Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Road Trip! CHI to STL

In true Wilson style, we booked a hotel a week in advance and headed off to St. Louis. It's been ages since I've been there, literally. Like my age was probably about 10 the last time I was there. And the only time, I think. Elliot had been to MO before, but never St. Louis. And we have nothing better to do. What the heck, right?

We set out around noon on Friday and carpooled with our friends Derrick and Liz. Carpooling is so much better than driving almost the entire length of the state of Illinois alone. It's so. freaking. boring. People, trust me on this one. The only thing you pass on the way is Springfield and a crapload of Cracker Barrels. No historical landmarks, viewpoints, nada. It's a boring state that's flat as a pancake.

After stopping off at one of those Americana antique places (read: lame) off the side of the highway and circling a street multiple times to finally arrive at a sketchy Thai food restaurant, we made it to the Brad Paisley concert. Lawn seats, of course. Who wouldn't want to sit next to a bunch of drunk strangers who smoke like chimneys? Country concert, obvy. No worries. We had our own pre-game tailgate party in the parking lot beforehand. We're too cheap to buy $10 beers. Hence the lawn seats. That was just the beginning of our very indulgent beer-drinkin' weekend.
Our friends & carpool buddies, Derrick and Liz.
Reminds me a bit of last summer when we saw Brooks and Dunn with them in IL! I was happily pregnant then, of course.
View from out hotel room on the 16th floor. Not bad, except the part where they were out of King beds so they "upgraded" us to a hypoallergenic room (+) with two full beds (-). We have a King bed at home and wouldn't have it any other way. I need my space while sleeping and sleeping on a full bed is no bueno. Everything was great, HYATT, except what was most important. Meh. Luckily the full bed came in handy the first night as I had a major breakdown. It was one of those typical out-of-control and completely unpredictable ones that didn't even have a known trigger. Lasted maybe an hour. Grief is so tiring.
On the rooftop observation deck checking out the scenery. Happy husband doesn't look so happy here. But I promise, he is. ;) Maybe it was just how tired he was from consoling the hot mess that I was the night before in the sobfest I had scheduled but forgot to mark on my calendar.
This is the photo perspective my husband chose...
And here's the perspective I chose...
This is one of those times where you tell the person to do "something funny" to the large structure. Holding up the Leaning Tower of Pisa, meh. Overdone. Be more creative, people. And when I asked Ray to do something funny at the arch, he said he planned on squeezing one of the sides. Apparently the photographer didn't get the memo. FAIL. I almost didn't write a caption here and let my husband look like a complete crazy. Almost.
Walking into the Dred Scott courthouse. Okay, it's not called that but the Old Courthouse. It's the site of where the Dred Scott case was heard in the 1800s.
Stair photos because they're so gorgeous!

We headed out to meet out friends at the Anheuser-Busch factory and stopped off at this amazing place on the way.
The interior. Photo compliments of my husband. Only because it's not that good. ;)
Some of you might eat this birdie for dinner.
Pretty church on our walk to drink beer. What's that new Miranda Lambert song, Heart Like Mine?
I heard Jesus, He drank wine and I'd bet we'd get along just fine...
On our extremely lame because they wouldn't show us the most important part, bottling, tour of the Budweiser factory.

