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bert goes to St Louis and gets all touristy - Trip Report


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Day 1: part 3 – capping off a long day

 

I will start out this last segment of day 1 with a notation if you’ve never been to St. Louis and want to experience the “sites” downtown, and want to stay there?

 

I *highly* recommend the Marriott St. Louis Grand, or the Courtyard Marriott – they are across the street from each other on Washington, right across from the convention center, as well as the St Louis Visitor Center. They do not have a view of the Arch (as they are in the center of downtown, in renovated old buildings), but that keeps the room rates down – especially if you are in town on a weekend where there is no Cardinals game, or Convention going on.

 

If I had to choose again, I probably would go for the Courtyard Marriott over the Marriott Grand, only because Courtyard still has a Swimming Pool/Spa, and it would have been nice to relax in a hot tub at the end of our long days. Marriott Grand, just underwent renovations and as part of that, they filled in the indoor pool they had, and put in a very nice/large workout center/gym (based on Millennial’s feedback, I was told when asked why they had no pool).

 

the Grand did have a pretty amazing restaurant on property (“Zenia” – and we ate there twice, including the buffet breakfast one morning – very reasonable for a downtown “upscale” hotel), and I will say that they had a roasted spiced Cauliflower over tomato chutney appetizer that was the best thing I ate all weekend . . and we had some good food at some points over the weekend). Highly recommended just for the restaurant, tho you can get to that even if staying at the Courtyard across the street.

 

The Grand also has a Starbucks on site (can be entered from outside hotel entrance or thru lobby), and a sundries store as well.

 

Both Marriott and Courtyard share a self parking garage, that’s back behind the Grand on 9th street ($30 a day, which I cringed at, but since we needed the car for Six Flags, and Grant’s Farm had to do it . . even tho the car sat for 2 days not moving). . . if we didn’t need the car? Could have used the Metro Train, as there’s a station just up the street, and we could have gotten there from the airport area, from what I understand). Why didn’t we move the car for 2 days? As noted, the Grand (and Courtyard) sit on Washington Street – full of clubs and bars. . . and right outside the main entrance? Downtown Trolley stops (on either side of the street).

 

The Downtown Trolley does a big loop around the “tourist” areas, and on its route includes stops at the Old Courthouse, the Gateway Arch National Park, the City Museum, and stops that are easy walking distance to Union Station, the Baseball Stadium, the Hockey Stadium, and many other sites. Oh, and it’s only $2 (or less for over 60), for an *all day* pass that gives you on/off privileges from 7am until Midnight of day purchased.

 

So yeah, we made great use of it, and I highly recommend this hotel location just for the added benefits of location of trolley stops in both directions out front.

 

Ok, so I wanted to start with that recommendation so no one is turned off by our less than stellar initial experience at check in – LOL

 

We made great time getting to downtown – easy/peasy from the zoo, and since every “unloading” area spot was full, we went directly to the parking garage and self parked the car.

the short walk to hotel (really just across 9th street) gave us a fantastic view of the building, and the classic Orpheum theater next door. The theater looked abandoned (or maybe just closed for ongoing renovation?), but since I love architecture, I really loved that it was right there and I got to see all the intricate stonework on it.

 

we got to the check in after a short wait, the gentleman was pleasant enough and told us to toss the self parking ticket, and gave us a QE code we could use for “in/out” (which again, we didn’t really need, but oh well), and confirmed – without showing me his screen or telling me what he was looking at – our reservation.

I asked him if the room is going to be as booked, a corner room, since I had actually paid the premium for the more spacious room, and he said “yes” and gave us room keys for a room on the 5th floor. Before leaving the counter I also asked him about the downtown trolley, and he told me that it had closed . . . but I could book online and metro would come pick us up. That sounded ‘wrong’ but figured I get free wifi with my Marriott Bonvoy perks, so would just look it up in the room.

 

now, by this time, Nick WAS using the cane, we took it out of the suitcase the moment we got to the car at the zoo. So it was slightly annoying when the room he gave us was completely on the opposite side of the building from the elevators. I went beyond slightly annoyed into “angry” when we opened up the door to the room (which wasn’t at the back corner, but was the 3rd door in the hall) and it was a pretty small, and dark room, with a view of: the parking garage where we had just parked the car. Oh, there was also a charge on the credit card (we got an alert that the charge had come thru) that was for $199 over what the room rate had been guaranteed for when I booked via the Marriott Bonvoy site.

 

I told Nick to stay in the room and not touch anything, and headed back down to the front desk. The gentleman who had checked us in was tied up with other customers, so I went to the cheerful lady who waved me over as next.

 

I told her we had just checked in and that I was concerned about this almost $200 extra on our card. She said that’s the standard ~150 they put on the card to cover “incidentals” at check in, and when we check out if we haven’t used it, they will simply credit us. Plus the 1st two days parking. Ok.. not thrilled about the extra $$ since it’s not noted anywhere in the check in information they handed me, but Ok.

 

So I tackled the next issue: the crappy room. First she told me that because we were checking in later, we got what was available.

I responded that we checked in at what time I was told to check in: after 4pm, and that it was a “guaranteed” room.

 

She came back with an implication that I had booked thru a travel site so they only guarantee a room, not a certain type of room.

I responded that I had not booked thru a 3rd party site, but that I booked thru Marriott, and was promised a Guaranteed Corner room, as that is what I had booked. And in addition to not being a corner room, the view we *did* have was terrible, and I expect better as a Marriott customer.

 

She responded that “this hotel doesn’t really have “corner rooms” – with windows on both sides, as I was expecting. What they had put us in, is what this hotel calls a “corner room” but she could move us to a higher floor if I wanted?

 

I was polite, but getting frustrated (not to the point of asking for a Manager, but close – we were staying there for 3 nights!), and pointed out to her that this is a square building, is it not? Therefore there are rooms in each corner of the building, and I have stayed in “square” downtown Marriott and all had rooms as I was expecting (L shaped entry, with hallway that has window on one side, opening into larger area with windows on other wall). . and pointed out that if the hotel does not have true Corner rooms, they should not allow booking of rooms as “corner rooms.”

 

At this point, a wonderful Counter Agent (not sure if he is a manager, or not) who had been standing at the next check in terminal, got involved and told her: I just put them in 817.

She was a bit confused by it, but the gentleman – his name is Jason – turned to me and said, “I think this is more along the lines of what you are expecting. Please let me know if you have any other issues and we’ll get right on it to see what we can do to make your stay pleasant”

 

I had the keys to the 5th floor room in my hand, and told her I had left Nick in the room, so I could get back in to get our stuff, and she gave me the new keys to 817.

 

I thanked Jason again, and went to the 5th floor to collect Nick and the suitcases, and we made the long walk back to the elevators, went up 3 floors, and got out on the 8th.

the room was only a few doors down from the Elevator, in the corner, and – you’re not going to believe this – the room was EXACTLY the type of room that the lady at the desk had told me doesn’t exist in this hotel: L shaped entry way, long hallways, and windows on two walls. It also had the biggest bathroom area I’ve seen in a hotel in some time (with included phone in bathroom). Shocking, right?

 

yeah.

 

After being in St. Louis for 2 days, and realizing that Sunday night was playoff Game 6 for the Stanley Cup (that the Blues could have won). . and discovering that our hotel was the “base camp” hotel for all the news media coverage?

 

What I totally suspect/expect happened: they tried to put us into a sub-par room, because *we* were staying thru Monday - they then could turn around and charge the heck out of someone staying in the better room we had ended up in on the Sunday night game night – when every hotel in downtown near the stadium way upped the rates.

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the theater directly across from the Marriott self parking garage.

 

beaufiul facade

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on the side of the theater, about to enter into the Hotel side entrance (behind me in this pic)

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Entrance to the room type that "doesn't exist in this Hotel"

 

on the right is a closet with a safe, ironing board, extra pillows and lots of hanging storage space

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the hallway down the side of the building into the main room.

 

(curtains on the right is the North view, and on the left is bathroom door)

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looking into the main room from end of hallway, and behind the couch are the West facing windows.

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really nice room, nice and large enough to get around (I think the sofa might be a hide-a-bed too, but we didn't look). Fridge in the cabinet under the mounted TV.

