Eclipse Or Bust

The Chronology Continues

This is blog article number two, in my series on the Great American Eclipse Road Trip 2017, if you haven’t read the first article it can be found here: To Eclipse Or Not To Eclipse

The best-laid plans, well I’m sure you have heard the rest of the quote… A Wednesday night departure ended up becoming a Thursday morning departure. I picked up my business partner, Lorie McQuirt, at 6:30 a.m. on Thursday August 19th and we headed West. Have you ever been on a road trip with your kids, well this is no different, “are we there yet”, “are we there yet”, “are we there yet.” I would say “Go West Young Man”, but there is the problem of mixed gender and age at play here, so we’ll leave that alone.

The drive was mostly uneventful, and the route from Columbus, OH to St. Louis was pretty much smooth sailing. We pulled into St. Louis about eight hours after we pulled out. I have always found St. Louis interesting and I particularly like the St. Louis arch.

Officially known as “The Gateway Arch”, the structure, technically an inverted catenary arc, is clad in stainless steel and stands 630 feet (192 meters) tall. The arch holds records as the world’s tallest arch, the tallest man-made monument (in the Western Hemisphere), and Missouri’s tallest accessible building. Designed as a monument to the westward expansion of the United States and dedicated to “the American people”, “The Gateway Arch is a must stop for me, every time I come through St. Louis.

Visitors find themselves parking along the levee, at the riverfront, and upon reaching the street level the impressive sight of the arch itself, sitting upon a huge plaza. The plaza is fronted with a wide and imposing “grand staircase.” The approach, the plaza, the visitor entrances, and the arch itself, all make a statement. To me, that statement is, St. Louis serves as a portal to the wide open spaces that are the Great American West. The grandeur and symbology are both direct and intentional.

BP-RAM-0820201701-I001 - The Grand Staircase

BP-RAM-0820201701-I001 – The Grand Staircase

Once one is past the obligatory image capture, of the arch itself, the structure provides a number of angles for the more artistic photographers among us to work. Keeping in mind some of the rules of composition and breaking the ones that need broken at the right time, the arch offers ample images for the taking. The image below is, of course, designed to follow some foundation rules of composition.

BP-RAM-0820201701-I002 - Hooked By The Arch

BP-RAM-0820201701-I002 – Hooked By The Arch

Even though I have been here before, the visitor center’s entrance gave me pause for a different perspective, this time. Always trying to find the new lines and new views in old scenes, just to try and keep things fresh. The shot below is the result of seeing old things, in a new way and clearly defies a rule or two of composition.

BP-RAM-0820201701-I003 - Heading In, And Heading Up

BP-RAM-0820201701-I003 – Heading In, And Heading Up

Once one has ventured to the top of “The Gateway Arch”, in what can only be described as sardine cans that swivel while you are in them, you are greeted by impressive views of St. Louis, to the West and the remains of Illinois to the East. We were here a little early in the day, so no night game for the Cardinals, but the view is impressive all the same. Night time visits, to the arch, during Cardinals Baseball home games (it’s ironically dark in the stadium, when the team is away…), can yield really great night time images.

BP-RAM-0820201701-I004 - A View From The Top Of The Arch

BP-RAM-0820201701-I004 – A View From The Top Of The Arch

All good things must come to an end and our visit to the arch was no different. Time to come back down to Earth and get back on the road. It’s always nice to break up the long drives with some compelling imaging stops, just to change things up a little.

On our way back to the car, we were lucky enough to run into Ed and Luke, one of the buggy teams lined up to ferry tourists around the riverfront. Just to be clear, Luke is the horse portion of the Ed and Luke power duo. Ed and Luke have been working together for thirteen years and the two definitely seem to have a bond between them. Luke favors peppermints and while quiet and docile, as most Percherons are, Luke definitely wants to make your gradual acquaintance, before you go straight for the nose. We spent some time getting to know each other, and Luke’s eyes seem to say he has seen a lot over his thirteen plus years. Luke was being mysterious and coy while I was shooting him, or heck maybe he was just tired.

BP-RAM-0820201701-I005 - Luke, Long Time St. Louis Resident

BP-RAM-0820201701-I005 – Luke, Long Time St. Louis Resident

The drive from St. Louis to Kansas city was pretty quiet and while the tires hummed the miles slowly ticked by. Time was passed, as the miles rolled on, discussing various techniques for shooting the upcoming eclipse and working through some questions on Photoshop tutorials. The miles turned into twelve hours and we progressed westward into the night. It was very late in the evening, when we finally pulled into Stadium RV Park, trailer in tow. Clearly arriving past closing time, any empty spot would do, payment could wait until the morning, for now, time to get some much needed sleep.

See you tomorrow for the next installment of the Great American Eclipse Road Trip 2017. Catch you on the road!