Sunday, July 27, 2008

St. Louis, Baseball, and Hogwarts

Since we moved to Milwaukee 4+ years ago, we’ve been talking about going to St. Louis to add a Busch Stadium to the list of those we have visited. But we just never seemed to get around to it. We finally got around to it this year! Unfortunately the Brewers were not in town for a weekend series at all this year, so we settled for seeing the cellar-dwelling Padres in a weekend series July 19 and 20.

Boy, did we pick the wrong weekend to go: we had bleacher seats for Saturday afternoon’s game at 94 degrees and in the sun the entire time. Thankfully we enjoyed Sunday’s 96 degree heat in the shade along the first base line. It’s a nice park for the most part: check out the view of the Arch from behind the plate! We have some cool panoramas as well, but I don’t know how well you'll be able to view it. (The one I have included here isn't sewn together too well because I really want to get this up and done with, so my apologies. At least you get the idea.) While it’s a nice park, I also have to say that it is an expensive park. SRO tickets are $21 if that gives you any indication. A bottle of water or soda: $5. You can bring things in with you, but keep in mind that in 90+ heat, you need to find it somewhere close by if you’re from out of town. And there really is NOTHING close to the park where you can find such amenities. No Walgreen’s. No CVS. No convenience stores. No gas stations. Thankfully there was one street vendor and we were able to purchase a couple of bottles of water for $2 each. After draining them, we refilled the bottles from lukewarm drinking fountains spread throughout the park. At least it was wet! Cardinals won both games, with come-from-behind wins, and we saw Yadier Molina win Sunday’s game with a 9th inning walk-off grand slam!

We stayed at a B&B a couple of miles from the park in the Lafayette Park neighborhood. The private drive on which the B&B was located had a number of really cool houses built between 1860 and 1890. Apparently, at that time, it would have been a gated drive with a keeper at the end of the street. The houses don’t look all that big from the street, but looks can be deceiving: they extend back from the road in really deep lots.

We didn’t really check out Lafayette Park, which was right at the end of the street, but we did have an opportunity to run the 6-mile route around the outside Forest Park, which wasn’t too far away. The B&B owner gave us the low-down on where to park and what to expect; loads of people were out in the morning, when it was still relatively cool and there was a more than welcome light rain. Would love to go back to check out the history and art museums and it seems like there’d be lots of opportunity to develop longish running routes through the central portions of the park (if we'd had more time, running along the Mississippi would also have been fun).

In addition to the baseball games, we did take the trip up into Gateway Arch. Ben hadn't been up before and wanted to check it out; I'd been up with my parents in December 1994 when we made a college visit to Wash U. (I'm dating myself now). We learned the hard way that times are different post-9/11 and in the summer vacation period. If you go: buy your tickets in advance online!! If you do not, you will have to wait outside to get through the security checkpoint so that you can wait in line downstairs under the Arch to buy tickets so that you can wait until your appointed time to go up, which can be hours later. Because the next available time was in the middle of the ball game, we opted to purchase tickets for a trip up the next day, which meant we had to wait in line again for the security checkpoint. Arg! We did check out the late 1960s/early 1970s-era film that they made about the construction of the arch, and it's worth it if you have time.

We also found our way to Platform 9-3/4. Here's Ben awaiting the Hogwarts Express. Actually, this is portion of wall within Union Station painted to invoke Harry Potter. Do you think they had to put the stanchion up because too many kids had a run at the wall trying to find the train? The Whispering Wall in the station really does work (if you follow the instructions, unlike the people who tried ahead of us), and the central portion of the station is absolutely gorgeous. This photo really doesn't do it justice.

Last stop before we headed for home: Ted Drewes Frozen Custard on the Old Route 66. We're a bit mystified as to why they call their flurry-type product a "concrete," as it exhibits none of the properties of concrete (if it were frozen solid, ok, I'd get it), but it was a welcome reprieve, nonetheless. Ben says Kopp's is better. I say that any frozen treat on a 96 degree day is more than welcome! (Well, maybe not sherbet. Or orange dreamsicles.)

A quilting-related post soon, I promise!

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