Le Factory de Budweiser. I managed to butcher a couple languages there, I think.
We're waiting to go into that building to be told that we can watch a video that is shown on a broken screen and that we can't see the bottling process today. Boo. 
 That's Bevo the fox on the corner of the building. Bevo was a drink Budweiser used to make-- essentially alcohol-free beer. Bevo the fox is shown there with a chicken wing in one hand and a cup of Bevo in the other.
The tour may have been crappy, but we did get free beer! Cheers to that! Just the beginning of our shenanigans, really. Beer #1 of about 10 for the day.
Next stop, Schlafly Bottleworks. You know, another brewery. Our friend Liz's brother lives in the town and took us around for the day. He and his wife went with us on the Budweiser tour for their, I think, 4th time. He was more knowledgeable than the tour guides themselves! Schlafly also served up homemade veggie burgers. It was at this point that I realized St. Louis is more up my alley in the food department than Chicago. Chicago is a meat-eating city. I'm a veggie. The two don't always jive. I saw more hippies in this town. Colorado, California, Oregon, Washington (my beloved west) are all full of these people... St. Louis has now been added to the veggie list. Lots of pot smoking, hookah, and pipe shops. Yes, those earthy folk are usually the sign of good eatin' for veggies like me. Hello, potheads... yes I will gladly eat your veggie burgers.
 And the beer drinking continues! What we didn't know was that during our second beer tour of the day, we'd be trying all of these beers again! Ah! Belly full!
On the Schlafly tour (a million times better than the Bud tour, btw), Ray saw a coupling sitting on a cart. This part is made by his company in Chicago. We spot them on machines everywhere and especially love factory tours where we can spot gems like this one. This is their "pantry" room where the Schlafly folk keep the beer makin' goods. The girl talking next to the pole, that was our tour guide. She was a pretty raging hippie.
After drinking our weight in beer, we headed to Busch Stadium where we hoped to catch a Cards v. Royals game. No such luck. We didn't want to pay a ton and were hoping to scalp some tickets. The problem was that there were 5 of us and the stadium was pretty full. We could've scored $35 standing-room tickets but figured we'd get just as good a view from watching outside the park. Bummer. Back to the car we went...defeated... just like the Royals.
Then we found ourselves here. One of the 10 greatest streets in America according to some lame organization no one has ever heard of the American Planning Association. We had dinner here. You know, because we were all still stuffed from lunch and the 10 beers we had throughout the course of the day. Why not order all-you-can-drink root beers? Also home to the 2nd veggie burger I consumed that day. Perhaps a record!
Later that night I attempted to snap a night photo from the inside of our hotel room. A little bit of a fail here, too, as you can see the glare of the television. Also, it would've sucked anyway.
Lots of scenic photos here... if you're interested, enjoy. If not, sorry.
The Old Courthouse from the earlier photo...
 The Arch... one of many
At the top!
 Happy husband with little bitty windows to peer out through
One side of the city...
We liked this photo opp because it shows the baseball stadium on the left, the courthouse in the center, and our hotel (brown building, bottom right) all in one!
There was some photo session or flag ceremony going on at the courthouse. When we finally got back down on the ground, the flag was gone, as were the fire trucks. Check out the cool shadowing, though!
 Happy husband ready to head back down to safety.
 View from the other side of the Arch facing the river and a very large barge carrying loads of coal.
See that flag again?
In line to head back down. I was a little bitter at this point because we had to share an elevator car up and because we are only a family of two, we had to share an elevator car down, too. We should really just be a family of three for so many reasons. And one of those reasons is because I want cute photos of my chubby baby at the arch and to share our very own elevator car together. And did I mention how many pregnant women and babies I saw on this trip? Sheesh. At the Budweiser tour, check. Here, check. Blah. Blah. Blah.
 A better look at the elevator door. It's quite narrow!
Happy, blurry husband on the ride back down. Because the Arch is shaped like a parabola, they have a vertical and horizontally moving elevator. It moves much like stairs. Down, in, down, in... all the way to the ground. It takes about 4 minutes.
 More pictures? Sheesh, lady! I know, I know.
 No boats were allowed because of all the flooding from the river. Even the docking area was underwater.
 Final picture...
Thanks to our great friends Derrick & Liz for driving, supplying us with their company, and the iPad Scrabble for entertainment on the boring commute. There seriously could not be a more boring drive. Okay, maybe through Nebraska.

p.s. I hate you blogger for deleting about 12 of the last photos and writing that I had to re-do.


LauraJane said... [Reply to comment]

"Some of you might eat this birdie for dinner."= me laughing hysterically.

You and your hubby are too cute. Glad you had a good time. Sad you were sad. Also that you drank Budweiser- my hubby's competition ;)

Ps. love the photo fail, too funny.

Kelly said... [Reply to comment]

I'm from St. Louis originally so I LOVE THIS POST! And I miss home oh so very much.

In your 2nd to last photo, that little platform area with the flags, I have a pic of me and Natalie on that last summer. At the end of those stairs is a street to cross to get to that platform, so yes, quite a bit of flooding.

I love St. Louis and love all these places. Thanks for bringing smiles to my face. :)

Brooke said... [Reply to comment]

"Hello potheads, I will eat your veggie burgers." Yes, indeed. I find that STL is pretty veggie-friendly and Schlafly's is for sure one of the best veggie burgers in town. And the Soulard market is awesome. I am so sorry I missed you while you were here! The drive is terrible, but let me know if you ever end up down this way again.

Newlywed Next Door said... [Reply to comment]

Besides the crying part it looks like a really fun trip!

I've never really spent time in STL.

Erin Farrell Speer said... [Reply to comment]

A couple of things!

A - I love Brad Paisley and am jealous that you got to see him in concert! How fun!

B - We're headed through St. Louis in October, and Jason wanted to do the Budweiser factory tour - I'll try to talk him into the other one instead!!!!!!!!!

So glad you had a veggie-good-time in St. Louis! (I love the hippies, too!)

LookItsJessica said... [Reply to comment]

We drove through Nebraska (twice!) and it took the cake for the most boring state on our cross country road trip.

Looks like you had a fun trip, aside from the sadness of course.

boo and stacy said... [Reply to comment]

GREAT photos! Sorry you got whacked with the grief stick:( Glad your sweet hubby was by your side to comfort you!

Those beers all look really good!!

Keleen said... [Reply to comment]

Token Washingtonian here, I am neither a pothead or a veggie...maybe I live in the wrong state :) You are right though there are many of those here!

Loved the pictures! What a life we live...have some fun then cry our brains out, repeat as necessary boo!

Molly said... [Reply to comment]

I did the Arch thing when I was a pre-teen... I just remember being SO scared it was going to fall or I was going to get stuck in that little space or in those elevators! I like it much better to see the view thru your pics :)