 

No microwave, but I'm sure we could have brought anything we wanted heated up to the sundries store in the lobby, where there were two microwaves available.

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the view out of the North facing window. on the Right, behind the big building is the Gateway Arch

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the view out of the West facing window (overlooking the convention center and St Louis Visitor's Center)

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really big bathroom.

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nice and spacious bathroom.

 

 

anyways, the room was everything I had been expecting when booking at the Marriott St. Louis Grand, so made sure to go back down to the front desk and thank/tip Jason again (and ask him for his card, so I could write a nice note about him and the great experience he had provided to Marriott – something I did, as well as name checking him in the survey they sent me when asked if anyone had gone out of their way to make our stay more pleasant).

 

Up in the room, we kicked off our shoes to relax for about an hour, and I got online to look up the Trolley. Seems that the St. Louis Metro site talked about the trolley as if it still existed, and it talked about the $2 all day ride privileges – so I really didn’t know what the heck the 1st counter guy had been talking about.

 

we hadn’t really eaten anything since lunch, so had decided that my tentative plan (which really had been a backup plan in case of nasty weather) to go to the close-by “Lumiere” Casino – which is right by the Arch National Park – was the way to go: we could sit and play slots, and they had several restaurants on site. Including a buffet called “the Kitchen”

 

It wasn’t too far, but it was a bit too much for Nick to walk, so we headed back to the lobby, found Jason and asked him about the downtown trolley.

The trolley not only was running, but Jason took us outside and showed us where the trolley stops are just outside the Hotel. Apparently the 1st guy thought we were talking about “downtown trolley tours” where you book online and they take you around to see the areas of the city. .. tho why he wouldn’t know the downtown trolley that stops right outside the hotel he works at is beyond me? Unless he just didn’t care? Who knows? It was beside the point anyways, since the Downtown Trolley stop by the Arch would put us just as far away from the Casino as it would be if we just walked It from the hotel.

 

but Nick was on his cane already, so I asked what our best option was. The answer was Uber, but since neither of us have that app on our phones (hey, we’re OLD, LOL), I just went to the line of cabs and asked the 1st driver: “I know it’s really close, and I’m sorry to ask you to lose your place in the taxi line. . . but if we give you $10, will you drive us to Lumiere Casino?”

 

he immediately agreed (guess it was a great rate for something that would have been $2 probably), and we were on our way.

 

We’ve been to enough casinos to know that the 1st thing one does is sign up for the loyalty card. So we hunted down the booth and signed up, which got us $5 free play (each, tho we could have won up to $30 free play each. . just bad luck), and a discount on the restaurants or buffet.

 

we took one look at the buffet, and knew we were in – as we LOVE cheap casino buffets. Yeah, the food isn’t gonna be the healthiest, but at least a lot of choices and the people watching is usually spectacular. As far as Price goes, this one wasn’t really “cheap” (I think it was $22 with our loyalty card), but that’s a very reasonable price. It was PACKED too – so they must comp the buffet like crazy to the casino members – and it seemed everyone was carrying around little remote control drones (which turned out when I asked were a prize if you hit a certain level of points on your card).

 

as it was Friday, there was a lot of fish on the buffet (at least 4 different types). . but for the most part, it was about Las Vegas Flamingo Buffet level food, and Golden Corral level clientele.

Then they ran out of Cheesecake on the desert station, and said it would be an hour for more to defrost, and they ran out of Spoons at the Soup station. So I laughed and said to Nick, ok, now it’s Circus Circus level buffet.

 

And THEN they replaced the empty spoon holders with plastic disposable spoons, and a little old lady took every single drumstick from the fresh fried chicken (a TINY little lady, with a line of 6 or 7 people behind her – including me, who had been waiting for the really good fried chicken – picked thru the bin and took at least a dozen drumsticks, leaving none). Our waitress actually went back to the cook line and asked them to set aside some drumsticks for me from the next batch – tho by the time they came out we were done eating and I “gifted” them to the table next to us who also were disappointed they hadn’t gotten any chicken). . and we laughed and laughed, and I said to Nick: ok, it’s Stardust, last week of operations Buffet level now! (and we did eat at Stardust Buffet the last week it was open, and it was just as entertaining).

 

^ it sounds like I’m complaining, and I’m not. Like I said, we *love* cheap casino buffets. We had a great time at the Lumiere buffet, and tipped our waitress very well. We enjoyed talking to her, and the tables around us, and just for the fried chicken, it’s worth a stop in, as really it was quite good.

 

We stayed at the Casino for a few hours playing slots, and not winning of course But we got a lot of entertainment out of our $$ and got to sit while playing, so that was nice.

 

We then asked a taxi driver at the Lumiere stand if he’d take us back to the Marriott for $10 and he also immediately said yes. So we were back in the room, showered (getting rid of all the cigarette and Cigar smoke from the casino floor), and relaxing and ready for bed by 11pm. It had been a long day, so we conked out quickly.

 

Sorry not many pictures this update – we left phones in the room charging while we went to the Casino.

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Glad you had fun, despite the shaky start to the hotel stay. Sounds like you got someone who didn't really know what she was talking about and was trying to say something to make you go away. Fortunately not everyone is like that!

 

Lumiere Place is very popular, and they've done a decent job trying to turn the waterfront into a pleasant place to be. When I was a kid, everything east of the freeway was industrial. We eventually got sick of tourists asking "why is that green goop factory next to the Arch"? Maybe they'll eventually fix up the rest of it too.

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^ yeah, the area around it was pretty cool with the cobblestone streets and restaurants. (tho we avoided it mainly due to the uneven walkways for Nick).

 

my only real issue at the Casino was the amount of smoke in the gaming areas. I know they always have a lot of smoke, but maybe the air filters weren't working at 100% the night we were there, as there were wafting clouds of smoke everywhere.

 

we really DID need to shower when we got back as we reeked of cigars & cigarettes.

 

but it was a nice ending to a busy 1st day.

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Until I get a chance to get up day 2 (hopefully tomorrow). . here's the swag from the zoo.

 

would have gotten a magnet or shirt from the Museum, but didn't see anything I really liked

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"carved" into stone. (about the size of 2 quarters)

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it's a "bear hug" on a "geode" . . of course I had to get this magnet too.

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the shirt I loved! (and have already worn to work)

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the shirt that was OK, for only $6 more :)

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Day 2: part 1 the Old Courthouse

 

So after a really good night’s sleep - seriously, the bed at the Marriott was so damn comfortable that I actually meant to look it up and see the mattress brand - we were up and ready to go by 9 am.

 

no need for showers (since we had done that before going to sleep) but since our tickets to the Documentary film in the Arch Museum weren’t until 12:10, we had quite a bit of time.

 

We had originally planned to do the Documentary, the Museum, the Ride to the top, and the Riverboat Cruise - but Nature conspired against us, and so the Riverboats were closed (they had called me to tell me they were going to credit us back, and we moved the film/ride to the top times to earlier in the day since no need to hang around for a late afternoon Riverboat now).

 

I had been interested in going to the Old Courthouse – which is famous/infamous because that is where the Dread Scott case was first heard. And my research showed that the interior dome of the Courthouse was very impressive to see. And since it is on the Downtown Trolley route (and really, just across the street from the Gateway Arch), and I didn’t want to just hang out in the room? I suggested we head downstairs to grab breakfast and we head out to catch the trolley by 10 which would give us plenty of time to still make the film.

 

so we headed downstairs to check out the Breakfast Buffet at “Zenia” in the lobby. We didn’t even bother looking at the menu, since the buffet had everything we wanted: cold cereals/hot oatmeal, pastries, biscuts/gravy, eggs, several types of sausage, fresh fruit, waffles, bagels (with lox, onions, and capers!) as well as an Omelet station. It was super reasonable for a downtown hotel breakfast too. I know I “helped” by choosing what to put into my omelet, but the chef working the station was very good and it made for a fantastic fresh breakfast. The coffee was really good too (wonder if they got it from the Starbucks across the lobby?)

