Thursday, March 19, 2009

Holiday Road

Birthday Vacation

People keep joking that “Hey you’re as close to 40 as you are 30!” about my birthday…they think it will bother me or something. It does not, although I prefer to think of it as halfway to 70. I’ve had long standing plans to live to be 2500 (with my brain in a robot body of course until cloned bodies are perfected), so 40 is no big deal to me. For my birthday, GF-Unit planned a surprise trip to St Louis, Mo to see an NHL hockey game and have a mini-vacation.

We loaded up the Family Truckster on Friday and started driving (if only it was the Metallic Pea Wagonqueen Family Truckster). It all went well except for me driving about 40 minutes the wrong way (thanks to confusing directions, bad street signs, forgetting to reset the trip meter, and changing drivers at the exact wrong time…many small errors which by themselves would have been easily avoidable but together made for a poor navigation choice). The rest of the trip went smoothly and we pulled in to the hotel at 1am.

Originally, GF-Unit had reservations in a hotel on the East St Louis side (What’s the difference as long as we get across the river). I assume it was cheap and it was a Holiday Inn Express so you would think it would be decent. She then found several one star reviews (out of five) with titles like “Horrible,” “Roaches and Water Stains”, and the always enticing “Looked like a Murder Scene”…this one is especially entertaining as it involved the hotel manager calling the police on the hotel guests for harassment after they repeatedly ask him to call the police about the scene in the parking lot. I also sent her the crime stats for East St Louis:

Year: 2006 number of crimes per 100,000

So we moved on over to the west side of St Louis and stayed in the suburb of Clayton at the Seven Gables Inn (yes, I counted and there were seven gables…otherwise I would have demanded our money back due to false advertisement). SGI is definitely a different experience than staying as most hotels I have been to lately (like in Vegas). It is an old building (built 1926) so it had a cozy, kind of old world charm…no elevators, you have to take twisty stairs, decent sized rooms and bathrooms but not really “suites” as we know them now a days. I was a little wary when we first checked in, but it grew on me and I liked it quite a bit by the time we left. The hotel was in a really neat location. It was in a fancy business district with lots of restaurants within walking distance. The area was basically deserted on the weekends, so we didn’t have to deal with traffic or crowds and we free to walk leisurely throughout the area. In was very peaceful, relaxing, and beautiful as the beginnings of spring were creeping in. We also had a pretty easy walk to the MetroLink train station, and easy access to the interstates…for when we wanted to travel outside of the area around the hotel.

Saturday we went to see my favorite NHL team the Detroit Red Wings play the St Louis Blues. Although a Red Wing fan, I enjoy all hockey and was looking forward to seeing the Blues play as they have many players that I have seen play in the AHL over the past few years. I was especially looking forward to seeing former Iowa Stars BJ Crombeen playing. It was a good game. I was getting lots of “boos” and “Detroit sucks” because I wore my Detroit jersey (GF-Unit was wearing my Blues jersey), but many of those calmed down after Detroit scored 3 goals within a 46 second time span (ouch). I wished it would have been closer in score. I like tight, exciting games but it was still a lot of fun. I couldn’t bring myself to try one of the St Louis style hot dogs though…which looked like a Chicago Dog with chili on top (I think they made it up). Not just because I don’t usually like chili on hot dogs but also because it was like $10...for a standard (small) hot dog. I couldn’t justify that for something that I might not like and might give me terrible gas. $6 yes, $8 possibly, but $10 is too much...especially since we were going out to eat that night for my birthday.

We decided to go to Morton’s Steakhouse. It was expensive but really good. We ordered the Double Porterhouse…which was 48 ounces and split it between the three of us (me, GF-Unit, and Kinda-Kid). It was an impressive piece of meat…2inches thick and the size of a dinner plate. It was slightly more rare in the middle that I usually like (I am a medium-rare person and this was closer to rare), but it was perfect if you got a piece of the took a small slice with a little bit of the outer edge in each bite. Our waitress was fun, smart, and a little smart-alecky (reminded me of Jeanine Garofalo). She even gave me an extra 48 ounce steak bone when I mentioned that I would like to take mine home for my dogs. I know it really wasn’t a huge deal since they would have to through it away anyhow but it was nice of her anyways. My dogs loved getting bones that were nearly the size of their bodies .

Me, GF-Unit, and Kinda-Kid before the meat overdose

Sunday we went to the Missouri Botanical Gardens, which were pretty but would have been spectacular a little later in the spring when everything was green and in bloom. Not only do they have a climate controlled dome, but also 80 acres of gardens, fountains, ponds, etc… It is the perfect place to spend a few hours on a sunny spring Sunday.

GF-Unit and I in the Climatron dome at Missouri Botanical Gardens (I look really fat)

Of course plants and lovely spring weather did not really impress the seven year old Kinda-Kid, so we headed to The Magic House to let him blow off some steam. The Magic House is basically a children’s museum with all these exhibits where a child can explore, experiment, and (hopefully) learn. There were exhibits on construction, fairy tales, government, bubbles, sound, sight, and magnetism among others. I wish we had this type of thing around when I was a kid. It was very cool, although I was a little disappointed that since I had styling putty in my hair that the electro-static generator wouldn’t work on me. We spent a couple hours there but could have spent several more if it was open later than 5:30 pm.
(Left) President Gubby gives state of the union address (Right): Kinda-Kid gets a shocking experience

After the Magic House, we headed to White Castle for some sliders. I love mini-food and have never had a chance to try White Castle…so I was pretty excited (plus no one was up for a big meal after the pound each meat fest of the night before). Although the burgers were good, I did think they were a little tasteless. I could see how they would be really good if drunk or high though. I think the BK Shots from Burger King were much tastier and would highly recommend you pick up a six pack for dinner tonight. Even though they were a little disappointing, I was still very tempted to order the Crave Case so that I could have 30 mini burgers to snack on the following couple days. My diet has been severely lacking mini foods since Billy Joe’s closed a month ago…over a month without mini-corn dogs!

Monday, we did the tourist thing and went to the Gateway Arch. I had been there when I was a child but it is still neat to me still. It is an impressive structure and elegant in its simplicity. What I didn’t like was the post-911 security. It was just like airport, take everything out of your pockets, place everything in a tub (including all electronics, jackets, and belts), and walk through the metal detector. I am surprised they didn’t have everyone take off their shoes and do full body cavity checks. It is so ridiculous. Here is a tip…walk to the south side of the arch and enter there…the security line is about a quarter of the size that it is on the north side.

Thanks GF-Unit for a great birthday.


Anonymous said...

The really sad thing is that the Roach-Murder hotel was only going to cost about $20 less a night. I'd say we got a pretty sweet deal--considering we weren't joined in our room by four legged creatures (expept for a few times when Sam turned into an animal) along with the fact that none of us were a victim of a crime during our stay. Seven Gables was pretty cool, and I'm gladded we switched.

Anonymous said...

Red Wings suck.