Meet me in St. Louis

It happened. We survived AND had a great time. And I’m still suffering from post-vacation depression all these days later…pretty sure that’s a sign of a great vacation.

We left for St. Louis Saturday morning at 4:30am, but my trip started much earlier. Around 10:30pm Friday night, I finished packing everything I needed for the trip and headed over to Kevin’s for the night. He, of course, hadn’t even started packing yet…so typical. By about 12:30am, he looked as ready as he ever would and headed to bed. From what I could see, everything was ready to go-directions to every place we planned to go were in order and I didn’t see any room for problems or things that would make me regret agreeing to this so last minute.

When the alarm went off just 3 hours later, I felt like it was the school year all over again. I’ve been getting much more sleep this summer, so the 3 hour “nap” was a bit of a nightmare. Regardless, I got up, got dressed and got myself not only ready for the 5-hour car ride we faced, but also for the first day of vacation, as we planned to immediately head off to a destination upon arrival in St. Louis. I was ready to go at 4:00am, as I’d planned for, and when Kevin couldn’t get up until 3:50am, I knew we were in trouble. 40 minutes, a ripped contact and a meltdown later, we were loading up the car and trying not to murder one another before the trip even began. Things definitely started to look up as we were the only car driving through town and stopped at McDonalds for my absolute favorite breakfast burritos and coffee. We were then on the way.

The ride to St. Louis was nice and uneventful. We saw lots of cows and horses, which was totally hilarious. Kevin hated finding out that all of his radio stations didn’t travel with us and were instead replaced by countless country stations. At 9am, we were driving past St. Louis and got our first glimpse at the Arch and our hotel, which was so close it was almost kissing the Arch. We arrived at our first stop, Grant’s Farm, at just about 9:30am.

This place was awesome. I loved every minute of it and honestly wish I was there right now. It was so funny and so totally like nothing you would ever experience in Illinois. To get to the farm, everyone has to ride on a tram with open sides. It doesn’t just drive you to the farm, though-it takes you through miles of expansive land with crazy animals on it…

We were almost charged by a bison who apparently didn’t like us on his lawn, elk were inches away from my skull, and other animals I’ve only ever seen on t.v. wandered around so close to us that we couldn’t believe it. When it was time to get off the tram, we  arrived in an even funnier and stranger place. Grant’s Farm was complete with a baby goat petting zoo where you could feed them milk from bottles, acres for the Clydesdales (coolest thing ever!) an elephant show, a crazy kangaroo that stood on its tail,a camel that caught food people would throw in its mouth, and free samples of Anheuser-Busch alcohol. It was definitely something we’d never experienced before, but everything was so cool. It was a really great way to start off the vacation. From there, we wandered across the street to check out Ulysses Grant’s house and farm (hence the whole Grant’s Farm thing on the property…)

After this, we headed back to the heart of the city to check into our hotel and figure out where we were going to watch the Blackhawks game. After a horrible time trying to figure out how to use the parking tower (and trying to figure out how we would remember that our car was parked 6 floors underground…[what the heck, St. Louis]) we checked in and enjoyed the fantastic view of the Arch and the Mississippi River from out hotel room. We went for a walk around the city and were lucky enough to find out that one of the many, MANY restaurants in our hotel was a sports bar with a million t.v.s We were fortunate enough to get a waitress who was more than willing to put the game on for us. Despite the fact that the Cardinals were playing the Reds, eventually everyone at the restaurant had their eyes on our t.v. and were cheering for the Hawks. The next thing we knew, the Hawks were on every channel, and these potentially Blues fans were cheering. I couldn’t believe it! Definitely earned them all some serious brownie points in my book. 

The next day, we were off to Purina Farms. Not to be confused with Grant’s Farm…totally different things, but both really awesome. This place was massive, and we got to see two different dog shows. The dogs did tons of awesome tricks and were really talented. We were also lucky enough to come on a weekend where people from all over the country had brought their dogs for agility course competitions as well as obedience training and speed races. There was also a barn with even more animals to pet! I was in heaven for a second day in a row.

We finished at Purina Farms much earlier than we did at Grant’s Farm the day before, so we headed back to our hotel to explore. Of course, we needed to stop at Jack in the Box, since it’s my dad’s favorite fast food place and we don’t have any around home, so we needed to try it and, of course, send my dad pictures. After our delicious stop, we headed back to St. Louis and our awesome hotel.

We sort of planned to go to the Arch on our final day (Monday) before we checked out of the hotel at noon, but we thought we’d go give it a try, since it was about 4:00pm. We waited for nearly half an hour in an outdoor line that led you through security to enter the underground area of the Arch. Here, you can buy tickets for the various things offered about the Arch, go through a museum, shop at multiple gift shops, watch historical informational films, or board the pod to go up to the Arch. We got in line right away to buy our tickets, but our trip wasn’t scheduled until 6:50p.m. We went and looked through the museum, read everything, and wandered through one of the gift shops before it was our turn to get in line. We waited another 45 minutes in line after 6:50…luckily we had already eaten and didn’t have any plans for the night. When it was finally our turn to head up, we were put into this horribly claustrophobic “pod”, which was no taller than 4 feet and could comfortably carry 1 person on their 4-minute journey up to the top; however, they put 4 people into the pod. The journey felt much more like a ferris wheel than an elevator or anything else…it rocked and swayed side to side, all the while traveling up 630 feet. I was having some sort of anxiety attack, but I kept quiet and calm for the sake of the poor strangers who were loaded into the pod with us. I couldn’t wait to get out and be at the top; little did I know, it wasn’t much better at there.

The ceiling was still so low in the Arch itself, and with 12 tiny windows on each side-12 facing St. Louis, 12 facing the Mississippi River- I wasn’t any less claustrophobic. I couldn’t wait to get down, but I was also terrified of riding the pods back down. After countless pictures and enough time to justify getting the heck out of there, we boarded another pod and made the journey back down. I have never been happier to be back on solid ground. It was a good thing we didn’t save the Arch until Monday, because we wound up spending a grand total of 6 hours on that…It was very beautiful at the top, though…

After finishing exploring around the Arch, we headed back for our car to explore even more by vehicle, and to do so while eating Imo’s pizza. We heard this was a very big part of St. Louis culture, and we couldn’t miss out on trying it. It was really good, but absolutely nothing like Chicago style pizza. Cute try, though, STL….

Bacon, sausage, green peppers, onion...Kevin's dream come true!

We had a really nice anniversary (Sunday). On Monday, our last day, we packed up, headed out, checked out the beautiful and historical capital building and stopped at a drive-thru zoo to check out even more bison, elk and deer. We didn’t see too many, but we did come across a giant herd of elk sitting in the parking lot. It made for a really interesting final stop.
Our ride home was complete with a torrential downpour…I guess that was Illinois’ way of welcoming us back. We got home after 7pm on Monday, just in time to watch the Blackhawks lose…and I slept like a baby until I had to wake up at 6:30a.m. for work. That wasn’t easy…

I have yet to unpack, but I wish instead that I was just packing for another vacation. It only took 7 years, but we went on a vacation together and had a great time. I can’t wait for the next one. It’s kind of addicting…

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