Archive for the ‘Missouri’ Category

Grayline Tour – Saint Louis (Part 2)

Tuesday, July 21st, 2009

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We don’t want to bore you with more pictures.  Oops, too late.

To continue with our Grayline Tour of Saint Louis, we had opted for the Anhauser Busch plant tour and as we arrived, we were amazed at the size of the place.  This is one of the bottling areas and was constructed in 1917.


I’ve never seen so many red brick buildings in my life.  At 6.5 bricks per square foot, one can only imaging how many they went through.  The landscaping was also fabulous throughout the entire complex.


The Clydesdale horses live better than most people.


Their stable is worth millions.


In the visitors center there are several shops and memorabilia which include a huge stein collection


and this BUD car.


The “Beechwood Aging” tanks are enormous.   If you drank a case a day, it would take approximately 125 years to empty one of these tanks. The temperature in the room is kept at 55 degrees.


Another process is mashing and is a cooking process performed in different steel tanks.


While looking at the mash tanks, you are standing next to a huge chandelier that reaches up another four floors.


Then comes the bottling room.  Each machine can bottle up to 1300 bottles per minute.


Then it was off to the tasting room where we were able to test two glasses of the beers of our choice.

One of the most interesting segments of the history of Saint Louis is that of their churches.  The city was settled by various ethnic groups.  Each group built their own church and each tried to do it on a grander scale than the others.  In the 1870’s planning was begun for the grandest of them all, the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis.


The construction was completed in 1914, seven years after the ground was cleared.  The church is magnificent as you look at it from the outside, but, amazing when you enter.


83,000 square feet of the interior  surfaces are covered with some of the most fantastic mosaic tile work.


Installation of the mosaics began in 1912 and continued through 3 or 4  generations of artisans and was completed in 1988.  That’s right, 76 years after the work began.


If you are in St Louis and only have time for one attraction,  you might want to consider the Cathedral Basilica for that one stop.

We feel that our day with the Grayline Tour was well worth the time and the moderate cost of $82.00 for two of us.

Grayline Tour – Saint Louis (Part 1)

Sunday, July 19th, 2009

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We’ve discovered that, when we are going to be in a city or location for a short time, we  rely on organized tours to give us an overview of the locale. In this case we opted for the services of the Grayline Tour folks.  The tour bus picked us up at the Cahokia RV Parque at about 8:45 AM for our spin around Saint Louis, MO.

Because we were the second couple picked up, we spent the greater part of the next  picking up other members of our group. That wasn’t a bad thing. We got to know our driver/tour guide and learned miscellaneous stuff along the way.

Our first stop was a little unscheduled because we were waiting for a couple to arrive.  We wandered inside the ornate old Union Railroad Station, portions of which had been turned into shops.  Due to camera problems, most of the shots inside the station were useless.  However I did get this one ofthe Tiffany stained glass window above the Station’s main entryway features three women representing the main U.S. train stations during the 1890s: New York, St. Louis and San Francisco.


One thing that made it interesting was that we were having our tour on All Star Baseball Day.   Many of the downtown roads were closed to traffic.  They even had this red carpet running for several blocks for a parade of the players.


Statues of all sorts and nationalities of dignitaries strewn the avenues.


We had the option of touring the Gateway Arch, the nation’s tallest monument, or Anheuser Busch factory, home of Budweiser Beer. Since we knew we’d be thirsty, we opted for the latter.

The Arch, however, is hard to miss when in the area.  You see it everywhere.  When you’re trying to take a picture of a church…….


Or in the reflection of other buildings.


Saint Louis was  the site of the 1904 World’s Fair.  Most of the buildings from the fair were torn down after the exhibition.  A few still remain. Here are a couple of examples.



At the site of the old fairgrounds, there is a park which houses several museums, gardens, golf courses, and beautiful homes. Here are a couple of examples.



The History Museum was one of our stops.  Notable exhibits were those of The 1904 World’s Fair and of Charles Lindbergh and the Spirit of St. Louis.


They even had a mock-up of the  plane’s cockpit.


They had a statue of Thomas Jefferson looking a lot like Abraham Lincoln.  He was president at the time of the Louisiana Purchase (Including Missouri) back in 1803.


We have a really lousy connection at the moment and will continue later.

