Blog Archives

Return to the Gateway City

NOTE: I am now posting this Sunday, two days after most of the action below occurred.

Is there a new rule which says I will encounter trouble driving to St. Louis?

Today, it wasn’t my car—thank God. The air conditioner is still humming one month after the compressor replacement on the other side of Missouri.
The problem occurred in Callaway County near the tiny hamlet of Williamsburg, 58 kilometers (35 miles) east of Columbia and 140 km (90 miles) west of the Gateway Arch and Busch Stadium.
Traffic began to slow down shortly past the US 54 exit. Ten miles later, Interstate 70 eastbound became a parking lot.
It got to the point where I turned off my car for three minutes. Nothing moved.
I called the Missouri Highway Patrol (each state has a quick dial to its highway patrol; Missouri is star 55 and Kansas is star 47. The nice lady on the other end of the line told me a semi was on fire. I just sighed “oh boy” and hung up. No need to vent my frustrations on anyone.
The cab was no more. It was black rubble. I wonder how the driver got out without suffering serious burns.

I was about to turn east on Interstate 64 at Wentzville, but traffic was backed up onto I-70. I decided I wasn’t going to sit in any more traffic jams if I could help it, even if it meant wasting a little gas.
The good news—traffic moved steadily east on I-70 through O’Fallon and St. Peters.
The bad news—I didn’t realize Missouri Highway 370, which is a six-laned, controlled access route, veered north and not south toward I-64.
I figured what the heck, I’m here until very early Wednesday morning, why not take a tour of some unseen land in the St. Louis metro.
It rained HARD on 370 from I-70 across the Missouri River to I-270, where I wanted to get to in the first place in order to find my hotel. At one point I was down to 60 km/h (37 MPH), but some figured it was still okay to go 60 MPH (97 km/h) even with water ponding.

The rain has abated, so it looks like the Cardinals and Giants will get to play at Busch tonight.
Herb Vincent, my mentor at LSU who now works in the Southeastern Conference office in Birmingham, attempts to see the Cardinals every summer. I’m going to inquire about us getting together in 2022.
Larry, my trivia pal, is a huge Cardinals fan stuck in Kansas City. So is Lisa.
I went to the old Busch Stadium in 1992 to see the Cardinals play the Braves. The first game found my dad, brother and I stuck in the bleachers in dead center field, more than 150 meters (440 feet) from the plate. It was like watching ants. We had tickets for the second game behind home plate, but almost at the top of the stadium. Back then, I could not handle heights as well as I can now, so I was too afraid to watch and just walked around the concourse while my brother braved those bad seats. We all agreed we wouldn’t miss Busch when it was torn down in late 2005.
Busch Stadium was one of the three worst MLB stadiums I’ve been to. The others were the Astrodome and the first Rangers stadium in Arlington. At least the Astrodome was air conditioned. I won’t go into just how awful the original Arlington Stadium was—at least now.
The best MLB stadium? Pittsburgh’s PNC Park, with Houston’s Minute Maid Park a close second. Kauffman in Kansas City is far better than the ones I went to in St. Louis, Arlington and Houston, but well behind the current one in Houston and Pittsburgh.

Speaking of awful, this hotel is AWFUL. Cannot stream through the television. I have been able to do that at EVERY OTHER HOTEL I have stayed at in the past year except one—the Courtyard which is connected to this Residence Inn. Not saying it is life or death, but it would be nice to have that option in 2021. Worse, Amazon Prime is not offered as a streaming option through the hotel; only Netflix, which I find terrible, and HBO, which I am not paying an arm and a leg for.

UPDATE 1: I have figured out the TV situation. I have to unplug the main HDMI cable from the back of the TV and plug in the cable for my device. Not as easy as I would like, but it gets the job done.

UPDATE 2: As usual, St. Louis is giving me self-inflicted indigestion. White Castle, Imo’s Pizza, sushi (I’m partial to tuna and salmon) and a few other things do that. But I love them too much not to eat it, considering I cannot get it in Kansas City, much less anywhere in western and central Kansas…although Whataburger will be in KC by November (thank you, Jesus, I mean Patrick Mahomes II).

UPDATE 3: The Bucks are one win away from their first NBA championship in 50 years. More on that in the next post.

UPDATE 4: The Giants and Cardinals have split so far this weekend: San Francisco 7-2 Friday and St. Louis 3-1 Saturday. The Brewers have won their first two in Cincinnati against the wretched Reds. I have hated the Reds ever since I started watching MLB over 35 years ago for (a) Marge Schott, the racist anti-Semitic C**T who owned them at the time and (b) glorifying degenerate gambler and child rapist Peter Edward Rose. Very sad, because I have grown to admire Johnny Bench from watching highlights.

