Seeing the "Arch" in Architecture
Monday, April 27, 2015
It’s been about a week. We left off the night before we went to St. Louis. It feels so long ago already. Let’s catch up, shall we?
Our reorganization of the car’s contents was vastly counterproductive. We slept in at Megan’s, repacked the car, and then met up with Preston and Megan for lunch at Ra Sushi Bar. After lunch we decided to hang out in Kansas City for a little while before departing for St. Louis. Though we had enjoyed our time, we didn’t feel like we’d really experienced the city yet. Our one night at Green Lady Lounge was a great sample of the underground nightlife, but we wanted to see it during daylight hours. Kansas City is a city of fountains. We walked around the plaza, pointing out all the fountains we could spot and admiring the Spanish architecture. It was a gorgeous day. We grabbed some gas and coffee and popped back on the road, St. Louis bound.
Driving to St. Louis from Kansas City was an easy 4-hour drive. We were able to see the city from the highway. There’s something about the skyline of a city that causes an immediate reaction. Neither of us had ever been to St. Louis previously, and as we approached the landmark before us, we both felt elated with exploration. The Arch is massive and beautiful. We reach Miriam’s just after sundown. We park three times on Hartford, each time, getting closer to her adorable shotgun near Grand. Before settling in, the three of us walk to a nearby restaurant, Rooster. Of the options Miriam listed, Rooster sounded the most unique as its menu revolved predominately around crepes and organic, grass-fed, free-range meats and produce. We split fried chicken with maple syrup and mac and cheese. It was delicious. We ended the meal with “crepe cake” (layered crepes with chocolate ganache and other yumminess between layers). We were virtually alone in the restaurant due to the late hour. Just before signing the check, two fabulously bowtied and cologned young gentlemen waltzed in and joined us at our table. Kienan and Cohagen, friends of Miriam’s, were looking for a fun way to spend their Tuesday night.
We stopped briefly back at Miriam’s to dress slightly less comfortably. Instead of yoga pants, we changed into jeans, but we skipped make up and hair. Nearby was a bar, Mangia Italiano. It was a funky little place with an eye for design. On the chalk written menu, among moonshine in a variety of fruit flavors, was fig-vanilla bourbon, which we sipped as a treat. Wall art decorated the rooms of the bar as we made our way to the lower level. Again, we found ourselves in a vacant venue. Four of us played an amateur game of pool. Between turns, we explained our trip and our lives to Cohagen. It was exactly the kind of local hang out experience we would be hoping for during the next four months. After lots of conversation of multiple natures, we eventually called it a night, and a good one at that, but not before we were handed a twenty to fund our trip up the Arch. At Miriam’s, we caught up a little longer before heading to bed. It is with true friends that sleep seems like a chore rather than a luxury.
“Pappy’s is the best barbeque in St. Louis,” Miriam had told us. The plan was to meet there for lunch, and meet her we did. We waited in line for 45 minutes. We decided to split the following three ways: half slab of ribs, burnt ends (finally), baked beans, green beans, fried corn, and sweet potato fries. The food was worth every second in line. We immediately dubbed these the best ribs we’d had thus far. The dry rub was sweet and flavorful in a way we hadn’t expected or experienced yet. We felt blissfully gluttonous. We even enjoyed a couple bottles of locally made Fitz’s root beer and cream soda. The fried corn was particularly distinctive and tasty; the inner part of the kernel was much like any other corn on the cob, but the outer dome was almost caramelized in oil. The texture was completely new. Crunchy, chewy, juicy, all great adjectives to describe the consistency, and yet none are completely accurate. I highly recommend driving to Pappy’s in St. Louis to taste it for yourself. Because of the earlier wait in line, Miriam had to eat and dash back to work. We went on to the Arch.
Coming from two people who didn’t even know you could go inside it, let alone ride an elevator up to the top, we were impressed with the mere stature and historic gusto of the Gateway Arch. We had been warned that the monument was undergoing construction and that there was a national robotics convention taking place in St. Louis that weekend, but we didn’t properly anticipate the implications. Waiting in lines was beginning to become a theme of our trip. It wasn’t too bad. We made friends with the people in line behind us, who turned out to be our elevator-mates. I use the word “mate” here intentionally, as they were wonderfully Australian and friendly as can be. We had a lot in common with them and plenty to talk about. We all squeezed in to the tiny, 5-person elevator bubble and made our rocky way to the top. After sufficient photos were taken, we ended up riding down with them too, and even watched the theater film together. We hope to cross paths again someday. The film taught us that when the Arch was built in the 1960’s, they estimated that 13 of the workers would die during its construction. None did, and watching what the workers did was incredible; truly an amazing feat.
Before we left the area for our evening laughter yoga session at the Ronald McDonald House of St. Louis, we explored the Old Courthouse. The beautiful interior matches the exterior. I imagine it was quite magnificent in its prime, as it's still pretty gloriously well preserved. Walking the original iron staircase up to historic courtrooms that deliberated some of the most influential and renown cases in our nation’s formation felt chilling and surreal. These courtrooms produced decisions that spurred the Civil War. We could have stayed for hours, but we had an appointment to keep.
At the West Pine Ronald McDonald House we were given a tour, interviewed briefly, and introduced to some of the houseguests to explain what we would be doing and invite them to join us. We had 6 others participate. They seemed to enjoy our laughter yoga, but had a hard time with the childlike playfulness aspect. At the end everyone took lots of “Keep Smiling” cards, and other positive cards by The Daily Smile by which they felt inspired. After RMHC, we drove around Forest Park, which was beautiful. We wished we had more time and money to explore the area and the museums there. Miriam joined us to meet up with a high school friend of Allison’s and his fiancé for some ice cream made cold by liquid nitrogen from Ice’s Plain and Fancy. Another wonderful day came to a close. We said our goodbyes to Miriam before bed. We had to be on the road early the next morning to make it to Memphis by one.