|Gateway to the West|
Our Day 1 itinerary (covered here):
The Gateway Arch and surrounding grounds
Route 66 from St. Louis to Litchfield, Illinois
Edward "Ted" and Pat Jones Confluence Point State Park (confluence of Missouri and Mississippi Rivers)
Zia's on the Hill
Our Day 2 itinerary (covered in Part 2):
The Old Courthouse Museum
Missouri History Museum
The Great River Road from Alton to Nutwood, Illinois
I won't write up a detailed flight review, but did want to briefly talk about our flight up to St. Louis on Southwest. Southwest has been hyping the rollout of their new-and-improved WiFi system on board which includes free Dish TV (they charge for WiFi, but you can access Southwest.com, a flight tracker, and Dish TV without paying). I seem to always draw the short straw when flying Southwest, getting old planes with no WiFi on probably 2/3 of my trips. This time, though, our plane had it, and I got to try it out. It is pretty awesome - both the TV and the flight tracker.
We didn't get in until a little before 10 Friday night, so we wouldn't start touring until the next day. Before we left on Friday, the forecast called for great weather on Saturday but the possibility of rain on Sunday, so we made plans to do most of our outdoor-related stuff on Saturday. First up - the most recognizable symbol of St. Louis, the Gateway Arch. I will post a more detailed write-up of the Arch and the larger Jefferson National Expansion Memorial later, but will include a brief summary here.
Instead of the usual approach to the Arch from downtown, we approached from the opposite end, along the riverfront. From this side, you truly experience the "Gateway to the West".
Old Courthouse Museum, which I will also cover in more detail in a future Arch-related post.
|Tribute to Eero Saarinen, who designed the Arch.|
|Red Cloud, a chief of the Lakota Sioux tribe|
|Conestoga wagon typical of the 19th century|
We were originally planning to visit the Old Courthouse Museum immediately afterwards, but it was already pushing 1:30, and our plan for the remainder of the afternoon required a rather long drive from downtown. So, we just walked around the grounds of the Arch and the Old Courthouse before heading to lunch. As an added bonus, it was a picture perfect spring day with the trees just beginning to bloom.
|Trees in bloom with the Arch looming behind|
|Old Courthouse gardens|
|Old Courthouse viewed from the west|
|The large park to the north of the Arch|
We stopped for a while at the Chain of Rocks Bridge, a bridge across the Mississippi River that actually carried a bypass spur of Route 66 around central St. Louis. The bridge is now closed to vehicular traffic, but you can still hike or bike across it. The bridge is famous for the curve built in halfway across the bridge.
|East end of the bridge on the Illinois side|
|Bridge deck heading west|
|Pair of old road signs at the Illinois/Missouri state line|
|Old pump station with St. Louis skyline in background|
|Original concrete pavement on bridge access road|
|The quiet town of Edwardsville, Illinois|
|Restored business in Hamel, Illinois|
|Restored gas station in Staunton, Illinois|
|Abandoned section of divided highway approaching Litchfield|
|Access road to the state park|
|Missouri River approaching the confluence point|
|The confluence point, marked by the monument at the end of this walkway|
|Mississippi River, looking upstream towards Alton, Illinois|
|Closer view of confluence point|
|1993 flood marker|
|Fiery sunset over Missouri River|
And with that, just about a full 24 hours after first arriving at our hotel, we came back and crashed after a long day. Read about Day 2 of our visit in my next post.