COVID-19 Disclosure: All travel was done within a personal vehicle. Only accommodations cleaned daily were booked. Experiences consisted of outdoor, socially distant activities and masks were worn when doing essential activities, like filling gas or getting food.

Being a bit bummed that my backpacking trip through Europe that I’d been looking forward to all year had been canceled due to issues of traveling abroad, I decided to embark on a more low-key journey through some of the U.S. states that I’ve yet to explore. 

Our journey began less than ideal. We started the day with a large iced coffee…made with spoiled milk. We then received a call stating that I’d left my camera charger plugged in at home. Even though we were already an hour into the trip, we had to turn around–I could not live on this trip without my Nikon, and, being gone two weeks, I definitely would need the charger at some point.

Seven hours of indie jams later, and we were at our first stop: Old Chain of Rocks Bridge. Pulling up, we neared a one lane bridge crossing over part of the Mississippi River and excitedly pulled out our cameras, recording the journey across. However, once we reached the end, we spotted the Old Chain Of Rocks Ahead sign. Yikes.

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Old Chain of Rocks Bridge

Soaking in our embarrassment for the next two miles, our jaws dropped as we neared the entrance. This pedestrian bridge was monstrous. Click after click, we inched our way down this seemingly never-ending spectacle. Peering over the edge, I noticed some movement from the water and squinted my eyes to try and figure out just what I was looking at. What in tarnation…[if using southern sayings for a southern blog post is wrong, then I don’t want to be right].

I began to laugh as I noticed what was surfacing: Giant fish lips. Yes, you read that correctly. Ginormous carp were making their way across the surface to have a nice, protein-filled afternoon snack. As we moved on further, we noticed that this portion of water wasn’t even supposed to be here. The carp were swimming in between park benches and trail signs and, most devastating of all, piles of plastic.

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Carp Surfacing

There must have been flooding that pushed all of this debris from the Mississippi River beneath the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge. Once we got out to the main sector, it was easy to see how easy it was for the river’s current to shove anything in it’s path around, as massive logs soared past beneath us and through the passageway of two ancient-castle-looking buildings that had been plopped in the center of it all.

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River Views

After that adventure, we headed over to our AirBnb to check in, which we ended up being very thankful that we had done (more on that later)! We were a bit concerned as the nice little shops began to have more bars on them and the cars on the streets began to look more like car parts on the street. After two men approached our car at a stop sign, I began to question my sanity while booking this place. Thankfully, a few blocks later, the neighborhoods began to look safer and we comfortably settled into our stay for the night.

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AirBnb Vibes

However, there was one sight we- of course- needed to see before leaving St. Louis: The Gateway Arch. I’d heard that Malcolm W. Memorial Park had the best view of the arch in the entire city and, as you can see, it certainly did not disappoint.

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Family Checking Out the View With Me

However, forgive my aesthetic, but the coolest aspect of this park was the junkyard we passed just a block before entering. This was no ordinary junkyard though…it was a hipster’s paradise consisting solely of VHS tapes. There must have been millions of them, as the piles of tapes spanned the entire length of the block. I’d never wanted to trespass somewhere more in my entire life…don’t worry mom, I stayed strong.

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VHS junkyard

After seeing this beauty from afar, we figured it was only fair to see what sort of justice she had up close. Pulling up to the Gateway Arch, we lucked out with a spot right up front.

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Gateway Arch

We hopped out of the car and set off to explore the park. Barges cruised by on the river beside us as the arch towered above us. It was spectacular. Looking up at this skyscraper, it was difficult to keep your balance. After an hour or so, we meandered out way back to the parking lot.

Suddenly, a woman frantically ran up to us, screaming,

WHERE ARE WE? WHAT STREET ARE WE ON? CAN ANYONE TELL ME WHAT STREET THIS IS?”

I was not prepared for what I saw next. Peering over, I was shocked to find that her entire back window had been completely shattered. This woman’s three little boys were crying,

I WANNA GO HOME! I’M SCARED. I DON’T WANNA BE HERE ANYMORE!”

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Gateway Arch People Watching

Apparently, within the FIFTEEN minutes that they’d left the car, someone had come and, in the middle of a busy city in broad daylight shattered the window and grabbed all that they could find. The woman was on the phone with the cops while trying to calm her three children down on the very first day of their road trip.

Suddenly, our rocky start didn’t feel so bad after all.

 

We offered the family a ride, but didn’t have enough seats left in our car for all of them, so they stayed together to await the cops arrival. Feeling like we’d dodged a bullet, as our Lexus with out of state plates was parked just two cars down from them, we’d figured that we’d better get out of here before landing the same fate.

Right then, a woman tried backing into the spot directly to my right, thumped someone’s car and, upon realizing her mistake, sped off…Welcome to St. Louis everyone!

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Malcolm W. Martin Park

Figuring it was probably in our best interest to get back to our AirBnb before dark now, we ran to grab some Italian dinner to go from Caleco’s Bar and Grill. While it was being made, we enjoyed some local IPA’s and cheers’d to the beginning of our road trip and the luck (or perhaps the front row seat to other’s bad luck) that we’d had so far.

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