Elliot Visits St. Louis

Kid Adam took his oldest son, Graham, on a business trip to Washington, D.C., recently. He thought he owed middle son Elliot a trip, so they hopped on a jet for a weekend in St. Louis. Graham, is 7; Elliot is 5, and Kid 3, Finn, is 3.

Being a born and bred Florida boy, he wasn’t quite sure if he liked cold Missouri weather. (You can click on the photos to make them larger. Once clicked, you can use your arrow keys to step through them)

First stop: City Museum

I don’t have many photos from the City Museum because Elliot could go through places the fire department would have to cut me out of. Even his skinny dad contorted his body into shapes I didn’t think possible.

There’s a saying that there are old pilots and bold pilots, but no old, bold pilots. I was perfectly content to let Elliot be bold while I played old.

When we got to the gift shop, I told him to pick something out. He found a stack of shiny stones that WERE quite attractive. When he went to check out, the cashier said, “Four dollars.” She must have seen my face, because she quickly said that the four bucks would buy a tiny pouch that he could fill with as many stones as would fit.

He managed to cram four stones in it, and he played with it the whole time he was in town. Money well spent. His Uncle Mark (actually, I guess he’s his GREAT-uncle) kept scheming to try to entice the rocks from him for some sundry good or service, but he resisted.

Earlier visits to City Museum

The rooftop was closed for the winter when Adam and Elliot were there, but I DID manage to convince Curator Jessica to ride the Ferris wheel in 2014. (Despite hearing her mutter, “You’re standing on a banana peel on the steps to eternity, but I’ve got a lot of life left, and I don’t intend to die on a Ferris wheel in St. Louis.”)

Son Matt and crew were the first Florida Steinhoff contingent to visit the museum. Malcolm, like Elliot, explored all there was to be explored.

Licking the Arch

Elliot was afraid his tongue would stick to the stainless steel arch since it was a cold day, so I told him that he only had to stick it out for the photo.

I’ve had various results convincing first-timers that it’s customary to lick the arch. See the results.

The scale of the Arch was lost on a 5-year-old who was getting cold and tired.

He thought the tram ride to the top was kind of interesting, but it didn’t take long before he said, “I’m bored.”

Pulitzer Arts Museum

Our first stop the second day was the Pulitzer Arts Museum. He and I weren’t all that impressed by the “art” that was displayed inside.

We liked “Joe” a lot better. Here’s the official description of it. It reminds me of why I often wish I was wearing high boots in art museums.

Commissioned by Emily Rauh Pulitzer as a permanent feature of the courtyard, Richard Serra’s Joe articulates a space that reframes perceptions of scale and movement through its subtle, shifting contours. As a counterpoint to Tadao Ando’s angular forms and immutable concrete, Joe conveys an evolving sense of the organic; the walls of the sculpture’s spiral path expand and contract, conveying you to its center—a vast expanse of sky, framed by a ribbon of weathering steel. Named in homage to the late Joseph Pulitzer Jr., who commissioned the artist’s first site-specific sculpture in 1970, Richard Serra’s Joe stands as a testament to the forces of life that influence and shape us.

At the top of the stairs in the museum was a phonographic turntable with some vinyl records. Elliot, a child of the digital age, was fascinated. He suggested that we chill and listen to some music.

Before long, he and his dad were dancing.

National Memorial Family Church of God in Christ

While we were driving around looking for a place to eat, we ran across the ruins of the National Memorial Family Church of God in Christ. The remaining walls of the church had been reinforced, so it was safe to walk in.

Elliot found a small piece of stone inside, and wanted to take it with him to remember the visit. I felt a strong generational bond. I have bricks from Athens, Cape, my grandfather’s liquor store in Advance, and a “convict brick” made by Ohio prisoners and used to build a school. We weren’t sure the TSA would be happy with it in his carry-on, so I mailed it to him later.

St. Louis Science Center

Uncle Mark, who lives in St. Louis, knows all the tricks, so we saved $10 by parking for free at the McDonnell Planetarium, which is connected to the Oakland Building by a walkable Skybridge over Interstate 64/Highway 40. The skybridge is neat because it has holes where you can look down on the traffic below. It also has radar guns and speed displays. In the days when radar detectors were more common in cars, it was fun to watch drivers lock down when their warnings lit up.

He got to check out dinosaurs and see how he’d fit in one of their footprints.

He got to feel wild winds, build a an arch out of foam blocks, and learn all about electricity.

One of the coolest things was a board where you placed elements to show the flow of electricity from the power plant to the substations to transformers to neighborhoods of houses.

He was playing with the blocks when a boy of 8 or 10 walked up and patiently explained the whole concept to him. They played for quite a while, learning how eliminating one house wouldn’t make the rest go dark, but losing a substation or a transformer could.

After the old boy wandered off, Elliot stuck around trying different sets of blocks. A little girl about his age showed up, and Elliot took on the role of tutor, passing on what the older boy had told him. Girls, apparently aren’t much interested in electricity, so she didn’t hang around long.

Finally, it was time to rehydrate  and head back to Uncle Mark’s house for another treat.

Lime-S Electric Scooter

It seemed like bright lime-green electric scooters were buzzing around all over town. Mark explained how they were rented, and Adam located an unused one about two blocks away.

You can learn how the concept works by going to the Lime website.

He scored it by putting some money in a smartphone app, then he and Elliot went cruising up and down Flora Place. Mark loaned him a helmet and tried to charge his nephew four rocks for it, but the transaction didn’t happen.

I only have the one shot showing him rating the ride two-thumbs-up because I concentrated on video.

Next up will be night shots of the Missouri Botanical Gardens Glow Garden.

