Wednesday, 7 January 2015

DAY 28 - Taking Our Holiday To New Heights

Hi all and welcome to today's blog, still coming to you from St. Louis, Missouri.

As predicted, the cold front came through and it got cold...and I mean really f-ing* cold. Last night we had some light snow which was pretty cool, and thankfully it was only light and we weren't snowed in. When we woke up the temperature had dropped to minus 12 degrees C which seemed strange as the sky was a beautiful clear blue, with just wisps of clouds. There seemed to be a little bit of commotion coming from outside, but that was just the Blow-Vac guy clearing the walking paths of snow.

Yet another use for a blow-Vac
Last night's light snow-fall. Note Schuyler with his camera and tripod
Our car, thankfully not snowed in

We had planned a few things today, but nothing really prepared us for what minus 12 degrees C actually felt like (Don, I can sense that you are rolling your eyes at this point). I had first planned to visit the Creve Coeur Airport with its Historic Aircraft Restoration Museum, which had advertised that it would be open between Tuesday through Sunday 1000 h to 1600 h. However, they were closed. The one guy there who was at the main Office, which is the Airport's Main Office said that they still had the Summer Opening Hours up on the Website and that there was no one available to let us in. Thanks buddy!

We had originally also planned to visit the Museum of Transport, but it too was closed and only opens Thursday to Sunday in the Winter. Note to self: When planning a holiday in Winter, pay attention to the seasonal variations of opening hours. I'll call this oversight my fault.

Oh well, we still managed to swing by reasonably close to the airport for a short while to carry out some spotting - Bear Grylls style. By the time we got there the temperature had dropped to minus 13 degrees C, so for the first time in recorded memory, it actually hurt to spot. Here's us and some photos:

Bloody hell, I have never been this cold in my life!

After our brief aircraft spotting sojourn, we had lunch at Shake and Steak which I have to say was quite nice and well-priced.

We then headed into downtown to again check out the Gateway Arch, but first we headed across the Mississippi River to Illinois, but this time it was intentional. You see, the only way to be able to capture the Gateway Arch and the City is from the other side of the Mississippi River, so that's exactly what we did.

The Malcolm W. Martin Memorial Park in East St. Louis, Illinois has a giant elevated platform with a series of concrete ramps and stands 43 feet high. The ramp is tall enough to clear the river levy and train tracks that run next to the Mississippi and lets you get a proper shot of the Gateway Arch and the City.

When we arrived at the Malcolm W. Martin Memorial Park, only Schuyler, Kyle and I had the intestinal fortitude to brave the cold (the temperature at the time was minus 14 degrees C) and clamour to the top of the viewing platform.

The Gateway Arch and city of St. Louis taken from the Malcolm W Martin Memorial Park

Schuyler, Kyle and I on the 43 foot high viewing platform, looking very cold

Kyle and the Gateway Arch

Schuyler and the Gateway Arch

Me and the Gateway Arch

Three Bridges - Foreground: A natural gas server bridge Middle: The historic Eads Bridge was completed in 1874 Back: The Martin Luther King Bridge built in 1951
 We then headed back across the Mississippi to visit the Gateway Arch.

The Gateway Arch is a 630-foot (192 m) tall monument. Clad in stainless steel and built in the form of a flattened catenary arch, it is the tallest man-made monument in the Western Hemisphere, Missouri's tallest accessible building, and the world's tallest arch. It was Built as a monument to the westward expansion of the United States, much of which was funnelled through St. Louis with goods transported up the Mississippi River and carried westwards from there. The Eads Bridge was a large part of helping the expansion of the west.

The unique thing about the Gateway Arch is that you can actually go inside of it and go to the top either via a funky little railway/elevator carriage set-up or via steps. Us fat-lazy Aussies chose the elevator. The view from the top of the Gateway Arch is astounding but a little unnerving as the Arch sways a little in windy conditions, and it was swaying today.

The Gateway Arch is worth coming to St. Louis for, in and of itself.

The boys walking from the car park to the Gateway Arch

The Gateway Arch

The Gateway Arch is enormous, but you don't appreciate how enormous until you get close to it. Note that the Arch structure houses an Elevator system and flight of stairs on both sides. For this photo, the family were still a good 30 feet from the base.

Hey, it's me!

The boys inside the railway/elevator carriage. Josh is looking decidedly nervous

The glorious view from the top towards the city of St. Louis and the state of Missouri

Looking the other way provides a view of the Mississippi River, East St. Louis and the state of Illinois

The 43-foot tall viewing platform on the other side of the Mississippi River, that we stood on earlier

The family inside the top of the Gateway Arch

The start of the staircase from the top, you get to see the stair case from the windows in the railway/elevator carriages and it is a very complex staircase

Inside the top of the Gateway Arch

Looking straight down you can see the start of the Arch bases

Inside the railway/elevator carriage

These are the same windows we were looking out of on the top of the Gateway Arch

The Plekkers

Maureen and I

Let's get a little bit 'arty'


Schuyler pauses while walking back to the car park

A reflection of the old Courthouse and One Metropolitan Square

The famous American School Bus. This one is a GMC Type C School Bus.
I took the photo above because I think that the yellow school bus is a very recognisable symbol of the USA. Each school day, nearly 468,000 school buses transport over 28 million children to and from school and school-related activities; over half of the United States  student population is transported by school bus. These School buses are distinguished from other bus types by design characteristics mandated by federal and state regulations. Federal safety standards in the United States and Canada require school buses to be painted school bus yellow and to be equipped with specific warning and safety devices.

After our visit to the Gateway Arch we headed back to our Hotel in Chesterfield for Dinner. Tonight was Steak with Mashed Potatoes and Corn. It wasn't exactly glamorous, but it's still home-cooked and that's a good thing. As we arrived back home, this was the current temperature:

Well that's it for another busy day. Tomorrow we Willy Nelson once sang 'on the road again'

*F-ing stands for 'freezing', not what you thought it stood for