After a fun-filled few weeks in the plains of Nebraska, and a Kansas City sleepover, we headed southeast to St. Louis, MO where some of my family lives. Zac had never been out to St. Louis before, so my Grandma was determined to show him the exciting parts of the city, most notably the St. Louis Arch.
We spent the first day with my aunt and Grandma at the Saint Louis Zoo!
Unlike San Diego, the zoo here is completely free! You can pay to ride trams and stuff like that, but the zoo admission itself costs zero dollars. My kind of place!
The penguins and puffins exhibit was the best part of the place. Their habitat is pretty open, so you could touch them if you really wanted to. They often climb up on the rocks and launch themselves in the water, splashing all of the onlookers who got too close – including my Grandma and me!
The following day, my Uncle Don joined us all for a trip to Cahokia Mounds, which was once one of the most advanced societies and urban centers of its time. This historic site consists of several large mounds of earth, which held important functions for the Native American Mississippians of 1250 AD. There were different shapes and sizes of mounds, placed in a specific layout and used as burial mounds, ceremonial mounds, and gigantic mounds for the chief’s home to rest upon. It was pretty cool to learn how organized their society was, and what a bustling urban center was around during that time!
This area, just off the river, was revered by European explorers as some of the most fertile lands in the world, which is why so many people were able to live on this land. The number one thing they grew was corn, and it was probably their downfall. Not only is corn deficient of many nutrients, but it also can’t thrive in the same place for many years at a time. Or maybe they all just got sick of each other and moved. Can’t know for sure!
Also, while standing on the largest mound, we could see the St. Louis Arch!
The following day, Zac and I paired up with my cousin Tommy and his s/o, Anna, to visit The Gateway to the West.
My grandma was planning a quiz for the guest – Zac – so we all watched the making of the arch video, which I don’t think I’ve seen before. It was pretty cool. They said that at the beginning of construction in 1963, they expected about 13 of the 1700 workers to die during the project, but not a single worker died. The film had actual footage of the construction, and it was pretty nuts to watch the pieces fit into place so carefully. Made me a little nervous to go up there again though.
Afterwards, we headed over to the Anheuser-Busch Brewery for a Budweiser brewery tour.
When we were at the brewery tour in Lincoln, the small craft brewer kind of picked on Anheuser-Busch for not showing much of their production during their tour. It was very true, they keep things under lock and key over there, but it was hot and we didn’t care. We were just ready for the two free beers at the end! I didn’t realize how many other beers and beverages are brewed by Anheuser-Busch. Landshark, Amber Bock, and Bacardi Breezers are all produced here!
While we were in St. Louis, we had a list of food items to try. Even though I’ve been there many times, I was always so picky as a kid that I never really tried much interesting food. We tried everything on our list: Gooey Butter Cake (and cookies), Fried Ravioli, Pork Steak, and we even took Zac to the midwest version of In & Out, called Steak & Shake. Everything was really good, and I’m glad I can now say I’ve had the St. Louis specialties!
On the Saturday before we left, I had a race to run. The first one since the trip, so I didn’t have high hopes. It was simply a 10K, and I was just excited to get back out there, even if I knew it wouldn’t be anything too special. My Grandma was excited to see me race though, since she’s never been around for any of them. I ran the MS 10K in Kirkwood, but the results aren’t finalized yet so I don’t know what my official time is.
My best 10K time is about 47 minutes, and I was hoping for 50:00, since that’s about an 8-minute mile pace. The course mile markers were all off, and I started out way too fast, but I ended up finishing just a little behind my goal, at 50:04 according to my watch. My watch also said that it was 6.1 miles instead of 6.2, so if the course was short, then I was probably about a minute behind my goal. Ah well, that’s good enough for my first race back!
Well, we had an amazing time just hanging out, playing cards, trying to run in the heat, and spending good ol’ quality time with the Selfs. Thanks for a great week, everyone!
**UPDATE: Race results were finally posted. Official time: 50:14, and 14th place out of 160 women.