 

we took our time eating (and made sure we were full, since weren’t going to be eating again until much later), but were still done and headed out to the trolley stop out front by 9:45. It was Saturday now, so the Trolleys were supposed to be coming every 15-20 minutes, but I don’t think we even waited 10. We were the only riders, but the driver gave us our all day passes – giving Nick a $1 discount since he’s over 55 (so only $3 to have off/on privileges all day! What a deal) and we were on our way.

 

We told her we were going to the Gateway Arch National Park, but had hoped to go to the Old Courthouse 1st to see the dome. She had absolutely no idea what I was talking about, which surprised me, as that’s a tourist thing. . and we were riding the downtown trolley that I’d assume many tourists ride? But regardless, she was super nice, and told us which stop we needed to get off of for both the Arch & the Courthouse. She even told us where the Trolley Stop was to get back to our Hotel (the Arch stop is in front of the Hyatt).

 

She wished us a good day, and told us to enjoy the Natinoal park and stay away from the dock area since the water was still so high.

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out at the Trolley stop, looking at the Courtyard Marriott across the street.

 

I really like how they "faked" the classic architecture on the side of the old building. We saw several buildings in downtown St. Louis that were similarly painted.

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a street level view of the Convention Center and Visitor Center

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after just leaving the Downtown Trolley at our stop.

 

So it picked us up right in front of our hotel, and this was the stop we wanted to exit (that's the old Courthouse on the left).

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we're here, so have to take a selfie.

 

the overcast skies would burn off and would be a beautiful day in an hour or so.

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uh oh. . "2nd floor accessible by stairs only"

 

Nick was using the cane, so he ended up only doing the paintings and the galleries with history exhibits on the 1st floor, while I went up and looked at the 2nd floor Courtrooms, as well as the 4th floor balustrade to get a fantastic closer look at the art up in the dome.

 

our timing was a bit off, and tho we would have enjoyed the tour from the Park Rangers on site, it would have meant not looking at the upper levels and still have time to get to the Arch (since Nick was moving slowly).

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coming up to the Old Courthouse entrance

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Perky enough to squat, since had such a good night's sleep, and a great breakfast.

 

loved this rug. .think they sell them in the gift shop? (didn't see any in there. . and yes, the Old Courthouse *does* have a gift shop. . LOL).

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STUNNING. unexpected, and so damn beautiful.

 

Standing in the Central Hall of the Old Courthouse, and looking up at the dome covered by paintings on all levels, tho visitors only have access to 1st, 2nd, and 5th floor area.

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there was a display of Kites ringing the dome between the 1st and 2nd floor, so that's what you're seeing in some of the pics.

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like this giant kite here.

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Beautiful (and steep) metal steps in this wing of the Courthouse, going up to the 2nd floor.

 

other areas - including the staircase that went up to the 4th - were closer to winding spirals. .but were just as beautiful.

 

these steps were a stunner tho, and these are also the steps that caused Nick to decide to just wait for me on the 1st floor looking at the art there, while I explored the 2nd floor.

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Great View out the Courthouse window looking at the Gateway Arch across the street.

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I'm sure I'm one of only 10s of thousands who have posed for this particular picture :)

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Now on the 2nd floor, looking into the rotunda. . can see more of the kites now.

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and get a closer look at the interior of the dome.

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one of the other staircases - that I took to go up to 4th floor in a little while.

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the *leather* doors to the restored East Courtroom.

 

I was the only one here on the 2nd floor, so had the place to myself.

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It was very warm in here, but still was interesting to look around the room and read the information signs.

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here. you can read it too!

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Crossing over to the West side of the Courthouse, pausing in the rotunda to look up and snap another picture.

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Now at the opposite side, at the leather doors of the restored West Courtroom.

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I loved the floor in this room, and preferred it over the courtroom on the opposite side of the Courthouse

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info about the courtroom on this side

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Climbing up to the 4th floor, on the 3rd floor there's a cutout (right behind the super steep stairs that lead to the balustrade), that lets overhead light into the hallway outside the East Courtroom.

 

makes for a cool picture.

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Luckily there was one other person up there on the balustrade, so I could get a nice picture in the Old Courthouse dome.

 

I leaned over the railing to try to get Nick's attention so I could get him to take a picture of me from the ground level (and I could get a picture of him from up here), but he wasn't looking up, and he wasn't responding to texts, or phone call.

 

it turned out he had turned his phone to silent and had it in his pocket.

 

yes, knowing that I was going off alone, and might need to contact him to update him on something I saw or was doing. . he turned his phone off.

 

whee. .. Marriage.

 

 

so I got my steps in, because yep, I went all the way back downstairs to find out why he wasn't responding to texts, and to tell him I was annoyed i couldn't get hold of him, then climbed all the way back up so we could take the pics of each other.

 

as I said. . . whee!

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the info about the paintings in the very top of the dome that was up there on the balustrade

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after my climb down, then back up. . there's nick (a bit to the left of the center) on the floor looking up at me.

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and his pic of me waving from the 4th floor down to him.

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This was kind of neat that we passed on our way out. Some original bricks & Plaster from the late 1800's that were exposed during a renovation of the firehose box.

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stepping out onto the East Entrance steps, about to head across the street to Gateway Arch National Park.

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was really cool to see it in person, and I recommend a trip.

 

Even tho we didn't spend too much time at the top (it reminded me very much of the Statue of Liberty's Crown up there), it was still well worth the trip, and worth it to see in person.

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Statue of Dred & Harriet Scott in front of the Courthouse, positioned to be looking at the Gateway Arch across the street.

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Closeup of the Plaque on the statue.

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and one last shot of Nick, after I made him pose by the "official" sign on this side of the museum.

 

we then took the crosswalk across the street, and entered into Gateway Arch National Park, proper, for our next stop of the day.

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^ yeah.. the brown water (even as high as it was) wasn't super interesting to look at

 

 

the Courthouse was interesting to go into, tho not sure if it would be worth a trip back to the Gateway Arch National Park just for that. even though the tour intrigues me as a history buff.

 

the "artifacts" on display on the 1st floor, were not as interesting as the Historical Native American stuff I had seen the day before at the Art Museum. . was a bit disappointed at what they had on display - tho not as disappointed as I was in the museum they had across the street at the Arch (more on that in next installment)

 

I think if we make it back, it would be for Zoo/Six Flags only, but maybe with a stop at City Museum - and if so, might be worth the $2 trolley ride back to the courthouse to do the tour. . .

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Great report, thanks for sharing! The zoo is absolutely wonderful. I'm hoping to get down there for their zoo lights this holiday season.

 

I've really enjoyed reading through your detailed reports! You share such great pictures. I'm looking forward to the rest of the installments!

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Great report, thanks for sharing! The zoo is absolutely wonderful. I'm hoping to get down there for their zoo lights this holiday season.

 

I've really enjoyed reading through your detailed reports! You share such great pictures. I'm looking forward to the rest of the installments!

 

thanks! I really appreciate the feedback, and glad that you're enjoying.

 

The Courthouse is really great, glad you got to see that. Been forever since I was there. I'm interested to see and hear about your visit to the Arch.

 

soon! It likely will be Saturday before I'm able to get to the next segment (the Arch). . but will try to get it up before weekend is over! Goal is to get to City Museum by Tuesday. . then have a few days to work on Six Flags.

 

it's shocking how many pics I took at Grant's Farm. . .LOL. . . guess I love animals

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I've lived in the St Louis area all my life, and it is very interesting reading a report from an outsider's perspective. We often take many of the sites you visited and reported on so far for granted. When my kids were younger we'd visit the zoo 3-4 times a year and had always heard it was one of the best in country/world, but like i said just take took it for granted, not to mention that is is free.

 

Interesting that you visited during the St. Louis Blues Stanley Cup championship run. I believe it was Sunday (or could have been a few days before) night you said downtown was very busy, there was a watch party at Enterprise Center(hockey arena) and a large outdoor watch party located near the soldiers memorial in downtown. The outdoor watch party was planned on holding 30,000 people, estimates were that 75,000 people showed up. All to watch our hockey team play while they were out of town.

 

One note on the Old Courthouse: Did you see the whispering spot? If I remember correctly there is a spot on the lower level where you can whisper towards the wall and it can be clearly heard on the other side of the room. I may be a little off on the description, but it's something like that. Another interesting thing about the old courthouse is when you get to the higher levels that it feels like the guard rails are at about knee level. I guess change in height of people over time and safety standards, lol.

