Over the years, St. Louis has become a favorite destination for my wife and me.  Many times in the past, trips to St. Louis have included a trip to the Edward Jones Dome to catch my wife’s favorite team, the St. Louis Rams.  Our most recent trip, however, did not include a Rams game.

My wife was the navigator for the trip.  She had programmed destinations into our Nextar GPS navigator, and also had printed information from Mapquest.  We have learned from past experience that the Nextar can be a bit quirky, although it generally does a pretty good job.

The first stop was at the Galleria Mall.  I’m not much of a shopper, so I made a beeline for the Apple Store.  The Apple Store is a great place to catch up on email and browse the web.  I have used Apple Stores for this purpose in 3 different malls (Mall of America in Minnesota and the Jordan Creek Mall in Des Moines).  In general, if you don’t make a nuisance of yourself or hang out for hours on end, the employees will leave you alone.  There are probably a couple of reasons for this.  First, Apple believes that their computers sell themselves – so that casual users in the Apple Store will eventually turn into buyers.  Second, it’s never a bad idea when there are a lot of people in a store – it makes the product look more popular.

After the Galleria, we checked into our hotel.  We like to stay at the Drury Inn by the Gateway Arch.  The location is great – walking distance to the Edward Jones Dome, Busch Stadium, the Arch, and lots of restaurants.  We hopped on the metro to Union Station.

We wanted to eat at the Hard Rock Cafe.  We were told that the wait was 15-20 minutes.  We patiently waited, and were eventually told that our table was ready.  The waitress began to lead us outside, and we politely mentioned that we preferred an indoor table (we hadn’t been asked for a preference when we checked in initially).  She told us that it would be “a few more minutes.”  Fine, we sat down to wait a few more minutes.  Ten minutes later, I asked if they knew how much longer the table would be.  About 15 minutes.  This seemed to be longer than the “few more minutes” we had been quoted.  It seemed like we were being jerked around a bit, so we left and ate elsewhere.

The next day, we went to Grant’s Farm.  The Busch family donated the property and Anheuser-Busch provides a lot of financing.  Admission is free, although parking is $11.  I don’t quite understand the logic of this, but it’s still a great bargain, so I’m not complaining.  The first part of the trip is a tram ride where you can see a lot of wild animals.  I had the digital camera handy and got a lot of shots – particularly of the bison and zebras.

The tram stops at a central area within the facility where you can see more of the animals up close.  There is a variety of animals from farm animals (you can feed the goats) to African elephants.  My wife loves elephants, so we rushed to the elephant area to catch the elephant show.  The first show didn’t actually have a large enough audience, so the trainers just had the elephants do some training exercises.  This was pretty cool.  After that, we took a look at the other animals, and caught most of the bird show (pretty neat) before going back to the elephant area for the next show.  This time, the audience was large enough.  Robbie (trainer) and Mickey (elephant – short for Michelob) put on a show.  The show was educational and entertaining (Mickey raced a couple of kids in a balloon blowing contest – she gave them a huge head start, and beat them easily with just one breath).  We did the VIP tour ($5 each) afterward.  We got to tour the bull barn – a massive building where Bud (male elephant) lives.  Then we got to meet Bud.  We fed him carrots and got pictures taken with him.

In the afternoon, I made a trip across the street from the hotel to visit the Gateway Arch.  This is, of course, the icon of St. Louis.  The Arch soars 630 feet in the air.  You ride to the top in a little tram car that has five seats.  I’m not sure if it’s actually possible to cram five normal sized people into one of the cars.  The cars have a bit of Ferris Wheel movement to them, since the trip to the top is not completely vertical (since it must travel along the curve of the arch).  I rode to the top with a guy from Pennsylvania and a happy young couple.  The woman had a very nice camera.  I coveted the lens, and told her :)

The top of the arch is a fabulous place for taking photos, and I took several dozen photos.  I took a quite a few pictures of Busch Stadium.  The game was over, but they were letting kids run around the bases.  Even though I’m a Rockies fan, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to take photos of a ball park.  I also took quite a few pictures of the mighty Mississippi River.

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Kosmo is the founder of The Soap Boxers and writes on a variety of topics. Many of his short stories have been collected into Kindle books.

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