The ride into St. Louis was a bit lackluster.
Nothing, thus far, can compare to what I had experienced the previous day
Although parts of 61 into the city proper were hilly and windy, they were not as picturesque. In addition, lights would be placed immediately after a blind curve. Luckily, I had experienced a few green lights when I discovered the pattern. Therefore, I prepared myself by slowing down about five miles from the posted speed limit. The last thing I wanted was an accident right before arriving to my future hometown.
I passed through towns numbering 500... then 17,000+... then 20,000+.
Commercial civilization became more prevalent and the rolling green valleys were spaced further and further apart.
When I drove into Kirkwood, I knew I was getting close to the city. I had remembered that suburb/town during my last visit in November.
I stayed on 61 -- then, I found myself solely on 67 north. As I passed a few more neighborhoods, my intuition told me that I had traveled too far.
I was right.
I turned around and headed back on 67 south.
Note: making u-turns is no easy task in the metropolitan area. You have to wait for an opening to do it. No suicide lanes: cement partitions forbid quick turnarounds. It makes sense considering the valleys and speed limits and lights.
I found Clayton (part of old Route 66) and made a left to head East.
The ride along this stretch was rich with stately homes, boutiques, and hospitals: in other words, affluence.
Clayton ended at a T-style intersection where you have two choices: left or right. In the background, you can just make out the arch and downtown. In the foreground, Forest Park, traffic, and a giant historic Amoco sign (to your right).
I could feel a swelling rise from my stomach to my chest to my throat to my eyes.
Metaphorically-speaking, I was home.
It's hard to explain why I love St. Louis. Sort of like people who fall in love; it's not something people expect.
It just happens.
However, so is falling in love -- so is house buying.
You can't pinpoint why you love them, or why you love it; you just know you do.
That's how I feel about St. Louis.
At the T-intersection, I made a left to go on Skinker (a right takes y0u on McCauseland).
Following my left, I made a quick right onto Lindell Boulevard: the road on which Michael and Mary Ann reside.
The two of them were born and raised in the city. They have a lot of history here. They're also two of the most liberal people (over 60) I've ever met.
True natives and historians.
Never short of stories.
Their longevity in St. Louis offers strangers a bird's eye view into the city's nuances.
The city -- not the county.
This distinction must be made.
How did I manage to meet them?
I met Michael last November at a restaurant called Taste. I had been traveling alone when I shared my backstory with Michael and my love for his city. He invited me for Thanksgiving, and the rest is history.
One random connection on one random evening: that was it.
Now, it's July, and I'm driving to see them.
When I pulled into the brick driveway of their estate (if you know Lindell, you know I mean estate), I had to call to see if they were home.
Michael greeted me, and I pulled in the motorcycle into their garage; it would be in "rest" mode for a few days.
Following a few hugs, plans were being made.
I told Mary Ann about an exhibit I had just seen advertised in the Missouri History Museum; she wanted to see it, too.
Michael had some work to do, so she and I headed out after I showered and freshened up.
We walked through two exhibits: one on the little black dress, the other on Route 66.
Next, we headed to Schnuck's for some groceries.
When we returned, we drove to Taste for a moment to reminisce and to have a cocktail before dinner.
Thankfully, we had dinner at home. (You tire of restaurant meals when you travel for awhile.)
We ate delicious medium-rare to medium filets, cauliflower, corn on the cob, and salad.
Dessert? Triple-creme brie.
Did I mention a Bordeaux from Pauillac? Delicious!
We drank a bottle with our meal.
We topped the evening off with the Democratic National Convention.
(Remember, they are liberal and life-long Democrats to the core.)
Retiring just before 11 p.m., I fell asleep.
St. Louis: home sweet home!
Until we meet again, my friend.