Foots is alive…somehow

If there were any rumors regarding the demise of the author of the Foots Prints blog, they were well-founded, but not true.
Yes, I had surgery on my right foot exactly three months ago. No, it isn’t an excuse for going this long without posting.

The surgery came quickly. I was at my usual Monday morning treatment on 15 March with Kelly Miller at the wound care center in Hays when she called Dr. Kirk Potter to set up surgery. Eight days later, I was under the knife.
I almost changed my mind. The Saturday before surgery, I had a terrible experience at the White Castle in Columbia, and I left a message for wound care stating I would not have the surgery three days later.
Fortunately, it got much better when I got to the White Castle in Wentzville, 130 kilometers (80 miles) east of Columbia. I then decided to go through with the surgery.
I won’t be frequenting the White Castle in Columbia anymore. Not only did they lose my online order—which was confirmed by the company’s app—they told me to get lost and not come back. What the heck?
It was the first time I went under general anesthesia since I was in the hospital in late 2004 for pneumonia and a collapsed lung, a serious ailment which almost put me 2.3 meters (six feet) under less than two months after my 28th birthday.

Following the surgery, there was hyperbaric oxygen treatment in Hays and twice-daily IVs in Russell. The IVs were seven days a week; at least with the oxygen, I got the weekends off.
I had to interrupt oxygen treatment for two weeks when my left eardrum came close to rupturing. I had to have tubes placed in my ears to make sure they could handle the change in pressure in the chamber. They did, and my last treatment was 4 June.

Right now, things are looking up. I have an IV treatment this Tuesday (29 June) and another appointment with Dr. Potter 6 July. Then comes more routine medical appointments, Dr. Custer and Dr. Jones 14-15 July.

I was in hell—almost literally—last Wednesday.
I was planning to go to St. Louis for a few days to enjoy the things I can’t in Kansas City or points west: White Castle, Imo’s Pizza, shopping at Schnuck’s and Dierberg’s.
Everything was great until Columbia.
That’s when the air conditioner in my car dead.
I won’t repeat the obscenities I blurted.
I begged a Buick dealership in St. Louis to repair my car, but they said no, then accused me of screaming, which I wasn’t. I realize I have a loud voice and when I get accused of screaming, I feel worse than I already do.
By time this played out, I was at New Florence, 80 km (50 miles) west of St. Louis. I was sweating profusely by time I made it into town, and of course, I got lost trying to find the hotel.
The only good thing: White Castle.
As bad as Columbia to St. Louis was, St. Louis to Kansas City was worse.
Of course, there was a record heat wave over Missouri last week. The heat index above 40 C (104 F), and I sweated more than I have since my trip to Baton Rouge in June 2010.
I was LUCKY to get an appointment at Cable Dahmer, my regular service location in Kansas City, last Friday. Four hours and $1,500 later, life was back to normal, or at least as normal as it can be for me.

Thirty days of crazy

My 44th year of existence ended three days after the LSU-Missouri football game in Columbia.

Now that I’ve seen LSU and Mizzou play since, the result—a 45-41 victory for the Tigers in Black—was not surprising in the least. The Bayou Bengals’ defense has struggled mightily, and Mizzou has shown enough on both sides of the ball to stay competitive in its first season under Eli Drinkwitz.

LSU was beyond dreadful in losing 48-11 at Auburn two weeks ago. It was Auburn’s largest margin against LSU since the series began over a century ago. The Bayou Bengals were supposed to host Alabama Saturday, but an outbreak of COVID-19 at LSU forced the game to be postponed.

Alabama was favored by 28 points just before the game went off the board at the sports books. This means the “sharps” think Alabama would have won by 31, since the home team gets three points for home field.

How the mighty have fallen. But that’s college football.

Mizzou is also idle this week. The Tigers were slated to host Georgia, but Columbia has been hit hard again by COVID. CoMo and Boone County have been hot spots in the Show-Me State, and it’s not hard to see why: large population, small geographical footprint, flagship university.

Texas A&M-Tennessee and Auburn-Mississippi State were also victims of COVID in the SEC, while Ohio State at Maryland was cancelled and will not be made up. Nothing surprises me anymore.

The first month of my 45th year has been quite crazy. An incident in the last 24 hours demonstrates why.

Last night at 23:15, I went to the garage, hoping to load some things into my car so I could leave early for Kansas City.

Much to my shock, the Buick was locked.

