Sunday, July 17, 2016

Days 18, 19 and 20 - A Visit to Western Missouri and St. Louis

 We stopped at the Missouri Star Quilt Company on our way to visit Vicki's older brother.  This is essentially a series of quilt shops that basically take up all the buildings in this small town.  Each of the shops is dedicated to different kinds of fabrics and of course is complete with all the Missouri Star quilt patterns.

Vicki waited patiently as Joan and I wandered down the street and through all the shops.  We stopped for lunch here as well - there was literally almost no place to do this but Vicki had noticed a lot of people going in and out of this one restaurant (really the only restaurant).  It was of course filled with quilters!

From here, we stopped for a nice visit and dinner with Vicki's brother and his wife and caught up on family and trips.  I hadn't seen her brother in fifty years and it was fascinating and  really nice visit!!

The next morning we headed for St. Louis.  We hoped that we would get the visit to the famous Arch and a  boat ride in that afternoon.

This is my first view of the arch up close.  It was not easy to get to at all.  I can say that this was easily one of the most difficult tourist destinations to which I have been.  Even finding  it with the GPS was difficult and once we talked to a cop for directions, we had to walk quite a distance from the parking lot to the Arch.  I might add that the temp was 102 and there was no shade at all.  

We got our tickets for both the ride down the Mississippi and the elevator ride in the Arch first.

This was the boat that we took.  In order to get to it, however, you had to go down to sets of steps with no guard rails (amending that to say that there were wooden guard rails running at a ludicrous angle at the very ends of the steps -- nothing you would want to attempt).  Thank goodness I  had my cane with me.  The boat ride was nice but there is really not much to see along the river edge -- St. Louis has certainly not developed this area at all -- it has all the potential to be a really nice riverfront but certainly not there yet!

From there we headed back up those steps to get to the entrance to the Arch.  Remember that it is 102 with an effective temp of 108!  This was not pleasant!!

 The visit to the Arch itself was interesting.  To get to the top of the Arch (650 feet high), you ride in these small cars that kind of look like washing machines and the ride up,  you kind of go back and forth rocking.  This is the view looking to downtown St. Louis from the top.  There are basically very small windows to view out of.  I cleaned a couple off with tissues and got fairly decent pictures before we took the ride back down.

This was the view toward the Mississippi.  The real high point was the film about the building of the arch back in the 60s.  It was truly fascinating and quite an engineering fete which was well documented.

The walk back to the car was  beyond horrendous and by this time I had decided I would stay in the hotel room rather than ever go out in this heat and humidity again!!  We had planned a zoo visit for the next day but I had had it with the heat!

Well, I just love zoos so the next morning I decided that I could  brave the heat to see one of America's best zoos.  It had a tram as well so I wouldn't have to walk too much.  It is a free zoo but you pay for parking and for the tram so not quite so free!  It is really a beautiful zoo and really as nice as the San Diego Zoo or Bronx Zoo for layout although it doesn't have the variety or size of those two enormous zoos.  This is an Addax.  There were several species that I don't remember seeing before (but probably have!).  I should note that the temp was only 98 this day but there was lots of shade and even a little breeze occasionally.  One of the first things you see is a monument to Marlin Perkins -- remember Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom?

This is a Takin.

These are Chinese Gorals.

Took the picture of the camel just for my daughter who loves camels!
 This was one of two baby zebras.

 I really enjoyed watching the kangaroo jumping around but eventually it was too hot even for him.  The rest of the kangaroos were lazing along the sides in a ditch where it was obviously cooler.  Would love to see kangaroos in the wild but that is probably not going to happen!

 Mama lion is sitting in the shade.
The Gorillas and the Chimpanzees were inside enjoying the cooler air.

Probably my favorite exhibit was the penguins.  these are Rock Hopper Penguins.

 These two are Humboldt Penguins and were outside.  They can tolerate the warmth and probably were the penguins my daughter swam with in the Galapagoes.

 This is a Crested Puffin.
Just a regular Puffin.  I want to see these in the wild as well.  A visit to Acadia will be in my future!

 Last but certainly not least are the King Penguins!

This was about the nicest penguin habitat I have seen.

We spent our last night of touring in St. Louis.  The next day we were truly on our way home with only two more official stops -- Hancock's of Paducah (a great fabric store) and a visit with our high school friend Fran Mayo in Albertsville, Alabama.  We made two sleeping stops, one south of Nashville and one south of Atlanta.  It was 104 when we reached our first stop and luckily we didn't have to be outside except for a few minutes as it was difficult to breathe at that temp!  We reached Vicki's house in Florida on day 23!  

I was scheduled to leave a couple of days later and flying through Atlanta.  Unfortunately, weather interfered with my plans forcing an overnight stay in Atlanta which Delta Airlines nicely provided.  They also flew me first class on the remaining leg of my trip back to Rochester the following day!  I can't say enough good about this airline!

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