Sunday, September 4, 2011

Vacation Part II - The St. Louis Leg of the Journey

It was a fabulous time in Chicago, but the adventure had to continue. We headed to the edge of Illinois, just shy of Missouri, to stay for two days. We managed to just outrun the massive weather system that took down the stage at the County Fair in Indiana. We noticed the dramatic change in the sky as we were driving. And just having seen Tornado Alley, were a little concerned by the look of the clouds. Wouldn't you know it, when we got our hotel that night, the news confirmed the tragedy that happened in Indiana. It was that same storm system that tracked right across our driving path.

Sky changed from bright blue to dark gray in a matter of moments!

We stopped for a brief period in Springfield, IL to visit the burial place of President Lincoln.  This is when the sky first started changing. You can see that there is beautiful blue sky peaking through. The sky changed from clear blue to dark black in a matter of minutes. We didn't linger long at the President's grave.

Stopped just briefly to grab this photo with the President. You think people like to rub his nose?

Next we headed to the boarder of Illinois and Missouri. We stayed on the Illinois side. We arrived pretty late at night so, our adventures in St. Louis began the next morning.

The Basilica Cathedral in St. Louis was stunning!

They have the 2nd largest collection of mosaics in America.

This is one of only a few bronze casts of the Pieta made during WWII to preserve the art in case of attack or confiscation.
We enjoyed the tour of the Basilica Cathedral, and then headed to the Arch. A visit to St. Louis wouldn't be complete unless you've seen the Arch. That's where I should have left it -- looking at it from the outside. We decided to bear the very long wait to make the journey to the top -- 684 ft. It was over an hour wait for us to get on line to wait for another 45 min. to make the 4 min. trip to the top.

St. Louis Arch -- Gateway to the West.

We decided that we would take Eddie to the top, too. Little did we realize how cramped and unrealistic this would be. The car you travel to the top of the arch in is pod-like -- round and very confined. It wasn't easy for Lyle to get Eddie in through the hobbit hole entrance of the 5-seater pod, especially considering his lack of flexibility with the spinal fusion and rods. But, Eddie's a trooper, and he managed to adjust himself just so in order to get in.

Claustrophobic is just not descriptive enough for the conditions inside this pod.  If you didn't know the people you were riding with up to the top, by the time you got there, you were almost family -- that's how close you are. And, there is a window in the pod; that should be a good thing, right? It shows you solid wall, beams and cables. I just tried to keep looking at my children, and hoped for the best.

Annie & Meggie peering out the tiny windows at the top of the Arch

View from the little window

Funny thing -- the ride up takes 4 min.; the ride down takes 3 min. That one minute difference made me nervous. I wanted out. And, I wasn't alone!

Next came the "Rusty River Ride". It wasn't called that but, we all nicknamed it that after the trip. There wasn't much to look at that wasn't rusty along that stretch of the Mississippi River. The chance to sit down and enjoy the breeze was welcomed, though.

Girls on the Riverboat

The walk back to the car was time for bonding. It looks like dragging, but they were actually laughing and having a good time.
Here's where I lament technology. My camera had a meltdown right after this picture. It decided that it was only going to take motion shots with lots of blur. We tried and tried to fix the setting, heaven only knows what happened to them, but I was completely unsuccessful. So, none of the pictures from Belleville, IL and the Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows survived. The SD card went blank.

I guess this is as good a reason as any to look into getting a new camera. I do have a birthday coming up!!

Hope you enjoyed the journey, as far as I could take you, in pictures. I can't wait for the next big outing to do another photo chronicle. Until that time, the family has decided that vacation next year is New England. I can't wait!

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