Over a decade ago, I embarked on a journey what is known as “The Gateway to the West,” and a brief visit to St. Louis peaks my interest in returning to The Gateway Arch. As my mom, sister, and I approach the Arch, we take multiple shots, hoping to catch its magnificent curve with just the right angle of light. The Arch not only seems to be a fascinating landmark, but also a focal point for references and advertisements around the city. On this specific hot and humid evening we’re all happy to head inside to air conditioning as we await our ride upwards.
An amusing aspect of this ride are the pods we sit in that are reminiscent of Star Wars escape pods we crouch while walking into. As the pod climbs and various staircases come into view, I begin to wonder if we may be headed to a galaxy far, far away, but upon reaching our destination there’s people huddled everywhere at windows peering down to St. Louis and the Mississippi. I begin to realize how high up we are when Busch Stadium and the Old Courthouse seem small, and I’m informed that all buildings in St. Louis are not allowed to surpass the height of the arch.
Luckily my fear of heights doesn’t overtake me before we head back down. Upon exiting, the night sky brings a whole new perspective to mind. As I follow the light up the silver pathways, I have a new sense of esteem for the beginning of Lewis and Clark’s journey into the west. My heart has always been in the west, and having spent a small amount of time in the east as a child and now, I hope to someday make my way further east as an adult to see where it all began.
Other Noteworthy Attractions:
Seeking additional stamps, my sister and I head to the Old Courthouse where we have been told a stamp for the Underground Railroad can be found. Inside we find information on the Dred Scott case in which a slave sued for his family’s freedom and the decision lead to the Civil War. Above, a flag hangs from the dome with paintings on the ceiling and flag displays hanging over the railing. In other rooms we find displays for Missouri’s history throughout different time periods. One of my favorites is the room for the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis which has an old car, a Singer sewing machine, and a vintage poster which I wish I could have in my future home someday. Although we have new advancements to replace all of these items I’m always intrigued and enjoy an old-fashioned piece of decor or machinery; something about it seems so unique and beautiful that a smartphone or lap top computer could only wish for.
A Vlasich family vacation would be nothing without a tour of the local baseball stadium or ticket to a baseball game; it’s one thing we can all agree we should go see or participate in. I’m sad to see that the new ballpark doesn’t have the shape of arches up by the bleachers, but I suppose only one landmark should have that feature. This factor is overseen because my favorite color red is everywhere and I enjoy seeing all the drawings of cardinals and how they have been depicted differently over the years. One of the best things about the tour is being able to step onto the field with my toe just touching the edge of the grass; it may sound ridiculous, but it absolutely delights me. While the Stan Musial statue is a great figure to behold and be in awe of, it’s the small things that entertain me the most.
Missouri Botanical Gardens
If there’s one event I’m glad we didn’t miss, it was the Lantern Festival filled with light decorations for the Chinese Year of the Dragon. This not only included Chinese opera masks and blossoms that lit up in the dark, but also a Porcelain Dragon made completely of Chinese plates, dishes, and spoons. A Junk made from used plastic drinking bottles also caught my attention because many times you never know what additional uses something may have; perhaps Real Simple should feature this in their “New Uses for Old Things.” A pagoda reminded me of how much I used to love them as a child and carried around a used firework in a home video saying, “Pagoda” as I excitedly present it to my dad. After much exploring of beautiful blossoms and plants in the George Washington Carver Gardens and Japanese Garden, a quick greasy Chinese food snack and an escape from the heat in a taxi cab is just what the doctor ordered.
I’m fairly certain that neither my sister, Ming, nor I will forget our fateful last day in St. Louis at Forest Park. The first mistake we made on our excursion was not taking the park bus and decide on walking across the park in the middle of the St. Louis heat to the Science Center. While the Science Center had great displays for children to participate in and explore and was well taken care of, various groups of camps soon wore us out as we cooled down from the heat. The next part of our plan was to eat lunch at the Boathouse and rent a paddleboat. Upon Ming finishing her root beer float and me drinking a cream soda, we head to our rented paddleboat and begin to peddle. Ming’s time at the gym has paid off as she peddles forward, while my wimpy yoga legs fail to do much. We stop under bridges to hang out in the shade and peddle past some fountains in hope of small droplets on our faces as we head back to the dock. Once we return the boat, I see how much I underestimated my sweat; my shorts are covered in the back with two circles of sweat and the front and back of my shirt is soaked. A girl walks past me with a questionable look on her face; I didn’t wet my pants, I swear…I just rented a paddleboat. I guess the moral of the story is: If it looks like something questionable, you either don’t know the whole truth behind it, or you don’t want to know.