Monday, March 31, 2008


Kristie's birthday was this past weekend. She's been wanting to "Eat at Joes" for quite a while now. Ryan had a conference in St. Louis Thursday and Friday ... so Kristie and Vicki and I took the opportunity to take the train into St. Louis on Friday. Ryan would pick us up, we'd stay in a hotel overnight and go to the Zoo and the Brewery on Saturday.

The train ride was relaxing and interesting. I've never taken a train anywhere before. The longest train ride I've been on was the Georgetown loop in Colorado ... and that's really more of a long scenic ride than "taking a train" somewhere. We wondered if the conductors would have the proper hats. They did!

We got on at Jefferson City down by the riverfront about 10:50 am, and cruised off down the tracks shortly afterward.

The inside of the passenger cars was a lot like a roomy airplane with bigger windows. Luggage up top, reclining airline seats with trays down below. Bathrooms at the front of every car. And you could walk through the cars as the train was moving. You opened the doors and they automatically closed behind you about 15 seconds later.

We got lunch on the snack car ... you can eat in the snack car if you buy food on the train. It's pretty small. But it was fun to sit at a table on a train just like you see in all the old movies.

The train often hit speeds of over 70mph (I had my GPS on me), slowing down for some road crossings and through towns. It was neat to see rural Missouri from a train ... from the INSIDE of the blocked-off tracks as we went across roads.

We arrived in St. Louis around 1:30 pm where Ryan picked us up, and we headed off to St. Louis Mills Mall. Ryan and I went to Cabelas while the girls covered the rest of the mall. We spent the rest of our time over 22oz beers at Tony Romas while we waited for them to finish.

Called Joel and Dawn and they came and met us at Joe's Crab Shack in St. Peters. Joel was in rare form. We had a really good time. King Crab Legs and boat drinks. Mmmmm.

Went to the hotel and checked in and went to one of Ryan's haunts from when he lived in St. Louis right there at Westport ... The Trainwreck. We had a drink ... the girls ordered dessert, I think, and then we went to bed.

Saturday morning we ate in the hotel restaurant and headed for the NOO. Ok, if you're wondering what the NOO is, just look at the sign. Turn your head clockwise 90 degrees now. There. I think that came from sister-in-law Betty.

The St. Louis Zoo is a very nice zoo and it's free to the public, courtesy of the Citizens of St. Louis. I spent lots of time there when I lived in St. Louis during the summer of '84 with Tom and Betty and worked at the Checkerdome Hardees (which is still there! But not the Checkerdome).

It was a cool morning, but some of the animals were out. The hyenas were playing keepaway with a rawhide bone, and when they started yipping more they attracted the attention of the cheetahs across the "road" from them. Not the kind of attention you want to attract, typically, but everyone was safe. Not in the minds of the cheetahs. But in reality, safe.

Vicki got her good luck fix by kissing a large bronze cobra, the only kind of snake you'll ever catch her touching (a fake one). And we went on to look at real snakes (the kind that are on the OTHER side of the glass), and Tigers, and Lions and Bears (yeah, yeah). Penguins... butterflies, bugs, seals. And it was time for lunch.

For lunch we went to The Boathouse in Forest Park. I'd ridden my bicycle and driven by it many, many times but had never been there. As a matter of fact, I didn't even know there was a restaurant there. Just paddleboat rentals. Kevin joined us there for lunch and at least Ryan and I had the fish and chips -- which was cod (not catfish, like at "the Ranch") so it was good.

Vicki ordered bread pudding for dessert which we all shared. Tasty.

Then it was off to the Anhaueser Busch Brewery. Where I found out that Land Shark Lager is an Anhaueser Busch product. It's a good one. So, "Fins Up", and we took the tour. I'd been on it once before. This time it was a little different. About the most fascinating part was the bottling and packaging facility. Automated to the teeth.

Kevin came with us. We all had a couple of samples in the hospitality room at the end, and it was time to head home. So we said goodbye to Kevin and drove back to Jefferson City to pick up the car, and then parted ways as the R&K went home and Vicki and I headed to Columbia.

Still no grandbaby. Probably tomorrow, Wednesday at the latest.

So stay tuned.

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