Thursday, July 26, 2012

Meet Me in St. Louis

While there was no Worlds Fair in St. Louis this summer, it did prove to be a good place to meet my family from Kansas City. Since my brother and sister-in-law were not interested in driving the eight hours to Memphis for a visit with a 2 1/2 year-old in the backseat, we all decided meeting halfway would be a great way to get together. My mom and younger brother also decided to join us, which led to a mini family reunion in Missouri's inferior east side.

It has been years since I have been to St. Louis and stayed in the city and not on the couch/spare bed of a college friend. We splurged a little on the hotel because we figured it would be a good idea to have a nice homebase, particularly when planning around naps and such. We stayed right downtown and were able to walk to all of the destinations we were interested in seeing.

Jon and I got into town earlier than expected on Friday afternoon, which is impressive considering we didn't leave as soon as we had wanted to (not surprising) and I had spent that morning and the previous afternoon at the mechanic's getting new tires (very surprising--having a flat on the side of the interstate in 90+ weather is not something I had on my agenda). At any rate, we arrived just in time to enjoy the hotel's complimentary happy hour before heading out in search of dinner.

We knew we were up against the clock as far as bedtime went, so we quickly found a place to eat and then took a chance on an evening stroll. We were so close to the Arch at this point that we had to check it out. Jon helped our niece get some of her energy out by teaching her how to roll down a hill...which resulted in her comical attempt to roll up the hill. It quickly became apparent that we needed to get back to the hotel, so we called it a night, although not until we watched the Royals defeat the Cardinals (or rather watched the Cardinals lose, since we had it on a St. Louis station).

Gateway to the West

The next morning Jon and I got up and ran to Illinois (which only sounds impressive until you take into consideration that Illinois is only a couple of miles from where we were staying). The rest of the family accompanied our niece at the children's museum, an unbalanced four-adults-to-one-kid ratio. Once we reunited, we headed back to the Arch in hopes of riding the rickety elevator to the top. Unfortunately we were not able to find out if the elevator is as rickety as it was when I was 5 because the line was way too long and we didn't have the time to wait--we had a baseball game to catch!

Anyone who knows us well will not be surprised to read that we found a brewery in an area known as The Landing, which was only a slight detour on our way to Busch Stadium (good beer, by the way). We had not planned on going to St. Louis specifically to see the Royals play in the Cardinals in the annual I-70 series, but it proved to be a nice coincidence. We opted for the cheap seats, which actually worked out okay because we were in the shade the entire game. While it wasn't as hot as it is currently in the Midwest, it was still pretty warm in mid-June.

View from the cheap seats
Unfortunately the Royals didn't win, although they did make it interesting at times. The highlight for me, however, was hearing a sweet little 2 year-old voice shouting "Go Royals!" over and over, right in the middle of a bunch of Cardinals fans.

After the game, it was back to the hotel for happy hour and a quick dip in the pool. With the exception of our sister-in-law and niece, we all went to the Schlafly tap room for more delicious beer and food. It was a nice time, although I'm sad to report that both of my brothers were unsuccessful in their quest to crash the wedding reception upstairs.

On Sunday morning, our niece was re-charged and ready to play, so we took her to Grant's Farm on our way back to our respective homes. Grant's Farm is the Busch family (as in Anheuser-Busch) ancestral home and is named after Ulysses S. Grant, who once farmed part of the land. Now, it is a wildlife preserve of sorts, featuring the legendary Clydesdale horses. We got in free because one of Jon's relatives once was handicapped when he was trampled by one of the Clydesdales. (Okay, so everyone gets in free, but the part about Jon's great-uncle is true.)

After checking out the horses, we rode the tram to the other part of the farm, where we saw lots of different types of animals, all desperately trying to keep cool. The folks at Grant's Farm certainly know what they're doing because as soon as we got off the tram, there were several employees selling the ultimate in kids entertainment. For one low price (it actually was pretty affordable), you could ride the carousel, feed the baby goats, and eat a sno-cone. Of course, our niece had to do all that. I'm sure you can imagine her paparazzi.

Beware the ferocious guinea pig
It was a pretty nice way to conclude our St. Louis getaway. I'm a big proponent of vacationing with family. No one is responsible for hosting, everyone has to travel somewhere, and it's always a good time. All in all, it was a great trip...especially since we heard the Royals game on the radio on the way home, in which the boys in blue beat the Cardinals (in extra innings) to win the series.

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