November 22, 2009

The Gateway City

Hellooo, St. Louis! Now this is a CITY! Skyscrapers, bright lights, congestion, restaurants, casinos, tourist attractions, shopping! Can I move?

Recharged batteries and a two-hour drive later, we're entering St. Louis. If I've learned anything in my two-year-sojourn away from D.C., it is the fact that other major cities exist besides those on the east and west coasts. Was I ever surprised to see how large this city is. My geography and history lessons with respect to St. Louis got lost in the annals of time, I guess. Of course, I knew that it is the home of the Rams and Cardinals. And the Gateway Arch. And what idiot doesn't know that it also the home to Anheuser Busch? Or the Clydesdales? But there is so much more.

Locate the hotel--Maggie was on her job. Throw down the bags and we're off. We only have a day and night to spare, so I'm determined to get in three of the things on my list: the Arch; the brewery; and a casino. First to The Gateway Arch. It could be seen from the hotel room's window, only two blocks away. It is gorgeous, if a towering arch of steel can be termed as such. It is located in a beautiful park setting, beside the Mississippi riverfront. There is a tram ride inside the Arch which, being the scaredey cat that I am, was politely declined. Horse-drawn carriages at the base of the park steps, and lots of river boats. Opposite of the Arch, downtown, is a replica of the U.S. Capitol surrounded by skyscrapers. Well, hold on, St. Louis isn't the capital of Missouri, is it? Naw! But it is so picturesque click. "Why are you taking a picture of that? You don't know what it is." "I'll google it." And so I did. It is The Old Courthouse, home to the Dred Scott trial. Get out of here! I must avail myself of the library across the street and brush up on my history.

Back to the hotel. On the way, we passed a building with a marker reading that it was the site of a St. Louis newspaper where Mark Twain worked at one time. That man traveled quite a bit. Stopped in the hotel's pub and was enjoying some liquid refreshment when, lo and behold, a shuttle bus for a casino pulled up. A shuttle bus? We don't have to move the car? "Nope, just ask the concierge to call the casino and we'll come get you." Alright! Stopped at the desk, on the way upstairs, to ask that they make the call. Why would we want to do that? The casino has an underground walkway, called the Metrolink or "Link" for short, one block away. Are you serious? Alrighty then!

We're off. Food coupons in the pocket and limited funds for splurging. Feeling pretty good. Lumiere Place serves good food. And the slots were good to me. Or maybe it was because, for once, I had sense enough to leave while I was ahead. Since SF doesn't indulge, I relieved him from his people-watching duties and we headed back to the hotel. Good grief, I had forgotten the game was on. Didn't matter, we didn't find out who won until the next morning.

Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, we have to hit the brewery before we hit the road. It's 4 miles away from the hotel but on the route home. Lawdy Miss Clawdy, is this place huge, or what? It takes up blocks and blocks, a miniature city in itself, 100 acres. So, of course, we turned into the wrong entrance and found ourselves in the lobby of an office building, not the visitor's center. Huge statue of the trademark eagle in the foyer, made of silver, gold, and rubies for the eyes. Lawd, lawd. Click, click.

Up the street to the visitor's center, the facade of which is emblazoned with the trademark eagle. Click, click. Inside is a museum to enlighten the unenlightened--those of us who didn't know that in addition to Bud, it makes Busch, Michelobe, Rolling Rock, and some of those Baccardi malt drinks, among others. Detailed history of how it started, those delightful ads, fantastic beer steins, original wagons, what it owns; i.e., theme parks, etc. Click, click. This is where you gather to take the tour which ends with complimentary beer. I want to see the brewery but I don't drink beer. SF can have mine.

First stop is to see the famous Clydesdales--whoo hoo! Talking about pampered beauties! And HUGE! They are groomed for 5 hours each day! Their bridles, etc., are handmade. They live in palatial splendor! The stable in St. Louis was originally built by Anheuser or Busch for his horses in the 1800s. Crystal chandeliers, beautiful carved wood, wrought iron. Click, click. When I come back in the afterlife, I want to be a Budweiser Clydesdale.

Do you remember the commercial a few years ago where the Dalmatian was training a horse to become a Clydesdale? There's some truth to that--click on the link for more information. I passed on the brewery tour; putting it on the list for the next trip. It's only five hours away (taking the road marked St. Louis next time, thank you) and there is so much to see.

I took so many pictures on this short trip until I went through two sets of batteries and the memory stick just up and quit. Good thing we were headed back to the Big Rip!

Be blessed.

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