Arch Friends and My Favorite Museum Ever in St Louis. May 25 – 30, 2015.

I was too tired and missed visiting Saint Louis the first time around when I was headed west. This time I reached out to Myke, and he had a place for me to stay a whole week!

I love the name of the scooter rally in St Louis: Missouri Loves Company.
The last time I saw an analog pump was either in the desert, or near the GA/FL state line.

There’s a very direct route from Memphis to Saint Louis along US-67, but where’s the fun in that. Somewhere by Fredericktown I turned off to follow some of the little grey lines I noticed branching off my map. A few small and pleasant towns later, I picked up Old Saint Louis Road. The pavement ended but I embraced the change, figuring the “Impassable During High Water” signs were being hyperbolic. I mean, this road’s got Saint Louis in its name, surely I’ll end up in the right place?

Hark! Crossing creek #1.
Creek #2, a little hairier to cross.
Creek #3. OK, that’s enough adventure for today. Fast current and big boulders under there. I don’t want to have to come back if Creek #4 is bigger.
Back to the main road. Doesn’t that sign sound like a challenge to you, though?
Hi, Myke and Brittany! Their 4-car garage is a cave of wonders.

I was welcomed into town by Myke and Brittany, more Bandcamp connections. They just so happened to have an unrented apartment in the city that I could crash in…for a whole week! Thanks, Myke and Brittany!

Indoor camping.

If I could go back, I’d take photos of all the places I’ve slept as I made my way across the country. Sure, you expect couches, guest rooms, hostel beds, and campsites of both the beautiful and banal varieties. Then, there are the nights I slept in a motordrome, a kid’s room (face to face with Emmet from The Lego Movie sheet set), a dorm room (raised XL twin mattress, I never thought I’d see you again), junk rooms, or my current situation; an empty apartment. I call it indoor camping, and I was totally happy to throw my bag down and roll out the sleeping mat.

Myke is tall enough to reach the mulberries in nearby Tower Grove Park.

With a bit of daylight left, Myke took me on a walking tour of the neighborhood and nearby park, then a scooter tour – their old place is still the home of many of their vehicles, and located within easy reach of city life things to do. Then, I was left to my own devices until next we could hang out.

Working from MoKaBe’s Coffeehouse. It was a popular java spot for the recent protesters, and there are still signs.
A quick neighborhood change for Mama Toscano’s on the Hill.
I heard fried ravioli are a Saint Louis thing, and the internet pointed me to the original.
They’re awesome, little pillows of meaty, savory goodness, dipped in marinara. Disappeared too fast!
More food with Pat and her wife, introduced by mutual Memphis friends.
Provel cheese this time, on a poutine. Double lactase pills time.
Just hanging out in garages with scooterists and a stack of Vespa frames in the corner, move along.
Myke’s Fuji Rabbit started first kick!
Werk stuff at Cafe Ventana.

Myke pointed out one of the neat things about Saint Louis is that many museums and other city attractions are subsidized by the city taxes, so admission is free. I decided to check out the zoo, but was soon overwhelmed by the heat, crowds and children. Yep, definitely a zoo.

Nice day for Forest Park though, the park surrounding the zoo.
Making loops in the park.
Liquid nitrogen frozen ice cream, after crashing a rally planning meeting with Myke.
Ices Plain & Fancy looks like a lab.
Night scooter tour of the city with Myke and Brittany.
Preview of what put Saint Louis on the map for me…
Interlude for 1982 V50III.
Followed Elli and Rob to Moto Italia, to have her Stella looked at. We also all went on test rides.
Shakespeare in the park (Antony and Cleopatra) with picnicking pros. We carried fried chicken, ravioli, sides, local wine, dishware, blankets and a folding table on two scooters.
No visit is complete without a stop at Strange Donuts.
They are pretty strange. We had to try a savory donut, which reminded me of youtiao…but with bacon.

I felt extremely lucky to be introduced to Saint Louis through Myke. A large part of why I enjoyed the city so much was because I could see it through his eyes, and the friends he introduced me to. There were quiet moments of just hanging out at their place, poking around scootery things, perusing their CSA box for food ideas (I wanted to sign up for one in Providence, but there were no options for a single person), or trying local craft beers and drinks. I crashed a rally planning meeting, and several times went on late night rides following his Stella. I’m almost ready to move here just for the scooterists!

