Like Duck to Water, thats how I have taken to life :). This blog is the saga of love and adventures of a small duck in a large water body called LIFE....

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Friday, March 16, 2007

To see St Louis :)

Its been more than 2 months since our last long drive. The weekend before last we decided to fix that and headed west to St Louis, Missouri. To get to St Louis, we had to drive almost 5 hours and cross 2 states - Indiana and Illinois. It was kind of a very last minute decision, so we left only on Saturday afternoon. Here's the Google map sketch of the drive:

10th March 2007:

As I mentioned earlier, we drove for almost 5 hours and reached St Louis almost around 6 PM, but we did gain 1 hour due to the timezone change, so it was actually 5 PM there :). We checked into the hotel in East St Louis which is actually in Illinois and could actually see the famous St Louis Arch from the hotel :).

The Mississippi river flows inbetween Illinois and Missouri, so we had to cross it to reach the downtown of St Louis where the Gateway Arch is built. Though it was still not dark when we reached the hotel, by the time we reached the riverfront, darkness had fallen. We walked along the river for sometime, admired the archway in the dark and yes, took pictures ;-).

The arch is hugggggggge!

But it was obviously closed as it was quite late. But we had found out earlier that there are couple of casinos there. So we headed to the one closest, the President Casino/Admiral Casino :).

We obviously proceeded to squander 20 of our precious dollars (hey, I know its not much, but atleast we are in control :-D). We had lots of fun though. Tried different types of slot machines and basically enjoyed throwing away money :-D. Later, just had dinner (we had had lunch in an Indian resaurant, so dinner was in plain Pizza hut/Taco Bell :-D) and retired for the day.

11th March 2007:

Early Sunday morning, after losing one hour due to day-light saving change :-p, we headed to the arch again.

This time we entered the arch basement and bought tickets for the tram to see the top of the arch. Before I write more about the tram (which is more of a combination of elevator-giantwheel-tram), some history about the arch. The Arch is supposedly the tallest national monument (every monument is the tallest/thinnest/whatever in its category ;-) :-D) in the US and is 630 feet tall. It was completed in 1965, but the tram construction went on till 1968. It was built as a dedication to the westward expansion in the US and is actually called "The Gateway to The West". It was designed by Eero Saarinen and it seems the tram wasn't included until the arch was fully built, though Eero had left enough space required since he wanted people to go to the top and see the views from there.

Dick Bowser designed the Arch's tram system, it seems in 2 weeks! Since the arch is an inverted "U", they couldn't build an actual elevator for it. Though an escalator was considered, it seems the cost was too high to build and operate it. Later even a giant wheel was considered. Finally, "a combination of the elevator principle and the Ferris wheel principle was developed into a train of capsules". More details here. There are 2 trams, one goes up the north leg of the arch and the other, the south.

So our first venture was to go to the top. Here are the snaps of the tram:

Its not very clear since I took it from a glass window, the only place we could actually see it. The inside which had 5 seats each looks like a space capsule :-D.

It was a bit conjusted to say the least, but it was hardly 5 minutes travel to the top. The top was also a bit narrow, it seemed like too many people in a narrow room. But the view was beautiful. We could see our SUV from up and Sri promptly took a photo (aparoopakke :-D).

As I mentioned earlier, the Arch is in one of the banks of the Mississippi river and the river looked wonderful too.

On the other side is the St Louis downtown, while the white building in the middle is the old courthouse:

After seeing through all the windows, we went down and watched a documentary on the history of the Arch. Later ventured out to see the arch again. Each leg of the Arch is triangular block of steel and concrete. And each side of the triangle is sooooo big. Here's a comparision ;-).

Yup, the person not very clearly seen is Sri :-D. Next we went for a riverboat ride on Mississippi river.

As the ride started and progressed, we got to see another attraction of St Louis up close and personally :). Thats the Eads Bridge. It seems its the world's first alloy steel bridge and its design was not anything like previously constructed bridges.

It seems when the construction was over, people were making fun that the bridge would crash as soon as a train would go in it. So the designer, James Eads actually took 2 loaded trains and elephants on the track to display the stability of the bridge (this story was told in the riverboat ride, dunno how true it is ;-) :-D). Ayn Rand's "Atlas shrugged", anyone? :-D. Well, though it was constructed in 1874, it is standing good till now and has a road way on the top and 2 rail tracks in the middle (for to and fro) which are still in use today.

We also took some photos of the Arch. This is a picture perfect one which shows the old courthouse in the middle, just how the Arch was meant to look:

Us on the riverboat :).

After the riverboat ride which actually took more than an hour, we left the Arch (finally!) to go to Anheuser-Busch Brewery headquarters.

Anheuser-Busch is famous for its beers in the US like Budweiser, Budlight and a multiple other beers.

We took a tour and it was pretty informative to see how the beer is made/stored and packed. Below is one of the mash tanks where the ingredients are cooked in. It was all quite interesting, but we had to walk quite a bit as the campus is huggggggggge.

After the tour, we returned back home, driving back 5 hours again and losing another hour due to timezone change :-p. We reached home at around 10:30 PM and retired after having dosas for dinner.

Meanwhile, as Jon Stewart says, here's your moment of zen:

Like Hurricane, West Virginia, Burnt Prairie is actually a place in Illinois :). Don't you think it'd be nice to live in such weird-named places? :-D.


Orchid retorted...

Not at all...names like that have such a dismal ring to them..i'd rather live in a place called merrytown :) Nice, if I am in that part of the world, I will definitely look up this post on what to do and see

Deeps retorted...

Orchid, hehehe :)). I still think weird names are better ;-). And well, I don't claim to have seen everything in St Louis, there maybe many more parts to visit :).

Chitra retorted...

Nice. Didn't know you could go to the top of the arch. Knowing that it is in the US, I guess it was to be expected! :)

BTW, you can find out about Eero Saarinen here.
Maybe provide the link in the post? It is because, Eero Saarinen is HHHUUUGGEE!! I did architecture. :)

Are you growing back your bangs? It is looking nice in the new pics. :)

PS: You have got to see this, since you got a mention too. The last comment.

Deeps retorted...

Chitra, yeah in US you can get to top of everything :-D. Added the Eero Saarinen link :). Yup I'm growing my bangs, its all uneven and not really proper, so am planning to grow it long and later cut it again :). Saw the comment, man, high-fi people are visiting your blog :-D.

Soumya retorted...

Great post and pictures Deeps! Reminds me of my own trip there. The gateway arch is awesome. I just couldn't stop myself taking pictures of it from every which angle. I was terrified of the space capsule though.

Burnt Prairie indeed! Wonder where they get these names from.
So, did u drive any part of this journey or not?

Deeps retorted...

Soum, you had been to St Louis? Goood. I have also taken many pics of the arch and nope, I didn't drive at all. I had my IP, but still hadn't started driving the SUV yet. So..