Monday, July 9, 2012

Independence Day on the Road

4 July 2012: Here we are: Dylan, Mary, Ed, and Caryl, saying good-bye
to Aurora family and ready to move on to celebrate the 4th of July in St. Louis.

Wednesday, July 4:
From Aurora, Missouri to St. Louis, Missouri

What a wonderful visit we had at Darryl and Tamera’s place!  If we hadn’t already reserved and paid for a space at an RV park in St. Louis, we would have been seriously tempted to stay longer.

4 July 2012: Darryl, Tamera, and Tamera’s nephew Caleb (who now lives with them).
And don’t forget the poodles, Wuntu and Suzy!

 My niece Brittany and her boyfriend Ben.

Darryl and his firstborn, Brittany (age 23).

Siblings Darryl (age 49) and Mary (age 57), the youngest and oldest of the 5 Butler kids.
If I look scary, it’s because I decided to forgo mascara in favor of visiting this morning!

This was Caleb and Dylan’s first time to meet but they really hit it off. They have a lot in common. 
They both turned 15 recently, they’ll both be starting freshman year of high school next month,
and they’re both gamers. In fact, they tried to convince me to let Dylan stay there while Ed and I continue our trip. 
They were so disappointed that I almost hated to say no!
After Darryl helped Ed do some work on the trailer, we got showered and enjoyed a yummy breakfast of pancakes, bacon, and scrambled eggs prepared by Tamera. It was 11am by the time we got back on the freeway headed northeast toward St. Louis. Good-bye, Butlers!

Darryl carved this gorgeous log for his home. I told him I know what I want for Christmas!

Compared to the last 2 days of travel, today was fairly easy.  We only drove across 248 miles of the rolling Ozark foothills before we arrived in St Louis around 3:00.

4 July 2012: Scenery along Interstate 44.

The St. Louis RV Park is billed as the only RV park in downtown St Louis.  It’s a pretty bare-bones facility, but the owners are friendly and knowledgeable, the bathrooms and showers are spotless, it has a laundry room, and—best of all—it’s just 2 miles from the Gateway Arch!

The annual Fair St. Louis was underway beneath the Arch, including street vendors and performers, an air show, concerts, and 4th of July fireworks.  Except for the parking and food, all shows were free!

4 July 2012: Getting into a cab at the RV park to carry us to the Arch.

Ed and Dylan really wanted to see the air show, which began minutes after our arrival, so one of the RV park owners, Jo, called us a cab.  That was an experience!  The last time I rode in a cab was with my Aunt Eva on my 4th birthday! 

Dylan with the Gateway Arch in the background, about one block away.

The riverfront streets near the Arch were blocked to traffic, so by the time we found a place near enough for Caryl to walk, we only got to see the final two acts.  They were great, but probably not worth the 45-minute wait for a cab to collect us after the show or the $35 it cost for the taxi rides.

Air show acrobatics under the Gateway Arch.  The Arch is visible from all over town. 
We even saw it from the freeway as we entered the west end of the city! 

Next on my list of things to do: St. Louis butter cake!  I had read online about the delights of gooey butter cake, a dessert that originated in St Louis as the result of a baking error and has since become a local favorite.  Several websites suggested that Gooey Louie’s serves the best butter cake in town, so I decided we needed to stop there to try it out. 

Unfortunately, when we finally located the tiny shop, it was locked up tight for the 4th of July holiday. Eventually we were successful in our quest for butter cake, but not today.

By now it was dinner time.  Darryl, Brittany, and Ben had suggested some places to eat in St Louis, so Ed decided we should try out the St. Louis-style pizza at Imo’s.  We searched for over an hour and finally found an Imo’s just blocks from the Gateway Arch.  I’m not much of a pizza fan myself, so I ordered the lasagna, which was quite good.

We finally found Imo’s!

Ben and company, if you’re reading this, I’m sorry to say that neither Ed nor Dylan was too impressed with the thin, cracker crust, St. Louis-style pizza.  Still, at least now they can say they’ve tried it!

4 July 2012: Busch Stadium is packed with fans for an evening game.

Imo’s was located in the downtown area near the Arch, so finding a place to park was a nightmare—especially since there was a ballgame going on at nearby Busch Stadium at the same time! (St. Louis Cardinals vs. Colorado Rockies…Caryl’s favorite team!)  For $15 we found a space on the roof level of the stadium’s parking garage and then hiked 3 blocks to Imo’s.

4 July 2012: Fireworks over the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri.

We noticed there was a nice view of the Gateway Arch from the garage’s rooftop, so we decided it would be a good place to watch the fireworks display.  A few dozen other people had the same idea!  After dinner, we’d barely gotten back up on the rooftop before the fireworks began, precisely at 9:15 as advertised.  It was a pretty spectacular event with which to end our Independence Day in St. Louis.