I never lock my car when I’m parked in the garage, but my mother locked it for some reason when she came home from the American Legion post last night.

I have two sets of keys, but I carry both sets. This is for hot weather, so I can dart inside somewhere and leave the A/C running. It also comes in handy when it’s bitterly cold, although I haven’t had to start the Buick on a day when the temperature was below minus-15 Celsius (10 Fahrenheit).

There was nothing I could do late last night (or in the first hour of this morning), so I tried to sleep as best I could—not well—before getting AAA on the horn to unlock the car.

I put in the service call through the app at 8:45.

Ten minutes later, my car was unlocked, but not because AAA arrived in record time.

My dad found a gray key to a GM vehicle in a desk drawer in the kitchen. I thought it was to my old Impala, but I figured it would not hurt to try.

Turn the key…OPEN! Phew.

The trouble with my Buick has been a recurring theme of the last month.

The “Service Engine Light” had been on constantly since mid-September, even though I thought I had it fixed then. Three other notices kept coming on “gas cap loose”, “engine oil low” and “low tire pressure”.

Before I could get any of that taken care of, I had another emergency with my grandfather’s old ride.

The latch to the trunk broke in the parking lot of the Schnucks in Lake St. Louis. What was stunning about this is I went to Dierberg’s in Wentzville less than an hour before that, and the trunk closed just fine.

Since it’s me, the latch would have to break while the trunk was stuffed. I somehow got everything inside the car then had to drive 30 minutes through St. Charles County with the trunk flapping before reaching Lou Fusz Buick on Page Avenue in Maryland Heights.

The latch was not available from GM, so I had to leave the Buick in St. Louis that weekend and drive a rental back to Russell. The rental was a Toyota Corolla, a fine car, but too small for yours truly. I hit my head every time I entered and exited, and could not use my seat cushion, since my scalp was butting up against the roof.

I made an intemperate remark while driving around St. Louis about how I felt people who drive small cars are clueless. I should have said people who can afford large cars yet drive small ones are clueless. Sometimes, a person can only afford a small one. Also, most Americans are not grossly overweight like me.

The good thing about the second trip to St. Louis was discovering Imo’s Pizza.

Imo’s Pizza has been a St. Louis institution since Lou Brock and Bob Gibson were starring for the baseball Cardinals. I can see why.

The pizza is served on a crispy cracker-style crust. Topping go all the way to the edge. And the slices are small enough to where intake is easily managed.

I devoured three Imo’s pizzas in the space of a week during my travels to St. Louis—two after the trunk latch broke, and a third to return the rental after the Buick was fixed.

I also had a lot of White Castle. Good stuff, but I may need a break. Lot of indigestion.

The next to last day of October was mostly spent at Cable Dahmer Buick. I waited seven and a half hours to see if the engine light and other warnings could be fixed.

After less than 500 km of driving, the service engine and loose gas cap warnings were back in full force. I made another trip to Kansas City last week. So far, the lights are staying off.

I also have discovered Springfield. More on that in another post.

I love you Caitlyn!

Missouri redux

My 44th birthday Tuesday was uneventful. That’s good some of the things which have happened on birthdays past, notably first quarter exams my junior year of high school (1992) and the quarter I was attending a “special” school for children with outlandish behavioral problems and/or juvenile criminal records, simply because my parents thought I couldn’t handle a regular school (1987). THANK GOD I was enrolled at Arabi Park Middle on 26 October 1987. Public school wasn’t my favorite thing, but given where I was in September and October 1987, it was heaven. And I met some wonderful people at APM, including my first crush, Stacie Dauterive (Seube). Stacie is gorgeous, but I now realize I crushed on her because she is so kind and intelligent.

I’ve been at Saints games (1996) and high school football games (2000). I bounced between tennis and football in 2006. There were a few years in Kansas City, with Robb and Dawn in 2015, and with Robb, Dawn and some others two years later. I was at Ottawa University with the Cox family in 2018, then rushed home late at night to beat forecast snow. Last year I left KC early to make it home for lunch.

This year, since my birthday was on a Tuesday, I had work to finish up. I stayed up past 02:00 to get it all done, got a little sleep, then did a little more work. I didn’t eat anything special, even though I still have four USDA Prime strip steaks in my freezer. I think we’ll have those for my dad’s birthday next month.

I’m back in Missouri, this time at the far end of the state—at least from Kansas’ perspective.

I planned to go to Columbia to retrieve my iPod from the Springhill Suites. Then it dawned upon me to go to the Broadway Oyster Bar in St. Louis since I had the time. Besides, I was halfway across the Show-Me State, so why not?

