St. Louis, Missouri (conclusion)

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Sunday was race day. Traci set the alarm for 5 AM. That's another reason I am not a runner. They have to wake up too early for me. However, since I enjoy supporting her, I was up early as well to make sure I got photos of her running 13.1 miles through the city of St. Louis. The course not only went through the city but it also crossed the bridge into Illinois and back again. Traci enjoyed the run. She occasionally stopped to take pictures. She later regretted doing that when she realized she was closer than she thought to getting a PR (personal record). Nonetheless, she had a good time. She even got a selfie with Olympic gold medalist Jackie Joyner-Kersee. As for me, I did my normal routine for these longer runs; that is, photograph Traci at the race start, get breakfast, and then photograph her at the finish line. It was more of a challenge than I thought it would be finding a breakfast spot. I was hoping to find a diner but would have settled for a McDonald's or Burger King. I did not find any such establishments. I eventually came across Tim Hortons which reminded me of Dunkin Donuts. I had a bacon, egg and cheese croissant and then walked several blocks to the Gateway Arch so that I could take a picture of Traci crossing the finish line. And with that, Traci was one race closer to her goal of running a half-marathon in every state.

Traci enjoying the scenery during the half-marathon

 

Traci with Olympic gold medalist Jackie Joyner-Kersee

 

After getting cleaned up, checking out of the hotel, dropping off our luggage with the concierge, and saying goodbye to friends, Traci and I were back into tourist mode. It amazes me how Traci can run 13.1 miles and still have the energy to do sightseeing. I had read about the Delmar Loop in the AAA Tour Book and heard about it from our guide on the St. Louis Fun Trolley Tour. Therefore, it became our first sightseeing destination of the day. As usual, we needed to take Uber to get there from downtown. Our driver was quite a character. Whereas our other Uber drivers were generally silent, this guy decided to tell us his whole life story. His tales of homelessness, illness, and family disagreements were occasionally interrupted by his frustration with other drivers or by an attractive woman walking down the street. The latter would cause him to say "Ohh, Baby." We got delayed getting to our destination because we had to yield to what we originally thought was a large wedding procession. There were at least five white stretch limos followed by black limos. We started to suspect that this was not a wedding when we saw most of the people dressed in black. We later found out it was the funeral procession of one of St. Louis' most famous citizens - rock-n-roll legend Chuck Berry who had died three weeks earlier. In fact, we had our Uber driver drop us off at Chuck Berry's restaurant on the Delmar Loop: Blueberry Hill.

The Delmar Loop is four blocks of boutiques, novelty shops, restaurants and street musicians. It reminded me of a smaller, less-crowded version of Washington D.C.'s Georgetown. The shops and restaurants were not what drew Traci and me to the area. Instead, we wanted to check out its Walk-of-Fame. In the sidewalk of the four blocks are stars and plaques dedicated famous people who lived in Missouri at some point in their lives. Some of the stars we saw were those of Josephine Baker, Tina Turner, Bob Costas, Chuck Berry, Michael MacDonald, Nelly, Scott Joplin, and many others. It was a lot of fun to discover who had a star on the Walk of Fame.

Delmar Loop Walk of Fame

Chuck Berry

 

Miles Davis

 

We decided to eat at a barbeque restaurant on the Delmar Loop called Salt and Smoke. Woowee! That was some good eatin'. For dessert, we went across the street to Chuck Berry's restaurant. I could not leave St. Louis without trying the city's signature dessert - gooey butter cake. With a name like that, how could it be anything but delicious? The gooey butter cake reminded me of a blondie that you get at Applebee's but tastes more like a buttery sugar cookie. It was sprinkled with powdered sugar and it was heavenly.

gooey butter cake with whipped cream

 

Determined to get in as much sightseeing as we could before heading to the airport, we had an Uber driver drop us off downtown at the Hilton Ballpark Hotel. The driver of our trolley tour the previous day recommended it as an alternative for viewing the city since the Gateway Arch was closed for renovations. We had to get one of the bellman to use his card to let us take the elevator to the top (26th) floor of the Hilton. There is a terrace bar there that not only gives you a great view of the city and the Mississippi River but you can see the field of the baseball stadium. A Cardinals game was in progress. The commentary was piped into speakers at the bar. Surprisingly, there were not that many people at this terrace that day. However, the ones that were were intensely watching the game below.

View from the Top of Hilton Ballpark Hotel

 

 

After a few minutes of admiring the view from the top of the Hilton Ballpark Hotel, we decided we'd better start heading back to the Crowne Plaza to pick up our luggage. On the way there, we saw that the Old Courthouse was open for self-guided tours. Honestly, touring a courthouse did not sound very interesting to me. However, I've learned that when it comes to travel, it is good to keep an open mind. It turns out that we really enjoyed our visit to the Old Courthouse. It is where the Dred Scott trials took place. Dred Scott was a slave who lived in states where slavery was prohibited (Illinois and Wisconsin Territory). He therefore sued his master for his freedom but lost the case when the Supreme Court ruled in 1857 that African Americans are not and could never be citizens of the United States. This controversial decision pushed the country closer to civil war. We watched an excellent film that explained the case. Afterwards, we looked at some of the slavery exhibits from Scott's time. Finally, we had a look at some of the courtrooms where some of the Dred Scott trials took place. These rooms have been restored or are in the process of being restored to look as they would have appeared in 1857. It was an interesting stop. I'm glad I kept an open mind.

Old Courthouse

 

 

 

We had finally run out of time and had to collect our luggage from the Crowne Plaza Hotel so that we could make our way to the airport. We took the MetroLink. Because of a Cardinals baseball game and a St. Louis Blues hockey game that day, the metro was extremely crowded. With each stop closer to the airport, the crowd thinned to the point where Traci and I eventually had a car all to ourselves. Our weekend in St. Louis ended with an uneventful flight home. St. Louis is a fun place to be a tourist. Main Page...

 

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Magnet Purchased on this Trip: (click to enlarge)

Entire fridge magnet collection...
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