Almost (don’t worry, the ride goes on). When I started there was an element of shopping for a new city to settle in, sort of interviewing them as I went. Somewhere in the west months ago, I not only became cooler towards visiting ‘the sights’, but I also stopped shopping – whether it’s travel fatigue or a natural evolution, I don’t mind. Increasingly, I just want to see people I like and spend time with them. I forgot that at one point I was even seeking; my most recent city stops have been perfect destinations for just hanging out with friends.

However, there is one sight I had my eye on that’s unique to Saint Louis. On Friday night, City Museum would be open until midnight. It’s hard to explain City Museum without visiting in person. It’s a repurposed space, a huge multi-floor warehouse that’s an evolving art project of industrial sculpture and playground combined. A surreal world you can touch, climb, and explore. Myke, Brittany, and I filled up on Korean BBQ and then it was Museum time!

It’s positively magical, easily my favorite ‘museum’ in the world. Must be experienced.

It’s like driving a flying school bus over Saint Louis.
The bus leans precariously over the edge of the roof. You can spot it in the earlier photo.
It’s a carnival with slides and spires…
Brittany climbs.
Myke snapped a photo of us.
Slides and slides!
Superhero Brittany.
Dangling human cage.
Monster slide at City Museum!
Tee hee.
Rainbow colored drink on break. There are three snack areas, one of which has beer…
More details…
Giant hamster wheel!
The bar inside City Museum.
One for you, Chris.
Myke takes some video of us at the No-Skate Skatepark.
Didn’t quite make it.
You read that right, a 10 storey slide.
A small space! I must crawl through…

Thoroughly sweaty, muscles wobbly, and covered in a thin film of grime… I love this place. I can’t help feeling this is how we’re meant to be; curious, inspired and engaged in all the senses, not indolent desk drones. Adults need to play, too.

For my last couple days in Saint Louis, Chris had reached out to me. He just bought a KTM he’d been lusting after, but it was in Milkwaukee… he would have to ride it back to Tulsa. Saint Louis would be just about halfway, so I checked with the landlords and got a roommate for a night! Welcome to indoor camping, Chris.

We did set out of do a bit of touristing, after all.

Arch friends.
You can listen to and read about the building of the arch while waiting for the space pods to the top.
Next stop is Mars, right? Am I in the right pod? Thanks for the photo, Chris. P.S. That’s my terrified face, the pods make disturbing echoing sounds.
This guy again!
It feels a bit like an airplane up here.
Don’t look down?
Myke points out landmarks in the city.
Saint Louis side…
Illinois side is so empty.
Back down via a 60s vision of the future.
Breaking gravity after all this space travel.
Addressing gravitational pull in our stomaches at Bogart’s Smokehouse. Myke demonstrates advance level food expertise, I would follow him to all the eats.

We tried to walk off barbecue comas at the nearby farmers market, but I think my memory is blurred by vast amount of meat.

Beer is a digestif, right? Civil Life Brewing Company.

One of Myke’s friends was playing surf rock at Venice Cafe, and I can now say: if my spirit animal was a bar, it would be this one. It’s like an antique store went drinking with a flea market, and puked up this place. Saint Louis is kicking ass.

Hear no evil, see no evil, poop no evil?
The bartender tells us about caring for the bar snake. I repeat, the bar snake.
Red Ranger is practicing some extreme yoga.
What do I look at now? This is the antithesis of my usual aesthetic, and I love it.
Myke climbs things too.
Game night back at Ventana Cafe. The sliders here are great, too.
Goodbye is too soon.

Feeling nicely recharged, Chris and I both packed our bags and had one last coffee together before we rolled separate ways. He mentioned he finally found the wheelie button on his new bike. I’m still looking for mine…

Saint Louis surprised me. It’s definitely a ‘critical mass’ city, lots to do and and good company. I’ll just have to come back for a scooter rally some time, I hear they put on a good one.

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