The Arch

“Now, of course, the great thing about the Solar System as a frontier is that there are no Indians, so you can have all the glory of the myth of the American westward expansion without any of the guilt.” ~ Sarah Zettel

The Mighty Mississippi!

The Mighty Mississippi!

Saturday morning, at the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri, it rained…heavy. I parked on top of the two-level garage that’s adjacent to the Gateway Park. As soon as I stepped out of the truck the sky opened up and the rain came down…heavy. So I donned my Plum Beach Lighthouse baseball cap and my yellow Cheasepeake Bay Tunnel rain jacket and walked the ten minutes up to the Arch as the rain came down…heavy. I was the first one there on this rainy Saturday morning so I enjoyed the wet stroll with a park ranger who was on his way into work and who was kind enough to take a few pictures of me with the Arch as the rain came down…heavy. This ranger said, “It’s a funny thing, the City of St. Louis built this Arch to honor the Lewis & Clark expedition as they carried out Thomas Jefferson’s plan of Westward Expansion, so basically, they built this monument for people who were leaving the city, not some local heroes who helped build the city but some guys who packed up and left! Only in St. Louis!”
I paid the ten dollars to ride the tram up to the top of the Arch. Each car seats five people but they were only putting four to a car. The cars are a little claustrophobic, but not terribly. Remember when Robin Williams play Mork From Ork on the TV show, Mork and Mindy? Remember his little one-man, egg-shaped space capsule? It was kinda’ like riding in that. On the way up, the four-minute ride feels like your climbing the hill of a giant wooden roller coaster except you don’t get the pulse-pounding, adrenalin rush of going over the top and down the other side screaming like a little girl, ya’ know, like on that big, scary rollercoaster at Waldemeer Park in Erie, PA. 🙂

As you can see the view from the top is impressive, even on a rainy day. That’s the Old Capitol Building in the center of the view. You may stay up on top of the 630 foot-high arch as long as you wish and the ride down is only three minutes long.
One of the old tram cars

One of the old tram cars

After the tram ride up and down I watched two twenty-minute films down in the museum, which is underground, under the Arch. The first film was a 1960’s documentary that followed the incredible task of what it took to build the Arch; the second film was a National Geographic IMAX film about the Lewis & Clark Expedition. Both films are definitely worth seeing.

Then after a stroll around the museum’s exhibits it was time to go back outside…into the rain. I walked over to the Old Capitol Building and took a brief tour. They had some good exhibits on slavery and the controversial Dred Scott Decision that was passed down in their courtroom.
By the time I got back to the XTerra I was soaked through to my skin. The raincoat was barely effective against the torrential rain.

Driving southwest, toward Oklahoma, I had to pull off an exit because the rain was so heavy that you couldn’t see the car in front of you. I pulled into the parking lot of the Route 66 Diner in St. Roberts, Illinois, which is next to Fort Leonard Wood, waited for a brief lull in the rain, then ran in to have a bite to eat. I had a meatloaf sandwich with cole slaw, German potatoes and washed it all down with root beer made with cane sugar. Yum! I also got to hang out with all the employees for an hour or so, each of us telling stories of our worldly travels. It was a neat place with neat people!

Then I boondocked at a Wal*mart just around the corner. That night, the thunder, lightning, wind, rain were SO intense! As I sat in the back of my XTerra on my sleeping bag, looking out the window at the deluge, my truck rocked back and forth in the gale-force winds, the rain came in sideways, lightning cracked right overhead and the thunder boomed across the prairie for hours! I kept looking around expecting to see a twister coming across the parking lot. One particularly strong gust of wind sent three shopping carriages careening into the curb stones right next to my truck. In one minute, there were empty parking spaces next to me; in the next minute, there were three carriages! Boom!


I hope that when you go out for an adventure in the rain, to see what there is to see, that you…”Soak it all in!”

The gam continues…

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