St. Louis – Gateway to the West – May 2018

We arrived at the Family Camp (FAMCAMP) at Scott Air Force Base on Thursday, May 10th. The FAMCAMP is a small set up, but very pleasant. It’s right on the edge of a grassy field with a couple of nearby ponds and lakes. There aren’t fire pits at individual sites, but there is a common one near the bath house and laundry room. There is a shredded rubber track that goes all the way around the airfield for our morning walks. The total length is approximately 6 1/2 miles and on our last morning on base I walked the full circle.

Scott AFB is across the Mississippi River from St. Louis in Illinois, but is very convenient to visiting the city. The eastern end of the Metro Link route terminates right next to the Air Force base and there is a security gate that lets you park your vehicle on base and walk to the station to board the train.

On this trip we wanted to visit some new sites and explore some we had seen on our previous trip. The “Western Expansion” exhibit at the Gateway Arch Visitor Center was being reconstructed and was not available to tour. The Old Courthouse, across the street, was open and some of the Western Expansion exhibit had been moved there. The biggest historical significance of the Old Courthouse is that this was where the Dred Scott took place.

One of our new stops was the City Garden. This is a collection of what I would call impressionistic art.  I found it interesting, but not necessarily what I like in art. I don’t think art should have to be explained to you and these took a lot of explaining. The one I like the best was the “Big Suit,” but I thought it should have been called the “Empty Suit.” The part of the park both of us liked was the splash pad and especially enjoyed watching  a couple of young girls playing there.

From the City Garden we walked past the St. Louis City Hall to take a bus to the Anheuser Busch Brewery. The City Hall stood out to me because it seemed much older than the surrounding government buildings and, as a result, had more character.

The Busch Brewery is always an interesting place to visit. While we had toured it in the past, the tour changes periodically and we saw different parts of the brewery on this tour. Of course the highlight of the tour is tasting the beer! During the tour we had the opportunity to taste the difference between Bud and Bud Light and got a voucher for a full beer in the Biergarten at the end of the tour. Since our last visit they added the Biergarten, a full service restaurant. Here we tasted samples of as many beers and ciders as we wanted before we got our full glass. We decided to have lunch here and it was a “win-win.” We got a free drink with our lunch and they got someone to buy lunch in their restaurant.

The next day we planned to visit the St. Louis Zoo and the Science Museum. The St. Louis Zoo has been voted to be the best free zoo in the U.S. and it lived up to its hype. Pat is a much bigger zoo fan than I am, but I was impressed here. The exhibits were diverse and reflected the natural habitat of the animals. The animals were well cared for. My only complaint is that their map could have been more detailed. I guess when that is all you can complain about, it’s a good place to visit!

The Butterfly House was amazing! I have not seen as many butterflies in any other zoo. They were not too skittish so you could get real close to observe them.

There were plenty of big animals. We saw several elephants, rhinos, hippos, bears, Takin bulls, camels, and even giraffes.

There were some real strange animals, like the Gueraza Colobus, Ring-tailed Lemur, Coqueral’s Sifaka, Addax, and Okapi.

The primate exhibit was very extensive with dozens of monkeys, apes, orangutans, and chimpanzees.

The last exhibit we visited was the Penguin and Puffin Coast. You really have to love penguins and puffins, cuz they are just so cute (Did I really say cute?).

Part of the way through the zoo we realized that we either had to cut our visit short and leave for the Science Center or blow off the Science Center. We opted to stay at the zoo. I guess the Science Center will have to wait for our next visit to St. Louis.

The last event in St. Louis was a special treat for me. Fellow author, Bob Rothermich, and I had helped each other with our last books and he lives in the St. Louis area. We were able to make contact and we had dinner together, spending time talking about books and solving all of the world’s problems. What a great ending to this stop on our journey!

About Michigan Traveler

Bob and his wife, Pat, are fulltime RVers. They sold their home in Michigan in June, 2011 and now travel the country, living on the road. Home is Where You Park It!
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