KAPOORS ON THE ROAD
We drove towards St. Louis and crossed the Mississippi into the State of Missouri. We could see the Gateway Arch from almost ten miles outside the city core. It is really a dramatic monument; unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. We headed for the Grand South Grand neighbourhood to an Ethiopian restaurant listed in the Lonely Planet. We had a great meal and a wonderful conversation with the female owner. We stayed in a hotel just back across the Mississippi in Indiana.
The next morning, we drove to the Gateway Arch to take some photographs. The sky was very overcast and we were disappointed that the light did not show the metal of the structure to its best advantage. The Arch was built along the river and a park has been built but in either direction along the banks, there is nothing but abandoned buildings left over from the heyday of river transportation and power generation. There was some impressive graffiti just below one bridge, but on the whole the area was a little depressing.
From there, we headed straight to the huge Anheuser-Busch Brewery complex for a tour of the facilities and a free sample of Budweiser at the end. We learned that one of every two beers consumed in the United States is an Anheuser-Busch product. We toured the brew house and also the stables where the wagons are stored awaiting the famous Clydesdale horses and their elaborate harnesses. The tanks in the aging house are reputed to each hold 200,000 six-packs of beer. The bottling plant was closed for repairs to the escalators. Too bad, this was the part of the plant that I was most looking forward to seeing. Anil, on the other hand, was looking forward to tasting a couple of the dark beers. I settled for a Bud to drown my disappointment.
I was surprised to see that most of the people in our tour were lining up at the soft drink machines. It was then I remembered that the drinking age is twenty-one in many of the American states and after a tour of the brew house with its high temperatures inside, these young people were the most disappointed of all.
When we finished the tour, we found that the sky had cleared and the sun was shining brightly overhead. We drove back to the Gateway Arch for some more photographs and then up and down the small streets in the Soulard neighbourhood. This area has become a popular location for restaurants and pubs. There’s one on almost every corner. Not much action in the middle of the afternoon, but I enjoyed seeing the brick buildings lining the streets, with little or no front yards.
Before leaving the city, a trip to Ted Drews on the famous old Route 66, for frozen custard was in order. I couldn’t believe the lineup for this tasty treat. Now fortified, we drove through the centre of the city and past the edge of Forest Park, the site of the 1904 World’s Fair. It wasn’t long ago that Anil and I watched Judy Garland in Meet Me In St. Louis. It was all Anil could do to keep me from singing the song, terribly out of key, all the way out of the city. We chose to drive along Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive as we left the city heading west, and unfortunately passed through some of the downtrodden residential parts of the St. Louis. It was a grim reminder that not all people in America share the lifestyle of the friends and family we have visited along the way.