Monday, October 13, 2008

May 2008 St. Louis

Chapter 3
St. Louis
May 17,2008

It was 4 hours to St. Louis from Memphis. We visited the Anheuser-Busch Budweiser Brewery before checking into our hotel in hopes of being able to make the last factory tour but got there too late, so browsed the gift shop instead.

During Prohibition Budweiser marketed grape syrup for soft drinks.

There is a plethora of memorabelia and educational displays; Budweiser created 6 packs of water for hurricane releif effort.

I purchased a mixed 6 pack of several beers I hadn't seen before. Wild Blue is purple and has 8% alcohol, twice what regular beer has. Michelob Ultra is flavored with raspberries/pomegranate. Shock Top has spices.

En route to our hotel we passed through a neighborhood, Soulard, established when the French settled St. Louis. There is a farmer's market in a building plus open air stalls outside. We were there too late in the afternon to do any shopping there.

The Millenium is a tall round building with premium rooms affording a marvelous view in each one. There is a curved lobby attaching it to a second short fat building where the regular hotel rooms are. Our room was $50 cheaper booking it through

We were not impressed with reservation service but adored this hotel. Another option to book a room would have been with but I am unsure if it too is not part of the Travelocity/Expedia/ consortium. Our room had a beautiful view of the arch.

There were weddings galore this weekend. There was a reception in our lobby upon arrival, another in red and black posing for pictures in front of the arch, a 3rd in pinks on the steps of the old court house across from the arch, a 4th in lavenders being photgraphed on the lawn near the fountain in front of Union Station. The lobby of the Hyatt Regency was being decorated for a wedding reception with orange color scheme when we arrived. After this reception there was also a prom for 9 pm so we never did get a proper look at what now remains of the original train station.

Union Station

The Hyatt Regency at Union Station is a mile from the arch straight up Market Street. Part of the old train station is now the lobby of that Hyatt. On the other side of the lobby is a Victorian shopping mall with glass ceilings. The place where the train tracks converged is now a lake with paddle boats and a wharf with several restaurants serving meals on the deck.

The second floor of the shopping mall has a train museum. There is a movie about Union Station. It was built in 1894 and was at one time the busiest train station in American. The last train pulled out of there in 1971. The facility fell into disrepair but was salvaged in
1978. It is said the only thing original from the train station is the stained glass transom over the front door of 3 women, symbolizing St. Louis, Chicago and New York City.

Robert was interested in one of the enterprises set up in the shopping mal. There were 4 trampolines with harnesses and a set of scales so that people between 20 & 200 pounds could jump safely. When a person is jumping too hard the employee managing the attraction pulls on some ropes attached to the body harness of the jumper which makes him rise up so he can't jump fully on the trampoline and bounce too high, lose control or otherwise hurt himself. One little 4 year old girl we watched was an expert doing triple twirls and reverse rolls.

These gates were used for scrap metal during WWII

Harvey Wilson founded a chain of restaurants in the train stations.

Harvey waitresses were between 18 & 30. They were required to pledge to remain single for a year. 2,400 of them married ranchers and settled the West. Judy Garland starred in Harvey Girl.

As the sun set slowly in the west we ate supper at Houlihan's on the wharf across from Landry's Seafood. There is a stop on the monrail line which runs all the way to the airport. The terminal is just past the end of the lake. I had grilled tuna salad for supper. It was delicious.

this bachelorette's wedding is next Saturday

May 18,2008 The Arch

Robert arose before daylight to capture the sunrise. After a breakfast buffet in the hotel we stood in line at the arch ticket office for times to see our selections. In order to keep the croweds under control ticket sales concludes at 3:30 pm for the next day. After that tickets must be purchased on the internet. Even if you have a ticket it is necessary to show up at the front gatge when it opens in the morning for first come, first served. After September 11,2001 barrels with chains between them surround the perimeter of the park.

The park is a 10 acre woods. A Greek Orthodox Church bounds the park and that is all there is besides the arch, very beautiful. I was surprised when I went inside to look at this church that it has no stained glass windows. The President of Ralston Purina Company in St. Louis wants to put a separate museum in the park although there already is a great museum on the first floor of the arch.

Other attractions that we signed up for were a documentary movie about the making of the arch which was first designed in the 1930's by the same architect who designed the Regan airport in Washington, Dc. The arch was finnished in 1965. There was also a new movie about the Lewis & Clark expedition made by George Lucas studios. It took all day because the times were an hour and a half apart for each event.

Mama wrote a whole page on the suggestion form about how the gift shop in the arch did not have any books of the actual Lewis & Clark diaries from the 1803-1806 expedition nora children's book about the big black dog that went on the expedition, a dog named Simon who was trained by Clark when he got bored with how long it was taking to build the boats for the trip. Later on he was glad to have the dog along because Simon caught squirrels for the others to eat.

The arch is 603 feet tall with an observation deck at the very top which you get to by riding a cable car. The units are egg shaped and hold 5 passengers each. The cars hook to a fame which carries 8 cars to the top at one time. It is a tight fit to accommodate all 40 in that little room at the same time. It is supposed to be a 4 minute turn with 12 minutes to get up and down the arch. If so it was 3 more minutes than I was comfortable looking out that little window, very aware that there was nothing between the floor of that room and the ground over 600 feet below. I think it was the highest up I have ever been aside from an airplane. There was a new batch of tourists that came up and the attendant asked us all to get on one side of the arch to let them in. The arch swayed and shook.

The museum on the first floor of the arch has pages from the original Lewis & Clark diary on display. Christmas Day 1805 dinner was spoiled elk and pounded spoiled fish. They were glad to have that. The museum is circular, organized in decades going from the otuside to the interior like an onion. There were action figures with disney studios technology about a medal maker and an Indian Scout for the army. There were murals of Indian chiefs wearing medals. I learned that medals were given to seal a treaty with the government with a bust of the chief dignitary of the other nation on the medal. One Indian chief had 3 medals. He must have been lied to more than average. There was a buffalo on display, an Indian mustang, a stage coach and a covered wagon. We thought it was very well done and helped pass the time between scheduled events. There was an additional bronze diorama of the Lewis & Clark expedition party - Lewis, Clark, Scajaweja, her son tied to her back, her bushand and Simon the dog in the lobby of the Drury Suite hotel also across from the arch. There seeems to be a wealth of historical building preservaton here. For example the old courthouse across from the arch is where the Dred Scott case was argued ( he was a slave form Kansas who sued to get his freedom and won).

On the right the view was of the St. Louis Cardinals stadium. There was a ball game in progress. We also saw the old courthouse, Greek Orthodox church, Market Street down to Union Station, The Tums headquarters and other office buildings.

On the left view was of the Mississippi river, riverboat casinos and farmland in Illinois.

At noon we departed for Branson, glad to have the Garmin gps unit to guide us. Between the arch and our hotel is a major interstate exchange. We wanted to get on I-44 since it is the same route as old Route 66. Aong the way there are signs where one can exit to ride along the original Route 66 but we didn't want to get too far off the track.

No comments: