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Oct 30

St. Louis Blues!

The ArchLeaving Illinois on the next phase of our Route 66 Journey, we decided to head straight to St. Louis and include a visit to the top of the Gateway Arch  in our sightseeing. We had ‘done’ The London Eye a few years ago and were fortunate to have great weather – which, according to Priscilla, is a rare occurrence in England! The view was fantastic. We were also looking forward to spending time at the Museum of Westward Expansion.  It was to be a very full day and we were excited to learn more about the role the city played as the Gateway to the West.

We booked into the city RV Park for two nights to be close to our sightseeing and realized once we arrived that it was actually in a part of town that at one time had been pretty unsavory!  The owner told us that when he bought the land some 20 + years ago, the city had just demolished a dodgy housing complex close by!  Our first impressions of the park were not favorable!  A bare, fenced parking lot, no trees, no grass!  However, the staff was friendly and helpful and we found the restrooms to be the best we’d encountered so far!  Spotlessly clean, with private showers, i.e. you locked the door to the shower instead of having privacy curtains only, which is the norm in most RV Parks.  We settled in and looked forward to the next day which, incidentally, was our 25th wedding anniversary!

Parks closedIt was not until that evening we learned our plans would be foiled by the Government shutdown!  The St. Louis Arch and the Museum are National Monuments and therefore subject to closure.  Suffice it to say we had a few choice words for the members of Congress who were acting more like kindergartners than adult elected officials. In order to push their own agendas they were willing to put the country and the people in jeopardy, not to mention making the United States the laughing stock of the world.    However, this is not the time or place to tell how we really feel so if you’re interested in the details, check it out at Wikipedia

25th

We went to bed a little disillusioned, to say the least, thankfully not aware of how the next day would turn out!  Bill had been working on fixing a leak in the washbasin and planned to finish it up the next day.  At 2:00am we were woken by the sound of water gushing from the faucet, hitting the ceiling and flooding the bathroom!  Priscilla was sent outside – barefoot but at least somewhat clothed – to turn off the water!  After mopping up the mess we went back to bed. This was not a good start to our 25th Wedding Anniversary!

As it turned out, we were quite busy the next day visiting Home Depot and an RV parts store and replacing the faucet and the blown electrical outlet.  By the time the evening came we were too tired to go out and celebrate!  That will have to wait for another day.

Even though we didn’t get a chance to go to the top of Gateway Arch, we learned that it was built between 1963 and October 1965.  It is 630 feet (192 m) tall and, on a clear day, you can see for 30 miles (48 km).  If you look eastward you can see the Mississippi River and the State of Illinois.  A short tram ride takes you to the top but, if you suffer from Acrophobia it would probably be best to avoid this!  Reading online reviews, it seems that security is taken very seriously at the Arch, resulting in long lines and delays even worse than at airports which somewhat spoils the experience!

St. Louis stands at an interesting point both geographically and historically.  It was founded by Traders using the Mississippi River to travel north and south, and also by Explorers – most notable being Meriwether Lewis and  William Clark –   followed by ordinary people seeking a better life out “West”.  It truly is the crossroads of America!

Busch StadiumOne attraction that was not affected by the Government shutdown was the world’s largest brewer, Anheuser-Busch!  Unfortunately, we ran out of time so missed out on this! According to Explore St. Louis   As large numbers of immigrants from Germany and Bohemia found their way to St. Louis beginning around 1830, a substantial portion of these newly-minted Americans settled in Soulard, the city’s oldest neighborhood. This area was home to a number of breweries over the years, and it eventually became the home of the world’s largest brewer, Anheuser-Busch. The immigrants’ principal skills included making bricks and making beer, so a number of breweries began to open in the city. And it helps explain the number of red brick buildings throughout the area. In addition to Eberhard Anheuser’s Bavarian Brewery and Adam Lemp’s Western Brewery, others like the Arsenal Brewery, Anthony and Kuhn’s, Excelsior, Green Tree and English breweries established themselves in St. Louis.

What a pity we couldn’t explore the history of the city and walk in the footsteps of the original Native American inhabitants, the French traders, the immigrants from Europe, the American explorers and others heading west.  We’ve learned to be flexible when traveling so we hooked up our RV trailer and left St. Louis listening to Louis Armstrong playing St. Louis Blues on our iPod!

Pictures:  http://goo.gl/6eX0bB

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