 

Anyway I am really enjoying your report and photos so far and look forward to reading your thoughts on SFSL.

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^ thanks.

 

They were actually playing game Six in town on Sunday the 9th - that's why all the media was there in our Hotel

 

So there were TONS of people downtown. Not that we were "happy" they lost the game, but it did make for a quiet evening and let us get some sleep! (and the Blues ended up winning game 7, and the Cup, on the following Wed in Boston)!

 

re: the whispering spot in the Courthouse. Yep, we saw the ranger demonstrating that with someone on the 2nd floor from the center of the Rotunda. It was kinda neat to see, even if we didn't hear the full story behind it. Only that the person on the 2nd floor could hear him when he was talking quietly.

 

yeah,t he guard rails are super low. . LOL. . .

 

thanks for reading and glad you're enjoying!

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Finally catching up on your last couple installments! I am really intrigued by the person who was restoring the painting at the one museum with a teeny tiny paintbrush. It's cool they're doing it with a curtain pulling back inch by inch. It would be even more neat to have a divider of sorts so that you could see the active restoration side as well as the yet-to-be restored side!

 

Your hotel checkin experience with wildly inaccurate room and trolley info was definitely, um, less than ideal. I got a really good laugh out of the way you wrote about the corner room that does indeed exist! I've never stayed in a corner room but it does look nice and spacious!

 

How long were you visiting inside the courthouse? The whispering wall someone else mentioned sounds neat and sorry but I laughed at Nick turning his phone off while you went off to explore, then you having to hike back up the 4 staircases for photos.

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Finally catching up on your last couple installments! I am really intrigued by the person who was restoring the painting at the one museum with a teeny tiny paintbrush. It's cool they're doing it with a curtain pulling back inch by inch. It would be even more neat to have a divider of sorts so that you could see the active restoration side as well as the yet-to-be restored side!

 

 

They actually are doing that way, sort of. remember, it's a big tapestry type artwork showing a long, continuous scene. As you can see in the picture, she's working only midway in the open "viewing area" (there's still a LOT of unrestored mural on the roll to the right) but a nice section in the center of the two rolls is viewable.

 

Everything to the right of her is unrestored, and the restored portions are to the left. They "roll" it a little every time, to reveal a little more of the unrestored artwork, and roll the restored portions little by little onto the roll at the left.

 

make sense?

 

 

Your hotel checkin experience with wildly inaccurate room and trolley info was definitely, um, less than ideal. I got a really good laugh out of the way you wrote about the corner room that does indeed exist! I've never stayed in a corner room but it does look nice and spacious!

 

yeah, if a hotel offers them, they typically are an upcharge choice. I always go for a corner room, if we're staying in a downtown area hotel that offers them.

 

more often than not, we stay at a Courtyard Marriott, and in those, every room is the same (those tend to be rectangular buildings, as opposed to square buildings that have the corner rooms).

 

How long were you visiting inside the courthouse? The whispering wall someone else mentioned sounds neat and sorry but I laughed at Nick turning his phone off while you went off to explore, then you having to hike back up the 4 staircases for photos.

 

we spent about 30 minutes or so in the Courthouse (the artifact gallery on the first floor is rather small, but if we did the tour, that would have been about an hour on it's own).

 

it's more of a whispering spot, from what I observed: The ranger stood in the center of the rotunda, and whispered to someone who was standing on the 2nd floor balcony (he had sent her up there). Was still pretty neat, even without hearing the reasoning behind it -- which we would have gotten if we'd taken the free tour. But as noted, that was about an hour, and we just didn't have the time to join it. . especially since Nick really couldn't make it to the 2nd floor - where the Courtrooms were.

 

yeah. . . marriage, right? but hey, got my steps in!

 

 

was hoping to get arch up this weekend.. but life got in the way still working on it tho!

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Day 2: part 2 the Gateway Arch/National Park/Museum

 

We headed across the street and into the National Park, proper (tho it seems the Courthouse is part of the National Park as well).

 

Fairly recently (mid 2018), the whole area became designated as a National Park (the Gateway Arch National Park), along with the name change, a lot of work was done at the site itself, creating a beautiful underground visitor’s center that includes a museum. Not one I was very impressed with content wise, but the museum *looks* fantastic.

 

The area the Arch is in used to be called the “Jefferson National Expansion Memorial”, as the Arch sits near the start of the famed Lewis and Clark Expedition.

Really wish there was more Lewis and Clark history noted in the museum here, since that’s was a huge part of what opened up the Expansion to the West. They get a mention, but not into great detail, which I would have found incredibly interesting.

 

Of course, the Arch itself is in a unique location: right along the Mississippi River on the Missouri Side, overlooking Illinois across the river.

Yes, the river is muddy and sorta ugly. . and on the Illinois Side, it’s just industrial stuff (LOL). . but still, the location is pretty cool. No wonder the nickname for the Arch is: “the Gateway to the West”

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Anyways the main entrance is now buried under the main arch, facing the Old Courthouse – apparently one used to enter by going thru one of the arc legs that put you into the area with the theater to see a documentary film, the gift shop, and the café.

 

But with the investment at the site, one now enters thru nicely designed sunken area, and you walk thru the very open space museum before you get to the Original visitor’s area.

 

this is from the street entrance, getting a look at the new Visitor's center entrance below the Arch.

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the picture everyone has to get if going to the St. Louis Arch.

 

trying to get a "good" angle, so staring off into the distance

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it's a Manhole cover! But it was a pretty cool looking manhole cover, so I stopped to snap a picture of it.

 

gathered around the central plaza of the Visitor's Center were a couple of groups of Jehova's Witnesses (with the same carts/pamphlets the groups the prior day at the zoo had.. . so I politely said hello and told them "good morning"), as well as stands selling Ice Cream and frozen custard (the first apparently due to the Ice Cream cone being invented in St. Louis, and the latter due to a locally famous frozen custard, that we saw advertised everywhere) as well as lemonade, popcorn, and giant pretzels.

 

We had just had breakfast buffet at the hotel earlier this morning, so we didn't get to sample any of the (way) overpriced tourist gouging "treat" stands here.

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Getting closer to the Visitor Center entrance.

 

nicely landscaped - if a little overgrown around the central fountain. But I suppose that's to be expected with all the rain they had gotten recently. As recently as two days before our visit!

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soo pretty.

 

I don't recall it being this overcast, and it was clear in our pics we took not even 2 hours later from the top of the arch. So I'm wondering if my phone just snaps the clouds looking darker than they actually were.

 

regardless, I really like how this picture came out.

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once again, the pic any visitor to the Arch must take.

 

(Nick has light sensitive lenses, so they got dark when the sun came out. .LOL).

 

Really glad I had pre-purchased our tickets online, as the ticket lines were insane if we had planned to buy on site (walk up times were late afternoon at the earliest, and the line was pretty long). It didn’t help that the prior day, they had to close the South Trams due to water leaking into the site from all the rain – and the North Tram was down for scheduled maintenance. So anyone who had come Friday 6/7? Was SOL in terms of getting to the top of the arch.

 

our Pre-bought passes were for the North Tram anyways, which had been scheduled to be operating on Saturday 6/8 (of course, otherwise they wouldn’t have sold them online).. . so I wasn’t worried the evening before when we saw on the news that the trams were both down. But it did make for long lines at the ticket counters.

 

the line for Security on the other side was also really long, but that one moved pretty quickly – if you consider ~20 minutes, “quickly”

I’m not sure why so many people were getting confused, as it really is EXACTLY like going thru TSA security at the airport: Metal Detectors, X-ray machine with bins to put your stuff in - no need to take off shoes, but belts, phones, keys, etc had to go thru the X-ray.

yet. . . people were confused. Sheesh.

 

once you get thru Security, there’s an Escalator to go down further underground (or there’s stairs that can be taken, which let you see a pretty impressive Stone Map of the surrounding area. Something most folks seem to be missing, as they all take the Escalator. I had the map to myself to go take a pic since I went down the stairs).

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Speaking of said map:. . . here it is from the top of the stairs.

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and here it is closer when I went out on it to take a picture up close. Really well done/well laid stonework.

