Tarmac ribbons criss-crossing the landscape, dusty back roads twisting between the cool shadows of ancient pines, and less traveled pathways connecting present to past, all I wander, seeking, seeing, with my keyboard and camera capturing scenes and stories to share with you.

Now in its seventh year, this venue has become an important part of my life, a place where I can express my thoughts and feelings about the things I see and do, hoping the process brings me a bit closer to friends and family who enjoy sharing my sometimes chaotic and often nonlinear observations and ideas. A journal, I suppose, but one with which I find pleasure in thinking others are alongside me on my journey.

Comments, thoughts, or just a friendly chat, use the response box below or email me at patrickgroleau@gmail.com.

April 4, 2012

ON THE ROAD - PLEASANT INSANITY


... after the zoo we went over to the "city museum" of st. louis ... if the yellow buses lined up along the street weren't enough of a clue, the millions of screaming kids inside were proof that this was more of a family amusement park than an actual museum ... we decided to enter anyhow, despite what we considered to be relatively expensive tickets ... we enjoyed ourselves strolling around the museum, found an entire floor of architectural displays that were, indeed, quite serious (and, thus, almost kid-free), and, with exhibits such as the above, realized that our initial assessment was perhaps a tiny bit too harsh ...

... i mean, after all, how can you beat seeing the "largest pencil in the world" ... (okay, so it doesn't write, but what kid's going to pay attention to that little detail) ...



... we bought a few touristy trinkets, came to appreciate that tucked away all over the building were all sorts of places where tired parents could hide out and enjoy an adult beverage, and then discovered the the heart of the city museum's playground ...


... this picture doesn't begin to do it justice, since, in addition to compressing the perspective, it fails to show the entirety of the structure ... over ten stories from the street level "house of balls" to the top of the upper airplane's tail, a seemingly drug inspired construction invites the tiny hands of children who intuitively understand that bravery need be neither abnormal nor rare, and, also, the moms and dads who desperately do not want to let go of their offspring while at the same time are equally driven to encourage them to leave the safety of their arms ... in a short glance i noticed a thousand ways for a child to suffer a boo-boo, uncounted edges and planes which insured that an afternoon of exploration would most definitely be neither scrape nor bruise free ... a young mother said to me, "i've lost him three times this afternoon, and he's already gotten three injuries" ...

... at this, i fell in love with st. louis ... towering arch, beer, a wonderful history, all are nothing compared to a culture that enables, invites, encourages children to be children ... to say, "bring me your children ... let them go ... understand that to raise a child risk-free is to create an adult who cannot deal with risk," this museum took courage, and for that i salute st. louis ...


... then, after getting thoroughly lost in a labyrinth of a three-story subterranean cave/maze, we came upon this ... what you are looking at is the "delivery shaft" that used to be the central hub of this industrial building ... at every level chutes entered into these huge spiral slides ... workers dropped packages/products into holes in the walls on each floor, the boxes were then whisked by gravity to the lower floors ... 


... except now, the building no longer having any utilitarian purpose, it seems the same people who designed and constructed the outdoor play area decided to see if  beyond all doubt they could convince future generations that they were, indeed, absolutely insane ... climbing ten stories, on monkey bars stairs a feat in and of itself, we came to the top of "the ten story slide" ...


... keep in mind, this is an ancient industrial package delivery system, designed to move boxes, which were at most probably eighteen to twenty-four inches in their largest dimension, to the bottom of the building ... look closely, i think you'll agree that this structure wasn't used for packages containing crystal glasses or fresh eggs ... that's what we thought ...


... but, of course, we've always believed that thinking about stuff can sometimes be a waste of time, so ... so, off we went ... after jon and adrien's screams faded a bit i launched myself into the opening, immediately determining that in the olden days none of the workers in the building ever attempted to deliver any package that was even near grown-up human size ... as i picked up speed my feet kept hitting, slowing me, so i leaned back and lifted my shoes so they only occasionally squeaked against the butt-polished smooth metal surface of the slide ... 32ft/sec/sec minus friction, as i quickly picked up speed centripetal force raised me up along the side of the slide ... by the time i had done three revolutions i was thinking i had "made a bad choice," by the time i had done four i was screaming, at the fifth turn i was so disoriented i couldn't figure out who was doing all the screaming, and, at the sixth revolution, i felt like chuck yeager in "the right stuff," pinned against the inside of fuselage as his tiny x-1a rocket plane spun out of control towards the earth below ...


... this was during my the first spiral, after which the screaming began ...

... adrien says that when i exited at the bottom i couldn't stand up straight for several minutes, i don't remember ... jon says i did good for an old man ... i say that sometime i'm going to return to st. louis and for entire day join with the screaming children descending as many times as i can the ten-story slide ...


NIKON D200 & OLYMPUS E-PL1