"St. Louis Blues"
performed by Louis Armstrong, composed by William Christopher Handy
Right now we’re staying in a not so nice neighborhood in East St.
Louis. We’re in the Casino Queen’s RV Park, though, with 24 hour
security, so we feel safe here. Outside the park are old abandoned
buildings and railroad tracks with near constant freight car traffic.
The ground shakes and the trains blow their horns all night long. We’re
convinced that this is good from the standpoint of the Casino. Can’t
sleep- well we just happen to be open all night!
The Casino Queen is right on the Mississippi River- on the Illinois
side, actually, which is why we’re counting this stop as
Missouri/Illinois. Across the river is Missouri, downtown St. Louis, and
we have a great view of the skyline and St. Louis Arch right from our
The arch dominates pretty much every picture you can take downtown. Even
when a few blocks away it peaks its massive top over buildings and so
you can never really get lost. The park where The Arch sits is the
Jefferson National Expansion Memorial. It was completed in the 1960’s
and was built as a memorial to St. Louis’ role in the westward expansion
of the United States during the 1800’s. The Lewis and Clark Expedition
contributed greatly to that expansion, and so their travels are covered
here. In The Arch museum there are wall size pictures from “The West”,
including a few from the Oregon Coast.
The Arch is the tallest man-made monument in the United States and
stands 630 feet tall. It’s a long way up, and the trip is pretty unique.
There are eight “pods” that can hold up to five people each. They’re
explained by the guide as part elevator, part railcar and part amusement
park ride, which is a pretty good explanation of what it feels like to
ride them up. At the top is a narrow observation deck with little
windows that you lean over to take a look outside. We understand that
the observation deck can hold 200 people, which seems outrageous because
we were up there when there were only about a couple dozen of us and it
seemed like you wouldn’t want too many more. When we got down, there
were at least 50 middle school kids waiting to go up. Spring break is
over, but now that school is back in session and the weather is nice,
field trips seem to be the thing. We felt pretty lucky that we didn’t
have to go up with that large, rowdy group- sometimes it pays to get up
There are quite a few things to see and do in St. Louis, but since we
have a relatively short stay we just caught a few of them. We visited
the Old Courthouse, the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis, took a
riverboat cruise, and we definitely did not want to miss the Missouri
Botanical Gardens, which are supposed to be “among the top three public
gardens in the world”.
The gardens are 79 acres (huge), and in every corner spring flowers and
trees were blooming. Really a beautiful sight and definitely the best
botanical garden we’ve seen (outside of Hawaii- but you know, coming in
second to Hawaii is really no loss). The gardens host works of art from
different artists, and right now it’s the pop art of Niki de Saint
Phalle. The art was different but interesting, obviously work intensive
and some were very beautiful, as you’ll see from the pictures. At one
time the gardens featured the art of Dale Chihuly, and some of his
pieces were still there- bonus!
So that was the St. Louis portion of our trip- very nice! We’ll be
spending more time in Illinois later. We’ve come out this far west so
that we could hit Missouri, but now we’re heading back towards the East
coast- next stop, Kentucky.