Click for larger imageThank you to Mario Kashou, Andy Wysocki, Richard Merrill, and Jason Jacobs of Denver for joining the Change 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 Louis:

Click for larger imageMost 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.)

Click for larger imageIf 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.

Click for larger imageTo 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. 


Click for larger imageAfter 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 to Kansas City...Kansas...Missouri...Kansas...oh, I don't know.

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Road Trip 2003 Statistics
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St. Louis
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Itís time for a road trip - a really, really big-ass road trip...[More]
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San Francisco to Maine, twenty two states, two countries and 8,000 miles...[More]
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