Day 23 – Springfield to St Louis
With St Louis not a massive drive from Springfield, and the weather much improved, we went to have a look at Abraham Lincoln’s tomb, which is a State Historic Site, and quite imposing. We then followed faithful Google, that just happened to route us past the Cozy Dog Drive In, a place I’d read about that is famous for their corn dogs – so of course we had to stop and I had to have a corn dog, even though it wasn’t yet lunchtime. Though their corn dogs look like any other old dog, it was really tasty and the place was buzzing – I was clearly not the only person who’d heard about the place!
Once we arrived in St Louis, and booked into our quite crap hotel, The Missouri Athletic Club, we immediately made our way to the Gateway Arch, St Louis’s most famous (and hard to miss) site. As it is school holidays it was fairly busy but after waiting around we made it up the arch in a tiny little cubicle – the big Texan guy in the cubicle with us was so scared of heights he never looked out the window! Up top there are some very small windows in the arch, and lots of people milling about, so we took in the sights and then got into the tiny little car again for the trip back down. All in all we spent a lot more time in the queue than at the viewing point!
We then just walked around St Louis, which was pleasant enough – though very, very hot and humid! There was a baseball game on and the entire town was dressed in Cardinal red and either on their way to the game or to a pub somewhere. I thought it may be a special game, but it was just another game from what we could figure out (and they play a LOT of baseball, up to 5 games/week) and people just love their baseball. Near Busch stadium is Ballpark Village, which is essentially a block of shopping, housing, and eating & drinking options and which is where we ended up later on. It contains huge bars which were really busy with ballgame enthusiasts even though it was a “school night”.
For dinner we walked all the way to the Soulard area, where I spotted a BBQ place I wanted to eat at. As per usual they were out of burnt ends (every BBQ place seems to be out whenever we get there) but I had ribs & brisket while Brian had a roast turkey sandwich. The ribs and turkey at Bogart’s Smokehouse were good, but the brisket was a disappointment. After dinner we spent the rest of the evening pub crawling and walking around as it had cooled down nicely – and there was no point going to sit in a crappy hotel room!
Day 24 – St Louis & my birthday!
We woke up to some horrendous weather with tornado warnings every few minutes on the TV, so we decided to leave our sightseeing for a few hours to see if the weather would improve. Around lunchtime we ventured out to BLT’s – Breakfast Lunch and Tacos for some brunch (chocolate chip pancakes & breakfast burrito), only to hurry back when the tornado warning suddenly became a lot more real with howling winds and almost black skies. Once again we were lucky to make it back to the hotel before the rain started – and boy, did it rain!
We were still hopeful of being able to go out sightseeing later on, but it poured down the entire afternoon and we only ventured out around 7pm again. It was a pretty dismal way to spend a birthday, but Shady Jack’s Saloon brightened up my mood and the day a lot! We took a bit of a gamble on Shady Jack’s as it was a good walk from the hotel, with the constant threat of more rain, but it turned out the be the highlight of the day (though that’s not saying much!). Shady’s is a proper biker bar / dive bar with lots of interesting paraphernalia and generally lots of bikes and bikers around. I had toasted Ravioli which is apparently a delicacy of St Louis – basically deep fried Ravioli with a marinara sauce – that was very good. We then had a couple of burgers which were surprisingly good and just goes to show that you don’t need a fancy restaurant to make a good burger! On the way back to the hotel we stopped into The Lou for a drink before heading to bed.