 

it's a shame so many folks just walk right by it, not even realizing it's there!

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by the Ticket purchase counter, they have an example of what the Trams are like that you ride in to get to the top.

 

If I had to describe it, I'd say it's like riding in Mork's egg, from "Mork & Mindy" tho they squeeze 5 seats in there.

 

We were going up regardless, but it was nice to be able to get a preview of how "snug" it was gonna be.. tho had more room when it was just me in there!

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Nick got in too :)

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entering into the main area, at the bottom of the Escalators. This is the entrance to the Museum area, and thru there would be the Movie, Gift Shop, Cafe, and trams to the top areas.

 

Behind me are some gigantic projection screens, which - while kind of neat -- are simply a huge waste of space. it looks like maybe they had planned the museum to be larger, and then just decided to shrink it down? Not sure what happened here, but these 4 giant screens - that didn't really add anything to the place - seemed like an unfinished art exhibition. it was just weird.

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We walked thru the museum area (set up as an "open concept" space) and decided to peruse the gift shop, do a restroom break, and just relax for the 30 minutes until our film time.

 

it was a good use of the time, as when we were leaving, we knew exactly what we wanted from the gift shop, and didn't have to go thru the whole thing. . .and I didn't think it was enough time to do the Museum first (turned out that we would have). . but I didn't want to be rushed, so we just planned to do the museum after the film/top of the arch trip.

 

the Gift shop was a little strange - it was like one of those old Howard Johnson's Gift Shops: a little bit of everything, with lots of crap you didn't need and couldn't imagine anyone would buy - plus some upscale jewelry, some really nice mugs/shirts/puzzles/magnets, and $1200 Thomas Jefferson Busts. (oh, how I wish I had seen someone buying and schlepping around one of those!!).

 

it also had a large section in the back with an area selling Fresh Made Fudge, Rock Candy, and Candy Sticks. We saw several "touristy" places selling these things too. . is Fudge and Rock Candy/Candy Sticks a St. Louis thing? created there? famous there? no idea, and we never really found out.

 

but hell, I thought Laura Brannigan was from there, since we kept hearing "Gloria" - and didn't find out until the airport on the way home that it was because that's the St. Louis Blues' song. . .LOL

 

we also saw tons of older, religious folks wearing shirts and hats with Jesus on them, and sayings like "Only G-d Can Plan Parenthood"

 

I was a little confused by how many were in the Arch, but then remembered that the Arch had been ground zero earlier in the week for the Abortion Clinic Protests (Missouri was trying to shut down the one clinic remaining in the state that offered the procedure, and it seems they were successful a week or so later). . but at the time we visited, it still was not decided yet. So I guess some of the "Anti" protestors decided to take in the sights while in the area? (we didn't see this kind of logo-ry anywhere else on our trip).

 

I behaved and didn't say anything, or even speak to them. didn't even try to get a sneak picture of anyone - tho was sorely tempted by the old white guy in neon orange camouflage with a shirt that said "I didn't fight in Vietnam so you could kill your babies!"

 

Anyways, across from the Gift Shop, was an interactive display that showed the live shot from the cameras at the top of the Arch. it was actually a really good picture quality, tho as you can see in my picture of it, it became a bit grainy. I guess this was set up for those who grumbled that it's too expensive to get to the top of the arch and "not fair" to charge folks. . . so they could look at these screens to see what the view was.

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after getting the feel for the gift shop, and deciding what we'd go back for, we went over to the other side of the center, and sat down in the seats to wait for our film time.

 

I had a nice conversation with the Ranger stationed outside the film area, and he told me a bit about this Mural/Relief that takes up the entire wall on this side of the Visitor Center.

 

I just focused on the central image, but on either side extending out to the ends of the walls, are other famous landmarks/parks - showing the comparison of the height of the Arch to them. Including such things as the Washington Monument, California Redwoods, the Statue of Liberty, and Mt. Rushmore.

 

We chatted about how many of the landmarks on the wall Nick & I had been to, and what is next on our list from the options here on the wall (likely a 1-2 day trip to see Mt. Rushmore in the next several years).

 

and then before we knew it, it was time for our 45 minute film, and the ranger opened the gate and herded the 40 or so folks that were waiting in the chairs into the theater.

 

was the film the best thing I've ever seen? no, not at all.

does it succeed as a "documentary"? no, not at all.

 

it gives almost no background on the "why" the arch was built, or who/how those that designed it got involved with the project.

 

(I said to Nick - "hmm. . I guess that part is covered in the Museum itself, and they expect you to go thru that before you come to the film". . so we'll get a better understanding after. I was mostly incorrect on that. .but we did get a bit more info that I was looking for once we got into the Museum itself later)

 

So. . what did the movie show us? and was it worth it to see? Yes. It does basically show you how the Arch was built, and the struggles they had creating something of that height that was freestanding. and even as a non-engineer, I found it incredibly interesting. so yeah, I'd say worth a viewing. especially if you get a combo ticket that cuts down on the price.

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After the film was done, we filed out of the theater, and headed next door to the North Tram, to get ready for our ride to the top.

 

Something was going on with the North Tram video screens, and there was a big backup of a line because the times being shown on the screen were well past the current time. (it was like being at a discount airline counter at the airport. .LOL).

 

but the rangers were still really efficient and got thru the lines quickly and got us divided into "groups"

 

i'm not sure exactly what they were trying to accomplish here, as the "tour guide" doesn't really do much:

 

- they hand out cards 1-5 for each of the cars of the funicular

(she asked if anyone had mobility issues, and I raised my hand for Nick, and she put us in car #1, as that one is at the top of the stairs, so less walking to get to the cars).

 

-- she walks you down a corridor that has some "theming" such as a crane, and a piece of the arch material, and to a blue screen where they snap a photo

(I declined, as I had seen the photos they were selling out in front of the gift shop to folks coming down from the top. they LOOKED like someone standing in front of a badly photoshopped screen . .and they were asking $25 (I think) for them. and people were buying them! I told the photog why we were going to skip posing, and she laughed and said "yeah. .they're bad")

 

-- then they put you into a "holding pen" right next to where the photog is, she asks some questions about who here remembers the 60's. . and how we're gonna bring you back to them:

and there's a 6-7 minute projection show on the walls on both sides, with stuff from the late 60's (including the Supremes, the Monkeys, the Beatles, Flower Power, etc). Not sure exactly what the hell the point of this was, except maybe to provide a little more bang for the buck - since it costs to go up to the top?

But really. . they didn't explain anything, or say why we were seeing what we were seeing.

 

and once it was done? the Tour Gide brought us down the stairs, to the loading doors of the funicular - which were tiny little sliding doors in the center of larger metal doors. She told us to line up by our numbered door (that matched our boarding pass). to make sure those getting off had room to get out. and to watch our heads getting in, as those are metal doors, and are NOT padded.

 

and that was the extent of our Guide. (I did ask her about getting back down, and she told me to ask the Ranger at the top when loading, if we can get vehicle 1)

 

this pic is Nick and I reacting to the multi-media presentation.

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Here we are waiting for the funicular to arrive from the top.

 

That long stairwell in the back, leads up to one of the legs of the Arch. This is the old entry way into the Arch, before they opened the new Visitor Center in 2018

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here we are, squeezed tightly. we only had 4 in our "egg". . us and another man with a cane and his son.

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Luckily, the "egg" has a clear door, so it's no as terribly claustrophobic as it could have been. but really, seems a huge waste that they dont' have anything inside the structure to really look at while going up!

 

no signs, or art. . nothing. Just seems a missed opportunity.

 

Guess I got spoiled by the things to look at while riding the elevator to the top of the Washington Monument.

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having nothing to really look at, of course didn't stop me from taking pictures :p

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since we were in Car 1, I could put my phone up to the grate in the ceiling, and get some pics of the cables pulling us up the interior of the Arch.

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Looking down on the Illinois side, you can see how high the water is in the Mississippi.

 

those are safety cones, blocking off the waterfront.. a big chunk of it is under water.

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yeah.. that's exactly why they cancelled our riverboat cruise.

 

you can't even get to the riverboat station - all the pathways are under water from all the rain the area had gotten.