I haven’t had fresh oysters since Acme Oyster House in Baton Rouge when my dad and I went two and a half years ago. I seriously looked into ordering oysters online and frying them at home, but the cost and hassle were both too much.

I wanted to go to Broadway Oyster in May, but it was closed due to COVID-19. No takeout even. I could have come last Friday, but my main focus was the game in Columbia, not cuisine, even though I made the two trips to Wentzville for White Castle.

I like my oysters cooked—fried, chargrilled, baked. I have never eaten them raw. I probably would like them, but why take the health risk? I don’t know if Dr. Custer would approve with my diabetes and high blood pressure.

I fell in love with chargrilled oysters when I lived in Louisiana. It was at Zeke’s, a seafood restaurant and bar on Metairie Road in the oldest section of the Jefferson Parish community (it is not an incorporated city, but it if it was, it would be larger than every Louisiana city except New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Shreveport and Lafayette). The last time I was there, a little less than five months before Hurricane Katrina, I ate two dozen. A few of my older friends were stunned. They knew I could eat, but didn’t know I had the stomach for that many oysters. I ended up with the largest bill, naturally.

I had Oysters Rockefeller, the dish made famous by Antoine’s in the French Quarter, at Ruth’s Chris in Kansas City in 2008. It’s now closed, as is Morton’s. Bunch of snobbish pricks who frequent the Country Club Plaza turned their nose up at both steakhouses, since Ruth’s Chris is from New Orleans and Morton’s is from Chicago. They thought the out-of-town people couldn’t do it as well as the locals at Plaza III. Ironically, Plaza III is gone, too, so the only decent steakhouse in Kansas City—not counting Outback—is Hereford House, which I found not up to par compared to Ruth’s Chris.

I am very happy to report the Oysters Rockefeller and Oysters Bienville at Broadway Oyster were outstanding. I was an oyster junkie needing my fix, and I got it. I’m getting 12 chargrilled oysters to enjoy back at my hotel. I am seriously considering 12 on the half shell before leaving.

I had some more White Castle in Columbia on the way over. Ironically, there’s a White Castle across the street, and it does a bang-up business. I’ve had my White Castle fix for October and probably November.

So long, St. Louis–for the time being

St. Louis (both the city itself and the county) will re-open tomorrow, just as I’m heading back to Russell. Even though I would like to stay, there comes a time when travelers must return home. Tomorrow will be that day for yours truly.

Even though there wasn’t much to do, this venture was a success. I got what I came for (White Castle, Pibb Zero, Vienna Beef Polish sausage, Nathan’s Famous bagel dogs, capicola and mortadella, steaks for Father’s Day), discovered some new things (provel cheese, soap at Whole Foods) and rediscovered something I really like (sushi, as long as it doesn’t have cream cheese).

The bad news? I won’t be eating White Castle or provel again until I return to St. Louis, save for the leftover White Castle I eat on I-70 west tomorrow and the 24 slices of provel I’m bringing back. The good news? Dillons in Hays sells sushi, Pibb Zero and the cold cuts are available in Salina (as long as Dillons keeps them in stock), and Whole Foods is in Wichita. I can also order soap online.

The hotel in Chesterfield is isolated from restaurants and stores, but I’m used to that at two of the hotels I frequent in Kansas City, one at Briarcliff and the other near Kansas City International Airport. There’s easy access to Interstate 64 from the Chesterfield hotel the same way I-29 is easily accessible from KCI and US 169 is easily accessible from Briarcliff to get me to I-29 or I-35.

I usually don’t like first floor rooms, but this week, it has made life easy. It’s near a side entrance AND the dumpster, a daily double. I bring my trash out each day and throw it over the doors instead of leaving it in the hallway and/or letting it pile up. The doors to the dumpster have been open the last two days, allowing me to dispose of boxes and the cartons the Pibb Zero came in. It will make loading the Buick much easier tomorrow–I won’t need a cart. With all the things I’m loading, it’s great to have a first floor room near a side entrance!

Here’s hoping the Cardinals will be playing at Busch Stadium by this time in July, and the Blues will be on their way to successfully defending the Stanley Cup. St. Louis loves its sports more than nearly every other major city in America, and without the Cardinals and Blues, something seems off in the Gateway City.

Coincidentally, I’ll pass by the Truman Sports Complex in Kansas City (unless I detour at Interstate 470 in Independence and go around the south side of the metro area on Interstate 435 to Kansas Highway 10). The Royals are hoping to be playing at Kauffman soon, and the Chiefs want to start on time, which means they host the NFL’s first game of the 2020 regular season on 10 September vs. the Texans.

