Thursday, June 17, 2010

Eat Me in St. Louis

Last night, instead of blogging about yesterday's portion of my trip, I was compelled to do this Quatchi Watch post. So, this post will have to act as a sort of doubleheader...

Yesterday I high-tailed it from KC via Booches in Columbia to St. Louis, just in time for Mariner batting practice. Recently inspired by ball-snagging king Zack Hample, my goal was either to grab an Ichiro home-run ball, or just have him toss me one. I figured wearing my gray M's jersey and navy M's cap in a sea of Cardinal red would help me stand out. No such luck. However, as I stood in the right-field seats, some unnumbered Mariner who I didn't recognize tossed a ball in my direction, and I outscrambled this other guy for it. Then Sean White threw a couple balls directly to me. I gave one of 'em to this kid standing nearby, since I already had a ball and he didn't (and he was clearly dying to get one). These are the only MLB balls I've ever obtained, other than a foul ball that landed in my dad's seat at the Kingdome one time. Anyway, here are the two balls I came home with:

Oh, and the M's won, avoiding a sweep. During the series, I was hoping to see a Fister-Pujols showdown, just so I could crack a joke about it. But that didn't happen. Still, Busch Stadium is pretty great. They have any kind of beer you like, as long as it's Budweiser. As for the rest of St. Louis...

After the game, I wandered around the Gateway Arch on the way back to my hotel (room 1804, which not only is our street address, but also the year the Lewis and Clark headed out on their big expedition just blocks from here). Man, the Arch is killer -- easily the highlight of my trip. All the pictures I've previously seen have hardly done it justice, 'cause I had no idea it would be so stunning in person. So simple, so modern, so bold. Like, I love the Space Needle -- it's a sort of retro kitchy-cool emblem of Seattle -- but doesn't actually inspire me the way the Arch does. I went back today and snapped this photo from the ground:

And another:

And here's a view from the top:

Hats off to Eero Saarinen. To a far lesser extent, I also liked the Museum of Westward Expansion, built under the lawn right below the arch. It's been too long since I've seen a museum with kooky animatronic figures.

After lunch at Crown Candy Kitchen, I drove to the sites of the former Robinson Field and Sportsman's Park:

I also walked by the Fox Theater (where the awesome Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll was shot) and through the nearby St. Louis University campus, but I forgot to look for the Billiken.

I started running out of stuff to do, so I decided to take the Budweiser tour. I'd never toured a brewery before, but it was pretty much like I expected (interesting, but not fascinating). Then I went to nearby Gus' Pretzels, but it was closed for the day, so I moved on to Ted Drewes for a "concrete" blueberry custard.

Drove around various neighborhoods, like The Hill, East St. Louis (roll 'em up!), and the Delmar Loop, where I dined at the surprisingly cool Blueberry Hill. I ate the toasted ravioli -- a signature St. Louis dish -- and decided that I prefer my ravioli untoasted. Another local favorite is gooey butter cake, but I didn't actually see it anywhere.

Stuff I missed: the Batman roller coaster (too far out of town, too expensive, too scary), the Evel Knievel roller coaster (same issues), and the Bowling Hall of Fame (it moved to Texas).

Fun trip. Back to the salt mines tomorrow.
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