Gateway Arch, St. Louis, MO

St. Louis is the gateway to the West, so it was only fitting that we stopped here on our way East…. ok I admit that the anology doesn’t work as well if you’re coming from the West but we are headed home to North Carolina after a 2  1/2 month westward tour. Besides, Leo was eager to show me the Arch that he visited 40 years ago almost to the day (when, as he reminds me, he was young and beautiful).

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The St. Louis metropolitan area is huge with a lot of traffic, but we found a nice RV campground on a lake with beautiful walking trails. It’s really a treat to find peace within a busy metropolitan area and of course one of the advantages of a city is, you guessed it, Trader Joe’s. I know this seems trivial compared to the Arch exploration that awaited me (more about that later) but I was running out of my cheese bytes and it’s the little things in life after all, that makes a difference.

But now for the main event. We only had one day in St. Louis and that Arch is a must do (according to Leo). This iconic structure dominates the city and frames it so well (Raleigh needs something like this) that you are naturally drawn to it. The main attraction of the Arch is that you can ride up to the top of it for magnificent views of St. Louis on one side, and Illinois on the other across the mighty Mississippi River. This has to be one of the most brilliantly designed symbols to celebrate America’s westward expansion. A stainless steel arch that rises upwards 630 feet and directs viewers from east to west. It is a masterpiece of art and engineering thanks to its architect, Finnish-American Eero Saarinen. Construction started in 1963 and completed in 1965. If you are ever in this part of the country it’s a must see American icon.

Tickets for the ride up are at a premium so it’s best to reserve ahead of time. We went online the day before and we’re able to get tickets for the 2:30 capsule ride up to the top. Now here I must tell you that I have an issue with enclosed spaces and so I was a bit apprehensive about this so called capsule “pod”. It is a very small space that fits five people and if your tall you will need to hunch over to fit in and “enjoy the ride”. I watched a video on YouTube (at 3AM the night before after an anxiety attack,  while Leo snored blissfully away) and noticed to my delight that the pod door does have a window so you can at least see out and see the innards of the Arch as you ride the 4 minute journey up (and 3 minutes down….thanks gravity) so not too bad. It was a very hot day and I read on TripAdvisor that it can get very hot and stuffy in the pod and the top of the Arch itself but no such thing, it was very pleasant and air conditioning was circulating very nicely.

I’m glad I went up and experienced this “ride”. The views of St. Louis, and Illinois were spectacular, even though the windows are very small. It was a treat to stop and see this truly American icon. Back in our campground we were treated to a beautiful sunset to put the “icing on the cake” to a perfect day in St. Louis. Tomorrow we’re off again to visit Mammoth Cave in Kentucky. From the highs to lows we are there! Let you know what I find 😉

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