Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Christmas Time in the City

Christmas is my favorite time of the year.  Normally, our house looks like the North Pole.  Since we are going to be away so much this year, we just had to rely on the beautiful decorations around town!

While doing some Christmas shopping in Old St. Charles, we were treated to this group of boys.  They were marching up and down the cobble stoned streets, playing Christmas carols on their instruments.  It was very fitting for the charming city that is very proud of their American history.

We ran in Wal-Mart one evening to grab a few things, and saw the Coke truck parked out front.  The entire truck was covered in LED lights!

It was really pretty!

The Santa station inside Wal-Mart.  We saw Santa later, but didn't
take a picture.

The big tree in the center of the Galleria Mall.

The large Christmas display is set up over an area that is home to several fountains and an indoor pond.  They set up risers in the water with the displays and Santa on top.

I love the velvet ribbon that they use on the tree.

Even the little waiting bridge and Santa's chair are set up over water.  It's really quite pretty.

We have also visited a few of the city parks in the area to see their displays as well.  Alas, it won't really be Christmas until I see the ceramic tree out at my parents house!

Monday, December 13, 2010

A Thanksgiving Full of Firsts

This year, Tony and I celebrated Thanksgiving with just the two of us for the first time ever.

Tony and I began by shopping at the farmers market for all of our yummy Thanksgiving Day food.  This home made us both think of home.  The meats were all neatly displayed in bags on a table beneath the sign.

Tony's plate

My plate.

This was also Tony's first time cooking a turkey and it was delicious!  He made it with some sort of sage butter compound that was quite tasty.

It was also our first time to see snow on Thanksgiving Day!  This was taken right when it started, but a little did end up sticking as it continued throughout the afternoon.

Sugar enjoying the snow from his perch in the window.

Jilly's Cupcake Bar

A bar that only serves cupcakes?  Yes, please!  Tony and I recently visited the University City neighborhood of St. Louis to check out this gourmet cupcake shop called Jilly's Cupcake Bar.

The decor inside the shop is adorable.

Yummy!  Each day, they have 10 daily selections.  You can special order from their menu in advance if you'd like a specific type.

I'll give you three guesses as to which one Tony picked.  Of course he picked this one!  It has bacon on top!

I went the more traditional route and ordered something with chocolate, nuts, and caramel.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Lazy Ride Down the Mighty Mississippi

After visiting the Arch, we walked across the street to take a ride on the appropriately named Tom Sawyer Steamboat.

Picture of the Arch and downtown from the steamboat.

Right next to the dock is the helipad.  Rides around the Arch and downtown are actually pretty inexpensive.  They start at $35.  It's on our Explore St. Louis to do list, but I'm not real sure that Tony is on board with this plan.

Eads Bridge

This world famous bridge is an iconic St. Louis symbol.  It is a combined road and railway bridge that connects St. Louis with East St. Louis, IL.

The bridge is named for its designer and builder, James Eads.  When it was completed in 1874, it was the longest arch bridge in the world.  Both its ribbed steel arch spans and the use of steel as a primary structural material were considered daring at the time.  It was the first such use of true steel in a major bridge project.

The Eads Bridge was also the first bridge to be built using a cantilever support methods exclusively, and one of the first to make use of pneumatic cassions.  They are still some of the deepest ever sunk.

On opening day June 14, 1874, they sent a test elephant across the bridge to prove it was safe.  It was believed that the instincts of an elephant would keep them from setting foot on unsafe structures.

The bridge is still in use today for both vehicular and pedestrian traffic.

In the bottom left corner, you can see the monument dedicated  to Lewis and Clark.  It was dedicated in September of 2006 and is called the Captains Return.

This century-old riverboat-turned-casino is great part of St. Louis history.   Unfortunately, it's expected to be dismantled soon.

The Edward Jones Dome and Lumiere Casino

The Edward Jones Dome is home to the St. Louis Rams.  It was also host to a Mass celebrated by Pope John Paul II, which was the largest indoor gathering ever hosted in the United States.

Lumiere Place casino is pretty interesting.  It's a beautiful glass building that also has the largest electronic sign that I've ever seen right on the interstate.  I need to try and take a picture of it.  Words can't describe how enormous it is. 

Like most states with legalized gambling, the casinos have to be floating on river water.  Clearly, Lumiere Place isn't a typical boat.  The designers took advantage of a little loop-hole and built a manmade basin in which the casino portion floats.  It is filled with water from the Mississippi River.  Patrons don't even realize that they are entering a boat.  They use a restraining device that keeps  the floor floating at the same level regardless of how many people are on board.

Driving the piles for a new bridge that will also connect St. Louis to Illinois.

Look closely.  See the funny thing sticking out of the water?  That's not part of the bridge.  Last year, a barge ran into the bridge and sunk.  They have already tried to raise it twice with no success.  Another attempt is planned after the first of the year when the water levels drop.

I'm guessing that you don't get to keep your job when you run your boat into a bridge.  Just my guess.

Another picture of the wreck.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Visiting the Top of the Arch

It took twenty months of living five minutes from the  Arch, but we finally made it to the top!

Beautiful walk up to the Arch.  With the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Arch approaching, they've recently held a design company to completely redo the grounds of the Arch.

It was a beautiful fall day when we visited.

See the little black spots on each side?  Those are the windows on the viewing deck.

This is a really neat museum in the base of the Arch.  I wish that we had had more time to visit it. 

These panels were my favorite part.  The went around the entire museum.  They took a passage from the Lewis and Clark journals and then matched it to a photo of what they were describing.  It was a chance to take their journey with them.

There was a small section on the expansion of the Cardinals to St. Louis making them the first baseball team west of the Mississippi.

Historians conduct classes throughout the day in this museum.  While we were there, an American Indian expert was giving a demonstration on their musical instruments.

Finally, it was time for our journey to the top!  Each capsule holds five people.  You are given a number and then line up on the appropriate step.  We rode up in capsule number six.

Tony's picture from the top.

My picture from the top.  Tony had issues with stepping up and leaning over.  He preferred to just stand there and look.  All in all, I was very impressed with how well that Tony handled his trip to the top given his issues with height.  I do have a picture of him on the ride up, but I'll be nice and not share it.

The Old Courthouse

Busch Stadium

Looking straight down from the top.  You can see the old Catholic Cathedral in the photo.  It was the first Catholic Cathedral west of the Mississippi.  As beautiful as it is, it has nothing on the new Basilica.

Most don't realize this, but the Arch is actually a square.  Despite appearances to the contrary, it's 530ft tall and 530ft wide.

View of the Mississippi River from the top.

We took a ride on one of the Steamboats after we completed our trip to the top of the Arch.

The viewing deck

The space capsule that takes you to the top.  Even my head was hitting the curved part of the ceiling in it!  Tony had to bend over a little bit.  I can't imagine someone super tall fitting into it!