I had two days off last week and this girl I know had a hotel for the night in St. Louis, so I hopped on a flight and became a tourist for the day. My main reason for going was to hopefully bump into Nelly, but also I’ve never been to St. Louis so I was excited to see what it was like.
Anyways, picture the most touristy things a human can do in one day and I did them. We went to the Botanical Gardens, we went to the zoo and we went to the Gateway Arch – the crown jewel of St. Louis’ landmarks. All that was missing was my fannypack and dad jeans.
I probably should back up, I have kind of been to St. Louis. On our way to Frontier Ranch in Colorado for a Younglife trip in high school, we drove through STL. I vividly remember being half awake, lying on the gum-riddled floor of a greyhound bus as the sun was rising when we were passing through. Our Younglife leader, Phil, calls back, “Hey we’re passing the Arch if anyone is up.” As tough as it was to leave my Tempur-pedic spot on the floor I decided I’d check it out. I was the only one awake other than Phil. We passed it on the highway, the sun was just coming up and the sky was orange and red and it was a picture-perfect scene. All I can remember thinking is, “Damn, should’ve kept sleeping.”
Honestly, I don’t mean to be rude but I remember thinking okay cool, there it is. That’s definitely an arch.
But actually having the chance to be on the ground floor and experience this thing for real was special. It is MASSIVE. 630 feet high, taller than the Statue of Liberty. Once we decided to actually go up in it, I got even more excited. Think about how far you can see from up there! I started to feel bad for my lackluster opinion of it beforehand.
So we bought our ticket ($13, fair price) and stood in line. I’m on the tips of my toes trying to see over everyone, curious as to what type of contraption is going to take us to the top of this parabola. As we got the tickets, the asked if we had any issue with claustrophobia, we said no. I figured it was just a necessary warning, kind of like the ‘WARNING: Gas is flammable’ label on gas pumps. So we stand in groups of five in front of elevator-type doors to get into our ‘tram’. Now, when I tell you this tram was the size of a large softball I’m talking about maximum two humans should’ve been allowed in this thing. They’ve crammed five of us in there and I’m sitting with my knees in my face and my feet in Natalie’s lap with three strangers like we’re huddling for warmth in the winter. Five people my ass.
But whatever, to be expected I guess.
When we reach the top, I get out of our Yeti cooler and ascend the flight of stairs to the viewing area. The first thing I notice once I’m there isn’t the astounding architecture or the panoramic views – it’s the smell. The top of the Gateway Arch smells like a middle school locker room. It smells like ComicCon walked around all day trying to catch ’em all and then wrung out their underwear into a two-week old hamper. It’s a small area with a lot of people, there’s bound to be an odor – I get it. If you’ve read my last blog post, you know that I’ll sweat if I chew too hard so I understand body odor, really. Again, to be expected.
Once my nostrils get over the offense, I regain my excitement to look over historic St. Louis and the Mighty Mississippi River. Just one problem, the viewing windows are the size of your rear view mirror. It’s like trying to see the skyline of a major city in your rear-view mirror in your car. And another problem, there’s nothing to see. I mean yeah there’s the river, but I can see the whole thing from the ground. At least there was downtown St. Louis? I guess?
We look out one side, send some snapchats. Look out the other side, send some snapchats. 90 seconds in, we look at each other, “Ok, ready to go back down?”
If you’re a St. Louis person, I’m sorry I’m really not trying to dog on y’all. The Botanical Garden was magnificent and your zoo was the best zoo I’ve ever seen with truly enlightening exhibits. But your Arch sucks, I’m sorry.