With my longest day behind me, the excitement was building: only three days until I’d be reunited with my parents in South Bend, IN. And the stops between Joplin and South Bend were my most exciting yet: St. Louis, MO and Chicago, IL.
I got up and was anxious to get to St. Louis, because it would be my only destination where I would be receiving a personalized guided tour, courtesy of my mom’s cousins, Kathy and Karen.
I got to Kathy’s house in St. Charles a little after noon, and eager to get on with the full tour, we filled our water bottles and got on the road.
First stop was the St. Charles Historic District. Right along the water of the Missouri River, it is a quaint stretch of cobblestone streets lined with shops and trendy restaurants. It reminded me of a Midwestern Newport. Nothing feels homier to me than walking around in a slice of preserved, old-timey America.
Kathy took me to Lewis and Clark’s Restaurant, where we had delicious sandwiches and fries, but mostly, I got to hear a little bit more about my family. As a storyteller, I love hearing the stories about my family’s past. I never knew my maternal grandmother, and the man I called Grandpa was a very different man before I met him. To hear those stories I’ve never heard before, to know a little bit more about my grandparents and my family at large, was very special for me.
The big attraction of the day was the famous Gateway Arch! I felt like it’s one those “when in Rome” attractions. As we walked across the lawn by the Old Courthouse, I realized how gargantuan the Arch truly is. I couldn’t stop saying it. “Wow, that thing is huge.”
I’ve conquered some tall roller coasters in my time. I’ve been up in some tall buildings. But standing on the ground, looking up at the curve of the Arch and imagining myself going up there really put a pit in my stomach. But this trip has been about getting out of my comfort zone, so I bought my ticket and got in line.
In case you’ve never been up to the top of the Gateway Arch, you ride up in these round carts that adjust themselves as they move up the leg, so you don’t end up horizontal at the top. It clicks and jolts like an original Disneyland ride, and it doesn’t inspire a lot of faith when you’re relying on it bringing you 630 feet in the air. But once you’re up there, wow! You can see for miles and miles, and honestly, it doesn’t feel like you’re that high up. I’m really glad I went up, though I felt relieved when Kathy greeted me once I was firmly back on the ground.
Having some time to kill before dinner, Kathy drove me through Forest Park. I’ve never been much of a beach bum, and one of my biggest gripes about LA was that I didn’t have local park to go to for basking in the sun with a nice book. So, I was very in awe and somewhat envious to drive through the vast greenery of Forest Park. Not to mention the MUNY. The Zoo. The History Museum with the timely Route 66 exhibit. The Art Museum that looks like a Newport mansion. Kathy was making a serious case for why St. Louis could be a great place to live.
For dinner, Karen met up with us at Dressel’s Public House. Kathy chose it for its literary motifs. The walls of this cozy pub are peppered with sketches of James Baldwin and Ernest Hemingway. It had a gorgeous little bar that circled the center of the indoor space, and I found it extremely thoughtful that Kathy found a place And funny enough — it was featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives (A Brown family favorite!).
We had a lovely dinner on Dressel’s outdoor patio, and I drank my Moscow Mule feeling satisfied that I had a full, exciting day in St. Louis.
Until Next Time,
Casey Brown | Gal about Town