St Louis

June 29, 2019

Day 6 in St. Louis

Day 6 in St. Louis is off to a great start. I hit the hotel complementary breakfast. (I like complimentary breakfasts. Sometimes I go to hotels just for the complimentary breakfast.) Who knows what Charly is doing. I'm guessing her makeup.

Day 6 in St. Louis is off to a great start. I hit the hotel complementary breakfast. (I like complimentary breakfasts. Sometimes I go to hotels just for the complimentary breakfast.) Who knows what Charly is doing. I'm guessing her makeup.

Day 6 plan is for me is to go to church and then we’ll hit the road. Yes, even when traveling, I go to church. I goofed up and made reservations for a hotel in another city. For the rest of the trip my plan is to spend Saturday and Sunday night’s in the same place. You know what they say, “Seven days without God makes one weak.” A day of rest is good.

Day 6 in St. Louis is off to a great start. I hit the hotel complementary breakfast. (I like complimentary breakfasts. Sometimes I go to hotels just for the complimentary breakfast.) Who knows what Charly is doing. I’m guessing her makeup.

Day 6 in St. Louis and Where’s Charly?

Okay, I’m off to a local church, and I haven’t seen Charly all morning. I left a note under her door:

Gone to church. Back in time for lunch. Please be ready. — Brent

Back on the Road

I returned from church and saw Charly was all packed and ready to hit the road.

“I see you got my note,” I said.

She replied, “I was wondering where you went.”

“Let’s load the car,” I said as I grabbed the handles of my two roller bags.

We no sooner put stuff in the car and Charly says, “I forgot something, I’ll be right back.”

30-minutes later I decided I’d play a little prank. A few days ago a guy let us take some bricks. I’ll stuff them in her suitcase.

“Right back,” I said, “I was about to see if there was someone else who wanted to join me.”

“You wouldn’t leave me,” she said with a voice of confidence.

“Oh, get over yourself,” I retorted, “the rest of us have.”

That earned one dirty look.

Not Our Day 6 Motel

It was time for another road trip tick. I knew there was an abandoned motel coming up.

“Wow,” I said, “I didn’t realize we’d get to our next motel so quickly.”

I was driving, and I pulled in the the abandoned Gardenway Motel. The first giveaway should have been there were NO cars in front of the rooms.

Charly hopped out of the car before it came to a complete stop, and yelled, “Nooooooo!”

I was laughing so hard I couldn’t speak for a while. Finally getting it together I asked, “Why?”

“You can’t be serious! This place looks like a dump from the outside, I can’t imagine what the rooms look like inside,” she said without even thinking that I was pulling her leg.

Charly is obviously displeased with this motel for Day 6 in St. Louis

“Wait, wait, wait,” I said both trying to calm Charly down and to keep from cracking up, “wait until you see inside the rooms.”

I widened my eyes as if to say, ‘They’re amazing.’

Charly cast a gaze my way as if to say, ‘You better not be pulling my leg.’

“Let’s go look,” I said while taking her by the hand.

She grabbed my hand like a scared child. As we drew closer, her grip got tighter and tighter. I began to be a little scared myself. Visions of drug-crazed squatters coming at us with broken beer bottles ran through my imagination.

There was no visual or audible indication that anyone else was around. As I turned and looked at this pale frightened girl, I thought it was time to let her in on the joke.

Letting Charly In on the Day 6 Prank

“You must realize, I’d never stay in a dump like this. Remember our motel in Normal? That was about as bad as I’m willing to put up with,” I explained.

As a result, her hand curled in to a fist as I thought, ‘This could hurt, so move!”

Dodging her jab towards my right bicep I grabbed her before she lost her balance and fell on the the filthy walkway under our feet. Because she was about to fall over, I steadied her with both hands and placed my hands on her shoulders.

“It was a joke, Charly,” I said realizing perhaps it was a little cruel.

Smiling, Charly says, “I knew you were. I wanted you to think I trusted you.”

“What? You don’t?” I asked.

“Heck no,” she laughed.

“What the heck are you doing on this trip? Riding a few thousand miles with an old man?” I said feeling a little under appreciated.

“Oh, no. I trust you in that way,” she said realizing she’s safe with me. “You’d never lay a hand on me. You’re the only guy I’ve ever met who hasn’t made me feel creepy in that way.”

“Thank you for telling me that,” I said comforted. “Let’s peak inside and see how bad this place really is.”

“Do we have to?” she said squeamishly.

“You’re perfectly welcome to go back and wait in the car,” I stated, “I just want to peak around and take a few pictures.”

“Nah, it’s okay, but if zombies come after us I’m throwing you at them so I can make my escape,” she said realizing she could outrun me.

We both slowly approached a broken window. Charly peeked inside and exclaimed, “GROSS!”

It seems like squatters had been there.

Day 6 Motel -- Just Kidding
Day 6 Motel — Just Kidding

June 20, 2019

Saint Louis – Day 5

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.”