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not a whole lot to see from this side of the Arch, but we are looking at Illinois over the Mississippi River here.

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Moving to the other side of the Arch windows, into Missouri, one gets a fantastic view of the Old Courthouse, and downtown St. Louis.

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looking a bit over to the left, also get a nice view of Busch Stadium (where the Cardinals play)

 

Further back on the left, just out of view behind the buildings, is the arena where the St. Louis Blues played game 6 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs while we were in town.

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Closer view of Busch Stadium.

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and another. . folks are laughing in this picture (and the next one), because that kid in the Black shirt was attempting to photo bomb every time I held my camera up to get a pic when the center of the crowd would open up a little bit. either peace sign, or silly face. I finally turned around to him and said loudly:

 

"you know I can see you behind me in my camera, right? I don't know you, I didn't ask you to be in my picture, and I'd appreciate if you stop trying to screw up my photo? Thank you"

 

and one of the Rangers at the top gave me a thumbs up.

 

He was horribly embarrassed, but the group he was with thought it was funny.

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and another.

 

it's rather narrow up there, and reminded me VERY much of the Stature of Liberty's Crown viewing area.

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Nick and I at the top of the St. Louis Arch.

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we stayed up there for about 10 minutes.. really, there's not a whole lot to look at. but took a few more pics of Downtown St. Louis

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our hotel is somewhere behind the buildings there on the right.

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and then I discovered that if I put my phone up directly against the glass while standing in the dead center of the Arch - and take a picture directly down, I can get a pretty neat picture of both legs of the arch.

 

this one is out of the windows on the Missouri Side. at the top is the curve of the Visitor Center entrance

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St Louis Arch Stats.

 

it's a learning experience :)

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Noted!

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Also Noted!

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now putting the phone up against the glass on the Illinois side.

 

capturing both legs, and you can again see how high the river is out of it's banks.

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Coming back from our trip to the top, we went back into the gift shop to purchase what we had picked out earlier. then headed into the Museum portion.

 

as I alluded to earlier, I like the LOOK of the museum, even if I think the Design is absolutely awful.

 

it's an "open floor plan" with wide spaces - a central aisle from the escalators, to the "Visitor Center" and then on either side, 3 half/moon "melon balls" that contain exhibits. So basically six areas of exhibits.

 

in theory each 1/2 moon is a year range, and you follow each one as the timeline progresses. . but it's horribly arranged, and apparently you're supposed to do one, then go across the hallway to the next set of year - tho most (including us), just went to the next area on the same side. so the history was all mixed up, and it was hard to follow.

 

it wasn't really interesting history either. I was wanting to know all about the Arch, and there *IS* one section (the very last half moon gallery) that focuses on the Arch, how it was built, who was involved, etc.

 

but the vast majority of the Museum is about the history of the area, and how St. Louis was such a busy port, and why the city is/was so important. Lots of beaver skins to touch, and things to look thru - I guess they were trying to make it more interactive for the little ones??? and a lot of things involving Indians, settlers, and multiple displays of "coins / medals" used for trading.

 

I mean, I get it. .it's a History Museum. . but we were really kind of bored. the only portion that didn't bore us terribly, was the section on the actual Arch (since we were *under* the arch), and that's what I really wanted to learn all about.

 

there wasn't really much about Louis and Clark either - just a cursory mention. The museum really seemed to be set up for casual observers, and/or school groups. Cant' say I feel the need to ever go back to it again to take another look.

 

that said: some set-pieces were impressive: the old stagecoach, the model of the Port of St Louis, the train (and Canoe) photo opportunities, the model of the City Docks area, the TeePee display.

 

but overall, the museum was a disappointment, and I guess if I really wanted to learn I'd go to an actual History Museum.

 

I liked this bronze model in the main hallway of the Museum.

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another small model - you can see the "half moon" galleries of the museum on either side, behind it in this picture.

 

I'm standing by the Gift Shop/Arch Trams, and looking towards the Escalator entrance/exit.

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from the "Arch" section of the museum: a model of the Funiculars we had ridden in, showing how they work within the arch structure.

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a large model of Downtown St. Louis -- you pushed a button and it ran thru the history of the area, with spotlights illuminating the section it was talking about.

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Photo op on the back of a "train". . . .

 

I'll always stop for a photo op :p

 

(didn't get the canoe tho, as we were ready to take a picture - I even said to Nick, there's no one in the canoe, let's get a picture"..that's when a big group with little kids bee-lined for it and climbed all over it. I wan't interested enough in a picture to hang around and wait until they were done, so we just moved on. . LOL).

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History.. . mostly boring. . but there was History present in the other galleries.

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Including this gigantic model of Port of St. Louis.

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heading back up the escalators, and out after finishing our time at the Arch.

 

can get some great views from the inside looking out at the old Courthouse.

 

I really do like the design of the new center. . just think the Museum/layout is not making the best use of space.

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you can tell it's fairly new - still nice and clean in there.

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Stepping out of the center back into the day, and able to get a nice pic of the Arch.

 

again, my phone seems to have darkened the clouds a bit.

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even able to get. . .

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ARTSY !!!

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Thought this building was interesting. No idea what it is, but liked it, so took a picture of it.

 

We weren't quite ready to head to the Trolley Stop yet, so decided to head towards the river to get a little closer to the "legs"

 

the walkways, while paved, were still a little uneven and fairly steep.. . so I told Nick we didn't need to go ALL the way to the legs (as we had learned from Washington Monument pics: when you get right up to the base, you lose the scale anyways). . but let's get closer a bit to get a few more pics.

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so this is a few hundred feet away from the left leg of the arch.

 

again. . phone made clouds look so dark!

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to give a good idea of how cramped it is at the top of the arch (and a nice view of the curve), here's a selfie.

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Walking back to the main Visitor Center entrance, stopped to take one last pic at the Gateway Arch National Park.

 

we headed back and went towards the Trolley Stop at the Hyatt.. and passed along a pair of newlyweds and the whole bridal party (who were apparently shooting their wedding pictures at the Arch) - and had catered the wedding party with Jason's Deli. LOL. .I even thought to myself, "why are they all holding Jason's Deli boxes. . surely that's not sandwiches in there.. must be birdseed or flowers or something and they are just using the boxes to transport". . but as we walked by, and I told them Congrats!, some of the party popped open the boxes. . . .and started chowing down on Jason's Deli.

 

fancy schmantzy.

 

(they weren't the only newlyweds we saw that day either! there was another big wedding party at City Museum taking pictures there as well).

 

we went to the bus stop and sat to wait for the Trolley, and got to see how Austin isn't the only city plagued by these idiotic scooters! A group of guys were using one to haul big cases of beer to the Hyatt (I guess for the Blues playoff game the next night), except they had apparently decided not to pay for the scooter - just use it to move the beer. So the scooter was loudly blaring an alarm at them every time they tried to roll it. We watched this shaking our heads for a couple of minutes, then the guys just gave up, grabbed the beer, and carried it the rest of the way to the Hyatt.

 

leaving the scooter, right where it was: in the middle of the sidewalk.

 

ugh.

 

I got up and picked it up and moved it to the side of the building. if idiots can't act like a human? they shoudn't be allowed to use the scooters.

 

very soon after that, the Trolley came around the corner, and we used our all day pass to hop on to head to our hotel.

 

we were going to City Museum for the rest of the day, but had to stop at the Hotel 1st. 1) to drop off the souvenirs we had bought.

 

and 2) to put on long pants. I had read the "pro tips" on the City Museum page, and no was was I not going to wear long pants so I could enjoy the slides!

Edited by bert425
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Cool, been looking forward to this, since I've never actually been up in the Arch ever.

 

I do like the changes they've made since they built the new I-70 bridge and connected the Arch to the line of parks down Market Street that makes for a really pleasant walk downtown. The freeway was always a barrier before; small but significant improvement.

 

Glad you enjoyed the city! Did you get any T-Ravs while you were there?

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Cool, been looking forward to this, since I've never actually been up in the Arch ever.

 

I do like the changes they've made since they built the new I-70 bridge and connected the Arch to the line of parks down Market Street that makes for a really pleasant walk downtown. The freeway was always a barrier before; small but significant improvement.

