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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Missouri in a glance

St. Louis was fantastic. Crossing the Clark Bridge across the Mississippi River from Illinois brought a huge grin to my face. Once again I was reminded about why yelling in one's helmet, with the visor down, and no one except yours truly within earshot, may not be the best idea.

But I couldn't help myself 

Just the place to be wearing ATGATT
I finally broke my rule about riding at night. Well actually, I revised the rule about 4 PM to"disallow riding at night in rural areas without street lights"

I made a beeline right across the top the top of the city for my the S. Carmody Photography Studio in Maplewood 

This was the entire reason made the detour to this city -- to catch Shawn Escoffery's "Distant Dreams" exhibit. This man is a phenomenal talent behind a lens. I got to know him when I spotted a photo he shot of me last year during Caribana 

Shawn's phenomenal work
After the show, Shawn invited me to crash downtown with him at the Westin. So far, these are the best digs Rebecca has seen on the trip. No one was willing to valet park here though :)

That night we trolled the local club district on Washington Street, but couldn't scare up any trouble worth getting into.
The closet we came was the Irish pub where staff kept dropping things, and the patrons kept slamming themselves hard into the furniture. Out waitress was a perky young thing who "needed" to drink to handle the boredom of her job. She got all the orders correct, I must say.

The next morning was breakfast at The Rooster, a small eatery that's part of a mini-enterprise being built by some rather forward-thinking and industrious owners. Even with not being a foodie, I knew their food was magnificent!
Two forks up!

Shawn got a local friend to drop him to the airport (this man makes friends like nobody's business!). I hung out in the lobby if the Westin soaking up the free wifi to do some work.

That night I went to the north-east side of the city looking for cheap accommodations. I stayed at the First Western Inn on North Broadway. Do NOT under any circumstances stay there. It's full of families who've recent lost their housing, guys off on benders, runaways and the type of folks that feed off that population.

If you ever find you have no other options than to stay at the First Western Inn in St. Louis -- stop reading this blog right now and go get a proper job.

My final day in St. Louis began with a pleasant breakfast at the Soulard Coffee Garden in the historic Soulard district. It a nice quaint section if town - lots of artists, coffee houses and a huge Saturday farmers market. (Of course I was there on a Sunday :)

S. Carmody and family
I breakfast'd with Sarah and her little family unit - hubby Jans and daughter Fiona, the violinist . They gave me the tip and general directions to visit the Johnson's Shut-Ins State Park.

I know .. cool eh?
Several hours later after getting detailed directions from the super helpful staff at the REI, and spending an hour doing work at a Starbucks en route, I finally made it to the major landmark along the way - Elephant Rocks State Park

There was a sweet piece of twisties on the last stretch of Highway N before I reached the campgrounds. [link to video]

I had a nice chat with some older motorcyclist couple on a big ole Harley trailering a pop-up tent. Brilliant! (Wish I was bright enough to have taken a picture). The whole rig folds down onto a trailer about 10 feet long, that only weighs about 250 lbs, fully loaded. On a 1300cc bike, that's nothing.

So wet in the mornings
The next morning, after the dewiest night I have yet to experience (by 8 PM everything was soaked), I was treated to a pancake breakfast by my new neighbours.  

Patrick, the man to my right, is an Arkansas-born and raised self-taught musician and jack-of-all-trades who has picked the art of making and tuning steel pans from scratch! Old school to new school methods.

Patrick, if you're reading this, you MUST make it to Trinidad! :) or Toronto.

Finally I reached the Johnson Shut-Ins. It's a rather nice geological formation where the Black River is constricted by some super-hard ancient rocks to stay in a tight channel. They say in that case, the river has been "shut in".

Chillax at the Elephant Rocks
Johnson's Shut-Ins of the Black River

Next stop - Memphis

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