Thursday, July 5:
From St. Louis, Missouri to Columbus, Ohio

After a too-short 6-hour sleep, we drove to the LDS temple on the outskirts of St. Louis, a gorgeous building that rises majestically above the highway as you approach.  We attended the 9:00 a.m. session, and even Dylan participated by doing proxy baptisms while we were there.  It was a sweet, peaceful experience to complete our stay in St. Louis.
5 July 2012: The St. Louis Missouri Temple.

Speaking of “sweet” experiences, our next stop was Gooey Louie’s and this time we were rewarded with an “open” sign and a visit with the owner himself.  We learned a little about gooey butter cakes and he guided us in selecting 2 cakes at $12 apiece: one original, which outsells all other flavors by three-to-one, and one chocolate-raspberry (Ed’s choice).  The cakes were indeed yummy, but I must admit that cheesecake and German chocolate cake continue to hold the first 2 positions in my sugar-lovin’ heart.

Lastly, we stopped at a cafeteria-style restaurant called Garavelli’s and ate way too much (it was delicious) before we returned to the RV park, hitched up the trailer, and checked out at 2pm.  Then we crossed the Mississippi River just north of the Gateway Arch and we were on our way to Columbus, Ohio, a 412-mile drive.

5 July 2012: Crossing the Mississippi River.

Along the way, we drove completely through Illinois and into Indiana.  This means we crossed into another time zone, making it 3 hours later than back home in Arizona.  By this new reckoning of time, it was 8pm when we reached Indianapolis, Indiana.

5 July 2012: Dylan (on left) at the USS Indianapolis Memorial.

In Indianapolis, we paused long enough to drive past the soldiers and sailors’ monument in Monument Circle and the USS Indianapolis Memorial near the Central Canal.  For those who are not familiar with the USS Indianapolis, this was the battleship that delivered the atomic bomb to Midway island, then an hour later was sunk by a torpedo from a Japanese submarine. 

Not only had the Navy failed to warn the ship’s captain that there were submarines in the area, but no one missed the ship when it failed to return to port, so the 900 men who survived the torpedo spent 4 days in the Philippine Sea until they were found on accident by a passing ship.  Consequently, in addition to the 300 who went down with the ship, almost 600 more sailors lost their lives in the sea, mostly from exposure and shark attack, and their captain was the only ship’s captain in history to be court-martialed for “failure to zigzag.”  (Can you spell “scapegoat”?)

By the way, you may recall that the USS Indianapolis’s story was made famous by a scene in Jaws in which Quint delivers a monologue revealing himself as one of the 316 survivors of the USS Indianapolis and describes the grisly deaths-by-shark he witnessed. 

5 July 2012: Central Canal

The memorial is located in the heart of Indianapolis alongside Central Canal, another interesting piece of history.  When the Wabash and Erie Canal was being excavated north of Indiana, the original plan was to continue the canal through the state to connect with the Ohio River, but it was never completed.  Two of the three canal sections begun were abandoned, but this section in the middle of Indianapolis has become a beautiful cultural addition to the city.

5 July 2012: Dylan and Ed return from briefly exploring the other side of the canal.

Even though it was quite late by now, Ed decided to push on to our intended Thursday destination of Columbus, Ohio.  We arrived there at 2am and spent the night in the parking lot of yet another WalMart parking lot.  We hope it’s the last!  It has been much more hot and humid than we’d anticipated, and sleeping in a trailer without air conditioning is miserable.  In the future, we’re going to look for parks where we can plug in the electric along the way!

Friday, July 6:
From Columbus, Ohio to Canandaigua, New York

6 July 2012: The Columbus Temple.

We’d intended to attend a session at the Columbus Ohio Temple this morning, but their earliest session didn’t begin until 11:00 a.m.  That was simply too late for our traveling purposes, so we settled instead for a quick visit to take pictures.  It’s a tiny little temple that reminded me very much of our own temple in Snowflake, Arizona.
6 July 2012: Mary and Ed in front of the Columbus Temple.
We also stopped by McDonalds for breakfast before leaving Columbus. 
It had some very interesting displays of old memorabilia.

We left Columbus around 11am and drove on until we crossed the border into Pennsylvania.  It’s funny, but it wasn’t until then that I fully realized how far we had come.  It finally hit me that we truly were in the eastern United States, on the other side of the country from our home!

When we reached Erie, PA, we turned off the freeway and drove down to the edge of Lake Erie.  When Dylan saw the lake, he exclaimed, “Wow!  It looks like the ocean!”  Where we come from, lakes are small enough to see the other side.

The beaches of Presque Isle.

There is a small peninsula just off the coast of Erie that’s called Presque Isle.  It has some beaches and many people go there to spend the day enjoying the sun, sand, and surf.  We drove out there and found a picnic table to hold our picnic lunch of homemade ham and cheese sandwiches.  Unfortunately, my camera battery died at this point and my photos are limited…

Lake Erie as viewed from our picnic area.

After lunch we got back on the freeway and made the final stage of our 5-day journey.  At 2pm we finally crossed the border into New York State!
Welcome to New York!

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