 

Glad you enjoyed the city! Did you get any T-Ravs while you were there?

 

y'all are too fast for me. . LOL.

 

I had to go back in after saving and finish loading the comments under the back end of the pics.

 

(no spoilers. . but .. yes!).

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Great report! I've been to the park around the arch, but never up in it. I've heard about how small the "pods" are, so it was neat to see them. I'm sorry if I missed it, but how long does it take to get to the top? I'm not entirely sure I could ride for too long in something that small and crowded.

 

It's too bad about the river cruise being cancelled. The area I where live is also right on the Mississippi a few hours north of St. Louis. Flooding has been terrible this year!

 

As always, thanks for sharing!

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Great report! I've been to the park around the arch, but never up in it. I've heard about how small the "pods" are, so it was neat to see them. I'm sorry if I missed it, but how long does it take to get to the top? I'm not entirely sure I could ride for too long in something that small and crowded.

 

It's too bad about the river cruise being cancelled. The area I where live is also right on the Mississippi a few hours north of St. Louis. Flooding has been terrible this year!

 

As always, thanks for sharing!

 

thanks, appreciate the compliment, and glad you're enjoying!

 

the Pods *are* very small, and as i noted I was SO glad the "doors" are glass, so even tho there's nothing to look at while going up (missed opportunity for artwork, or sculptures, or just pictures of assembly).. at least it's not as claustrophobic as I could have been. Was worried at first, because at the "station" when the doors close, you're looking at metal. Didn't really realize until we started to move that the doors on the pod were glass, and we were just seeing the metal doors from the station.

 

the ride itself up to the top was about 3 1/2-4 minutes, so it went pretty fast.

 

as you can see tho, the top is not exactly "roomy". however, once you're at the top? you can go down from either North or South Trams - you don't have to just stay on the "side" you came up on.

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Lewis and Clark information/tribute is vomited all over the Metro-East. I can see the top of the Lewis and Clark Community College cathedral from my driveway. Our beautiful Clark bridge spans from the city I work in to Missouri. The Lewis bridge is the next bridge south of that. There's a Lewis and Clark monument in Hartford, IL surrounded by high frequency power lines. You can get a great view of the rivers looking west. If you look east you get a great view of the oil refinery and you can't ignore the odor. There's also a Lewis and Clark museum a quarter mile away from that. It's right across from a toxic abandoned industrial site. There's a Lewis and Clark exhibit in our lock and dam. They also play a Lewis and Clark movie. Those are just the sites I can think of right now. To most of us, it's boring novelty in our community, or at least in the Metro-East. I'm not sure there's anyway to actually make it more exciting.

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^ I can totally see it being a "boring novelty" for the locals

 

(that tends to be the case with most Touristy or Historical things -- for example, we never go to the State Capitol building, or drive to the Alamo . . unless there's someone from out of town visiting who wants to see those things. We live in Austin, and close to San Antonio. . we know all we need to know about those things from years of being around them.. heck, there's several things about the Alamo heroes in the Bob Bullock Museum here in Austin)).

 

my main "gripe" is that if the Museum under the Arch is not going to be all about the construction of the Arch how/what/why? and more along the lines of a History Museum (which I understand, as the site is now a designated National Park). . .

 

I just expected more Lewis & Clark info, since they tied into the whole Western Expansion.. and the Arch is "the Gateway to the West"

 

ya know?

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Great report! I'm glad it looks like they relaxed the policy on photography in the elevator. Last year they were stricter than a ride at Six Flags.

 

thanks Michael.

 

I wasn't aware there was even a policy in place! There were no signs saying NOT to take pictures, and none of the Rangers mentioned it (nor our "tour guide" when lining us up to get in the pods).

 

weird. .but glad I was able to share.

 

slammed busy this weekend - dealing with some family stuff, which is keeping me from focusing on anything longer than short updates. But working on the City Museum, and hope to have posted by Monday evening.

 

in the meantime, here's the swag we got from the Gateway Arch National Park.

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the 1st magnet for the fridge

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the 2nd magnet. . which is apparently the "old" logo, before it became the National Park.

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nice they offered this little "magnet gift set". . perfect for my co-workers, that I could give each of them one.

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the T-shirt I bought.

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the 500 pc puzzle Nick got (he hasn't started on it yet)

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the logo shirt Nick got.

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Day 2: part 3a - the City Museum

 

gonna have to do this one in two parts, as I have so many pictures, and tho I've gone thru and culled a ton, still don't really have the time right now to get it all posted!

 

so part "a" of the City Museum!

 

So we got on the Downtown Trolley in front of the Hyatt near the arch, and soon we were exiting our stop across from our hotel.

 

there were 2 reasons for this stop at the room: 1) to offload the souvenirs we had purchased at the Arch, and 2) to put on our long pants. I had read the "pro tips" on the City Museum site, and one of the things they most strongly recommend are long pants, if you want to enjoy the many slides there.

 

this proved to be a piece of advice that I HIGHLY recommend. Long pants will also offer you some protection from cuts/scrapes on some of the edges one might encounter in the City Museum, as well as offering some knee protection - as several things might require crawling to get thru/to.

 

so we got changed, changed our socks, and despite my urging Nick to move a bit faster, we got back down to the lobby and outside *just in time* to see a Trolley pull away from the stop across the street.

 

yeah.

 

Oh well, wasn't too concerned as we knew it was open till Midnight on Saturday (tho we didn't plan on staying that late. . we had Six Flags in the morning). So we crossed the street and leaned on planters and waited the 15 or so minutes for the next one (being entertained by the little girl who waited until her Dad's attention was elsewhere thru the Visitor Center window, and then bee-lined it to the ONE puddle that was on the ground and proceeded to happily jump up and down in it). . . Eventually the trolley showed up, and before we knew it, we were at the City Museum - a place I had on my wish list, ever since I first heard about it on TPR.

 

 

 

One thing I want to mention before getting to pics: I know there was some concern that once the City Museum went from Privately owned to publicly owned by the city, there might be some changes made to the place.

 

Now, I've never been, so I can't speak if any changes have been made, but I can say the place is Bat-crap insane, and still an injury lawyer's wet dream.

 

Certainly, there's a disclaimer on the wristband that notes the City Museum is not responsible for any injuries or accidents that may occur.

 

And there were "ride" signs posted at all of the major slides (including someone at top of the major slides monitoring the progress).

 

As well as video monitors installed at the top and bottom of some slides for safety. No idea if these monitors are "new", but I did chat with an employee who was sitting at the stairway to the 10 story slide, and pointed folks to the other stairway (for the 5 story one). .and who had been dealing with people yelling at her that the 10 story slide was closed and demanded to know why (in conversation she told me the monitor at the bottom of the slide was out, so they couldn't allow anyone to use it for safety reasons).

 

I felt terrible for her that she had to put up with the brunt of privileged idiots who couldn't understand why they couldn't ride something. For my part, I just rode the 5 story slide 3 times, so it's just as good as doing the 10 story & the 5 story

 

but anyways, these "safety features" didn't stop us from seeing at least 8 crying kids (or limping adults) during our visit - who had either gotten hurt, scared, or just bumped on something.

 

In other words? I FREAKING LOVED IT! so as far as I can tell, not much has changed other than the ownership.

 

on to some pics and commentary!

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the Trolley has dropped us off, and I'm FINALLY here. at a wish-list place for me.

 

I hadn't really told Nick much about it, other than it's not really a "museum" but rather an interactive art installation. but even he was wowed by it as we pulled up and saw the outside.

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He took one look at this stuff outside and was a bit concerned but I knew he would be able to do many things, if not all of them. And to his credit, he did actually TRY quite a bit of things (including the caves - while cursing me under his breath as he tried to navigate the uneven ground with the cane). Mostly tho, he enjoyed looking at stuff, even if he didn't do any of the actual slides.

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a few more pics of the outside as we headed toward the entrance. A really nice thing about taking the Trolley is that we didnt' have to worry about parking. and the stop is directly across the street from the City Museum Entrance.

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Looking up, as we're going toward the entrance. I did not get to go up on the roof. I didn't mind the $5 upcharge for it, that seemed very reasonable.

