Monday we had prepared a breakfast casserole that only had to be baked. This took much longer than we expected, and we had to wait for it, even after getting everything else done. Eventually it was cooked, and most of us didn't like it. We chocked down some and cleaned up, and were ready to go. It was around 9-9:30 when we rolled out.
We'd planned to eat a late picnic lunch at Meramac Springs park, but by the time we reached Springfield we needed a pit stop. We made a last minute decision to pull into Lambert's (home of the throwed rolls), and all used the restrooms and consulted the menu. At $15 and up per entree, it was too pricey, so we got a granola bar out of the back of the van and went on down the road.
Once we got on I-44, the traffic didn't seem too bad, so when we stopped at the Candy Factory, we let Taryn drive a while. Of course things picked up after that, but she managed to avoid any vehicle damage. The park seemed hours away, and we were all hungry and grumpy by the time we arrived. We parked at the closest green spot, and hopped out for a picnic. We were greeted by swarms of gnats/midges/no-see-ums. We found a shady spot and ate as quickly as possible, while attempting to not open our eyes or mouths. The gnats weren't actively attacking us, but were so solid that we couldn't avoid them. We looked at the waterfall and the fishery, and then drove around to the old iron works. They were quite interesting, but again with the gnats. We used the toilets and quickly left.
We made it to St. Louis and found the Arch and parking garage without any trouble, then walked along to the Arch. Meeting a local on the path who was unenthusiastic about going up, Taryn decided not to go, so she, the two little boys, and I went through the museum and gift shops while Bob took the others up. The museum had lots of interesting items, but they were arranged randomly, not following a timeline or subject groupings. There were cows and other animals, quotes from MLK, Twain, and Einstein; pictures of Indians and presidents; farm implements and coins; a video about Lewis and Clark. If there was an overall theme I'd guess it was grievance with the US's war policy. One gift shop was supposed to resemble an old Mercantile, but the lights were so dim inside that I couldn't make out what some of the items for sale actually were. Over to the brightly lit gift shop, where they were half-closing the entry way 30 minutes before closing time. I decided not to buy anything. Bob and the others finally made it back down on the last tram, and we went back outside 5 minutes before they locked up.
From there it was only 15 minutes to our hotel, but with construction and one-way streets it took us at least that long to get out of downtown St. Louis. We finally made it across the wrong bridge into Illinois (sympathizing with my buddy Ganieda and her trips into Brisbane), and soon rejoined the main road out to O'Fallon. The hotel was on the exit past all the shopping, and was pretty much the only thing at its location. Bob and I went to check in, and immediately noticed the QUIET. The rooms were reasonably comfortable and clean. The water pressure in the showers was amazing.
There is a single restaurant next door to the hotel, and it appeared reasonably priced so we went for it. Italian. It took at least two hours to get and eat our food - pizza and pasta. It was all tasty, but by the time it came we were almost too tired to be hungry, so a lot of pizza was wasted. We finally made it out and went to bed and bath.
(My apologies to my cousins Kevin and Heather - I told Heather I'd let her know when we went to St. Louis, and I didn't. We were only there for a couple of hours, and it would have been ahrd to predict the time, but I could have tried.)