The morning we left Bingse's, in Iowa, the thermometer read 39 degrees! Our destination for the night was Chesterfield, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis.
We spent the next morning, before heading south to Arkansas, at the Gateway Arch in St. Louis. It really is a stunningly beautiful structure! Pictures can't really capture its grandeur. It rises 630 feet in the air, which is the height of a 63 story building. The reflection of the sun on its stainless steel skin adds to its beauty.
The legs of the arch are each 54 feet wide at the base. If you look closely, Dan is standing at the far right corner of this leg, to give some perspective.
We decided to go for the tram ride, which takes you to the top of the arch. It was quite an experience. Going up they crammed five of us into one car. They are VERY SMALL, and we were all smooshed up together like sardines. We got to know our car-mates more closely than we ever intended! It takes four minutes for the tram to get to the top. Well, ALMOST to the top. There are still quite a few stairs to walk up to get to the very top. Poor Dan . . . just days before his knee replacement surgery, and his knees were complaining loudly. But we made it. Coming back down, later, I cracked the top of my head on the door to our tram car, giving me quite a goose egg to take home as a souvenir. The descent is about a minute shorter, in time, than the trip up. And we only had four people in the car, which made it much more comfortable.
Here's Dan at the top.
The inside of the arch feels a little like being inside an airplane . . . tight, crowded, with very small windows.
From the top, looking east, you see the Mississippi River and the Eads Bridge, which crosses over to the state of Illinois.
Looking out toward the west you can see the skyline of downtown St. Louis.
This building with the green dome is the Old Courthouse, the site of the famous Dred Scott trial.
And farther south you can see Busch Stadium, the home of the St. Louis Cardinals. When we were leaving the Arch, and trying to find our way back to the freeway, we got caught up in some game traffic. Turns out it was a Cardinals vs. Cubs game (and the Cards won).
We were both glad we had gone to the top. It's an experience worth doing. But I doubt that I'd do it again, if I went back to the Arch. I would definitely warn anyone with any claustrophobic tendencies against the experience. The car was tight and the area at the top is also very confining. We took a few good looks out the windows and went back down within five minutes or so. Nothing else to do up there - no observation deck or facilities of any kind (no bathrooms, by the way - be prepared).
Leaving St. Louis, we headed farther south to Paragould, Arkansas, where we spent the night with more long-time friends, Larry and Dianne. We first knew them in Abilene, when Dan and I were college students and Larry was in the Air Force. We were in the same "young marrieds" Bible class. We saw them one other time, since those long-ago days, when they came to see us in Albuquerque.
This part of Arkansas is quite pretty, and sitting on Larry and Dianne's back porch is peaceful and relaxing.
We spent one more night away from home, in Texarkana, Texas - right on the Arkansas/Texas border. and then left out for Temple on Saturday, May 17. It felt good to get back to all things familiar. We had a wonderful vacation, renewing old friendships, and making new memories.