals but is, in its own right, a very unique (and rare) creature.

Did you know that the okapi was only discovered by Europeans at the turn of the twentieth century? And that according to legend each okapi decorates itself with its stripped markings? No mean feat for an even-toed ungulate!

Above: Up close and personal with an okapi.

Above: With Joey and the giraffes.

Above: One of the many beautiful sculptures at the St. Louis Zoo.

Above: The St. Louis Cardinals baseball team playing the Pittsburgh Pirates - Tuesday, August 19, 2008. The Pirates won.

NEXT: Part 4: The Arch.

See also the previous Road Trip to St. Louis posts:
Part 1: Following the Mississippi
Part 2: Dubuque

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