I’m exhausted. Getting up 0318, driving seven hours, staying up until midnight after almost 21 hours without even a nap, walking in the heat and humidity to visit a national landmark, tripping on stairs, nearly burning my iPad and thinking I left my driver’s license at said landmark within the space of 36 hours does that.
It has been a mostly great 36 hours, though.
Caitlyn has the most to do with it. Seeing her for the first time in 341 days did my heart a lot of good. It seemed to do her heart a lot of good too.
Peggy loved that I went to St. Louis to support Caitlyn. Then she suggested I visit the Gateway Arch.
I’ve been in the shadow of the arch twice in my life.
The second was in 2006, when I met Renetta Rogers and her mother, Elizabeth, in St. Louis. I thought Renetta and I were going to continue what relationship we had. However, I screwed up royally. I don’t really have the time nor the stamina to go into exquisite detail like I normally do. Go back to my very first blog post in June 2014 to read more about Renetta.
Back to the first time I was in the arch’s shadow.
It was July 21, 1992. I was with my family on vacation. For some reason, we chose St. Louis as a vacation spot. We went to Russell to visit my grandparents the previous summer, and my dad felt once every other year (or every three years) was enough. My parents and I have more than made up for it.
My brother and father went to the top of the arch. My mother and I didn’t. It was like this when we went to Astroworld in Houston three years prior; my brother and dad went on a roller coaster, my mother and stayed grounded.
The trip to St. Louis was bad. My dad got lost the first day in a driving rainstorm. Following the visit to the arch, the water pump in our 1986 Oldsmobile Delta 88 broke, so that consumed a few hours. We went to two Cardinals-Braves games at the old Busch Stadium. The seats were terrible both times; the first we were in center field more than 137 meters (450 feet) from home plate, and the second, the seats were behind home plate at the very top of the stadium. I was deathly afraid of heights when I was (almost) 16, and I refused to sit in the seats. My dad stayed with me on the concourse most of the night, save for a couple of innings when he went to sit with my brother. I feel shame about that a lot.
When I went to Lisa and Jeff’s wedding two years ago, I didn’t go into the city of St. Louis. Last year when I went a couple of days before Thanksgiving, I didn’t seriously consider it, even though I drove into Illinois in search of all things, a certain type of hot dog buns. It took me six stores before I found them in the tiny suburb of St. Ann. Now I discover Hy-Vee in Kansas City has them.
I slept on Peggy’s suggestion. When I got in the shower just before 1000, I decided to go.
I tripped on steps at the old St. Louis courthouse not too far from the arch. I have two skinned knees as a souvenir, but better than blowing a hole in jeans which cost $55. Two gentlemen checked on me, and fortunately, they didn’t have to summon medical assistance.
I was smart to buy my arch ticket online and pick it up at will call. The line to buy tickets must have had at least 50 people. There was time to tour the museum and get a drink (I was parched) before the ride.
The trams which take you up to the top of the arch are cramped, and that’s putting it mildly. The cars barely seat five people. Worse, if you’re taller than 135 centimeters (4 feet, 5 inches), you’ll hit your head if you don’t duck.
I happened to be in the tram with two men from South Carolina and another from Augusta who were in Missouri for tomorrow’s South Carolina-Missouri football game, along with a representative of the National Park Service. The ride took four minutes. When the tram door shut, I was afraid I might faint due to going up, but it didn’t happen.
The observation area has windows to view downtown St. Louis on the west side and the Mississippi River and Illinois on the other. You are allowed to stay in the observation area as long as you like, and I stayed for 40 minutes. I was the last one from the group which boarded the south tram at 1215 to descend.
When I was in Baton Rouge two years ago, I wanted to go to the observation deck at the state capitol, which soars 132 meters (432 feet), the highest in the nation. However, since it was the weekend and we were leaving Monday morning, I didn’t have time.
Following the arch, I went to the old St. Louis King of Francs basilica, which used to be the seat of the Archdiocese of St. Louis. The exterior is stone, and the interior is beautiful, just what you would expect from a Catholic basilica.
Unfortunately, I didn’t take pictures.
I went to light candles at the back of the church and pray. Lucky for me, a couple found things of mine were starting to catch fire from the candles.
The iPad was one of the things which was too close to the candles. I was scared the tablet would be ruined.
Thanks to the Targus Corporation and their sturdy case, with an assist from the Lord, my tablet was safe. I almost dropped the tablet in the garage. I’m not used to carrying the thing, since I usually have it in a bag. However, I didn’t want to carry the bag into the arch due to security.
As I walked back to my car in a parking garage between Busch Stadium and the arch, I knew I had to replace the case. I knew there was an Apple store in a mall off of I-270 in St. Louis County. I made a beeline for the store, but as I drove on 270, I thought I might want to see if Best Buy had any cases and if they would offer them at a lower price than Apple, where the basic folio was $99, and the so-called smart case with the keyboard–which I don’t need–cost $199.
The Lord was working for me again.
Not only did Best Buy have cheaper cases, but they had the exact same case I burned. Add in a $20 price reduction (from $75 to $55), and I was on my way. Don’t worry, I didn’t do this as I was driving; i pulled into the mall parking lot, looked it up on the iPad, and made the transaction.
Another near-crisis came up on my drive from the mall to Best Buy.
I discovered I could not find my driver’s license. I took the license out of my wallet at will call to claim my ticket, and absent-minded me didn’t put it back in the window in my wallet I keep it.
My mind was racing. Not only would I face the long drive from St. Louis to Russell without my license, but I would have to gather documents and go to the license station in Hays (the one in Russell is only open one day a week).
In the Best Buy parking lot, I found my license in a tray below my radio. The tray was closed from the time I got in my car in the parking lot. I had to laugh.
I spent the last three hours of the afternoon traipsing around St. Charles County, going to the grocery stores and White Castle. When I got back to the hotel, I wanted to collapse. But I stayed awake long enough to plan my exit tomorrow. And blog..
That’s all from St. Louis. I was hoping to stop at Buffalo Wild Wings in Kansas City to see Ashley, Tina and Rita, but with heavy rain likely there tomorrow, I’m going to have to keep on trucking to Russell. Besides, I’ll be back in Kansas City soon enough.
I love you Peggy and Caitlyn!