 

But I already knew Nick would have to spend some time sitting waiting for me while I did "stuff". . . so didn't want to ask someone who's afraid of heights to come out on a roof with me, and certainly didn't want to ask him to sit alone (again) while I explored up there.

 

So didn't get the rooftop, but it's something to go back to see! (the School Bus was "not operating" that day, but not sure what it does, other than hang out over the edge anyways?).

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a little hard to see, but I loved this sculptural "City Museum" sign at the entrance doors. and it gives a nice "hint" as to what kind of things you'll find on the 4th floor - with all the stone reliefs from buildings on display.

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I'd also highly recommend purchasing tickets online, as when we finally arrived, the line to purchase tickets was absolutely insane. Luckily, the line for online purchased tickets was only 1 person deep, and before we knew it, were inside the City Museum that I had heard so much about, bypassing all the people in line at the ticket counters.

 

It was a Saturday mid afternoon, when we arrived, so there were lots of groups in the place - seemed to be camp groups. But the place is so big, it doesn't really matter. Just looking at this picture, you'd never know there were like 40 kids crammed in the outdoor ball pit just to our right. . LOL

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the entrance "plaza" on the 1st floor, leading to the Caves, and the Treehouse areas is stunning. if you're into pop art. . .STUNNING.

 

I'm not sure if mosaics are a St. Louis thing, but there are incredible mosaics we kept seeing all over the city, and some truly fantastic ones were here on display on the 1st floor of the City Museum.

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it's a fish eye! (and it's near where I told Nick to sit down and rest, while I wandered off and explored the Treehouse slide complex).

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Whee !!

 

my 1st slide at the City Museum. checked off the list!

 

and I moved really well here. Gimme about 3 hours, and then? well, let's just say one works up a sweat with all the climbing, and sweaty clothing tends to "stick" on metal slides. LOL

 

at least I was aware that many other people were getting "Stuck" and had to skootch along, so i wasn't horribly embarrassed when I had to "help myself along" on a few of the longer slides later in the evening :)

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Look at those mosaics. (oh, and Nick. . . LOL). I was climbing around in the "treehouse" area.

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I wasn't worried I was going to slip or fall, but yeah, its a little precarious over there, and there really are no directions! You just go whichever way you feel you can fit. and occasionally you come across a hole that leads to a slide. and sometimes those slides let you out in an area that you have to crawl on your belly to get out of.

 

it was GREAT.

 

tho will totally admit that I'm a tad bit claustrophobic, and tho I had no issues in this area, since the metal bars are so "open". .there were a few slides that just seemed to be dark holes in the floor that no way was I going to explore.

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Looking up in the main corner of the "treehouse" area on the 1st floor.

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having a ball. . these metal bars led to multiple slides (did them all), and even connected to the 2nd & 3rd floors

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Statue in the corner of the 2nd floor, by a slide.

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long hallway down the side of the building on the 3rd floor. Behind me are the metal "tunnels' that make up the treehouse, and the largest slide in that complex - a 3 story twisting one.

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that has a "ride information" sign.

 

I love that this one tells you that : ** MUST CRAWL TO EXIT **

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after about 20 minutes, I finished with this area, and went back to get Nick so we could go up the spiral stairs to the 2nd floor above some of the caves.

 

stopping to take pics of the Mosaics along the way, of course.

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oh. .and this idiot.

 

who took his hand out of the water, while i was grabbing my camera to get a picture of him.

 

yes, the sign does read: "Hands Out! Fish Bite"

 

too bad one didn't bite him.

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wandering towards the stairs, looking up to show Nick the type of things I had been climbing around inside of.

 

there are overhead pathways everywhere. .I loved this place

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hidden rooms, with more mosaics - that look different depending what light filter is on at the moment.

 

I know this is a blurry pic of Nick, but it shows off the color in the mosaic he's sitting on.

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before they completely change based on the light filter.

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you certainly FEEL like you're gonna fall over and bash your head on the floor.

 

but nope, it's just an illusion that you're going to .. as you can see, I was giggling like an idiot the whole time.

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These were spread out around the City Museum on the 2nd & 3rd floors.

 

from what we could tell, they are called Topple Chairs, and were fun as hell.

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I couldn't convince Nick to give it a try (he's already worried enough about his balance issues).

 

but I gave up even trying once we saw a very large woman get in one, and immediately tilt all the way back (feet pointing up at the ceiling - while her family was laughing in hysterics and trying to pull her back upright) - I knew there was no point in even asking Nick again if he wanted to try them when we passed them. he doesn't want to be a spectacle. :)

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this section of the 2nd floor was very interesting, although a lot of the "pools" seemed to be drained.

 

Either a new exhibit being installed? or repairs being done on the pools. the area was mostly open tho, so you could still walk around it, and see the installation, which I really liked that they did that.

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there was a spiral staircase inside this little tower thing . .remember what i said about being slightly claustrophobic? No, I didn't go down it to see where it went!

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even tho some pools were drained, many water features in this area were still operating.

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including the fishtank one can go inside of for a picture.

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yeah, I got on my hands and knees and crawled into this thing thru it's mouth for a pic. . . it was hot and steamy in there, LOL

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we took a spiral staircase behind the waterfalls, up to the 3rd floor which is big and open with skateboard ramps to run on, and ropes to swing on. . .and I rode a tractor!

 

the 3rd floor is also where the Circus is (which had been running shows earlier in the day, but was closed up by the time we made it up there - post 6pm), as well as where the train is. The train was really cool, but was only for the kiddos. So we got to admire the WTF-ery of the decorations around it, but weren't allowed to ride ( a moot point anyways, as it closed for the day shortly after we got on the 3rd floor as well).

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there's a really nice "kids" climbing complex here. Which makes sense - this floor with the train, the circus, and the areas to expend energy? yeah, makes total sense the little one's play area should be.

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and I even found a cut out photo op.

 

Nick wasn't thrilled I asked some random guy to take our picture here, but I don't mind asking someone. He's always worried how someone will react if I ask for a picture of us two.

 

I was polite, I asked the guy if he could take a pic of us, and he said sure! The only one who cares, is Nick.

 

and after we took the pic and Nick looked at it, it was *then* that he realized he was the girl robot! LOL

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and then we stumbled on this. . and Nick was in HEAVEN.

 

outside of "Beatnick Bob's" on the 3rd floor -- which is a cafe, that is basically if you took Austin and squeezed it down into a dive bar/juice bar/bakery space? You'd get Beatnick Bob's

I really dug the atmosphere in there, and right outside the space? dozens of classic pinball machines.

 

the kind of machines that Nick loves. No digital readouts, all flipping digits, 1-2 players. . . and a quarter a game. I think we easily spend 45 minutes to an hour here just playing pinball. . . .I kept winning us free games. and we enjoyed every moment of it.

 

Nick in particular. He coudln't do a lot of the activities thus far, but this area of classic Pinball Machines? He loved it enough that he was happy we came to City Museum (and even bought a T-shirt)

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fantastic

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more decoration near the Pinball area.

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the Electric Chair outside of Beatnick Bob's

 

it was getting close to 6:30 and was starting to get a little hungry. Beatnick Bob's advertised local delicacies, so we headed in and i got to try a fantastic "Gooey Butter Cake" that was so rich, but not sweet, along with a local bottled Black Cherry Soda (can't recall the name), and because I was already cheating on my diet - spiced Hot Chocolate. That had a wonderful cinnamon and Cayenne (I think) kick. OMG ..it was SO good.

 

Nick wasn't hungry, so he just sampled some of mine. We sat outside the Circus area, and enjoyed watching college age guys who should have known better as they were football player build, try to sqeeze themselves into some of the overhead "wire" tunnels. Getting stuck, and giggling, and wiggling, and moving further along until they were out of sight.

 

I have to imagine City Museum has to rescue folks occasionally from some of the tight places.

 

 

end of City Museum part a. . . will try to get the rest up by end of week!

(hope you're enjoying following along)

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old carnival shooting gallery, just hanging out in a hallway. I love this place

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Great report, Bert!

 

I have a lot of catching up to do on your report, but am looking forward to all of it!

 

I was telling my friend in KC about City Museum and he's never heard of it. Sounds (and looks) like a great weekend getaway in the future!

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