Charly Waiting for a Train
Charly Waiting for a Train

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 At the base of the Gateway Arch in Saint Louis
At the base of the Gateway Arch

“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.

Framed by the Gateway Arch
Framed by the Gateway Arch

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.

Looking out of the Arch on the River Side Saint Louis
Looking out of the Arch on the River Side

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.

Chain of Rock Bridge Old Historic Route 66
Chain of Rock Bridge Old Historic Route 66 Saint Louis

Sadness on the Bridge

Julie and Robin Kerry - Saint Louis Chain of Rocks Bridge
Julie and Robin Kerry

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…

June 10, 2019

Day 4 – Near St. Louis

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.

Illinois 1818 Route 66 Monument
Illinois 1818 Route 66 Monument

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.

Charly Points to Drive In
Charly Points to Drive In

“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.”

Entering St. Louis on Route 66
Entering St. Louis on Route 66

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.

Knock, knock.
Knock, knock.

“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:


But then, I reconsidered. If I put that note on her door she’d definitely be waking me 5 minutes in to my slumber.

November 2, 2017

Day 5 – Chain of Rocks Bridge

Day 5 - Our next big stop - the Chain of Rocks Bridge.  This bridge is 1 miles long with a 20-degree bend.  Closed to automobile traffic, it is a fun and scenic walk.  As a result of it being a 2 mile walk, plan your time.  It closes at dusk.

Day 5 - Our next big stop - the Chain of Rocks Bridge.  This bridge is 1 miles long with a 20-degree bend.  Closed to automobile traffic, it is a fun and scenic walk.  As a result of it being a 2 mile walk, plan your time.  It closes at dusk.

Chain of Rocks Bridge

Day 5 – Our next big stop – the Chain of Rocks Bridge.  This bridge is 1 miles long with a 20-degree bend.  Closed to automobile traffic, it is a fun and scenic walk.  As a result of it being a 2 mile walk, plan your time.  It closes at dusk.

We arrived on the Missouri side of the bridge and discovered you can’t park.  I pulled it up on my Route 66 app and read it is only accessible from the Illinois side.  We drove quite a distance in order to access it.  In fact, we were near it last night as we approached Saint Louis.  It’s entrance is near the drive-inn we saw last night.

At the entrance is one of those very cool Illinois Route 66 kiosks.  To think people used to drive across the Mississippi River on this bridge.  It is barely 2 lanes wide.  At today’s highway speeds it is no surprise that it is closed to traffic.  Make sure you read the kiosk.

copyright 2017 db walton
Side 1 – Illinois Map and “You Are Here” Arrow.

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Side 2 – Local Information

Walking the Bridge

I started across the bridge committed to reach the other end… and then return.  Little did I realize how long the bridge is.  As a result, I began to worry they gates would be closed before we made it back.

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The Illinois Side Entrance

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Route 66 Bench on the Chain of Rock Bridge

A couple of power-walkers were on the bridge.  Being locals I thought they could tell me what the buildings in the middle of the river are.  They were clueless.

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Downstream View

It turns out the buildings are water intake stations.  It is interesting these are place in such shallow waters.  The “chain of rocks” describes the rocky shoal that makes the river difficult to navigate.  i.e. shallow waters.

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Upstream View of the Mississippi and the Current Bridge to Cross

The bridge was built in 1929 as a toll bridge.  However, today there is no charge to access the bridge.  It is a park-like setting on the Illinois side.

About 1/2 way across the bridge is a fitting tribute to Route 66.

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Chain of Rocks Bridge Tribute to Route 66


The bridge has a shady reputation.  I noticed a plaque with the names of two sisters with the same death date.  I wondered, “Hmmm, did they commit suicide together?”  If so, how sad.

Well, the story is sad.  They didn’t take their own lives, but were murdered on the bridge.  On the morning of April 5, 1981, 20-year-old Julie Kerry and 19-year-old Robin Kerry were murdered by Martin Gray.  The story is sketchy, but the girls were thrown from the bridge.

During that night, Gray and his friends were up to no good.  He claims he went to the bridge to smoke pot, and the girls slipped off the bridge in an attempt to avoid his sexual advances.   The two girls were there with a cousin.  According to police, the three were forced down a manhole to one of the concrete piers.  The girls were raped, and then pushed and their cousin, Thomas Cummins, was instructed/forced to jump.


It is safer these days.  Schedule for demolition, it became a hangout for derelicts.  Today it is closed after dark, and many people walk it.  I wouldn’t let the tragedy of the Kerry girls and Thomas Cummings detour you from making the walk.

While crossing the bridge we met a few joggers, cyclists, and a mom with her kids and one of their friends.  We asked for a picture.  She told us a little about herself and living near Saint Louis.

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Mom, Kids and a Friend Pose for a Picture

On the Missouri side is an old rest stop building.  The parking lot is closed and I understand it is a high auto break-in area.  As a result you should park in Illinois!

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Missouri Side (Not well cared for)


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Looking Towards Illinois