That’s it for me from St. Louis. But as MacArthur famously said, I shall return.

Beards and no masks? I’ve got a REAL problem.

Day six in St. Louis featured trips to two supermarkets in St. Peters not too far apart. I counted seven people not wearing masks. All were male, and all but one had a beard.

It wasn’t the first time. In nine of the ten grocery stores I have visited in St. Louis, more than 80 percent of the maskless people were men with beards. I have rarely encountered a woman without a mask.

I told Peggy this. I prefaced it by saying she might not like it. Her son, Conor has worn a beard since he was in high school, and her three sons-in-law all have them, although Sam, Chelsea’s husband, does go clean shaven frequently.

I would trade my father’s facial hair for mine. My father could not grow a beard if he went without shaving for a full year. He tried growing a porn star mustache in November 1976, which looked pathetic. He had the mustache on the day of my baptism, and every time I looked at that picture, I didn’t know whether to laugh or gag. Sometimes I did both.

The only time I went an extended period without shaving was when I was in the hospital. The first time I saw my face in the mirror I nearly threw up. It was ugly. The most I ever go without shaving is one day. I don’t shave with the double edge safety razor every day right now, but I have a high-end Braun electric to touch up.

Notice I sad “9 of 10” grocery stores in the second paragraph. That’s because the 10th was Whole Foods, which won’t let you in if you’re not wearing a mask. The store provides masks, but if you don’t want to wear it, you have to leave immediately.

I don’t know how much the surgical masks I am wearing prevent against catching COVID-19, but they definitely prevent against sneezes and coughs spreading. I sneezed today in Dierbergs, and I felt good knowing the particles didn’t spread.

I feel better with the blue surgical masks than with a cloth mask. Two ladies were wearing Blues masks at Schnucks. Too bad I don’t know French or I would have said “Go Habs” in French. Montreal did beat St. Louis in both meetings this season, about the only thing that’s gone right for the Canadiens this season. Hey, at least it is still 23-1 Montreal over St. Louis in times winning the Stanley Cup.

N95 masks would be the best, but the doctors need them. I hope Dr. Custer and the rest of the staff at Hays Medical Center has been able to secure them.

I still have not seen blue surgical masks sold anywhere except Hen House in Johnson County, where I’ve seen them at the Leawood and Prairie Village locations. Speaking of Prairie Village, everyone who goes out in public in that city now has to wear a mask, thanks to an ordinance passed by the city council there.

I’m curious to find out how many people in Hays are wearing masks now. I’m going there Tuesday to Walgreens to pick up medication. I may stop at Dillons just for fun, because heaven knows I don’t need food after all I’m bringing back from St. Louis.

I gorged myself yesterday on sushi, plus I ate a salmon filet and grilled cheese.

The grilled cheese was not made of cheddar, swiss or provolone. I decided to try a St. Louis specialty.

It’s called Provel, and it’s a processed mix of the three cheeses I just mentioned. It is used as the main cheese (instead of mozzarella) by St. Louis pizza chain Imo’s, where pies are baked on a thin cracker-style crust and cut into squares. Many St. Louis residents swear by it and will never eat pizza without Provel, but others dislike Provel and want good old mozzarella.

The Provel grilled cheese was very tasty. I’m going to bring some back to Russell and have my parents try it. I’m not big on processed cheese; I will eat Velveeta and “American” cheese, but it is far from my favorite. However, Provel may grow on me and I may start bringing back lots of it from St. Louis, the same way I do things from Kansas City.

I skipped White Castle yesterday but went back today. Got a crave case (30), which will tide me over through today and tomorrow. I doubt I’m going out tomorrow, because the forecast calls for heavy rain. Monday is supposed to be the perfect day for an eight hour drive, with cooler temperatures and abundant sunshine.

One thing I am really hating about shopping right now is the ban on reusable bags. God I hate those flimsy plastic bags. I get a lot of angry looks from baggers and checkers when I request paper and not plastic.

Growing up in New Orleans, we didn’t have to ponder that question. If you shopped at Schwegmann’s Giant Supermarkets, you got paper and you liked it. The bags were so ubiquitous around the Crescent City they were known as “Schwegmann bags”. Unfortunately, Schwegmann’s went bankrupt and closed its last stores just before the start of the millennium.

Forty years ago tonight, a magical sporting event took place. Too bad few people witnessed it live. I’ll get to it in my next post.

Skinned knees, a burned case and the view from high above St. Louis

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!