We actually were rolling out of our driveway at 6:18 am, a feat I would never have imagined possible. We drove straight through Indiana and Illinois, with just a couple quick restroom stops. (And the obligatory rock collecting in Illinois, because Toa really wants to bring home rocks from each state. And, had Olney Illinois been closer to I-70, I would have petitioned for a detour to go see white squirrels. But it isn't and we didn't.)
We reached St. Louis just before noon, central time. The Gateway Arch was our first stop on our trip, a totally appropriate kick-off to our travels.
Let me just say that pictures simply do not do the Arch justice. It is beautiful, impressive, and, despite its enormous size, astonishingly graceful. My pictures especially won't do it justice, but I had to take some anyway.
As soon as we got close to the Arch, Toa of Boy immediately wanted to know if he could go “touch it”. Both kids ran up to the Arch, and the Jedi called after Toa, “careful not to push it too hard!”
Inside, we bought tickets for the 12:25 tram to the top. The Jedi, who is not a fan of heights, elected to stay on the ground. Sweetling, Toa, and I got in line for the tram. The tram is a line of eight capsules, which each seat five people. They looked like little space pods. We shared our space pod with a father and son who were down from Alaska. The doors to the little space pods were glass, so during the ride up and down, we could see out into the metal stairway that zig-zagged down through the arch.
After a three minute ride, we were at the top of the Arch. The floor itself slopped with the crest of the Arch. We spent several minutes peering out the observation windows and taking photos of the view.
Against Toa's protests, we spent a little bit of time walking through the Museum of Westward Expansion in the base of the Arch. Of course, no one knew mad bison lurked the corridors of the museum.
After that narrow escape, we left the Arch and had lunch at Pappy's Smokehouse. The ribs and the brisket were awesome, but I have to say that my absolute favorite were the sweet potato fries. The were thin fries, deep fried and sprinkled in (what I think) was a mixture of brown sugar and white sugar with just a touch of cinnamon. I totally need to try this at home. Toa of Boy had a "frito pie", which I thought sounded disgusting but Toa and the Jedi thought it sounded great. A frito pie is a bed of Frito corn chips smothered in baked beans topped with onions, cheese, and meat. Pappy's was also home to one of my favorite quotes of the day
"I have ice in my shoe."
This was expressed to us by Sweetling, after Toa was attempting to work the ice and fountain drink dispenser on his own.
We didn't hit Pappy's until two o'clock, so by the time we finished eating, we only had about an hour in the St Louis Science Center. We declined their $9 parking lot and parked on the street for free. We knew we were coming back to the Science Center in the morning, so only having an hour that first day was fine. I'll post all the pics of the Science Center up in my next post.
My second favorite quote of the day came from the Jedi, when we returned to the van. He asked,
"Why is their a stegosaurus roaming free in the car?"
Our next stop was Ted Drewes Ice Cream. We were pleasantly surprised to find that it was a historic roadside attraction on the old Route 66. Sweetling is enamored by the Old Mother Road, so this was a special treat for her.
The frozen custard was delicious. They gave Toa and Sweetling "Route 66" stickers. Toa ordered one of their famous "concretes" and they handed him his cup upside down. He giggled over that for quite some while.
We hit the ice cream stand at dinner time. We were supposed to be getting together with friends for dinner, but our schedule was off (even though we invited them to join us in an ice cream dinner.) Still, we headed over to their house after our ice cream. Sitting and visiting with good friends who we haven't seen in a while was a great end to a great day!
on to Day 2