Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Tallest Monument in America--The Arch

After nearly a month and a half of living in St. Louis, Kortney and I finally managed to get around to doing that extremely iconic St. Louis-y must, we rode to the top of the Arch. It was awesome, and I mean awesome.

This was a special Saturday for me because Kortney actually drove out to Illinois to pick me up once I was done selling and so not only did I not have to wait around to be picked up by my manager, or wait for everyone else to be picked up too, but I also didn't have to wait an hour to drive home before getting to see my wonderful wife. Definitely the hardest part about selling is the ridiculous hours that we have to spend apart. We've definitely gotten better at making the most of our time together, but that doesn't make the time apart any easier. Today, it was less, and that was good.

So from Alton, IL, where I had spent the morning and early afternoon, we drove along the Mississippi, cutting through Granite City on our way to downtown St. Louis. As we crossed the bridge over to Missouri, the rain was just pouring down on us. It got so out of control that we decided to pull over and wait for it to cool down, I can handle driving in snow (I've spent every winter of my driving life in either Utah or Quebec) but driving in this rain is unreal! There were times when it would be coming down so hard that even with the windshield wipers going at full steam, the rain created an immediate, impenetrable curtain of water that made driving an unsettling experience, and that's not even mentioning the standing water.

We chilled at the side of the road for a while and were rewarded by not only arriving at our destination in safety, but also by this amazing rainbow. It seemed very artistic for God to give us this view right before we rode to the top of the Gateway Arch.

So we finally got into the parking garage and we braved the weather, which at this point had picked up again, and ran to the north base of the arch and underground into the Museum of Westward Expansion. It's a full service museum on the expansion of America into its Western frontier covering the years 1800 to 1900, suffice it to say, there is a lot of information. There are also two videos that they show and of course, the tram ride to the top of the Arch. At places like these, I am always all about having the complete experience, so we bought tickets to both movies and the tram, and just like that, the rest of our day was booked.

The first movie was about Lewis and Clark's Pacific Expedition. It was on their super screen and it was really amazing. I find their story so inspiring. The number of times that they were serendipitously saved is amazing. The movie was modern and very high quality. I am of the mind that Lewis and Clark definitely earned their place in US History and deserve to be considered heroes. Early on in our time in St. Louis we went to St. Charles which was their departure point for the journey. There was a reenactment society there that were in full Lewis and Clark garb and one of them talked to us at length about his experience as part of the 200 year commemoration where they reenacted their famous voyage. Since then, I have really appreciated what it is that they went through and did.
The second movie was about the actual making of the Arch. It was called A Monument to the Dream. The Dream being the dream of Westward Expansion and establishing a waterway that would cut through the continent. The Monument being the Arch. This movie was very fascinating. It showed some incredible footage of the building of the Arch. It was under construction for about 5 years and they simultaneously built both legs and then connected them at the top. That means that for years there were just these two huge columns of steel growing out of the ground over the Mississippi. It was so cool to see. The day that they put the last piece into the arch was seriously inspiring. The Arch is a feat. Looking at it is impressive, but seeing the engineering genius it took to get it actually built, one triangular piece at a time was even more inspiring. I think seeing the making of it made the experience of riding the tram to the top that much cooler. That said, it was really cool.

You can ride to the top from either leg of the arch in a train of eight cars that are shaped and colored like eggs. They periodically rotate as you travel up the leg so that you are always upright.

The Arch is awesome. A St. Louis MUST-see. You get an amazing view of the city to the west a bird's-eye view of the Mississippi River to the east. The pictures weren't that great since it was at night, but the view was amazing. Take our word for it.

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