Eine Kleine Nichtmusik

Witty and pertinent observations on matters of great significance OR Incoherent jottings on total irrelevancies OR Something else altogether OR All of the above

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Route 66 Day 6

We began with a riverboat trip on the Mississippi. OK, its paddle-wheel was fake and it was really driven by screws, but the only genuine stern-wheeler is difficult to book on (we saw it leaving while we were up the Gateway Arch, in fact). Anyway, the Mississippi is still one hell of a river whatever you use to navigate it, and we learned a lot about it: about floods, and FEMA, and paddle-steamers, and barges, and currents, and the Arch, and the Louisiana Purchase, and beavers.

Then it was up the arch, marvelling at its construction and the general coolness and timelessness of its design. Hilary said it looked as though it had been built in the 1990s instead of in the sixties (to a 1950s design). We could see the Cardinals' baseball stadium, where a match was about to begin (St Louis had been heaving with red-shirted fans since yesterday). Just ahead of us in the queue for the tramway to the top was a striking lady whose look was very much Mad Men - all 1950s dress, glasses and hairdo - but whose tattoos spoiled the period feel rather. Not that they were anachronistic, but because middle-class 1950s women didn't sport tattoos. Still, a not unpleasing look overall.

A quick look into the courthouse where the Dred Scott case was tried, whose outcome made the Civil War much more likely. Various folks in period costume were in there, including three guys with a banjo doing Stephen Foster songs. Then outside, where Hilary and Ruairidh did a very American thing. It was extremely hot (for us anyway, though as we shall see other people were commenting on it) so as the fire department had kindly set one of their sprinklers going outside the courthouse, they jumped into it fully clothed to cool off. At fifty-six my wife can still surprise me sometimes.

Next up it was the botanic gardens, which I must admit I rather dragged them to. Not because I'm a plant nerd, but because I'm an SF nerd, and specifically a huge fan of the Douglas Trumbull film Silent Running. The film features spacecraft fitted with big geodesic domes containing various Earth habitats with their flora and fauna, and the domes were modelled on the Climatron at St Louis. So we went mainly so I could have pictures like this taken. (Note the T-shirt featuring Dewey, one of the drones from the film.)

Then we felt that a late lunch / early dinner would be the way forward, so we headed a few blocks to a part of town that might be described as "interesting" - definitely a black district. We went because we'd heard very good reports of Sweetie Pie's, a soul food restaurant run by one of Tina Turner's Ikettes. (We saw her briefly.) If we'd known beforehand that it would mean queuing for two hours, one of them on the street in the full heat of the sun, we would never have gone (a lot of the other queuers - almost all black - were moaning about the heat). But in the event it gave us plenty of scope for people-watching, and when we eventually got the food it was great. R and I had wings, H had fish, R had potatoes and mac&cheese while H and I shared sides of cabbage, green beens, okra and black-eyed peas. Then banana pudding for H and peach cobbler for me. Great stuff.

Then back to the hotel for a swim, a shower, and a cocktail. What could be better?

Difficult to pick one piece of music for today, so here are a few to cover the riverboat, the botanics and the down-home cooking.