Gateway Arch from I-55

Gateway Arch from I-55 10-30-2014

I got to see this view of the Gateway Arch from I-55 twice on my last trip to Missouri. Once on my way to drop off Wife Lila at the airport to fly back home to West Palm Beach on October 28, and once when I went to Lambert to pick up Curator Jessica on October 30.

Jessica had already done the obligatory Arch Lick last fall, so she said we didn’t need to go do it again. We opted to go to the City Museum instead.

And, there were no safety hazards involved in the taking of this photo. Road construction had traffic dead stopped at this location both days, so I had plenty of time.to shoot.

Licking the Arkansas Arch

Jessica Cyders at Gateway Arch 11-04-2013_9935When Curator Jessica made her initial pilgrimage from Ohio to Missouri last December, I convinced her that every first-time visitor to St. Louis’ Gateway Arch has to lick the stainless steel icon.

She was a mere child of 29 at that time, and gullible.

Not falling for it at the state line

Jessica Cyders at MO - Ark arch 10-31-2014_4265When I asked David Kelley of Steele, Mo., if the old concrete arch over U.S. 61 at the Missouri – Arkansas border was still standing, he said, “Yep. It’s still there. It’s only eight miles away, let’s go see it, then go down to the Dixie Pig in Blytheville for lunch.”

U.S. Route 61 is the official designation for the highway that runs from New Orleans, past Memphis, past Cape Girardeau and St. Louis, ending up in Wyoming, Minn.This section through Arkansas was once a dirt trail called the North-South Road, and was in such poor shape that it might take as much as a full day to cover 15 miles.

Highway 61 called the Great River Road because it parallels the Mississippi River a good part of its run. It also answers to the name “Blues Highway” because of the path it takes through Blues country.

Now that she’s put 30 birthday candles in her back pocket and done several thousand Steinhoff Road Miles, Curator Jessica is older and wiser. She wasn’t falling for the old Lick the Arch trick twice. She did agree to risk death by posing under the arch so you could get an idea of its scale, roughly 15 feet high and 20 feet wide at the base.

Almost a lick

Jessica Cyders at MO - Ark arch 10-31-2014_4267I didn’t realize until I was editing the photos that she DID fake an almost-lick for the camera. I guess that’s close enough.

The arch was created by the Mississippi County Road Improvement District in 1924. Check out what the National Registry of Historic Places says about the arch and what Arkansas highways were like in the first quarter of the 20th Century. It’s a fun read and will make you appreciate modern roadways.

I love this part: The location of the arch on the directly south of the Arkansas-Missouri state lines had a somewhat strange economic effect. Highway 61 runs primarily north to south, but at the state line the road runs east to west for a distance of approximately one-half of a mile. The state line is located directly north of the section of  highway.

A lower gasoline and cigarette tax in Missouri led to a concentration of businesses on the north side of the highway. At one time there were as many as fourteen service stations lined up along the “line”. Along with the service stations came several nightclubs and small gambling houses. The area around the arch became known as “Little Chicago” because of the type of activity that went on there. A long-time resident of nearby Yarbo, Arkansas, once said of the arch, “It was a good place to go while the wife and kids were in church.”

Click on the photos to make them larger.

North Riverfront Park

Gateway Arch 10-17-2004Brother Mark and I rode our bikes from his house near the Botanical Gardens, past the Gateway Arch, and onto the St. Louis Riverfront Trail, over Chain of Rocks Bridge and into Illinois. You can read an account of our 2004 adventure on my bike blog.

Chain of Rocks Bridge

Chain of Rocks Bridge 10-17-2004The blog has some neat photos and some interesting history of the Chain of Rocks Bridge, which used to be part of U.S. Route 66. The unusual bridge has a 22-degree bend in it to allow river traffic to have uninterrupted navigation of the river.

Quick tour for Curator Jessica

Union Electric Light and Power Co 10-17-2004When I took Curator Jessica to the airport last November, we had some time to kill, so I took her to the North Riverfront Trail where we parked at the Union Electric Light and Power Company. Whenever I park at a trailhead, I scope out the lot for broken glass that indicates that cars have been broken into while their owners were away. Bad guys figure that you’re going to be gone for awhile.

The lot passed that sniff test, but I still felt uneasy for some reason. I’ve parked there before and ridden my bike in the area without my hackles going up, so I don’t know what I was picking up.

Floodwall Art Project

North Riverfront Trail 11-04-2013We passed the Floodwall Art Project, a seven-foot tall, 150-foot long tile mural designed by ceramic artist Catherine Magel and created with the assistance of at least 1,500 youth and adults from at least six St. Louis communities. The mural displays the history of the natural world beginning with microscopic life forms, moves into sea life, graduates to earth creatures, then ends with migrating birds.

Here’s where you can find out more about the Great Rivers Greenway. You can click on the photos to make them larger, too.

I felt uneasy

North Riverfront Trail 11-04-2013Curator Jessica was thoroughly enjoying herself, but my feeling of unease was growing. We were the only ones around, so there was no obvious reason why I was picking up bad vibes, but I suggested that we head back to the car.

This weird feature on a pedestrian overpass is unsettling, but I don’t think it was what was poking at my lizard brain.

I told Jessica that my misgivings were probably unfounded, but I had learned over the years to trust that instinct that something isn’t as it should be. She gave me her normal eye roll and “crazy guy” look, but didn’t object to moving on. I fully expected to see my car broken into when we got back to the parking lot, but everything was as we had left it.

I’ll have to see if I get the same feeling the next time I go there.

Copyright © Ken Steinhoff. All rights reserved.