The official beginning of my road trip is not actually until May 5th, but heading to St. Louis was just a quick taste of what I think I'm about to get myself into: A whole lot of fun.
I left from Madison for the length five and a half hour drive down to St. Louis Friday afternoon for the wedding of two good friends from Northwestern. The drive itself was actually very quick, aside from the 30 mph gusts gusting across I-39. I drive a Subaru Legacy, which isn't the heaviest of cars, and today I was very thankful I had a car full of nearly half of my apartment because it's quite possible I would have been blown off the freeway otherwise. In one particular segment of the drive the winds were so bad that a car about 10 in front of me got completely blown into the median after driving out of a semi trucks draft. I am thankful that I was not in that car, and that the driver of that car seemed ok as I continued to drive by.
Now, I've never been to St. Louis (except for St. Louis, MI, which is...different to say the least), but I was extremely excited to finally see the Gateway Arch, an iconic symbol of the U.S. and the west. It no longer really represents "the Gateway to the west," but it was still very cool to see nonetheless.
After picking up a good buddy from school at the airport, we made our way to the hotel and then quickly headed out to dinner with another friend's parents and sister. After dinner we met up with a number of other friends from college to get the wedding festivities for the weekend going. A number of them had been in St. Louis a night prior for the Bachelor party, but Friday was the first night we were all there and ready to go.
We headed out to Ballpark Village, the area right around the St. Louis Cardinal's stadium, and it was a really great time. That particular night Ballpark Village seemed a little dead, but I imagine this place gets pretty rowdy during Cardinal's games in the spring and summer. In all honesty, it may be one of the coolest setups for watching a game that I've ever been to. The area itself is essentially a large bar with several additional bars and restaurants inside the bar. It's like Inception, only with beer and chicken wings.
Saturday was wedding day and since most of our group slept in pretty late, there really wasn't much time to explore the city before the wedding. Everyone got ready for the wedding and started heading to the church in order to celebrate our two friend's commitment to each other. Now I'm not exactly the biggest fans of weddings (though I do enjoy a good reception), but this one in particular was very classy. It was simple, small, and just the right amount of purple to bring out the Northwestern flare of the couple. A great reception capped off a very enjoyable day filled with new commitments and love.
I awoke Sunday with a desire to see St. Louis...once my hangover was gone. It took a little while, but by late morning myself and another friend were ready to explore the city. The only touristy thing we really wanted to do in the city was see the Gateway Arch, so we made our way downtown and did the whole shebang.
For those of you not familiar with the Arch, it was constructed back in the 1960s, and represents the beginning of the journey for many Americans during the westward expansion of the 1800s. I never realized quite how large the actual Arch was until seeing it up close, and my God is it impressive. You can see for comparison exactly how large it is if you look to the bottom right of the Arch at the two individuals standing at the base of it.
What's cool about the Arch is that you are actually able to go up the entire thing and look out the top via what looked to be a very ancient time capsule large enough for five people. My friend and I obviously had to go up in it in order to get the full experience, so after learning a bit of history about the Arch, we loaded our capsule and began the four minute trip up the arch.
Once to the top, the view looking out was pretty spectacular, overlooking all of east and west St. Louis. After a view additional photos at the top, we made our way back down to snap some more artsy photos before heading out to the airport.
All-in-all St. Louis was a pretty cool place. I'd definitely go back, but mainly to go to a Cardinal's game as I feel like those are probably one of the most fun things to do there. Until then, though, thanks St. Louis. You were a good starting point on my long trip.