Way back in the early days of our trip, we stayed in Lubec, Maine. We met a mother and son there who were visiting from St. Louis. They invited us to visit them when we passed through Missouri. Well, after our month of detours and alternate plans, we had the chance to pass through The Gateway to the West and visit them. We had an awesome time.
In addition to reuniting with Cheryl and Sean—the aforementioned mother and son—we got to meet Mike, Cheryl’s husband. All of them were so accommodating and they were able to show us what the city was all about.
First, Sean went with us to the City Museum—an absolute maze of surreality that winds and worms and meanders and plummets across ten stories of an old warehouse building. Different areas are themed as caves or woods or aquatic or industrial. All the areas are works of art and the way the passages connect is an imagining that sprung from MC Escher’s brain. Sean was the perfect tour guide—energetic beyond human measure and polite. On the car ride back (because Sean also drove us!), we had a great chat about living a creative life. Professional interviewers could learn a thing or two from this young man; he listened and asked thoughtful questions and challenged some of my responses. In return, when I asked him questions, he was again thoughtful and funny and unafraid to be completely honest. We wished we could have spent more time with him that day. Fortunately, we did have the chance to eat early dinner with him at Rosa’s Cakes and Paco’s Tacos—an authentic street taco place located in the most unlikely of locales. I highly recommend stopping in there if you’re passing nearby.
That evening we stopped by Friendship Brewing, where we enjoyed a few drinks and listened some great live music. I had the ciders on the menu—one called Snowflake and the other was a cranberry. Both were great, though I liked the Snowflake best.
The next day the whole family went to do the most St. Louie thing you can do—visit the arch. Standing 360 feet tall, the arch is at once America’s tallest national monument and its grounds are the smallest of our national parks. I’ve been to the arch many times, but this time really struck me. I don’t really know why, but the absurdity of what I was seeing, the sheer weirdness of it—the scale and shape, the idea that we at one time publicly funded projects like this, the forward-thinking design and planning (FDR got this ball rolling and it was completed in 1968), its place—time and geography—in our culture, its mathematical complexity and aesthetic simplicity, the fact that I was standing under this steel arch with a waxing gibbous moon overhead—I don’t know; it really struck me.
We took the tiny elevator to the top where we could look down on the courthouse where the Dredd Scott Decision was made and we could look back across the river to the east of the US. If you’ve been to the arch, but never gone to the top, you should really go back.
Then we had more tacos for dinner! I mean, how great is this for getting back on the road? While we aren’t necessarily passing through the gateway into the west just yet, we are certainly heading that way soon. Thank you to Cheryl and Mike and Sean for all their kindnesses over the past few days, including allowing us to stay inside and feed us. We are grateful for everything.