Monday, 27 May 2013

Mini Road Trip to St Louis

It was Spring Break school holidays, my dad, also known as D-Dad by the girls, was over from the UK, and it was my 40th birthday week, so we decided to take a mini road trip to St Louis in Missouri, another new state to cross off our list, so with the car packed and me swished in between the car seats we set off Sunday morning for a leisurely drive down to St Louis, about 5 hours away, as planned an hour or so into our journey, we stopped for brunch at the iconic Denny's before hitting the road again, our plan was to cruise it down Route 66, stop in Atlanta, Illinios for pie, Springfield our states Capital, to visit the grave of Abraham Lincoln, before finally arriving in St Louis.

However a very bad turn of weather, saw us drive very slowly down to St Louis. It was horrendous, we were driving in a snow blizzard with very limited visibility and in some sections of the freeway down to one lane, we passed at least 20 cars that had swerved off the road and down the slight embankment with no way of getting out, that's how bad the conditions were, we contemplated stopping in Springfield for the night but decided to keep going.

And I am happy to say 9 hours after we had left home we finally made it to our destination St Louis, Mo and the furthest south we've been so far in the US. With the weather so bad and nowhere to go, we went out for dinner at a local institution Chuck Berry's restaurant and bar Blueberry Hill. It was fabulous, full of memorabilia and the meal itself was good too.

The next day, we were pleased to see it had stopped snowing finally, after breakfast we headed into downtown St Louis to see the famous Gateway Arch - an iconic monument erected to symbolize the westward expansion of the United states.

Where is this Arch they keep talking about?

Nearby the Arch is another very interesting piece of history - the Eads Bridge (completed in 1874 and named after James B Eads, the designer and builder.)  It was the first bridge in the world to be completely made out of steel, it was also the first bridge to be built using cantilever support methods, there is a lot of history in this bridge still being used today, it crosses the Mississipi river and was built to provide a link for eastern and western railroads - a very lucrative business back in the 1800's if you'd like to know more I suggest this series for a quick insight into America in those days - The Men Who Built America

Anyway back to the Arch, after a short walk we arrived at the rather tall Arch, and discovered we could actually go up the Arch to the top and back down again, so after a small but interesting movie about the making of the monument,  we went up on the "Journey to the Top"  in a short tram ride. we were transported up the North Leg and after a good time sightseeing up there, we came down the South leg.

The view from the top
D-Dad 630ft above the ground
Snowy views of St Louis from the top of the Arch

After a quick look around the museum (we could have spent a lot longer there) we went to meet friends at a local brewery and eating place Schafly Tap Room fantastic food and booze, I sampled their Sampler - 6 (small ones) of their finest beers- truly delicious.

After lunch we went to this rather peculiar place called the city museum, it was weird and wonderful, and so much fun, a huge adventure playground, like nothing you had seen before, it wasn't long before all of us were up climbing around, having fun, we even encountered a 10 storey helter skelter style slide, climbing the stairs up to it was a nightmare, but coming down was fab. Even D-Dad with his cast on made the slide down. It was such a fun place, our only regret was we hadn't come earlier, it was definitely a place we could have stayed for a whole day, we only touched a small section of it.

After all that excitement, you'd think we were ready for dinner and bed, but no we decided to go ten pin bowling - the girls first time and they loved it we had a great time, then it was time for dinner, we found a lovely Italian then headed back to the hotel.

The girls first bowling experience

Our last day as the weather was still bad, saw us visit the Museum of Transportation. We spent a few hours there, before hitting the road to see Springfield, after a very nice spot of lunch and beer, we went to visit Lincoln's home and street where he had lived and we visited his rather grand grave/memorial.

Outside Lincoln's modest home

After our little jaunt in Springfield, we took the Route 66 to Atlanta but we didn't get there in time to stop for pie at the famous Palms Grill Cafe, however we did meet a giant man and his hot dog.

Atlanta, Il

It wasn't long though until we started losing our way on the 66 (as it is not well sign posted as it is a decommissioned highway now) and we headed back to Chicago on the freeway.

We really enjoyed St Louis and due to the bad weather, we didn't get to see all that we had planned to see, but there will be a next time, and I'd definitely recommend a visit there, I can't wait to go back to the City museum.

And I'll leave you with a very nice instagram of my dad and his ditzy blonde beer

Dad and his Ditzy Blonde - Cheers Dad

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