Day 4 – Near St. Louis and it’s starting to get dark. Some days we end up pushing dinner until it’s late, but time seems to get away when there is so much to see on Route 66.
“Brent? What’s that?”, Charly asks.
I look and see some sort of a monument. It says Illinois 181 at the top. My first thought is there’s no way this was around in 1818. It can’t be mile 1,818. Oh, wait… that’s the year Illinois became a state!!!
“I think that’s a monument to Illinois becoming a state,” I told Charly as I turned my back to do an Internet search. Whew! I was right.
Just think… we’re only a year off from Illinois’ bicentennial. But, we are here for Route 66… not Illinois.
It turns out this monument was put up by the people who live here. I think it is cool. I’d be tempted to do something like that, but there are so many places where code enforcement would jump down your throat.
Dusk Near St. Louis
It’s near dusk as we’re near St. Louis. We pulled over to take some photos.
Pointing to the Bel Air Drive In sign, Charly asked, “Have you ever been to one of those?”
“I grew up across the street from a drive in,” I proudly said.
“Can we go?” she asks.
“There’s nothing on the marquis. I doubt they are open,” I said.
“What is it like? How do you watch a movie?” Charly asks.
“You drove your car in, and parked next to a pole with a speaker. The speaker clipped to your window. You’d have to be careful when you left and made sure you put the speaker back else it would damage your window! You’d sit in your car and watch the movie on that big screen,” I said pointing to the screen, “and the sound came across the speaker.”
Drawing a breath, I continued, “If you got hungry, you could walk to a building in the center of where all the cars park. They also had carhops who came and brought food to you.”
Here are some images I created of days gone by…
I started reminiscing about the days watching cartoons over the drive in fence. (After all, we lived across the street from a drive in. All I had to do is go out in the field with binoculars and watch — no sound.)
Where’s the Hotel?
Back in the car I plugged the address to the hotel in the GPS. It took us to some road with a chain link fence and barb wire.
“Your destination is on the right,” the woman’s British voice announced. (British because the other voices sounded too boring.)
“Charly,” I said, “that does NOT look like our hotel.”
“Maybe it was torn down… like so many other places on Route 66,” Charly said with a sound of disgust.
“I doubt that. I just made the reservations at lunch time,” I said. “Here,” I continued handing her my phone, “call the number and tell them we’re lost.”
Charly makes the call, explains the situation, and hangs up.
“Well? That was short,” I said.
“He said they get that a lot. We need to specify St. Louis,” she says.
“I thought it would take us to the closest matching address… in St. Louis,” I began to get a little perturbed.
“I’m just sayin'”, she says.
How I hate that phrase. ‘I’m just sayin”.
“Well, punch it in,” I snapped.
“Turn around. Your destination is 2 miles back,” says the GPS.
“SEE. It’s NOT me. It’s taking us back to that… I don’t know… It looked like an AREA 51, but we’re not in the Southwest U.S.,” I responded more angrily.
“Calm down,” Charly says, “I’ll try again. Nope, it’s taking us right back there.”
“Okay,” I said as I had an epiphany, “put in downtown St. Louis and we’ll just drive there. When we get downtown we will enter the hotel again.”
“Dang, you’re smart,” Charly said stroking my ego, but rolling her eyes as if SHE had thought of doing that.
Seeing the St. Louis Arch for the First Time
Seeing the St. Louis Arch for the first time was pretty impressive. I did not realize it was so BIG. We could see the city in the background against the dimming sky and the Arch dwarfed everything else around it.
“Okay, we’re getting closer to St. Louis. I didn’t realize back there we had so much further to go,” I said with a calm sound of reassurance. “Stupid GPS.”
Charly and I switched driving. I grabbed a shot through the windshield, but I couldn’t see the arch when I did.
Once in the city, the GPS took us right to the hotel. I let the front desk know they might be losing business if the GPS takes people to destinations unknown. They agreed.
A Dip in the Pool
“I’m going to go for a dip in the pool,” Charly announced she took the key card and headed to her room.
“Go ahead,” exhaustedly I said, “I’m calling it a day. Oh, and don’t forget to take a robe or a towel. I’m not sure…”
“I’m not stupid, you know,” Charly said like a defiant teenager.
“I’m not saying you are… just not as modest as most people,” I said with a wink.
There I sat in my room. Wired from all the driving we did today, or what seemed like a lot of driving. I broke out my laptop, and began downloading images.
Seeing it would take a while to copy, I decided to go down to the lobby and ask the lady at the front desk about places to eat breakfast. Or, at least see what they offer for breakfast in the hotel. I can’t remember if it comes with a continental breakfast or not.
Back at the Room
I’m walking down the hall as I’m heading back to my room and what do I see? Charly is standing in the hall, wrapped in a towel, pounding on my door.
“Looking for me?” I asked.
“I thought you were in for the night,” she says surprised to see me.
“And, I wasn’t expecting to open my hotel door to see a young lady dressed only in a towel,” was my response.
“I’ve got my swimsuit on underneath”, Charly informs me as she opens the towel enough to show she’s got a one-piece on under the towel.
“Thank goodness for that,” I said, relieved.
“I locked my key in my room,” she said thinking nothing of what she had done.
“And, so… you’re knocking on my door to ask me if you could have my room? Is that it?” I asked because I wasn’t sure what she was getting to.
“No, I was going to ask if you know how I can get in my room,” she nievely said.
“Yeah, you go down to the front desk, tell them you locked yourself out of your room… ” I started to say.
“But what if they ask for ID?” she inquired.
“This happens often. If they want ID they can always come up, open your door, and ask you to produce ID before they call the cops and have you arrested and thrown in jail for imitating Char… “, I was on a roll before she cut in.
“Okay, I get it. They aren’t going to arrest me,” she says as she scampered off towards the elevator.
Once safely in my room I thought of leaving a note on her door. In fact, I even wrote it out:
“DON’T BUG ME. I’M TIRED AND I HAVE GONE TO BED.”
But then, I reconsidered. If I put that note on her door she’d definitely be waking me 5 minutes in to my slumber.