When I first met Chris and found out his family is from St. Louis – I wasn’t all that thrilled. In my mind, it was in the midwest and thus one of those places you fly over. On my first visit with him there, I have to admit – I was very skeptical.
Over the years however, and after many visits – it’s become one of my favorite cities. There’s just so much awesome there, and it’s all quite unexpected. I have quite the not-so-secret love affair with St. Louis.
Despite a record breaking heatwave moving through much of the USA, and St. Louis seemingly being at the epicenter of it – we just wrapped up another awesome nearly month there.
Grandma’s 90th Birthday
Our main reason for this visit was Chris’ family hosting a huge celebration of his grandma’s 90th birthday.
She was kind enough to take time out of her hectic schedule of daily 3-mile walks, 30 minutes at the gym, tending to her huge vegetable garden (she’s quite the proprietor of veggies on her block), back-to-back social engagements and bowling.
Oh, and what did she ask for her birthday? A push lawnmower – because the riding one wasn’t enough work.
This woman is a powerhouse, I hope when I’m 1/2 her age I have 1/2 her energy. It was a very joyous celebration. To put her age in perspective – she was our age when our bus first hit the road! (I’ll do your math for you – Chris turns 40 later this year, and I’m 9 months behind him.)
When asked what her secret was: “Use it or lose it!”
Words to live well by.
St. Louis ranks as our second to top city for number of nomadic rendezvouses we’ve experienced. (The top? Black Rock City – where we typically host a theme camp for fellow nomads that is likely one of the largest modern day nomadic convergences. But not this year.)
This visit was no exception. We spent 2 weeks parked at the Casino Queen (link to our review on RVParking.com) with our dear friends Sam & Tracy.
One of our favorite things about traveling is being temporary neighbors with our nomadic peers. People who are also working on their own projects who we can casually hang out with and plan spontaneous dinners, grocery shopping, cruises on the Mississippi River, late night laundry or just playing a round of Dominion. People to share that daily life stuff with? Priceless. We should see them next for our winter in Florida.
Our good friends Sean & Louise of Our Odyssey also stopped in for an evening. They’re currently shopping for a boat to transition from their awesomely awesome double-decker bus (yes, go look – theirs is worthy of multiple awesomes), and were on their way to a viewing. We maximized our short time together, for sure! Hopefully we’ll hook up with them again in Florida this fall/winter as well.
Jim of Roaming Together also happened to be in the area on a work assignment, and stopped by for the evening to hang out.
Stealth trailer nomad John of Voyager 54 was passing through town and stopped in for a quick meet-up one afternoon.
And my dear friend Barb and her family were making a family road trip in their new Prius, came and joined us for a few days. It was… awesome. Many thanks to Chris’ folks for hosting our bus in their driveway and our friends in their guest room so we could have some chill quality time together.
Whew..that’s a lot of meet-ups!
We love beer (well, Chris more than I since I went gluten free). And St. Louis is beer central. Of course most folks think of Anheuser-Busch (Bud), which was founded there.
But there’s another beer story in the arched city that is even more impressive. Schlafly was the first new brewery to open in St. Louis since the end of Prohibition, in 1991. Before the whole craft beer craze was popular and battling against strong Anheuser-Busch loyalty. Heck, that’s the year we both graduated from high school and not nearly old enough to drink.
They’ve remained local even as their popularity has grown since AB sold out to InBev. They’ve been amongst our favorite breweries for quite a while – not only do they brew some fantastically amazing brews (50 a year!), they’re an awesome company with great values. (Huh, I use the word awesome a lot, don’t I?)
So one afternoon we got an unassuming e-mail from Elle, an organizer of the Beer Bloggers Conference put on by ZephyrAdventures. Noticing any coincidences here? Yeah, us either.
She invites us to join her for a beer at Schlafly Bottleworks, one of their brew pub restaurants that serves local foods. Some grown onsite! When serendipity offers you such an invitation, you just don’t say no… even if it is a friggen 108 out!
So, we meet up with her.. and she introduces us to her boyfriend (who she hadn’t mentioned before).
He happens to be Troika Brodsky – the social media guy for Schlafly, who is also the world’s second largest collector of Lord of the Rings movie props. (Yes, that means he’s very cool… I’m not sure which I’m more in awe of… beer…. or hobbit feet???) Obviously, we hit it off fantastically with these two.
So now we’re on a private behind the scenes tour of the brewery. He takes us to lunch (yum, nom, amazing). We casually meet one of the co-founders of the brewery and also the science guy behind the brew. We’re partially in disbelief that this is actually happening and partially all nonchalant-like, as if this is a normal occurrence.
We tell Troi how much we love Schlafly’s – and even stock up on their beer before we leave St. Louis to introduce folks outside of the region.
His response to that?
Filling our MINI up with free beer!! (Darn, we should have brought the bus!!) Invite us over… we have lots of fantastic beer to share!!
(Oh, and I may have planted a seed that they need to offer a gluten free beer on their menu again.)
If we didn’t already love Schlafly’s – well, let’s just say, they have cemented their impression upon us.
The City Museum is just your ordinary museum of artifacts of the city.
Except one itsy bitsy little detail – all the artifacts are arranged in a way that you climb all over them! It’s kinda like Burning Man, but in the Midwest. It’s what you’d get if you gave Peter Pan a blowtorch. It’s the most amazing playground for kids of all ages!
We have tempted more people to join us in St. Louis to come see this place, and they always leave in disbelief. Because our description just never quite does it justice.
I mean, how do you really describe to someone – 10-story spiral slide that leads from the roof with a huge praying mantis to the inner cave that exits through a whale’s mouth? Spatula museum?? Circus school? Custom shoelaces? Vintage clothing store? World’s largest pencil??
Here’s a video we did the last time we visited this incredible place to give you some idea of what we’re talking about:
We had the opportunity to visit again this time, as Barb’s daughter Gwen (who, by the way – was raised on a sailboat) was itching to go again. It was our first time coming back after its creator, Bob Cassily, passed away last year.
Us adults set Chris and Gwen loose for the day (yes, Chris wore Gwen out) while I took the adults on a tour of the museum my style (which involves no climbing through slinkies or slides, but lots of fun!).
It was an awesome day. If you’re ever in St. Louis – you must go. Seriously, skip the Arch if you must. Go to the City Museum. (And enjoy a Schlafly brew to live music on weekend evenings.)
There’s so many more awesome things to do in St. Louis that we didn’t get a chance to do this visit. From Forest Park, the former site of the World’s Fair. It boasts a *FREE* world class zoo, a *FREE* epic science and history center and an amazing outdoor theatre. We didn’t make it to the Botanical Gardens either. But we did make it out to the Cahokia Mounds (mostly because we got lost, yet again, getting back to our RV Park.)
We left St. Louis on Sunday morning, and have found a nice RV Park in northern Illinois to get some chill time at. We’ll be leaving out shortly after this post goes live to complete the final couple of hours into Madison, Wisconsin. A dear friend of mine just decided to move there and I’m seriously looking forward to some time with her.
Based on the positive response to us heading that way with amazing recommendations – we’re feeling that we’re going to love it. That is.. if we can survive the heat again. (Wisconsin… heat??)
After that? The future is unknown.