PrologueWhat we are doing, and why we're doing it!
It took us two days to travel from Mt. Rushmore to St. Louis. Most of the first day was spent driving across South Dakota. The balance was spent wandering around a drug store. Before you get any ominous thoughts about health issues, I should explain that we were in Wall Drug.
Wall Drug is an institution is South Dakota. It first became popular by offering free ice water to depression era travelers. As time passed, it became a destination in it's own right. The 'store' currently covers an entire block. They sell everything from leather goods to gems, camping supplies to jewelry. The even have a section that resembles a drug store. The 'back yard' has an eclectic collection of statues including a 6 foot tall Jackalope and an animatronic t-rex! The place is one of the rare tourist traps when the prices are fare, and the quality is good. It's worth stopping in if you are cruising down I40.
We passed into five different states on our second day on our way to St. Louis. They included South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, and Missouri. We thought that it would be interesting following the Missouri River south, but the roads don't follow the water so we just cruised down the Interstate.
St Louis is an interesting city. It seems to be engaged in a war on decay. It appears to be winning some battles, loosing others.
The afternoon that we rolled into the city we drove around the downtown area a bit, then went to the Arch. The Arch is a graceful 630 foot semicircle executed in stainless steel. It's rooted between downtown and the Mississippi River and towers over both. There is a museum underground between the legs that commemorates the great westward expansion. While the museum is interesting, the tram to the top of the arch is the real attraction.
The each leg houses a tram consisting of 8 cars. Each car has about twice the floor space as a phone booth does, with half the height. Just enough space is provided for 5 small metal seats. The reason for the diminutive size of the cars is that they travel vertically up the leg then slowly adjust to the horizontal at the top of the arch.
The view from the top of the Arch is spectacular. The entire downtown area was laid out before us. We had a great view of the old courthouse and the surrounding hotels. We could even see down into the stadium where the Cardinals were playing a game.
While we were in St. Louis, we stopped by to see Rob's great aunt Nova. At 97 years young she's still as sharp as ever. While visiting her, we also got introduced to some more extended family: Martha and Debbie.
While there is a lot to see in St. Louis, the only other sight that we visited was Union Station. There's not much railroad activity there anymore, it's been converted to a great shopping center. The highlight was a fudge store that featured cooks who sang and did some hilarious shtick.