Branson to St Louis

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009

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Leaving the Pea Patch RV Park in Branson was no picnic.  Our “pull-through” RV site was anything but.   The park is on such an incline that we could not make a turn to go out forward.  The park operators told us to contact them when we were ready to leave and they would assist us in pulling out.  We had to back out of our slot and head up the extremely steep hill to the site closest to the top of the hill.  If the place had been full, we may never have been able to leave.

Once we worked our way back through the mountains toward Springfield, MO the remainder of the trip to St Louis was pretty uneventful.

From Springfield, Interstate 44 E is a direct shot to  St. Louis.  We kept seeing signs that portions of historic Route 66 were running along side our path. Old rusted vehicles and old obsolete signs were everywhere.


How about a ’49 or ’50 Ford.


We had written some about Route 66 when we went through Arizona last year. (See Article)  So, we decided to take a little side trip down the old road for about 10 miles.  Route 66 buildings are easily recognizable. Here’s one that used to be an old gas station.


Many of the homes along the way are also from that period.


Upon arrival in St Louis, we crossed the Mississippi and set up our rig in Illinois at the Cahokia RV Parque.  A huge storm was bearing down on us and we finished setting up in record time just as the first rain drops fell.

Later we headed back to St. Louis to visit with Rick’s uncle, Richard, and his wife Shirley.  They live along a golf course and we were treated to a beautiful view out their back door once the rain stopped.


We went out to eat and had our fill of some great Italian food.  It was good to get together with Dick and Shirley.

We have a few excursions planned while we are in the St. Louis area and will report on them very soon.

Rest Stop News (Texas and Missouri)

Tuesday, July 14th, 2009

 Not all states are created equally.


Several months ago we wrote about the new Texas rest areas in “Out of the Dark Ages“.    The specific rest area was southbound in Bell County, Texas.  On the Northbound Bell County rest area we noticed even more.


The landscaping is nicely done.


There was even an workout area for drivers to enjoy.


A little closer view.


In Walker County the rest area is in the East Texas forest.


This one has its own lake out back.


With walking trail and pavilion.


We’ve found these rest stops to be quite interesting.  So far, it looks like Texas is doing a good job revitalizing their “Safety Rest Areas”.


Now, Missouri is a different story.  We stopped at a rest area on Interstate 44, eastbound, about 80 miles west of St. Louis.  They had your standard restroom near the top of a hill.  Apparently when the laws changed requiring easier access to facilities for handicapped people, they came up with a novel solution. Near the parking lot we found a uni-sex “outhouse”.  Here we had two locking stalls with toilets over a pit in the ground.  I will say that they were extremely clean and were pleasantly deodorized.


Branson Misc.

Monday, July 13th, 2009

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Our time in Branson was short, but we could have filled several more days.

The Pea Patch RV Park, where we stayed, ran another business on the property called Ball Knockers. They had removed a few RV sites from the rear of the property and built a half tube shaped pathway down the hill from a building at the top.  The object is to put a person inside the ball and roll it down the hill.  The people are removed from the ball and the balls are loaded on this trailer for the return to the top of the hill.


We didn’t have enough time on this trip for a try at it.  Maybe next time.

We did, however, have enough time for a free tour of the the Stone Hill Winery.  The main facility is located in Herman, MO., about 70 miles west of St. Louis. Stone Hill was one of the three largest producers in the world prior to 1920 and prohibition.


There are only a couple of wines bottled in Branson.  We tasted about a dozen different wines but decided not to buy any of them.


A trip a few miles south of Branson, on the Missouri/Arkansas border, you’ll find a fabulous recreation area, Table Rock Lake.


Here is the dam that makes it possible.


Below the dam, there were huge fish hatcheries and fishermen were wading in the river fly fishing.


Back in Branson, we were fascinated by the go-kart tracks.  There were at least 6 tracks in town.  This track is a combination go-kart track and roller coaster. They were really busy. We never drove by when there weren’t carts zipping up the circular ramp.


We mentioned all of the shows in town.  Here are a couple of their venues, The Presley’s and The Twelve Irish Tenors.

a-presley.jpg a-tenors.jpg

This is a fantastic place for families.  Most of the shows and other attractions offer family packages where basically you pay for two adult tickets and you can bring a number of children with you.  We saw coupons that allowed up to 7 kids as part of the package.

Patience is required for you to work your way through the main street traffic.  All shows seem to let out at about 10:00 PM and this “rush hour” traffic is miserable.


You can find just about anything you want in Branson.


The most unique structure was the building that holds Ripley’s Believe It or Not.  It makes us want to run right out and set a record.