That trip is done – we returned home about 6 this evening, relieved to see that Rocky was still with us.
(When you watch videos related to “my snake won’t eat” as I have been doing lately, you see how many snake owners keep their ball pythons in nothing more than Sterilite plastic drawers with torn up National Enquirers for bedding, so you think, “Well, maybe I shouldn’t worry…” But you still do. Because he’s growing on you and you have NO BLOODY IDEA what you’re doing.)
(Speaking of snakes, my exercise podcast this evening was almost a parody of BBC earnestness, which is like NPR earnestness but far more charming and far less pompous. It involved a woman accompanying a herpetologist who was going to show her adders that live in Scotland. So they tramp about the moors or what have you looking for the adders – which he knows are here because this is where they live – but without seeing them. It’s fifteen minutes of two Brits, in hushed tones, breathlessly talking about how lovely the adders will be when they finally come out. It was, indeed….breathtaking. But perhaps not in the way they intended…)
(Yes, they finally saw an adder, but the buildup was something else.)
We last left the merry party in St. Louis. The next day found them till in St. Louis, at the City Museum:
For those of you who don’t know about it, the City Museum is an extravagant, lush, stimulating play space that encourages exploration and daring. The place is full of tunnels and mazes, and chances to (safely) climb to great heights.
If you are within five hours of this place…it’s totally worth it. Your kids will thank you, love you and be super grateful. For five minutes before they resent you again.
I knew we would spend a good deal of time there on Tuesday….I didn’t anticipate it being all day – from just past opening to almost closing time.
After we left the City Museum, we stopped at the St. Louis Science Center, just blocks from our hotel, and advertised as free. We’ll go for free, especially if we just have an hour to kill before that closes.
Well…yes…free admission…but with a $15 parking fee.
Oh, well. We’re on vacation. We took it in anyway, and at that point, an hour was just about right. As far as those damn places go, it seemed okay. They played around with some structures, but what amazed me was the fact that they spent probably 20 minutes on math puzzles. I mean, they’re both sort of mathy – but I didn’t think they were that mathy.
The next day, we hit the zoo, also “free.” Yes…”free” because of yet another $15 parking fee. (You could park on the road in Forest Park of course…but then you’d have to walk a mile by the time we got there…..). The St. Louis Zoo also has several attractions that cost money – a stingray petting tank, the children’s zoo…so “free” goes out the window pretty quickly. (We didn’t do any of that stuff, anyway.)
It was a good zoo, albeit with a confusing layout. The highlights for us were hippos, one o which slipped in the water and spent several minutes masticating a fish, without much success, as well as the reptiles. Of course.
(I learned that Marlin Perkins – he of MUTUAL OF OMAHA’S WILD KINGDOM! fame had been director of herpetology at the zoo back in the ’20’s. They had a huge python that refused to eat, so they had to force feed it, and they did so publicly, drawing thousands to the spectacles.
That story gave me an odd sort of hope for our Rocky, who has yet to eat for us….)
The Herp building was old, classic and gorgeous.
9-year old Michael, the animal lover in our group, did remark on the way to the zoo, though, “You know…now don’t think I don’t want to go because I’m saying this, but sometimes..well, sometimes I feel sorry for the animals in the zoo. They say it’s good for them because it saves endangered species, but I don’t know…I still feel bad for them.”
And who can disagree?
In my preplanning, I’d thought we would hit the art museum after the zoo. But then I looked at the museum’s holdings and thought…I don’t know if it would be worth it at that particularly juncture in time with this party. So then I thought we’d do the history museum, partly so we could visit the exhibit on the 1904 fair and by doing so, do some sort of homage to our own Vulcan.
But the zoo took longer than I’d expected, we were all a little weary and were going to be moving on to Memphis afterwards, so I made an executive decision that we needed a different sort of space before we hit the road again, and so we went to the Basilica instead:
Now, some of us have done one or all of these St. Louis sites before. We went to St. Louis about 9 years ago – both boys were born, I know – and we went to the City Museum then, but Joseph, who would have been 4, didn’t remember any of it.
The time before that, as I mentioned in my last post, occurred when Joseph was a tiny baby and I was speaking at the St. Louis Eucharistic Congress. The three of us were touring the Basilica, and as we reached the area behind the altar, we encountered a Cardinal. I don’t remember who it was, but he was European, and must have been there for the Congress. I think it must have been Schotte. And so there we were, Mike and me with our two-month old, and the Cardinal stopped, said hello, and blessed the baby.
Yesterday, I walked behind that altar again, Joseph, now 13 at my side, and another Michael. I paused and told Joseph the story, and felt a slight twinge, but not a terrible one. Mostly I felt gratitude and hope, because if I didn’t, what was the point of being there?
Our meals improved during those last two days, thank goodness:
Lunch on Tuesday at Rosalita’s Cantina down the street from the City Museum was good, higher end Tex-Mex. There was a statue as well as an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe on the wall at the front door, with a big plastic box affixed, inviting donations to St. Cecilia parish. Invitation accepted!
Dinner that night was on The Hill – Anthonina’s Tavern, mostly because I told the boys they had to have toasted ravioli if they were in St. Louis. They were doubtful (because they always are), but actually loved and devoured it.
Wednesday lunch was the Courtesy Diner after the zoo – it’s right across the interstate – a diner experience is always fun with kids.
Wednesday night in Memphis, we walked down to Beale Street, just because that’s What You Do – there was some sort of motorcycle convocation which was interesting but deafening. We made it quick at the Blues City Cafe which was nothing special, but nothing awful either.
(And don’t even scold me about not finding the perfect Memphis BBQ…I do what I can where I am with the people I’m with….)
More on Memphis in the next post…
For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!