you to Mario Kashou,
Andy Wysocki, Richard Merrill, and Jason Jacobs of Denver for joining the
for Change Campaign!
Thanks to David,
my unpaid proofreader, for catching the errors my dyslexia leaves behind.
Proofreading and editing are not counted among my strengths.
If you signed up for the Odometer
Contest you may notice I'm a bit behind in figuring out the latest
winners. Updates will be provided shortly.
Now, back to the Road Trip. Today, Saint
everyone I know who lives on either coast refer to the heartland as "flyover
states". Driving west from Kentucky, the landscape rarely changes.
Rolling hills give way to farms which give way to farms and then more farms.
The landscape is picturesque but even paintings in the Louvre can become
tiresome when viewed for too long. Thankfully the radio dial is filled
with irrational talk shows.
Erik and I arrive in Saint Louis one day after
Missouri and twelve other states have their sodomy laws overturned by the
Supreme Court. Perhaps it is my imagination, but Gateway
Arch looks a little bit like a pair of open legs as we drive across
the bridge from Illinois. (Goodness! Homosexual marriage in
Canada and legal boffing in all fifty states! Those Stonewall drag
queens are smiling from above.)
you have been following Road Trip 2003, you know by now Sister Betty is
a bit of a railroad fan. I am delighted when my hotel room in Saint
Louis affords a sky box view of the rail yards. From
my window I see lines of freight cars awaiting their turn to cross
the Mississippi and passenger trains arriving every few hours.
Saint Louis reminds me of one of my favorite websites
- the Fabulous
Ruins of Detroit. Saint Louis is filled with the relics of
an industrial past barely able to compete in the globalized future.
Silent chimneys reach skyward across the city from a multitude of shuttered
factories now awaiting conversion to condos or the wrecking ball. The old
buildings tell a story of economies built on tangible products constructed
by union hands now replaced with service industries and gambling.
The most potent metaphor of the change: a
rusting factory sharing a riverbank with a new floating casino.
its credit, Saint Louis converted many of the old structures to new uses.
The railroad station is a shopping mall (I hate malls, but the building
is wonderfully restored), the courthouse is a museum and several factories
are now loft
condominiums. Other handsome buildings, like the
old hospital and health clinic, carry advertisements for wrecking companies
and wait to be replaced by steel and glass.
Erik and I make the obligatory downtown photo
tour then head out to meet the locals. Erik is set on celebrating
the Supreme Court decision by fornicating as quickly as possible.
Either the locals were celebrating at home or Thursday night in Saint Louis
is not all that celebratory. In either case, the bars were empty
and Erik and I returned to the hotel with only a bag of Jack in the Box
food for consolation.
Erik leaves for Raleigh, I return to exploring Saint Louis. First,
I search for a laundromat. With one pair of underwear left in the
suitcase, I'm reduced to either turning previously worn pairs inside out
or taking time for wash.
Once the suitcase is packed with freshly laundered
clothes, I go sneaking off to the
rail yards. Rail yards are generally not a place tourism is encouraged
and many railroads employ a full time police force. There are no
signs telling me I cannot play among the tracks, so I plan to feign ignorance
if caught and questioned. My trip goes unchallenged and I walk away
with dozens of photographs (which, given most of my readers don't completely
get my fascination with steel rails and wheels, I will spare from taking
up your bandwidth).
Tonight I will venture out once again and see
if Friday improves the nightlife of Saint Louis. Tomorrow I'm off
City...Kansas...Missouri...Kansas...oh, I don't know.
[Click on any photo for a larger