Saturday, August 05, 2006

Gateway Arch

Day 4 Aug 5 – Saturday.

It was time to go to the Arch. The Gateway Arch is located on the west side of the Mississippi River, which is on the east side of St. Louis. East St. Louis is a rough place, kind of like North Little Rock and nobody goes there.

The museum is located beneath the arch, under the space between the two legs. The displays in it contained a lot of Go West, Young Man exhibits. But the highlight were the Lewis and Clark Expedition displays. If you’ve not read Stephen Ambrose’s Undaunted Courage, I would suggest it. (Ambrose, who wrote Citizen’s Soldiers and Band of Brothers, has been panned by serious scholars, in part because his research has, at times, been lazy. Before he died, he was accused of plagiarism and, I believe, issued a lukewarm apology.)

The ride up to the top of the Arch was, well, let’s just say that if you suffer from claustrophobia you don’t want to take the itty-bitty tram. Once there, it wasn’t too difficult to think that you could feel the whole structure swaying just a little in the wind.

After coming down, a quick trip to the original riverfront area for lunch was in order. Since a Doctor John’s store was just around the corner, it was too irresistible to not visit. While there (what are all those things FOR anyway?), a woman tried to bring her little girl in. The store clerk had to argue strongly with her about how Missouri law forbade anyone under 18 in a sex store. Like, what was that mother thinking?

Later, it was time for a famous St. Louis thin crust pizza. Delicious.

Then, on to the Forest Park, which is a famous city park. The zoo is there, along with the art museum. There is a statue of King Louis XIV (not sure of the #) in front of the museum. And in front of it there is a body of water called “the basin.” It looks much like the man-made lakes in front of the French palaces, complete with fountains, paddle boats, and canoes.

After that, Ted Drewe’s on the old Route 66 beckoned. It is a famous joint for locals and tourists. They basically serve frozen custard, kind of like soft ice cream. It was good, but you just had to know that it mostly sold its history. But, one thing is for sure, it is a popular stop. So much that police had to direct traffic in and out.

St. Louis actually does not have that many people, but the greater metro area is huge. What has happened is that many townships, or smaller municipalities, eventually expanded until they all met up with each other. Each has its own history and special appeal. You can live in one of the smaller towns and never go out. Webster Grove is just gorgeous, with large oaks and elms, very much like South Highlands in Shreveport, but with even more hills. But, you go only a few blocks in any direction and you run into a major highway.

Tomorrow (Ben Franklin said, “Fish and visitors stink after three days,” I will head out late in the morning after a famous Steak N Shake burger. I’ve decided to go back west on I-70 and then north to Hannibal, MO, Mark Twain’s home.

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