St Louis Arch, Land Between the Lakes, Kentucky

We spent a week in western Kentucky at Hillman Ferry Campground at the north west side of Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area. LBL is 170k acres of forests and open land that stretches in a long thin column north-south in Western Kentucky and Tennessee between the Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley. There is a lot of backcountry hiking and camping, hunting and access to the water.

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While we were there we had the craziest thunderstorms we had ever experienced. So close, so numerous and so extended. The campground lost power, and thus water and sewer, and our inverter was blown. Hence I have almost no pictures from here. It was a kind of miserable week. The air was so thick with humidity it felt like you were drowning or would be pressed apart with the pressure in the air between storms. No ac, no showers, and stuck inside most of the time. It was not our favorite part of the trip.

It was, however, as with so many places that are humid and rainy, very beautiful. Green and lush. We did go on some rainy walks and swam in the lake in between thunderstorms.

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Fallow Deer
Fallow Deer
We hiked one day at Hematite Lake hike near Woodlands Nature Station. T is 2.5 miles around lake but was flooded out half way around. Much of the trail was wet. The kids thought that was great fun. We saw Fallow Deer and a Skunk. It was a nice hike. There is primitive camping there and spots for fishing. Would be fun.
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We wanted to visit the Elk and Bison Prairie but it was closed due to the weather as was the 1850s homestead. We were treated to the comical sight of Wild Turkeys flying and landing in tree tops.
There is a badge you can get here too. Ask at the Welcome Center.

We decided to escape some of the drudgery at our Kentucky home and drove three hours north to St Louis, Missouri. The drive through Illinois was pretty. Rolling hills and farm fields. And much welcomed sunshine.

Illinois is State 23
Illinois is State 23

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We got a great deal and stayed at Drury Plaza Hotel at the Arch. (Great hotel! Dinner, drinks, popcorn and lemonade in afternoon, breakfast, pool.). It was a block from the Gateway Arch which is the largest stainless steel structure in world at 630 feet tall. It was completed in 1965. I had gone as a kid and actually remembered it and remembered how cool it was. It was neat to go back.

Lewis and Clark, York, Sacagawea statue in hotel lobby
Lewis and Clark, York, Sacagawea statue in hotel lobby
Matilda: I LOVE hotels!
Matilda: I LOVE hotels!

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We went to the Jefferson Museum of Western Expansion which is now housed in the Old Courthouse due to construction at the arch. It was right across the street from our hotel. It had great displays about Lewis and Clark, Native Peoples of the area, French Settlers to the area and we learned a lot. Matilda earned badge #44 there. We had visited where the Corps of Discovery had made it to the Pacific Ocean and it was very cool to see the place where Lewis and Clark and crew had set off.
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This flag has 33 stars because that's as many states as there were when courthouse built
This flag has 33 stars because that's as many states as there were when courthouse built

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We went up in the St Louis Arch. (Need a ticket with scheduled time. $13/10 with parks pass or kids. Look for online coupon tho we had kids free with adult ticket.) You have to pass through metal detector and cannot bring any bags, water, weapons.
You go up in a small windowless elevator (I have no idea how you did it back in the day Mom. Matilda was not a fan but we made it.) It takes 4 minutes to go up and 3 minutes to go back down. There are tiny viewing windows at top. You could see our hotel and the Old Courthouse. You can barges moving up the Mississippi below. We went up the north side and down the south arch so got to do the whole thing.
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A lovely family portrait at the top of the arch
A lovely family portrait at the top of the arch