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Friday, April 6, 2001

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St Louis

I slept through most of Ohio, Indiana and Illinois except for Indianapolis where we had to get off for an hour. I wake up as we're approaching the Mississippi and am eager to visit St Louis. We cross the Mississippi and pull into the St Louis bus station a little before 6:30 AM. I freshen up as best I can considering that the station is so hot and steamy that most people are waiting outside. I get my teeth brushed and clean clothes on and set out.

The station is in an area of town that does not look good but I figure most scuzballs are in bed at this time of the day. It feels good to walk so I just keep walking into downtown even though I had planned to take a bus. I probably walked a couple of miles to where the volkswalk started at the Hampton Inn west of downtown on Market Street.

The walk took me back in town past the Meeting of the Waters sculpture with Mr. Mississippi and Ms. Missouri unclothed. I then wandered back and forth through some historic blocks and down Washington Avenue which is being yuppified. For a Friday the town seemed empty. I would have thought it would be bustling with people going to work and conducting business. I did find a little coffee shop and got the necessary coffee and a roll.

I then headed back toward the bus station. I knew it was in an old part of town but it's also historic. That makes it a good part of town, right? I passed the old newspaper building and St Joseph's Shrine, where a miracle was said to have occured, and through the Columbus Square residenial area. This is a nice area that was an attempt in the 70s to bring people back into the inner city. Then it was past the convention center to Laclede's Landing.

Finally I was back to the Mississippi. Laclede's Landing is where St Louis started in the 1700s and still has cobblestone streets, old brick buildings and a riverboat casino. Well, I'm sure they had gambling, just not slot machines. I stopped to just watch the river flow by and take pictures of barges and bridges. I walked along the riverfront to the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial Park.

When Lisa and I came through here in 1992 we didn't go because there was a four hour wait to go up in the arch, and that is still the average, according to the ticket lady, but today was slow and I got right in. The tram is so cute. We're packed in an egg shaped bubble and slowly taken up to the top of the arch. There was a great view from the top though it was a bit hazy today. I took more than my quota of pictures while lying prone on the wide windowsills to look out the tiny windows. I walked to the other side of the room and nearly fell over as I turned around as there is a slant to the floor. For a second it was like one of those optical illusion rooms.

I took the bubble down and spent time in the Lewis and Clark exhibition and bought a book at the bookstore about Lewis and Clark. This is a nicely done exhibit. I think this expedition was well handled, unlike so many of the ones that followed, and was truly a courageous group.

Continuing on I went west past the Wainwright Building, the first skyscraper, city hall and Union Station. Union Station is now a mall, food court and hotel. It's still beautiful. The hotel entry has wonderful stained glass windows and the old decorations. It was just a bit more back to the hotel. I turned in my paperwork and headed back to Union Station for a beer.

They had several free internet stations there but they were so incredibly slow that I finally gave up. I am feeling withdrawal from the internet since the pay internet machines at the hostel were not working well and cost too much money to take the chance of breaking down. Lisa doesn't have internet at home so I've not had a good email and internet session since I left home on March 22nd.

From Union Station I took the metro back to Laclede's Landing. It's a nice system but not many people were riding it. I had a late lunch and rested my feet then decided to check out the casino. They charge to go in. Technically it's called a gambling tax and is only two bucks, but still. That's tacky. Then you have to give them your card, which has all your info on it, to get tokens as you can't use real money. I only played a few bucks in the slot machines and then wandered around. If you only want to gamble it's ok but I don't care much for gambling so it was pretty boring. Now Las Vegas has an energy that is fun even if you don't gamble.

I walked back to the bus station and got my luggage out of the storage locker, after I got the employees there to help me as it wouldn't take my money. I arranged my stuff and brushed my teeth and was ready to go. All of a sudden the bus station filled up with people with duffle bags. It was soldiers coming to or from Fort Leonard Wood, which was one of our stops in a couple hours. The bus station is beautiful inside with a colored ceiling and marble railings. I was wondering why it was so fancy then I saw "Cass Bank" very light on the outside. This used to be a bank.

We took I-70 west to Lambert Field, I-270 south and, finally, I-44, multiplexed w/US-50 for a while.

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Rachel Aschmann 2001.
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