Day 5 – Good morning Saint Louis. Let’s find somewhere to eat breakfast and then go see the St. Louis Arch.
I plugged in Saint Louis Arch and it wasn’t found. So, I had to do an Internet search and found at the GPS probably has it listed by it’s official name – Gateway Arch.
That did it. Off we go.
“Brent, check that out. It looks like an old movie theatre,” Charly says while pointing out the window.
“It sure does. Let’s stop and check it out,” I said.
We pulled in to the parking lot to discover inside it’s been converted in to offices. One of the things the Internet has destroyed is good, ol’ fashioned, movie houses. Just as the Interstate highway system turned many Route 66 towns in to shells of what they used to be, the Internet has had impact on theatres and retail shopping.
As we walked by the MOD Pizza shop in the corner of the building, the manager was opening and asked if we’d like to have a pizza.
Hey, I’m all for pizza for breakfast.
Saint Louis Train Station
Getting to the arch is going to take a little time. We didn’t get far before I saw an old train station. (It’s actually in Kirkwood, Mo.)
My grandpa was a Union Pacific Railroad man. He taught me respect for the tracks and trains. He’d say, “I don’t ever want to pick up your head off the tracks.” I was never afraid, I just knew trains and train tracks are nothing to be trifled with. You don’t pose people on the tracks and you get it in to your head that you cannot always hear a train. (It has to do with the doppler effect.)
“Brent, take a picture of me on the tracks,” Charly requests.
“Nope. Those are live tracks,” I said while looking around for some signage.
“Here, read this Charly,” I said pointing to a sign that warns trespassers, “aside from trespassing, it is also extremely dangerous. Didn’t you hear about those three kids who were killed last summer as one of them was taking pictures of the other two standing on the tracks?”
“Didn’t they see it coming and HEAR it coming?” she said in disbelief.
“Nope. It was a blind corner. The train was doing about 70 miles per hour, and at that speed, you won’t hear the train until it is too late,” I explained.
“Really?” she said while looking at me as if to say, ‘Nah, that can’t be.’
“See the yellow line. Stay on this side of the line please,” I pleaded with Charly.
“Okay,” she said with the disbelief that goes along with the feeling of invincibility that accompanies youth.
“Here, stand here and look down the track like you’re looking for the train,” I instructed, “Too bad we don’t have a suitcase.”
The Gateway Arch
I’ve always wanted to see the Arch in St. Louis. I knew little about the arch before the trip. All I knew about it was from my college math days learning that it is built in the shape that a chain makes ( a catenary curve) when suspended at two ends — only inverted. As a result of this shape, the arch is very structurally sturdy.
Here’s what I learned:
The Arch was built as a monument to the westward expansion.
It is a National Park.
Inside are trams that take tourist to the top where they can look out windows at the scenes below. (Because of its hight, I always thought there were offices inside.)
It took over 30 years from conception to completion!!!
It is 630 feet wide and 630 feet tall.
“Charly, come stand here and act like a fashion model,” I called for her. “There… move a little to your left,” I said motioning for her to move in that direction.
“Perfect,” I said as clicked the shutter.
I looked at our tickets, and then my watch, “Hey, let’s go inside. We need to catch our tram ride to the top.”
Trotting towards the entrance with Charly following behind, we entered the building via a downward sloping ramp that took us to the basement.
We had to wait for our group to be called, so we looked around. Finally they called our number and marshalled is in to a line. It was like a popular line at Disneyland. Just when you think you’re almost there, it takes another turn and doubles back on itself.
They boarded us on a tram with a half dozen people and off we went to the top.
“Charly,” I started to ask as she looked at me knowing I was going to ask her to pose.
She walked over to one of the windows, “How’s this?”, she asked.
Chain of Rocks Bridge Saint Louis
Our next stop was this bridge all the books said is a “must see”. I had never heard of the Chain of Rocks Bridge, so we were off to see what all the fuss is about.
The GPS took us to the Missouri side of the bridge and I did not see ANYWHERE that I would want to park the car. Charly was thumbing through all my Route 66 books.
“Brent,” she said firmly, “this book says, ‘Do not leave your car unattended on the Missouri side. It is not safe.'”
“Not to worry, I don’t plan to park here,” I said, then added, “I can’t even see a place to park legally. Check the map, will you?”
Charly pulled out a AAA map and began to fiddle with the folds. I could tell this Millennial Child has never dealt with a road map before. So, I turned on the flashers and pulled to the shoulder of the road.
“Let me see that,” I said while tugging it from her hands. “Okay, I see where we need to go.”
Soon we found ourselves on the Kansas side of bridge. A large gravel parking lot looked clean and safe. It also had many other cars parked there, but no people in sight.
“Let’s go check it out,” I said hopping out of the car.
Sadness on the Bridge
We soon came across this plaque. The death dates made me wonder, “Was this a suicide pact? How did these two girls die? What happened?”
Well, you can read the sad story here.
Someone also put together this slideshow…